[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 128 (Tuesday, July 6, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 38758-38763]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-16358]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 100503209-0215-01]
RIN 0648-AY85


Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Limited Access for Guided Sport 
Charter Vessels in Alaska

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations that would amend the limited access 
program for charter vessels in the guided sport fishery for Pacific 
halibut in the waters of International Pacific Halibut Commission 
Regulatory Area 2C (Southeast Alaska) and Area 3A (Central Gulf of 
Alaska). If approved, the proposed action would revise the method for 
assigning angler endorsements to charter halibut permits to more 
closely align each endorsement with the greatest number of charter 
vessel anglers reported for each vessel that a charter business used to 
qualify for a charter halibut permit. This action is necessary to 
achieve the halibut fishery management goals of the North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than August 5, 2010.

ADDRESSES:  Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 
Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ``RIN 
0648-AY85,'' by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at http://www.regulations.gov.
     Mail: P. O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     Fax: 907-586-7557.
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th 
Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK 99801.
    All comments received are a part of the public record and will 
generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. No 
comments will be posted for public viewing until after the comment 
period has closed. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.
    Electronic copies of the Categorical Exclusion, the Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA) prepared for this action are available from http://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region website at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The Environmental Assessment, RIR, and Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the charter halibut limited access 
program are available from the NMFS Alaska Region website at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to NMFS (at above address) and by e-mail 
to David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Baker, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The International Pacific Halibut Commission 
(IPHC) and NMFS manage fishing for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus 
stenolepis) through regulations established under authority of the 
Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The IPHC 
promulgates regulations governing the Pacific halibut

[[Page 38759]]

fishery under the Convention between the United States and Canada for 
the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the North Pacific Ocean and 
Bering Sea (Convention), signed at Ottawa, Ontario, on March 2, 1953, 
as amended by a Protocol Amending the Convention (signed at Washington, 
D.C., on March 29, 1979). Regulations developed by the IPHC are subject 
to approval by the Secretary of State with concurrence from the 
Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). After approval by the Secretary of 
State and the Secretary, the IPHC regulations are published in the 
Federal Register as annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 
300.62. The most recent IPHC regulations were published March 18, 2010 
(75 FR 13024). IPHC regulations affecting sport fishing for halibut and 
charter vessels in IPHC Areas 2C and 3A may be found in sections 3, 25, 
and 28 of the March 18 final rule.
    The Halibut Act, at sections 773c(a) and (b), provides the 
Secretary with general responsibility to carry out the Convention and 
the Halibut Act. In adopting regulations that may be necessary to carry 
out the purposes and objectives of the Convention and the Halibut Act, 
the Secretary is directed to consult with the Secretary of the 
department in which the U.S. Coast Guard is operating.
    Section 773c(c) of the Halibut Act also authorizes the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) to develop regulations, 
including limited access regulations, that are in addition to, and not 
in conflict with, approved IPHC regulations. Such Council-developed 
regulations may be implemented by NMFS only after approval by the 
Secretary. The Council has exercised this authority most notably in the 
development of its commercial fishery Individual Fishing Quota Program, 
codified at 50 CFR part 679, subsistence halibut fishery management 
measures, codified at 50 CFR 300.65, and the limited access program for 
charter vessels in the guided sport fishery, codified at 50 CFR 300.67.

Charter Halibut Limited Access Program

    In March 2007, the Council recommended a limited access program for 
charter vessels in IPHC Areas 2C and 3A. The intent of the program was 
to curtail growth of fishing capacity in the charter sector by limiting 
the number of charter vessels that may participate in the guided sport 
fishery for halibut in Areas 2C and 3A. NMFS published a final rule 
implementing the program on January 5, 2010 (75 FR 554). Under the 
program, NMFS will issue a charter halibut permit to a licensed charter 
fishing business owner based on his or her past participation in the 
charter halibut fishery. Portions of the limited access program final 
rule related to eligibility criteria, the permit application process, 
and other administrative procedures became effective on February 4, 
2010. The requirement to have a charter halibut permit on board a 
charter vessel fishing for halibut will become effective on February 1, 
2011. This schedule enables NMFS to complete most administrative 
procedures and issue charter halibut permits in 2010, in preparation 
for fishing under the program in 2011.

Qualifications for Charter Halibut Permit

    An applicant must demonstrate participation in the charter halibut 
fishery during a historic qualifying period and during a recent 
participation period to receive an initial allocation of a charter 
halibut permit. The historic qualifying period is the sport fishing 
season established by the IPHC in 2004 and 2005 (February 1 through 
December 31). Minimum participation criteria need be met in only one of 
these years-2004 or 2005. The recent participation period is the sport 
fishing season established by the IPHC in 2008 (February 1 through 
December 31). This year was selected as the recent participation period 
because, at the time of program implementation, it was the most recent 
year for which NMFS had a complete record of saltwater charter vessel 
logbook data from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).
    The basic unit of participation for receiving a charter halibut 
permit will be a logbook fishing trip. A logbook fishing trip is an 
event that was reported to ADF&G in a saltwater charter vessel logbook 
in accordance with the time limit required for reporting such a trip 
that was in effect at the time of the trip.
    The minimum participation qualifications include documentation of 
at least five logbook fishing trips during one of the qualifying years-
2004 or 2005-and at least five logbook fishing trips during 2008. 
Meeting these minimum participation qualifications could qualify an 
applicant for a non-transferable charter halibut permit. The minimum 
participation qualifications for a transferable charter halibut permit 
include documentation of at least 15 logbook fishing trips during one 
of the qualifying years-2004 or 2005-and at least 15 logbook fishing 
trips during 2008.

Angler Endorsements

    Each charter halibut permit will have an angler endorsement number. 
The angler endorsement number on the permit is the maximum number of 
charter vessel anglers that may catch and retain halibut on board the 
vessel. The term ``charter vessel angler'' is defined by regulation at 
50 CFR 300.61 to include all persons, paying or non-paying, who use the 
services of the charter vessel guide. The angler endorsement assigned 
to a charter halibut permit would not limit the number of persons that 
an operator may carry, only the number that may catch and retain 
halibut.
    A permit holder may use a charter halibut permit on board any 
vessel that meets federal and state requirements to operate as a 
charter vessel in the guided sport fishery for halibut in Areas 2C and 
3A. A vessel operator will be able to use multiple permits to increase 
the number of charter vessel anglers on board. For example, if a vessel 
operator has two charter permits on board, one with an angler 
endorsement of four and one with an endorsement of six, then the vessel 
operator can have a maximum of 10 charter vessel anglers on board who 
are catching and retaining halibut, if the operator is otherwise 
authorized to carry 10 persons. If other restrictions, such as United 
States Coast Guard safety regulations, prevent 10 anglers from being on 
board the vessel, the charter halibut permits will not authorize the 
vessel operator to violate those provisions of law.
    Under the final rule implementing the limited access program (75 FR 
554, January 5, 2010), the angler endorsement assigned to a charter 
halibut permit for all qualified businesses would be equal to the 
greatest number of anglers reported for any vessel the business used 
for at least one logbook fishing trip in the qualifying period, subject 
to a minimum endorsement of four. All permits issued to an applicant 
would have the same angler endorsement. For example, if a business 
qualified for three charter halibut permits using three vessels, each 
permit issued to the business would be assigned the same angler 
endorsement, even if the greatest number of charter vessel anglers 
reported was different for each vessel the business used in the 
qualifying period.

The Proposed Action

    In February 2010, the Council expressed concern about the method of 
assigning angler endorsements to the second and subsequent charter 
halibut permits issued to businesses receiving

[[Page 38760]]

more than one permit. The Council noted that in some cases, the 
greatest number of charter vessel anglers reported for a vessel could 
be greater than the number of anglers reported on other vessels the 
business used to qualify for charter halibut permits. For example, if 
an applicant used three vessels to qualify for three permits, and 
reported a maximum of six charter vessel anglers for one vessel's 
trips, a maximum of four charter vessel anglers for the second vessel, 
and a maximum of three charter vessel anglers for the third vessel in 
the qualifying period, under the final rule the applicant would be 
issued three charter halibut permits, each with an angler endorsement 
of six. The Council was concerned about this method of assigning angler 
endorsements because the total number of angler endorsements the 
applicant would receive on all permits combined could be greater than 
the total number of charter vessel anglers the business reported for 
all of the vessels it used in the qualifying period. The Council also 
was concerned that the method of assigning angler endorsements under 
the final rule could result in an increase in fishing capacity the 
Council did not intend. The total number of angler endorsements that 
would be assigned to permits under the final rule potentially could 
enable a greater number of charter vessel anglers to catch and retain 
halibut under the limited access program than qualifying charter 
operators reported during the qualifying period.
    The Council initiated this proposed action to more closely align 
angler endorsements assigned to the second and subsequent permits 
issued to a business with a permit recipient's vessel-specific activity 
during the qualifying period. Using the previous example in which the 
applicant would receive three charter halibut permits, under this 
action, each permit's angler endorsement would be derived from the 
number of charter vessel anglers reported for each vessel the applicant 
used in the qualifying period, with a minimum endorsement of four. The 
applicant would receive one permit with an angler endorsement of six, 
and two permits with an angler endorsement of four.
    In recommending the proposed action, the Council clarified that the 
status quo method of assigning an angler endorsement to the first 
charter halibut permit received by a business receiving more than one 
permit, and to the only permit received by a business receiving one 
permit is consistent with its intent, because the angler endorsement 
assigned to these permits would be derived from the greatest number of 
anglers reported for any vessel the business used for at least one 
logbook fishing trip in the qualifying period. The proposed rule would 
maintain the status quo method for assigning angler endorsements to the 
first charter halibut permit issued to all qualifying applicants, and 
would only change the method used to assign angler endorsements to each 
subsequent permit received by qualified applicants.

Revised Method of Assigning Angler Endorsements

    The Council reviewed the RIR/IRFA (see ADDRESSES) prepared for this 
action in April 2010, and selected a preferred alternative to revise 
the method of assigning angler endorsements to charter halibut permits 
issued to businesses receiving more than one permit for Area 2C, Area 
3A, or both. Under the proposed rule, for applicants that qualify for 
more than one charter halibut permit, NMFS would determine the greatest 
number of charter vessel anglers the applicant reported for each vessel 
the applicant used in the qualifying period (2004 and 2005). Each of 
these numbers would equal a vessel-specific angler endorsement number 
that would be assigned to a charter halibut permit issued to the 
applicant. NMFS would assign a vessel-specific angler endorsement of 
four if the applicant's greatest number of reported anglers was fewer 
than four on that vessel in the qualifying period. A vessel-specific 
angler endorsement number would be used only once to assign an angler 
endorsement to a charter halibut permit, unless the applicant used the 
same vessel to qualify for a permit in Area 2C and Area 3A.
    For each affected applicant, NMFS would assign the vessel-specific 
angler endorsement numbers for each area in descending order. The 
greatest vessel-specific angler endorsement number derived from any 
vessel the business used in the qualifying period would be assigned to 
the first transferable permit the applicant would receive. Once this 
vessel-specific angler endorsement number is assigned to a charter 
halibut permit, that number could not be assigned any additional angler 
endorsements for that area. The next greatest vessel-specific angler 
endorsement number would be assigned to the first subsequent 
transferable permit the applicant would receive, and this process of 
assigning endorsement numbers to transferable permits would continue 
until all transferable permits for an applicant were assigned an angler 
endorsement. When all transferable charter halibut permits have been 
assigned an angler endorsement, the next greatest vessel-specific 
angler endorsement number would be assigned to the first non-
transferable permit that the applicant would receive. The same process 
would continue until all non-transferable permits were assigned an 
angler endorsement. If the applicant would receive charter halibut 
permits for both Area 2C and Area 3A, the process would be repeated 
using the vessel-specific angler endorsement numbers for the second 
area.
    If the applicant would receive only one or more non-transferable 
charter halibut permits for an area, the greatest vessel-specific 
angler endorsement number would be assigned to the first non-
transferable permit the applicant would receive. The next greatest 
vessel-specific angler endorsement number would be assigned to the next 
non-transferable permit, and this process would continue until all non-
transferable permits issued to the business were assigned an angler 
endorsement, and repeated for a second area, if necessary.
    This method of assigning angler endorsements was used in the 
Council's 2007 initial review and public review drafts of the RIR 
prepared for the charter halibut limited access program (see ADDRESSES) 
to illustrate the effects of the angler endorsement element and 
options. The angler endorsement assignment method was not stated 
explicitly in the Council motion in which it identified its preferred 
alternative in March 2007. However, the Council determined in April 
2010 that this method was consistent with its intent for assigning 
angler endorsements to charter halibut permits.

Effects of the Proposed Action

    The effects of the proposed action are discussed in detail in the 
RIR/IRFA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES). The proposed action 
would affect only the number of angler endorsements that would be 
assigned to charter halibut permits initially issued to applicants that 
would receive more than one permit in an area. It would not affect the 
number of transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits 
that will be initially issued under the limited access program prior to 
the start of the 2011 fishing season. The RIR prepared for this action 
(see ADDRESSES) estimates that approximately 89, or 39 percent, of 
apparently qualified charter business owners would qualify for more 
than one charter halibut permit in Area 2C and approximately 69, or 24 
percent, of apparently qualified charter business

[[Page 38761]]

owners would qualify for more than one charter halibut permit in Area 
3A. The Council's preferred alternative would result in approximately 
2,618 angler endorsements assigned to 501 permits in Area 2C. This 
would be a reduction of approximately 13 percent from the 3,001 angler 
endorsements estimated to be assigned to charter halibut permits under 
the method used to assign angler endorsements in the final rule 
implementing the limited access program. In Area 3A, the Council's 
preferred alternative would result in approximately 3,122 angler 
endorsements assigned to 410 permits. This would be a reduction of 
approximately 11 percent from the 3,524 endorsements estimated to be 
assigned to permits under the final rule implementing the limited 
access program.
    The proposed action would reduce the angler endorsement numbers 
assigned to some charter halibut permits, while leaving other angler 
endorsement numbers unaffected. A permit with fewer angler endorsements 
would authorize fewer charter vessel anglers to catch and retain 
halibut on a fishing trip. In general, this could reduce the revenue 
the charter halibut permit holder would receive from using that permit 
relative to the status quo. Transferable charter halibut permits with 
reduced angler endorsement numbers under the proposed action also 
likely would transfer for a lower value.
    A charter halibut permit applicant receiving one or more charter 
halibut permits with a reduced angler endorsement under the proposed 
action would be adversely impacted. Future holders of affected permits 
likely would not be affected: while they would be able to generate less 
revenue from a charter halibut permit with a lower angler endorsement 
number, the purchase price of the permit likely would be less. Absent 
unexpected events, the reduced charter halibut permit value likely 
would be balanced by the reduced purchase costs of affected permits. A 
charter halibut permit recipient whose angler endorsement number would 
not be changed under the proposed action should not incur any costs 
from this action.
    The Council intended for NMFS to revise angler endorsements before 
initially issuing charter halibut permits prior to the 2011 charter 
season. The proposed rule would increase administrative costs for NMFS 
because it would require an appeals process (see Implementation of the 
Proposed Action section below), in addition to the process established 
for charter halibut permits under the limited access program final rule 
(75 FR 554, January 5, 2010). This appeals process would result in NMFS 
initially issuing charter halibut permits closer to the anticipated 
start of the 2011 charter season on February 1 than it intended under 
the status quo. This later permit issuance schedule could create some 
uncertainty for affected charter halibut permit applicants with respect 
to planning for the 2011 season, particularly for those applicants who 
already have indicated they accepted the angler endorsement numbers 
assigned to their permits under the current regulations.
    Although the proposed action would have distributional impacts on 
individual charter business owners, revising the method of assigning 
angler endorsements to charter halibut permits likely would not impact 
current charter industry capacity and the sector's ability to meet 
angler demand. The RIR (see ADDRESSES) estimates that the number of 
angler endorsements that would be issued under the proposed action 
would provide sufficient charter capacity to meet current angler 
demand, and even potentially some increase in demand. Similarly, the 
proposed action is not expected to have a large impact on angler demand 
for charter vessel trips or the harvest of halibut by charter vessel 
anglers because of the action's limited impact on capacity in the 
charter vessel sector.

Implementation of the Proposed Action

    To implement the proposed action, NMFS would create an official 
record of charter business participation in Areas 2C and 3A during the 
qualifying period and the recent participation period. The official 
record would be based on data from ADF&G, and would link each logbook 
fishing trip to an ADF&G Business Owner License and to the person-
individual, corporation, partnership, or other entity-that obtained the 
license. Thus, the official record would include information from ADF&G 
on the person(s) who obtained ADF&G Business Owner Licenses in the 
qualifying period, and in the recent participation period; the logbook 
fishing trips in those years that met the State of Alaska's legal 
requirements; the Business Owner License that authorized each logbook 
fishing trip; and the vessel that made each logbook fishing trip. The 
official record also would include the angler endorsement assigned to 
each charter halibut permit using the method implemented by the 
proposed regulatory amendment.
    If the proposed rule is approved, NMFS would notify all affected 
business owners of the revised angler endorsement(s) assigned to the 
charter halibut permit(s) they would be issued after the effective date 
of the rule. Affected business owners would have 30 days to challenge 
NMFS' determination. Charter business owners could submit documentation 
or further evidence in support of their claim during this 30-day 
evidentiary period. If NMFS accepts the business owner's documentation 
as sufficient to change the agency determination, NMFS would change the 
official record and issue a charter halibut permit with a revised 
angler endorsement accordingly. If NMFS does not agree that the further 
evidence supports the participant's claim, NMFS would issue an initial 
administrative determination (IAD) denying the participant's claim, and 
issue the participant's charter halibut permit(s) consistent with the 
official record. The IAD would describe why NMFS is initially denying 
some or all of an applicant's claim and would provide instructions on 
how to appeal the IAD.
    Charter business owners would be able to appeal an IAD through the 
NOAA Office of Administrative Appeals (OAA). The OAA is a separate unit 
within the office of the Regional Administrator for the Alaska Region 
of NMFS. The OAA is charged with developing a record and preparing a 
formal decision on all appeals. Unless the Regional Administrator 
intervenes, the OAA decision becomes the Final Agency Action 30 days 
after the decision is issued. An applicant who is aggrieved by the 
Final Agency Action may then appeal to the U.S. District Court. 
Regulations at 50 CFR 679.43 provide a regulatory description of the 
existing appeals process. NMFS would issue interim permits to 
applicants who filed timely applications and whose appeal is accepted 
by NOAA.

Classification

    Regulations governing the U.S. fisheries for Pacific halibut are 
developed by the IPHC, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the 
Council, and the Secretary. Section 5 of the Northern Pacific Halibut 
Act of 1982 (16 U.S.C. 773c) allows the Regional Council having 
authority for a particular geographical area to develop regulations 
governing the allocation and catch of halibut in U.S. Convention 
waters, as long as those regulations do not conflict with IPHC 
regulations. This action is consistent with the Council's authority to 
allocate halibut catches among fishery participants in the waters in 
and off Alaska.

[[Page 38762]]

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 12962

    This proposed rule is consistent with Executive Order 12962 as 
amended September 26, 2008, which requires federal agencies to ensure 
that recreational fishing is managed as a sustainable activity, and is 
consistent with existing law.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    An IRFA was prepared as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed 
rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the 
action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action 
may be found at the beginning of this preamble. A summary of the IRFA 
follows. Copies of the IRFA are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The entities directly regulated by this action are guided charter 
businesses that would qualify to receive more than one charter halibut 
permit in IPHC Areas 2C and 3A. NMFS estimates that under the status 
quo, 89 firms would qualify to receive more than one charter halibut 
permit in Area 2C, and 69 firms would qualify to receive more than one 
charter halibut permit in Area 3A. While quantitative information on 
individual charter business revenues is lacking, almost all of these 
firms are believed to be small entities under the terms of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act. The only exceptions may be some lodge-based 
operations in Southeast Alaska.
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) specifies that for marinas 
and charter/party boats, a small business is one with annual receipts 
less than $6.0 million. The largest of these charter operations, which 
are lodges, may be considered large entities under SBA standards, but 
that cannot be confirmed because NMFS does not collect economic data on 
lodges. All of the other charter operations likely would be considered 
small entities based on SBA criteria, because they would be expected to 
have gross revenues of less than $6.0 million on an annual basis.
    The analysis prepared for the proposed action did not identify any 
new projected reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance 
requirements on directly regulated entities. If the proposed rule is 
approved, NMFS would notify affected applicants of the change to the 
angler endorsement assigned to a charter halibut permit that would be 
issued to an applicant.
    NMFS has not identified other federal rules that may duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule.
    An IRFA is required to describe significant alternatives to the 
proposed rule that accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable 
statutes and that would minimize any significant economic impact of the 
proposed rule on small entities.
    The status quo alternative does not achieve the Council's 
objectives for determining the number of angler endorsements assigned 
to charter halibut permits. The objective of this action is to more 
closely align angler endorsements assigned to the second and subsequent 
charter halibut permits issued to a business with the actual greatest 
number of anglers for each vessel that a business used to qualify for 
charter halibut permits. The Council's preferred alternative for this 
action would reduce the total number of angler endorsements assigned to 
charter halibut permits from the number of endorsements that would be 
assigned under the status quo alternative.
    As noted above, all or most of the entities that would be directly 
impacted by this regulation are small entities. This action likely 
would have an insignificant adverse impact on some of these entities 
relative to the status quo alternative, by reducing the number of 
angler endorsements assigned to charter halibut permits they would be 
initially issued. A reduction in the number of angler endorsements 
assigned to a charter halibut permit generally would reduce the 
potential for profit from that permit, because a permit with fewer 
endorsements would authorize fewer charter vessel anglers on any given 
fishing trip. However, the RIR/IRFA (see ADDRESSES) prepared for this 
action notes that individual charter halibut permits could be used more 
or less intensively by charter vessel operators to meet angler demand. 
Charter vessel operators that receive a reduced number of angler 
endorsements under the proposed action could counteract this reduction 
by increasing the average number of anglers on a charter vessel fishing 
trip, or by increasing the average number of charter vessel fishing 
trips associated with an individual permit. Changes in the average 
number of anglers on an individual charter vessel fishing trip likely 
would produce relatively modest changes in the operator's costs and 
revenues for the trip. On balance, these changes are unlikely to have a 
significant economic impact on an individual charter vessel operator.
    The Council considered two options to the preferred alternative. 
One option would have determined a vessel-specific angler endorsement 
for businesses receiving more than one charter halibut permit for all 
vessels used in only one year of the qualifying period, rather than 
considering all vessels in both 2004 and 2005. Another option would 
have used the same one-year restriction for determining angler 
endorsements, but applied the proposed action to all businesses that 
would qualify to receive charter halibut permits, rather than limiting 
the action only to charter businesses that would qualify to receive 
more than one charter halibut permit. The Council rejected these 
options because they would result in changes to the status quo method 
of assigning angler endorsements to the first charter halibut permit 
issued to affected businesses, in addition to changing the status quo 
method of assigning angler endorsements to the second and subsequent 
charter halibut permit issued to affected businesses. In recommending 
the preferred alternative, the Council clarified that it intended to 
revise the status quo method of assigning an angler endorsement only to 
the second and subsequent charter halibut permits received by a 
business receiving more than one permit. The Council did not intend to 
revise the status quo method of assigning an angler endorsement to the 
first charter halibut permit received by a business receiving one or 
more charter halibut permits. Therefore, the preferred alternative 
accomplishes the distributional objectives of the Council with the 
least adverse impact on directly regulated entities.
    Data on cost structure, affiliation, and operational procedures and 
strategies in the halibut charter vessel sector are unavailable, and 
NMFS is unable to quantify the economic impacts of the proposed action 
on affected small entities for any of the options analyzed. The 
qualitative analysis in the RIR/IRFA (see ADDRESSES) estimates that 
none of the options considered under the proposed action would be 
expected to have a significant impact on small entities. While there 
may be some costs imposed on small entities through impacts on permit 
flexibility and implementation expenses, these impacts are likely to be 
small, because of the limited impact of the proposed action on the 
operational efficiency of an individual charter operator.

Collection of Information

    This rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject 
to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which

[[Page 38763]]

has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
control number 0648-0592. Public reporting burden estimate per response 
for the charter halibut permit application is two hours. This estimate 
includes the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data 
sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and 
reviewing the collection-of-information. Send comments regarding this 
burden estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including 
suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSEES) and by e-
mail to David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Treaties.

    Dated: June 29, 2010.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR part 300, subpart E, as follows:

PART 300-INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

    1. The authority citation for part 300, subpart E, continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773-773k.
    2. In Sec.  300.67:
    a. Redesignate paragraphs (e)(1) and (e)(2) as paragraphs (e)(5) 
and (e)(6), respectively;
    b. Revise paragraph (e) introductory text;
    c. Add paragraphs (e)(1) through (e)(4); and
    d. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (e)(5) to read as follows:


Sec.  300.67  Charter halibut limited access program.

* * * * *
    (e) Angler endorsement. A charter halibut permit will be endorsed 
as follows:
    (1) The angler endorsement number for the first transferable permit 
for an area issued to an applicant will be the greatest number of 
charter vessel anglers reported on any logbook trip in the qualifying 
period in that area.
    (2) The angler endorsement number for each subsequent transferable 
permit issued to the same applicant for the same area will be the 
greatest number of charter vessel anglers reported by the applicant on 
any logbook trip in the qualifying period for a vessel not already used 
in that area to determine an angler endorsement, until all transferable 
permits issued to the applicant are assigned an angler endorsement.
    (3) The angler endorsement number for the first non-transferable 
permit for an area issued to an applicant will be the greatest number 
of charter vessel anglers reported on any logbook trip in the 
qualifying period for a vessel not already used to determine an angler 
endorsement in that area.
    (4) The angler endorsement number for each subsequent non-
transferable permit issued to the same applicant for the same area will 
be the greatest number of charter vessel anglers reported by the 
applicant on any logbook trip in the qualifying period for a vessel not 
already used in that area to determine an angler endorsement, until all 
non-transferable permits issued to the applicant are assigned an angler 
endorsement.
    (5) The angler endorsement number will be four (4) if the greatest 
number of charter vessel anglers reported on any logbook fishing trip 
for an area in the qualifying period is less than four (4), or no 
charter vessel anglers were reported on any of the applicant's logbook 
fishing trips in the applicant-selected year.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2010-16358 Filed 7-2-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S