[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 26 (Wednesday, February 8, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6492-6503]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2751]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 679 and 680

[Docket No. 070718367-2061-02]
RIN 0648-AV33


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Community 
Development Quota Program

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations that govern fisheries managed under 
the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. These 
revisions are needed to comply with certain changes made to the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act) in 2006. Changes include revising regulations associated 
with recordkeeping, vessel licensing, catch retention requirements, and 
fisheries observer requirements to ensure that they are no more 
restrictive than the regulations in effect for comparable non-CDQ 
fisheries managed under individual fishing quotas or cooperative 
allocations. In addition, NMFS removes CDQ Program regulations that now 
are inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including regulations 
associated with the CDQ allocation process, the transfer of groundfish 
CDQ and halibut prohibited species quota, and the oversight of CDQ 
groups' expenditures.

DATES: Effective: March 9, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) 
prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection of information requirements contained in this 
final rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. Box 
12668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, Records Officer; 
in person at NMFS, Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, 
Juneau, AK; or, by email to OIRA_submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 
(202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish and crab 
fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) 
under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area (groundfish FMP) and the Fishery 
Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs 
(crab FMP). The North Pacific Fishery Management Council prepared the 
FMPs pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.). 
The International Pacific Halibut Commission and NMFS manage fishing 
for Pacific halibut through regulations established under the authority 
of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. Regulations governing the 
groundfish, crab, and halibut fisheries in the BSAI and implementing 
the FMPs appear at 50 CFR parts 300, 600, 679, and 680.

Background

    The CDQ Program is an economic development program associated with 
federally managed fisheries in the BSAI. The purposes of the program 
are to provide western Alaska communities the opportunity to 
participate and invest in BSAI fisheries, to support economic 
development in western Alaska, to alleviate poverty and provide 
economic and social benefits for residents of western Alaska, and to 
achieve sustainable and diversified local economies in western Alaska. 
The CDQ Program was developed to redistribute some of the BSAI 
fisheries' economic benefits to adjacent communities by allocating a 
portion of commercially important BSAI fisheries species to such 
communities. Regulations establishing the CDQ Program were first 
implemented in 1992. The CDQ Program was incorporated into the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act in 1996 through the Sustainable Fisheries Act 
(Pub. L. 104-297).
    NMFS allocates a portion of the annual catch limits--for a variety 
of commercially valuable marine species--in the BSAI to the CDQ 
Program. These apportionments are then allocated among six different 
non-profit managing organizations representing different affiliations 
of communities (CDQ groups). CDQ groups use the revenue derived from 
the harvest of their fisheries allocations to fund economic development 
activities and provide employment opportunities.
    This final rule amends regulations associated with the management 
of the CDQ fisheries conducted in the BSAI, as well as regulations 
associated with

[[Page 6493]]

administrative aspects of the CDQ Program. The regulatory amendments 
are necessary to align existing regulations with changes made to the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2006. This rule revises CDQ program regulations 
associated with fisheries observer coverage requirements, bycatch 
retention, vessel licensing, recordkeeping, and catch reporting to 
ensure that they are no more restrictive than the regulations in effect 
for comparable non-CDQ individual fishing quota (IFQ) fisheries and 
fisheries managed with cooperatives. The final rule revises regulations 
that may be considered more restrictive because they subject CDQ 
fishery participants to additional costs, to additional catch reporting 
requirements, or to additional controls beyond the measures in place 
for comparable non-CDQ fisheries.
    The proposed rule for this action was published on July 13, 2010 
(75 FR 39892), and the public comment period ended on August 12, 2010. 
Additional information and a description of the action are provided in 
detail in the preamble to the proposed rule and are not repeated here. 
Most of the regulatory amendments described in the proposed rule are 
implemented in this final rule. These include:
     Revising the CDQ Program purpose statement in Sec.  679.1,
     Removing, revising, and adding definitions in Sec.  679.2,
     Removing all regulations in Sec.  679.30 (except paragraph 
(e)(1) related to quota transfers, which would be relocated to Sec.  
679.31) because they are not consistent with requirements in the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act associated with CDQ allocations, the allocation 
adjustment process, and the submission and maintenance of community 
development plans,
     Revising the CDQ catch monitoring and accounting 
regulations in Sec.  679.32 to align with requirements in effect for 
comparable non-CDQ fisheries that are managed with IFQs or 
cooperatives.
     Revising CDQ observer coverage requirements in Sec.  
679.50, and
     Revising Sec. Sec.  679.2, 679.4, 679.5, 679.7, 679.24, 
and 679.43 to remove obsolete regulations, correct errors in CDQ-
related regulations that were made in prior rulemakings, and clarify 
CDQ-related terminology.
    NMFS received comments on some of the regulatory amendments 
described in the proposed rule. After considering these comments, NMFS 
determined that several changes to the regulatory amendments described 
in the proposed rule are warranted and they have been made in this 
final rule. These changes are described below in ``Comments and 
Responses'' and ``Changes from the Proposed Rule.''

Comments and Responses

    Comment 1: NMFS stated in the proposed rule that because the fixed 
gear Pacific cod fishery was not rationalized with IFQ or cooperative 
allocations, vessels fishing for CDQ Pacific cod with fixed gear would 
be required to comply with the CDQ observer coverage requirements at 50 
CFR 679.50(c)(4). However, after publication of the proposed rule, 
fishing companies participating in the Pacific cod hook-and-line 
catcher/processor sector notified NMFS that they had formed a voluntary 
fishing cooperative. This cooperative is now active, and fishes for 
both CDQ and non-CDQ Pacific cod. The vessels in this cooperative are 
subject to the fisheries observer requirements at 50 CFR 679.50 when 
fishing for non-CDQ Pacific cod with fixed gear. Section 679.50 
stipulates that observer coverage requirements for this vessel category 
include carrying a single observer for 30 to 100 percent of fishing 
days per calendar quarter depending on a vessel's length, gear type, 
and other parameters. These requirements are less restrictive than 
those that apply to vessels participating in the fixed-gear Pacific cod 
CDQ fishery, which require fixed-gear catcher/processors, regardless of 
length, to carry two observers while Pacific cod CDQ fishing. 
Accordingly, the Magnuson-Stevens Act provision at section 
305(i)(1)(B)(iv) requiring that CDQ fisheries be managed no more 
restrictively than fisheries with ``fishing cooperatives'' applies to 
the Pacific cod CDQ fishery.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges that a voluntary fishing cooperative 
has been formed by the fishing companies participating in the hook-and-
line catcher/processor Pacific cod fishery. NMFS received confirmation 
of the formation of this cooperative in a letter from the Freezer 
Longline Conservation Cooperative submitted on May 19, 2011. Based on 
additional explanation provided in section 116(b)(2) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-479, 120 Stat. 3606 
(2007)), the CDQ regulation of harvest requirements at section 
305(i)(1)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act also apply when a voluntary 
fishing cooperative has formed in a non-CDQ sector (Pub. L. 109-479, 
Sec.  116(b)(2), 120 Stat. 3575, 3606 (2007) (codified at 16 U.S.C. 
1855 note)). Section 116(b)(2) states that, for purposes of section 
305(i)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a ``fishing cooperative'' means 
``* * * a fishing cooperative whether or not authorized by a fishery 
management council or Federal agency, if a majority of the participants 
in the sector are participants in the fishing cooperative.''
    NMFS has determined that the CDQ observer coverage requirements for 
vessels participating in the CDQ fixed gear Pacific cod fishery are 
more restrictive than the observer coverage requirements that apply to 
fixed gear catcher/processors participating in the non-CDQ Pacific cod 
fishery. Therefore, NMFS agrees with the comment and revises the 
relevant CDQ fisheries management regulations at Sec.  679.32 with this 
final rule to ensure that the regulation of harvest provisions of the 
Magnuson Stevens Act apply to this sector and to vessels that are 
groundfish CDQ fishing while concurrently participating in a voluntary 
fishing cooperative. A complete description of these changes is in the 
section entitled ``Changes from the Proposed Rule.''
    Comment 2: The commenter notes that the proposed spelling of the 
names of two CDQ-eligible communities in the proposed rule differs from 
the spelling used in section 305(i)(1)(D) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
NMFS should spell out the names of Saint George and Saint Paul, rather 
than abbreviating ``Saint'' to ``St.''
    Response: NMFS agrees, and revises Table 7 to 50 CFR part 679 to 
incorporate the full spelling of the names of these two communities.
    Comment 3: NMFS should reconsider how it interprets the Magnuson-
Stevens Act paragraph that addresses the regulation of CDQ harvest. 
Specifically, NMFS should interpret the phrase ``nontarget species'' in 
section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv) to include prohibited species quota (PSQ) 
allocated to the CDQ program, consistent with the plain language of the 
statute. Otherwise, PSQ restrictions could be applied to the CDQ 
fisheries in a more restrictive manner than prohibited species catch 
(PSC) restrictions applicable to non-CDQ fisheries.
    Response: In the proposed rule prepared for this action (see 
ADDRESSES), NMFS explained that Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements at 
section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv) do not apply to regulations governing the 
catch of PSQ in the CDQ fisheries. NMFS based this interpretation on 
existing fisheries management regulations in 50 CFR part 679, in 
particular those defining ``harvesting or to harvest'' as being 
associated with the catch and retention of fish. After considering the 
comment, NMFS has determined that this is still a reasonable 
interpretation of section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv), and that ``nontarget 
species'' refers to groundfish species

[[Page 6494]]

other than the primary target species that a vessel catches in a 
specific haul or during a given fishing trip.
    The plain language of section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv) applies the 
provision to the ``harvest of allocations under the program.'' Section 
305(i)(1)(B)(i) establishes the CDQ program allocations, stating that 
``the annual percentage of the total allowable catch, guideline harvest 
level, or other annual catch limit allocated to the program in each 
directed fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands shall be the 
percentage approved by the Secretary, or established by Federal law, as 
of March 1, 2006, for the program.'' (emphasis added). PSC limits 
established in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish 
fisheries, and the corresponding PSQ allocations from those limits to 
the CDQ program, are not directed fisheries and regulations at 50 CFR 
679.21(b)(2) require operators of vessels engaged in directed fishing 
for BSAI groundfish to minimize its catch of PSC. Therefore, PSQ is not 
an allocation to the CDQ program for purposes of section 305(i)(1)(B). 
NMFS is not persuaded by the commenter's argument that the plain 
language of section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv) requires inclusion of PSQ in the 
phrase ``nontarget species'' and has determined that the language of 
section 305(i)(1)(B) supports the agency's interpretation.
    The CDQ Program as a whole, and CDQ groups individually, receive a 
specific allocation of each BSAI PSC category as PSQ. This includes 
allocations of Pacific halibut, Chinook salmon, non-Chinook salmon, and 
three crab species. CDQ groups are prohibited from exceeding their 
allocations of halibut and Chinook salmon PSQ. The complete catch of 
non-Chinook salmon and crab PSQ amounts results in area closures, 
rather than fishery closures. Each CDQ group has control over its PSQ 
allocations and may internally allocate them among its target fisheries 
as it considers appropriate. The CDQ fisheries and CDQ groups are not 
subject to non-CDQ fishery or management area closures that may occur 
during the year as non-CDQ sectors fully catch their halibut, crab, and 
salmon PSC apportionments.
    This action will not change the management practices for PSQ 
management in the CDQ fisheries. As noted in the EA/RIR prepared for 
this action (See ADDRESSES), NMFS expects that this action will have 
minimal effects on prohibited species. This action does not amend 
prohibitions against exceeding annual PSQ catch limits. However, it 
will amend regulations to allow the transfer of halibut PSQ either 
before or after such quota is caught, as will be allowed for groundfish 
CDQ transfers. Accordingly, NMFS does not believe that it is 
appropriate to revise its interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 
section 305(i)(1)(B)(iv) to incorporate PSQ management. The treatment 
of PSQ will be addressed on a case-by-case basis during the development 
of additional fisheries management programs that establish individual 
quotas or fisheries cooperatives.
    Comment 4: The commenter raises general concerns that the proposed 
rule would subject fishermen to additional paperwork or require 
additional fishing permits or licenses.
    Response: As explained in the proposed rule, NMFS is revising 
fisheries regulations to ensure that the CDQ fisheries are harvested no 
more restrictively than other Federal fisheries managed with quotas or 
fisheries cooperatives. The changes that are implemented by this final 
rule do not add additional paperwork or permitting requirements, with 
the exception of the creation of an application that may be used to 
request the use of alternative CDQ harvesting regulations for vessels 
that are operating in a voluntary fishery cooperative. Contrary to the 
commenter's assertions, this action actually reduces catch monitoring 
and reporting requirements for participants in certain groundfish CDQ 
fisheries.
    Comment 5: The comment raises general concerns about the 
development and implementation of the Crab Rationalization Program, 
which was implemented by NMFS in 2005.
    Response: This comment is not specifically related to the proposed 
rule.

Changes from the Proposed Rule

    This final rule includes changes from the proposed rule. These 
changes fall into four categories: (1) Revisions needed to apply the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act regulation of harvest provision when a voluntary 
cooperative exists in a non-CDQ sector (see response to Comment 1); (2) 
revisions needed to accommodate changes made to 50 CFR part 679 by 
other rules that have been published since the proposed rule was 
published; (3) one revision needed to remove an obsolete definition; 
and (4) a correction to add an inadvertently deleted paragraph back 
into catch monitoring requirements for catcher/processors at Sec.  
679.32(c)(3).
    First, a new paragraph (e) is added to Sec.  679.32 to provide a 
process for relief from more restrictive CDQ regulations if a voluntary 
cooperative forms in a non-CDQ sector. Section 679.32(e) allows a CDQ 
group, a representative of an association representing the CDQ groups, 
or a representative of a voluntary fishing cooperative to request 
approval from NMFS to use non-CDQ harvest regulations while groundfish 
CDQ fishing. A person requesting approval to use non-CDQ harvest 
regulations must submit to NMFS an application that will provide NMFS 
with information about the submitting entity, the applicable 
cooperative and the fisheries in which that cooperative participates, 
the vessels participating in that cooperative, and a copy of the 
contract or affidavit documenting the formal existence of the 
cooperative. NMFS will review this information and make determinations 
about whether a majority of the participants in the sector in which the 
voluntary cooperative has formed are participants in the cooperative 
and whether the CDQ regulations are more restrictive than the non-CDQ 
regulations applicable to that sector. If NMFS approves an application, 
vessel operators operating in the cooperative would have to comply with 
the applicable regulations in place for a particular non-CDQ groundfish 
fishery based on their vessel's operational category and the directed 
groundfish fisheries in which they participated. Specifically, vessel 
operators would not have to comply with the applicable operational 
requirements in Sec.  679.32(c)(3)(i) associated with (1) observer 
coverage levels and experience requirements, (2) observer sampling 
stations, and (3) the information used to accrue catch against the CDQ 
allocations. Operators also would not have to comply with CDQ observer 
coverage requirements in Sec.  679.50(c)(4), but would have to comply 
with the more general observer requirements detailed in other 
paragraphs of Sec.  679.50 that apply when these vessels are fishing in 
the non-CDQ fisheries.
    As noted in Comment 1 above, a voluntary fishing cooperative has 
been formed by the fishing companies participating in the hook-and-line 
catcher/processor Pacific cod fishery. If NMFS received an application 
to use non-CDQ harvest regulations while vessels in this cooperative 
were fishing for Pacific cod CDQ, NMFS would review the application to 
ensure that (1) it was complete and accurate, (2) that the vessels 
listed on the application form comprise the majority of the vessels in 
the hook-and-line catcher/processor Pacific cod sector, and (3) the CDQ 
harvest regulations are more restrictive than the non-CDQ harvest 
regulations. NMFS defines the hook-and-line catcher/processor sector in 
the

[[Page 6495]]

same way as it is defined in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 
(Pub. L. 108-447, 118 Stat. 2886). That Act defines the ``longline 
catcher/processor subsector'' to mean ``the holder of an LLP license * 
* * that is endorsed for Bering Sea or Aleutian Islands catcher 
processor activity, C/P, P. cod, and hook-and-line gear.'' Thus, NMFS' 
review would include verifying that the vessels listed on the 
application form comprise greater than 50 percent of the vessels and 
associated LLP groundfish licenses eligible to be in this particular 
subsector.
    In conjunction with allowing vessels in a voluntary cooperative to 
operate under non-CDQ groundfish fisheries regulations while fishing 
for groundfish CDQ, NMFS would also have to modify its CDQ catch 
accounting practices. This would entail using the production data that 
is already required to be submitted under Sec.  679.5, rather than 
observer data, for some proportion of the catch made by vessels in a 
voluntary fishery cooperative. This is because the CDQ regulations in 
Sec.  679.50(c)(4) require a higher level of observer coverage than is 
usually required for vessels fishing for non-CDQ groundfish. This level 
of observer coverage would be decreased for the vessels that are 
directed fishing for CDQ while operating in a voluntary cooperative. As 
a result, NMFS will have to use a combination of data sources to 
determine a vessel's total groundfish CDQ and PSQ catch. This will 
include the use of observer data, if available, production data 
submitted by the vessel operator, and NMFS-calculated bycatch rates for 
PSQ species.
    Second, the following revisions from the proposed rule are needed 
to reflect revisions made to 50 CFR part 679 by other rules that have 
been published since the proposed rule was published:
    1. The replacement of the term ``NMFS-certified observer'' with the 
term ``observer'' in numerous sections of 50 CFR part 679, as described 
in the proposed rule for this action, will still occur in this final 
rule. However, some of these changes have already occurred in some 
sections through other rulemaking, including Sec. Sec.  679.5, 679.7, 
679.21 and 679.50. Therefore, some of the proposed changes to 
terminology are no longer needed and these have been removed from the 
remove/add table.
    2. The deletions and revisions to prohibitions in Sec.  679.7(d) 
that are detailed in the proposed rule are still applicable; however, 
the proposed paragraph numbering is not. Following the publication of 
the proposed rule associated with this action, a different regulatory 
action re-organized and revised Sec.  679.7(d). That action, Amendment 
91 to the groundfish FMP, implemented Chinook salmon bycatch management 
measures in the Bering Sea pollock fisheries (75 FR 53026, August 30, 
2010). Those measures also are applicable to the pollock CDQ fisheries, 
and include revisions to prohibitions associated with salmon PSQ. The 
final rule implementing Amendment 91 to the groundfish FMP categorized 
related CDQ prohibitions in Sec.  679.7(d) into general, catch 
accounting, and prohibited species categories. This also resulted in a 
new paragraph numbering hierarchy. The paragraph redesignation 
associated with that change encompasses many of the revisions to Sec.  
679.7(d) implemented by this action.
    3. The proposed change to Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) is no 
longer necessary. The proposed revision, which would have corrected an 
omission made in a prior rulemaking, was made by the final rule 
implementing Amendment 91 to the groundfish FMP.
    4. Due to the redesignation of the paragraphs under Sec.  679.7(d), 
the proposed revision to a cross reference in Sec.  679.22(h) is 
changed. The original revision was described in the proposed rule; 
however, the cross-reference changed due to the implementation of 
Amendment 91 to the groundfish FMP and its associated changes to Sec.  
679.7(d).
    5. Some cross-references for Sec.  679.32 that were included in the 
proposed rule have become obsolete due to the implementation of more 
recent regulatory actions. Such cross-references are revised to reflect 
current regulatory citations.
    Third, NMFS is deleting the definition of ``resident fisherman'' 
from Sec.  679.2. This term was originally developed for the CDQ 
program and is only used in the definition of ``qualified applicant'' 
and is not used elsewhere in 50 CFR part 679. NMFS proposed to delete 
the term ``qualified applicant'' in the proposed rule and the proposed 
deletion of the term ``qualified applicant'' renders the term 
``resident fisherman'' obsolete. Therefore, NMFS is deleting the terms 
``qualified applicant'' and ``resident fisherman'' in this final rule.
    Fourth, NMFS inadvertently deleted an existing regulatory 
requirement for catcher/processors using nontrawl gear to provide an 
observer sampling station while fishing for groundfish CDQ in the 
proposed rule associated with this action (75 FR 39892, July 13, 2010). 
This final rule does not include the proposed deletion of this 
requirement to Sec.  679.32(c)(3)(i)(F). NMFS did not intend to remove 
this existing regulation as the monitoring requirements for catcher/
processors using nontrawl gear must be aligned with those in place for 
catcher/processors using trawl gear while fishing for groundfish CDQ 
and motherships accepting deliveries of groundfish CDQ. Vessels in each 
of these categories are required to provide such sampling stations to 
aid in fisheries observers' catch weighing, sampling, and data 
collection duties.

Classification

    The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that this 
rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the Alaska 
groundfish fisheries managed under the groundfish FMP and that it is 
consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The 
FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), a 
summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in 
response to the IRFA, NMFS responses to comments, and a summary of the 
analyses completed to support the action. Each item in section 
604(a)(1)-(5) of the RFA has been addressed in the classification 
section of the final rule. A copy of this analysis is available from 
NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    NMFS published the proposed rule for this action on July 13, 2010 
(75 FR 39892), with comments invited through August 12, 2010. An IRFA 
was prepared, and summarized in the ``Classification'' section of the 
proposed rule. The description of this action, the need for and 
objectives of the action, and the legal reasons for selecting the 
alternative implemented by this action are described elsewhere in this 
preamble and are not repeated here.
    NMFS received two responses, containing five unique comments, about 
the proposed rule. No public comments were specifically received about 
the IRFA. However, one of the public comments requested that NMFS 
consider additional revisions to CDQ catch monitoring regulations with 
respect to the hook-and-line catcher/processor sector. Such revisions 
would decrease the applicable fisheries observer requirements for this 
vessel category while such vessels were fishing for Pacific cod CDQ. 
Comment 1 discusses this issue in detail in the section titled 
``Response to Comments.'' NMFS is implementing changes to CDQ catch 
monitoring regulations for vessels that fish for groundfish CDQ while

[[Page 6496]]

participating in a cooperative as part of this action.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are the six CDQ 
groups that participate in the halibut, sablefish, groundfish, and 
pollock CDQ fisheries in the BSAI. CDQ groups are considered to be 
small entities under the RFA's categorization of small, non-profit 
organizations. This action is expected to reduce the costs associated 
with various aspects of participating in these CDQ fisheries. These 
include costs associated with different CDQ fisheries' regulatory 
requirements governing (1) fisheries observer coverage levels, (2) 
catch retention and accounting, (3) vessel eligibility designation, and 
(4) vessel licensing.
    All six CDQ groups annually are allocated groundfish CDQ, halibut 
CDQ, and crab CDQ. These groups participate, either directly or 
indirectly, in the commercial harvest of these allocations. CDQ groups 
receive royalties from the successful harvest of CDQ by commercial 
fishing companies, as well as access to employment and training 
opportunities for their communities' residents. Royalties and income 
from CDQ harvesting activities are used to fund economic development 
projects in CDQ communities. Based on the most recently available 
information, the CDQ groups received approximately $60 million in 
royalties from the harvest of their CDQ allocations in 2009. 
Participants in the CDQ fisheries affected by this action will no 
longer be subject to regulations that are more costly, complex, or 
burdensome than those that apply to comparable IFQ fisheries or 
fisheries managed with cooperatives. Thus, this action is not expected 
to have an adverse economic impact on the small entities affected by 
this action.
    NMFS evaluated three alternatives associated with this action. 
Alternative 1, the status quo, would maintain different fisheries 
management regulations for the halibut, fixed gear sablefish, and 
pollock CDQ fisheries. Each of these fisheries has a comparable IFQ or 
cooperative fishery. However, due to the different policies and 
objectives associated with the original development of the regulations 
governing the CDQ fisheries, CDQ harvest regulations sometimes differed 
from those in place for the non-CDQ fisheries associated with this 
action. Maintaining existing regulations associated with the CDQ 
fisheries that are more restrictive than those in place for comparable 
IFQ and cooperative fisheries would not comply with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act.
    Alternative 2, the preferred alternative, will revise CDQ fisheries 
management regulations in 50 CFR part 679 to align them with 
regulations that govern fisheries managed with IFQs and fisheries 
managed with cooperatives. The regulatory revisions implemented by this 
rule include: (1) Separating fixed gear sablefish CDQ and pollock CDQ 
from regulations associated with the other groundfish CDQ fisheries; 
(2) exempting participants in the sablefish CDQ fishery from needing a 
license limitation program groundfish license by excluding fixed gear 
sablefish CDQ from the definition of ``license limitation species''; 
(3) removing a requirement that CDQ groups annually submit a request to 
NMFS to designate specific vessels as eligible to harvest groundfish 
CDQ on their behalf; (4) revising CDQ catch monitoring requirements; 
and (5) revising regulations to align observer coverage requirements 
for the sablefish, halibut, groundfish, and pollock CDQ fisheries with 
comparable non-CDQ fisheries. On the basis of the best available 
information, this preferred alternative imposes the minimum adverse 
economic impact on directly regulated small entities, while achieving 
the objectives of the regulatory action, among all the alternatives 
available to the agency. The preferred alternative incorporates 
regulatory revisions that reduce the potential economic and operational 
burden on small entities.
    Alternative 3 would amend regulations to fully integrate the 
sablefish CDQ fisheries into the sablefish IFQ fisheries management 
system. It also would make the same general changes proposed for 
Alternative 2 (described in the preceding paragraph). Sablefish CDQ 
currently is managed in conjunction with all other groundfish CDQ 
fisheries. In contrast, halibut CDQ is managed in conjunction with the 
halibut IFQ fisheries, and is thus subject to IFQ-related regulations. 
Alternative 3 would (1) require CDQ groups to obtain sablefish CDQ 
permits prior to conducting directed fishing for sablefish, (2) 
incorporate sablefish CDQ into the IFQ recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements and make IFQ prohibitions applicable to the sablefish CDQ 
fishery, and (3) incorporate the sablefish CDQ fishery into IFQ 
regulations associated with quota transfers and catch accounting.
    Both Alternatives 2 and 3 would meet the requirement of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act that CDQ fisheries be managed no more 
restrictively than fisheries managed with IFQs or harvesting 
cooperatives by matching regulations as closely as possible for 
relevant CDQ and non-CDQ fisheries. In the case of Alternative 3, the 
sablefish CDQ fishery would be fully integrated into both the 
regulations and the administrative structure in place for the sablefish 
IFQ fishery.
    Alternative 2 was selected as the preferred alternative primarily 
based on the potential changes that each alternative would bring to the 
fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery. NMFS believes that Alternative 2 
would result in the least disruptive change to the CDQ groups and CDQ 
fisheries, while meeting the regulation of harvest requirements in the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. Alternative 2 would amend regulations for the CDQ 
fisheries affected by this action to match regulations in place for 
most comparable non-CDQ fisheries, but would not make as many changes 
to the program as Alternative 3. Alternative 2 would not integrate the 
sablefish CDQ fishery into the sablefish IFQ program. CDQ groups would 
not be subject to sablefish CDQ permitting requirements and additional 
IFQ-related reporting requirements, nor would NMFS have to implement 
such requirements. Furthermore, keeping fixed gear sablefish CDQ under 
the groundfish CDQ catch accounting and management system would make it 
easier for NMFS to monitor the catch and transfer of the multiple 
categories of sablefish CDQ (i.e., trawl and non-trawl gear 
allocations) allocated to the CDQ Program and CDQ groups. Placing the 
fixed-gear sablefish CDQ in the sablefish IFQ catch accounting system 
would add complexity to the sablefish CDQ transfer process.
    NMFS is not aware of any additional alternatives to those 
considered that would accomplish the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and other applicable statutes while minimizing the economic impact 
of this rule on small entities.
    NMFS also is not aware of any other federal rules that would 
duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this action.
    This final rule removes a number of collection-of-information 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which 
have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
control number 0648-0269. The collection-of-information requirements 
that will be removed from the collection with publication of this final 
rule and its public reporting burden per response is estimated at: One 
hour for CDQ vessel eligibility request; 520 hours for a community 
development plan (CDP); 20 hours for an annual budget report; eight

[[Page 6497]]

hours for an annual budget reconciliation report; 40 hours for a 
substantial amendment to a CDP; and eight hours for a technical 
amendment to a CDP.
    This final rule contains a new collection-of-information 
requirement subject to the PRA and which has been approved by OMB under 
control number 0648-0269. NMFS is revising regulations to allow vessels 
that are fishing for groundfish CDQ, while operating in a voluntary 
fishery cooperative, to submit to NMFS an application for the use of 
non-CDQ regulations when the CDQ regulations are more restrictive than 
the regulations otherwise required for participants in non-CDQ 
groundfish CDQ fisheries. This provision will be implemented through an 
application to NMFS for approval to use non-CDQ harvest regulations. 
NMFS estimates that the public reporting burden is five hours per 
response. Response times include 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 collection of information, including suggestions for reducing the 
burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to OIRA_
Submission@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.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 
1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an 
agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or 
more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and 
shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules.
    The preamble to this final rule serves as the small entity 
compliance guide. The action does not require any additional compliance 
from small entities that is not described in the preamble. Copies of 
the final rule are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and at the 
following Web site: http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 679 and 680

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 2, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR parts 
679 and 680 as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  679.1, revise paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.1  Purpose and scope.

* * * * *
    (e) Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. 
Regulations in this part govern the Western Alaska CDQ Program (see 
subparts A, B, C, D, and E of this part). The purpose of the program is 
specified in 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(A).
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  679.2,
0
a. Remove the definitions for ``CDQ group number'', ``CDQ project'', 
``Community Development Plan'', ``Eligible vessel'', ``Managing 
organization'', ``Qualified applicant'', and ``Resident fisherman''.
0
b. Revise the definitions for ``CDQ allocation'', ``CDQ group'', ``CDQ 
Program'', paragraph (1) of ``Eligible community'', ``Groundfish CDQ 
fishing'', ``Halibut CDQ fishing'', ``License limitation groundfish'', 
``PSQ allocation'', ``PSQ reserve'', and
0
c. Add definitions for ``CDQ number'', ``Pollock CDQ fishing'', and 
``Sablefish CDQ fishing'' in alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  679.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    CDQ allocation means a percentage of a CDQ reserve specified under 
Sec.  679.31 that is assigned to a CDQ group.
    CDQ group means an entity identified as eligible for the CDQ 
Program under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(D). CDQ groups are listed in Table 7 
to this part.
    CDQ number means a number assigned to a CDQ group by NMFS that must 
be recorded and is required in all logbooks and reports submitted by 
vessels harvesting CDQ or processors taking deliveries of CDQ.
    CDQ Program means the Western Alaska Community Development Quota 
Program.
* * * * *
    Eligible community means: (1) for purposes of the CDQ Program, a 
community identified as eligible for the CDQ Program under 16 U.S.C. 
1855(i)(1)(D). Eligible communities are listed in Table 7 to this part.
* * * * *
    Groundfish CDQ fishing means fishing that results in the retention 
of any groundfish CDQ species, but that does not meet the definition of 
pollock CDQ fishing, sablefish CDQ fishing, or halibut CDQ fishing.
* * * * *
    Halibut CDQ fishing means using fixed gear, retaining halibut CDQ, 
and not retaining groundfish over the maximum retainable amounts 
specified in Sec.  679.20(e) and Table 11 to this part.
* * * * *
    License limitation groundfish means target species specified 
annually pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(2), except that demersal shelf 
rockfish east of 140 [ordm] W. longitude, sablefish managed under the 
IFQ program, sablefish managed under the fixed gear sablefish CDQ 
reserve, and pollock allocated to the Aleutian Islands directed pollock 
fishery and harvested by vessels 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA or less, are not 
considered license limitation groundfish.
* * * * *
    Pollock CDQ fishing means directed fishing for pollock in the BS or 
AI under a pollock allocation to the CDQ Program authorized at Sec.  
679.31(a) and accruing pollock catch against a pollock CDQ allocation.
* * * * *
    PSQ allocation means a percentage of a PSQ reserve specified under 
Sec.  679.31 that is assigned to a CDQ group.
    PSQ reserve means the amount of a prohibited species catch limit 
established under Sec.  679.21(e) that has been allocated to the 
groundfish CDQ Program under Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(i) and (e)(4)(i).
* * * * *
    Sablefish CDQ fishing means fishing using fixed gear, retaining 
sablefish CDQ, and that results in the retained catch of sablefish CDQ 
plus sablefish IFQ being greater than the retained catch of any other 
groundfish species or species group.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  679.4, revise paragraph (e)(1)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.4  Permits.

* * * * *

[[Page 6498]]

    (e) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) The CDQ group, the operator of the vessel, the manager of a 
shoreside processor or stationary floating processor, and the 
Registered Buyer must comply with the requirements of this paragraph 
(e) for the catch of CDQ halibut.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  679.5,
0
a. Remove paragraph (n)(2),
0
b. Redesignate paragraphs (n)(1)(i), (n)(1)(ii), and (n)(1)(iii) 
according to the following table, and

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Old paragraph(s)                     New paragraph(s)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(n)(1)(i)..............................  (n)(2).
(n)(1)(ii).............................  (n)(3).
(n)(1)(ii)(A) and (B)..................  (n)(3)(i) and (ii),
                                          respectively.
(n)(1)(iii)............................  (n)(4).
(n)(1)(iii)(A) and (B).................  (n)(4)(i) and (ii),
                                          respectively.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
c. Revise the heading of Sec.  679.5(n) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.5  Recordkeeping and reporting (R&R).

* * * * *
    (n) CDQ and PSQ transfers.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  679.7,
0
a. Remove paragraphs (d)(3), (d)(4), (d)(6), (d)(7)(i)(H), and 
(d)(7)(ii)(A),
0
b. Redesignate paragraph (d) according to the following table,

------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Old paragraph(s)                     New paragraph(s)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(d)(5)....................................  (d)(3).
(d)(7)....................................  (d)(4).
(d)(7)(ii)(B).............................  (d)(4)(ii).
(d)(8)....................................  (d)(5).
(d)(9)....................................  (d)(6).
(d)(10)...................................  (d)(7).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
c. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (d)(4)(ii) and paragraph 
(f)(3)(ii), and
0
d. Add paragraph (d)(4)(i)(H) as follows:
    The revisions and addition reads as follows:


Sec.  679.7  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (H) For the operator of a vessel fishing on behalf of a CDQ group 
to retain more than the maximum retainable amount of pollock 
established under Sec.  679.20(e) unless the pollock harvested by that 
vessel accrues against a CDQ group's pollock CDQ allocation.
    (ii) Fixed gear sablefish. For any person on a vessel using fixed 
gear that is fishing for a CDQ group with an allocation of fixed gear 
sablefish CDQ, to discard sablefish harvested with fixed gear unless 
retention of sablefish is not authorized under Sec.  679.23(e)(4)(ii) 
or, in waters within the State of Alaska, discard is required by laws 
of the State of Alaska.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Sablefish. Retain sablefish caught with fixed gear without a 
valid IFQ permit, and if using a hired master, without an IFQ hired 
master permit in the name of an individual aboard, unless fishing on 
behalf of a CDQ group.
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  679.22, revise paragraph (h) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.22  Closures.

* * * * *
    (h) CDQ fisheries closures. See Sec.  679.7(d)(5) for time and area 
closures that apply to the CDQ fisheries once the non-Chinook salmon 
PSQ and crab PSQ amounts have been reached.

0
8. In Sec.  679.24, revise paragraph (b)(1)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.24  Gear limitations.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) While directed fishing for sablefish in the Bering Sea 
subarea.
* * * * *


Sec.  679.30  [Removed and reserved]

0
9. Remove and reserve Sec.  679.30.

0
10. Revise Sec.  679.31 to read as follows:


Sec.  679.31  CDQ and PSQ reserves, allocations, and transfers.

    (a) CDQ and PSQ reserves--(1) Groundfish CDQ reserves. See Sec.  
679.20 (b)(1)(ii).
    (2) Halibut CDQ reserve--(i) NMFS will annually withhold from the 
IFQ allocation the proportions of the halibut catch limit that are 
specified in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section for use as a CDQ 
reserve.
    (ii) The proportions of the halibut catch limit annually withheld 
for the halibut CDQ program, exclusive of issued QS, are as follows for 
each IPHC regulatory area (see Figure 15 to this part):
    (A) Area 4B. In IPHC regulatory area 4B, 20 percent of the annual 
halibut quota shall be apportioned to a CDQ reserve.
    (B) Area 4C. In IPHC regulatory area 4C, 50 percent of the annual 
halibut quota shall be apportioned to a CDQ reserve.
    (C) Area 4D. In IPHC regulatory area 4D, 30 percent of the annual 
halibut quota shall be apportioned to a CDQ reserve.
    (D) Area 4E. In IPHC regulatory area 4E, 100 percent of the annual 
halibut quota shall be apportioned to a CDQ reserve. A fishing trip 
limit of 10,000 lb (4.54 mt) applies to halibut CDQ harvested through 
September 1.
    (3) Crab CDQ reserves. Crab CDQ reserves for crab species governed 
by the Crab Rationalization Program are specified at Sec.  680.40(a)(1) 
of this chapter. For Norton Sound red king crab, 7.5 percent of the 
guideline harvest level specified by the State of Alaska is allocated 
to the crab CDQ reserve.
    (4) PSQ reserve. (See Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) and (e)(4)(i)(A).)
    (b) Allocations of CDQ and PSQ among the CDQ groups-(1) Annual 
allocations of groundfish, halibut, and crab CDQ reserves among the CDQ 
groups. The CDQ reserves in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(3) of this 
section and Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii) shall be allocated among the CDQ 
groups based on the CDQ percentage allocations required under 16 U.S.C. 
1855(i)(1)(C), unless modified under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(H). A portion 
of the groundfish CDQ reserves will be allocated according to paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section.
    (2) Annual allocations of nontarget groundfish species among the 
CDQ groups. Seven-tenths of one percent of each of the annual TACs 
allocated as groundfish CDQ reserves under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) 
and (D), with the exception of the trawl gear sablefish CDQ reserves, 
shall be allocated among the CDQ groups by the panel established in 
section 305(i)(1)(G) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    (3) Annual allocations of PSQ reserves among the CDQ groups. The 
annual PSQ reserves shall be allocated among the CDQ groups based on 
the percentage allocations approved by NMFS on August 8, 2005. These 
percentage allocations are described and listed in a notice published 
in the Federal Register on August 31, 2006 (71 FR 51804).
    (c) Transfers. CDQ groups may request that NMFS transfer CDQ or PSQ 
from one group to another group by each group submitting a completed 
transfer request as described in Sec.  679.5(n)(1). NMFS will approve 
the transfer request if the CDQ group transferring quota to another CDQ 
group has sufficient quota available for transfer. If NMFS approves the 
request, NMFS will make the requested transfer(s) by decreasing the 
account balance of the CDQ group from which

[[Page 6499]]

the CDQ or PSQ species is transferred and by increasing the account 
balance of the CDQ group receiving the transferred CDQ or PSQ species. 
The PSQ will be transferred as of the date NMFS approves the transfer 
request and is effective only for the remainder of the calendar year in 
which the transfer occurs.

0
11. Revise Sec.  679.32 to read as follows:


Sec.  679.32  CDQ fisheries monitoring and catch accounting.

    (a) Applicability. This section contains requirements for CDQ 
groups, vessel operators, and managers of processors that harvest or 
process fixed gear sablefish CDQ, pollock CDQ, or groundfish CDQ. 
Regulations governing the catch accounting of halibut CDQ are at Sec.  
679.40(h).
    (b) PSQ catch. Time and area closures required once a CDQ group has 
reached its salmon PSQ or crab PSQ are listed in Sec.  679.7(d)(5). The 
catch of salmon or crab by vessels using other than trawl gear does not 
accrue to the PSQ for these species. The discard of halibut by vessels 
using pot gear, jig gear, or hook-and-line gear to harvest sablefish 
CDQ will not accrue to the halibut PSQ if this bycatch has been 
exempted from the halibut PSC limit in the annual BSAI specifications 
published in the Federal Register.
    (c) Fisheries monitoring requirements and catch accounting sources 
for vessels sablefish, pollock, or groundfish CDQ fishing--(1) 
Sablefish CDQ fishing with fixed gear. NMFS will use the following data 
sources to account for catch made by vessels sablefish CDQ fishing with 
fixed gear:
    (i) Sablefish CDQ. NMFS will use the same information sources that 
are used to debit sablefish IFQ accounts (see Sec.  679.40(h)) to debit 
fixed gear sablefish CDQ accounts. This information must be reported 
through standard reporting requirements in Sec.  679.5.
    (ii) Groundfish CDQ. NMFS will use the catch information submitted 
under standard reporting requirements in Sec.  679.5 to debit any other 
groundfish CDQ species caught while sablefish CDQ fishing from 
applicable groundfish CDQ accounts.
    (2) Pollock CDQ fishing.-(i) Operational requirements for catcher/
processors and motherships. Operators of catcher/processors directed 
fishing for pollock CDQ and motherships taking deliveries of codends 
from catcher vessels directed fishing for pollock must comply with the 
following:
    (A) Comply with the observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(c)(5)(i)(A).
    (B) Notify the observers of CDQ catch before CDQ catch is brought 
onboard the vessel and notify the observers of the CDQ group and CDQ 
number associated with the CDQ catch.
    (C) Comply with the catch weighing and observer sampling station 
requirements at Sec.  679.63(a).
    (ii) Data sources used for CDQ catch accounting-(A) Catcher/
processors and motherships. NMFS will use observer data as the basis to 
debit pollock CDQ, groundfish CDQ, and PSQ account balances.
    (B) Catcher vessels delivering to shoreside processors. NMFS will 
use the catch information submitted under standard reporting 
requirements in Sec.  679.5 to debit pollock CDQ, other groundfish CDQ 
species, and PSQ caught while pollock CDQ fishing from applicable CDQ 
account balances.
    (3) Groundfish CDQ fishing-(i) Operational requirements-(A) Catcher 
vessels without an observer. Operators of catcher vessels in this 
category must comply with one of the following requirements:
    (1) Catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA must retain all 
groundfish CDQ species, halibut CDQ, and salmon PSQ until they are 
delivered to a processor that meets the requirements of paragraph (d) 
of this section, unless retention of groundfish CDQ species is not 
authorized under Sec.  679.4; discard of the groundfish CDQ species is 
required under subpart B of this part; or, in waters within the State 
of Alaska, discard is required by the State of Alaska.
    (2) Catcher vessels delivering unsorted codends to motherships must 
retain all CDQ and PSQ species and deliver them to a mothership that 
meets the requirements of paragraph (c)(3)(i)(D) of this section.
    (B) Catcher vessels with an observer using trawl gear and 
delivering to shoreside processors. Operators of vessels in this 
category must comply with all of the following requirements:
    (1) Comply with the observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(c)(4)(iii)(E).
    (2) Retain all CDQ species and salmon PSQ until they are delivered 
to a processor that meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this 
section unless retention of groundfish CDQ species is not authorized 
under Sec.  679.4 of this part; discard of the groundfish CDQ species 
is required under subpart B of this part; or, in waters within the 
State of Alaska, discard is required by laws of the State of Alaska.
    (3) Retain all halibut and crab PSQ in a bin or other location 
until it is counted and sampled by the observer.
    (4) Provide space on the deck of the vessel for the observer to 
sort and store catch samples and a place from which to hang the 
observer sampling scale.
    (C) Catcher/processors using trawl gear. Operators of vessels in 
this category must comply with the following requirements:
    (1) Comply with the observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(c)(4)(iii)(A).
    (2) Notify the observers of CDQ catch before CDQ catch is brought 
onboard the vessel and notify the observers of the CDQ group and CDQ 
number associated with the CDQ catch.
    (3) Comply with the catch monitoring requirements at Sec.  
679.93(c).
    (D) Motherships taking deliveries of unsorted codends. Operators of 
vessels in this category must comply with the following requirements:
    (1) Comply with the observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(c)(4)(iii)(B).
    (2) Notify the observers of CDQ catch before CDQ catch is brought 
onboard the vessel and notify the observers of the CDQ number 
associated with the CDQ catch.
    (3) Provide an observer sampling station as described at Sec.  
679.28(d).
    (4) The operator of a mothership taking deliveries of unsorted 
codends from catcher vessels must weigh all catch on a scale that 
complies with the requirements of Sec.  679.28(b). Catch must not be 
sorted before it is weighed, unless a provision for doing so is 
approved by NMFS for the vessel. Each CDQ haul must be sampled by an 
observer for species composition and the vessel operator must allow 
observers to use any scale approved by NMFS to weigh partial CDQ haul 
samples.
    (E) Observed catcher vessels using nontrawl gear. Operators of 
vessels in this category must retain all CDQ species until they are 
delivered to a processor that meets the requirements of paragraph (d) 
of this section unless retention of groundfish CDQ species is not 
authorized under Sec.  679.4 of this part, discard of the groundfish 
CDQ or PSQ species is required under subpart B of this part, or, in 
waters within the State of Alaska, discard is required by laws of the 
State of Alaska. All of the halibut PSQ must be counted and sampled for 
length or average weight by the observer obtained in compliance with 
Sec.  679.50(c)(4)(iii)(E).
    (F) Catcher/processors using nontrawl gear. Operators of vessels in 
this category must comply with the following requirements:
    (1) Each CDQ set on a vessel using nontrawl gear must be sampled by 
an observer obtained in compliance with Sec.  679.50(c)(4)(iii)(C) or 
(D) for species composition and average weight.

[[Page 6500]]

    (2) Notify the observers of CDQ catch before CDQ catch is brought 
on board the vessel and notify the observers of the CDQ number 
associated with the CDQ catch.
    (3) Provide an observer sampling station as described at Sec.  
679.28(d).
    (ii) Data sources used for CDQ catch accounting. NMFS will use the 
following sources to account for the catch of groundfish CDQ and PSQ 
species caught by vessels groundfish CDQ fishing.
    (A) Catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA. The weight or 
numbers of all CDQ and PSQ species will be obtained from the CDQ 
delivery information submitted by processors to NMFS in accordance with 
paragraph (d) of this section.
    (B) Catcher vessels delivering unsorted codends. The weight and 
numbers of groundfish CDQ (including pollock) and PSQ species will be 
determined by applying the species composition sampling data collected 
for each CDQ haul by the observer on the mothership to the total weight 
of each CDQ haul as determined by weighing all catch from each CDQ haul 
on a scale approved under Sec.  679.28(b).
    (C) Observed catcher vessels using trawl gear. The estimated weight 
of halibut and numbers of crab PSQ discarded at sea will be determined 
by using the observer's sample data. The weight or numbers of all 
landed groundfish CDQ and salmon PSQ will be derived from the delivery 
information submitted through the eLandings system, as required at 
Sec.  679.5(e).
    (D) Catcher/processors and motherships using trawl gear. The weight 
and numbers of CDQ and PSQ species will be determined by applying the 
observer's species composition sampling data for each CDQ haul to the 
total weight of the CDQ haul as determined by weighing all catch from 
each CDQ haul on a scale certified under Sec.  679.28(b).
    (E) Observed catcher vessels using nontrawl gear. The weight of 
halibut PSQ discarded at sea will be determined by using the observer's 
sample data. The weight or numbers of all landed groundfish CDQ and 
salmon PSQ will be derived from the delivery information submitted 
through the eLandings system, as required at Sec.  679.5(e).
    (F) Catcher/processors using nontrawl gear. The weight of halibut 
PSQ and all groundfish CDQ species, except sablefish, will be 
determined by applying the observer's species composition sampling data 
to the estimate of total catch weight, if any CDQ species are discarded 
at sea. Sablefish CDQ caught with fixed gear is accounted for as 
described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
    (G) Alternative fishing plan for catcher/processors. A CDQ group 
may propose the use of an alternative method, such as using only one 
observer where normally two would be required, sorting and weighing of 
all catch by species on processor vessels, or using larger sample sizes 
than could be collected by one observer by submitting an alternative 
fishing plan to NMFS. NMFS will review the alternative fishing plan and 
approve it or notify the qualified applicant in writing if the proposed 
alternative does not meet the requirements of such a plan.
    (1) Alternative fishing plan requirements--(i) The alternative 
proposed must provide equivalent or better estimates than use of the 
NMFS standard data source would provide and the estimates must be 
independently verifiable.
    (ii) Each haul or set on an observed vessel must be able to be 
sampled by an observer for species composition.
    (iii) Any proposal to sort catch before it is weighed must ensure 
that the sorting and weighing process will be monitored by an observer.
    (iv) The time required for the level 2 observer to complete 
sampling, data recording, and data communication duties must not exceed 
12 hours in each 24-hour period and the level 2 observer must not be 
required to sample more than 9 hours in each 24-hour period. NMFS will 
not approve an alternative fishing plan that would require the observer 
to divide a 12-hour shift into shifts of less than 6 hours.
    (2) Alternative fishing plan distribution and validity. The CDQ 
group must provide a copy of the NMFS-approved alternative fishing plan 
to the operator of the approved vessel. The vessel operator must 
maintain the plan onboard the vessel at all times while it is operating 
under the alternative fishing plan. Alternative fishing plans are valid 
for the remainder of the calendar year in which they are approved. 
Alternatives to the requirement for a certified scale or an observer 
sampling station will not be approved.
    (d) Monitoring requirements for shoreside processors and stationary 
floating processors--(1) Requirements for processors taking deliveries 
of pollock CDQ--(i) Catch weighing. Managers of shoreside processors or 
stationary floating processors taking deliveries of pollock CDQ must 
comply with the requirements at Sec.  679.63(c).
    (ii) Catch monitoring and control plan. Managers of AFA inshore 
processors or stationary floating processors taking deliveries of 
pollock CDQ must follow an approved catch monitoring and control plan 
as described at Sec.  679.28(g).
    (2) Requirements for processors taking deliveries of groundfish 
CDQ. Managers of shoreside processors and stationary floating 
processors taking deliveries of groundfish CDQ must comply with the 
following requirements:
    (i) Comply with observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(d)(5)(iii) of this part.
    (ii) Provide prior notice to observer of offloading schedule. 
Notify the observer of the offloading schedule of each CDQ delivery at 
least 1 hour prior to offloading to provide the observer an opportunity 
to monitor the sorting and weighing of the entire delivery.
    (iii) CDQ and PSQ by weight. Sort and weigh on a scale approved by 
the State of Alaska under Sec.  679.28(c) all groundfish and halibut 
CDQ or PSQ by species or species group.
    (iv) PSQ by number. Sort and count all salmon and crab PSQ.
    (v) CDQ and PSQ sorting and weighing. Sorting and weighing of CDQ 
and PSQ must be monitored by an observer.
    (e) Use of non-CDQ harvest regulations for vessels in voluntary 
fishing cooperatives--(1) Applicability. If approved by NMFS under this 
paragraph (e), vessels participating in a voluntary fishing cooperative 
in a non-CDQ sector are authorized to conduct groundfish CDQ fishing 
under the same regulations that apply while such vessels are used to 
directed fish in the non-CDQ fisheries and are not required to comply 
with the CDQ harvest regulations in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this 
section.
    (2) Who may apply? A CDQ group representative, a representative of 
an association representing CDQ groups, or the authorized 
representative of a voluntary fishing cooperative may submit an 
application to use alternative CDQ harvest regulations.
    (3) Application process--(i) Application documents. A completed 
application is comprised of an application form and a copy of the 
cooperative contract or an affidavit, as described below:
    (A) Application form. The application to use alternative CDQ 
harvest regulations is available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at 
www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. All information fields must be accurately 
completed, including information about the applicant, the voluntary 
fishing

[[Page 6501]]

cooperative, and the vessels participating in the voluntary 
cooperative.
    (B) Cooperative contract or affidavit. The application must include 
either a copy of the current voluntary fishing cooperative contract 
demonstrating participation in the cooperative by the owners of each of 
the vessels named on the application form or an affidavit that includes 
the information required in this paragraph (e)(3)(i)(B). NMFS must be 
able to determine the following information from the voluntary fishing 
cooperative contract or the affidavit: the name of the authorized 
representative of the cooperative; the printed names and signatures of 
each vessel owner that is a party to the voluntary cooperative; the 
vessel name, FFP number, and LLP license number for each vessel managed 
under the cooperative; and the target species, processing mode, gear 
types, and management area(s) associated with the voluntary 
cooperative's federal fishing operations. If an applicant submits a 
copy of the voluntary fishing cooperative contract but it does not 
contain this information, the applicant also must submit a written 
affidavit that provides all of the information required in this 
paragraph (e)(3)(i)(B) that is not included in the cooperative 
contract.
    (ii) Application submission. The application for use of non-CDQ 
harvest regulations must be submitted to the Regional Administrator per 
the instructions on the application form.
    (iii) Submittal and duration--(A) Submittal. An application 
requesting approval for the use of non-CDQ harvest regulations may be 
submitted to NMFS at any time.
    (B) Duration. Once approved, an application to use alternative CDQ 
harvest regulations is effective as of the date on which NMFS approves 
the application. The approval is effective until the requesting entity 
withdraws its application, or until there is a change in the membership 
of the voluntary cooperative, whichever occurs first.
    (iv) NMFS review. NMFS will review an application to use non-CDQ 
harvest regulations to determine that all of the information submitted 
complies with the requirements of paragraphs (e)(2) and (3) of this 
section, and that the vessels listed on the application form represent 
a majority of the vessels participating in the applicable sector. If 
NMFS determines that the application is deficient, NMFS will notify the 
applicant in writing to identify the discrepancies and provide the 
applicant with an opportunity to correct them.
    (v) NMFS determinations and administrative appeal. NMFS will 
approve an application to use non-CDQ harvest regulations when it 
determines that all of the information submitted with the application 
complies with the requirements of paragraphs (e)(2) and (3) of this 
section, the vessels listed on the application form represent a 
majority of vessels participating in an applicable sector, and the CDQ 
harvest regulations are more restrictive than the non-CDQ regulations 
for the applicable sector. NMFS will issue an initial administrative 
determination (IAD) disapproving the application and the reasons for 
its disapproval if the application is incomplete, the voluntary 
cooperative does not represent a majority of the vessels participating 
in the sector, or the CDQ harvest regulations are not more restrictive 
than the non-CDQ regulations for the applicable sector. An applicant 
who receives an IAD disapproving an application may appeal under the 
procedures set forth at Sec.  679.43.
    (vi) Amendments. The entity applied for use of non-CDQ harvest 
regulations must promptly notify NMFS of any changes in the voluntary 
fishing cooperative's membership by re-applying in accordance with this 
paragraph (e). Amendments to an approved application to use alternative 
CDQ harvest regulations may be submitted to NMFS at any time, and will 
be reviewed under the requirements of this paragraph (e).

0
12. In Sec.  679.43, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  679.43  Determinations and appeals.

    (a) General. This section describes the procedure for appealing 
initial administrative determinations made in this title under parts 
300, 679, 680, and subpart E of part 300 of this chapter.
* * * * *

0
13. In Sec.  679.50, revise paragraphs (c)(2)(iii), (c)(4), and (d)(5) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  679.50  Groundfish Observer Program.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) Sablefish fishery. In a retained catch of IFQ and CDQ 
sablefish that is greater than the retained catch of any other 
groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate 
groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2).
* * * * *
    (4) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ, pollock CDQ, and groundfish CDQ 
fisheries. The owner or operator of a vessel fishing for sablefish CDQ 
with fixed gear, pollock CDQ fishing, or groundfish CDQ fishing as 
defined in Sec.  679.2 must comply with the following observer coverage 
requirements while transporting (catcher vessel only), harvesting, 
processing, or taking delivery of CDQ or PSQ species.
    (i) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery. Catcher vessels and catcher/
processor vessels equal to or greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA 
participating in the fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery must comply with 
the observer coverage requirements in paragraphs (c)(1)(iv) through 
(viii) and (c)(2)(iii) of this section.
    (ii) Pollock CDQ fishery--(A) A catcher/processor that is pollock 
CDQ fishing or a mothership taking deliveries from catcher vessels that 
are pollock CDQ fishing must comply with the observer coverage and 
workload requirements in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.
    (B) A catcher vessel that is pollock CDQ fishing must comply with 
the observer coverage requirements in paragraph (c)(5)(i)(D) of this 
section.
    (iii) Groundfish CDQ fisheries--(A) Catcher/processors using trawl 
gear. A catcher/processor not listed in Sec.  679.4(l)(2)(i) using 
trawl gear and groundfish CDQ fishing, except catcher/processors 
directed fishing for pollock CDQ, must comply with the observer 
coverage requirements at paragraph (c)(6)(i) of this section and the 
catch monitoring requirements in Sec.  679.93(c).
    (B) Motherships. A mothership that receives groundfish CDQ species 
from catcher vessels using trawl gear to participate in a directed 
fishery for CDQ groundfish species must have at least two level 2 
observers as described at paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and (E) of this 
section aboard the vessel, at least one of whom must be certified as a 
lead level 2 observer.
    (C) Catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear. A catcher/
processor using hook-and-line gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ 
species must have at least two level 2 observers as described at 
paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and (E) of this section aboard the vessel, 
unless NMFS approves an alternative fishing plan under Sec.  
679.32(c)(3) authorizing the vessel to carry only one lead level 2 
observer. At least one of the level 2 observers must be certified as a 
lead level 2 observer.
    (D) Catcher/processors using pot gear. A catcher/processor using 
pot gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ species must have at least 
one lead level 2 observer as described at paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and 
(E) of this section aboard the vessel.
    (E) Catcher vessels. A catcher vessel equal to or greater than 60 
ft (18.3 m) LOA using any gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ 
species, except a

[[Page 6502]]

catcher vessel using trawl gear that delivers only unsorted codends to 
a mothership or catcher/processor, must have at least one level 2 
observer as described at paragraph (j)(1)(v)(D) of this section aboard 
the vessel.
    (F) Limitations. The time required for the level 2 observer to 
complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties shall 
not exceed 12 hours in each 24-hour period, and, the level 2 observer 
is required to sample no more than 9 hours in each 24-hour period.
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (5) Accepts deliveries of fixed gear sablefish CDQ, pollock CDQ, 
and groundfish CDQ must comply with the following observer coverage 
requirements.
    (i) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery. Shoreside processors or 
stationary floating processors taking delivery of fixed gear sablefish 
CDQ must comply with the observer coverage requirements in paragraphs 
(d)(1) and (d)(2) of this section.
    (ii) Pollock CDQ fishery. Each shoreside processor or stationary 
floating processor taking delivery of pollock CDQ must comply with the 
observer coverage requirements and duty restrictions in paragraph 
(d)(6) of this section.
    (iii) Groundfish CDQ fisheries. Each shoreside processor or 
stationary floating processor taking deliveries of groundfish CDQ must 
have at least one level 2 observer as described at paragraph 
(j)(1)(v)(D) of this section present at all times while groundfish CDQ 
is being received or processed.
    (iv) Observer working hours. The time required for the level 2 
observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication 
duties may not exceed 12 hours in each 24-hour period, and the level 2 
observer is required to sample no more than 9 hours in each 24-hour 
period.
* * * * *
0
14. At each of the locations shown in the ``Location'' column of the 
following table, remove the phrase indicated in the ``Remove'' column 
and replace it with the phrase indicated in the ``Add'' column for the 
number of times indicated in the ``Frequency'' column.


Sec. Sec.  679.2, 679.5, 679.7, 679.27, 679.28, 679.50, 679.84, 
679.93  [Amended]

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Location                             Remove                        Add               Frequency
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.   679.2 definition of ``CDQ           set aside for purposes of..  allocated to...............            1
 reserve''.
Sec.   679.2 definition of ``Fixed gear    Sec.                         Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B).            1
 sablefish CDQ reserve''.                   679.20(b)(1)(iii)(B). See
                                            also Sec.   679.31.
Sec.   679.2 definition of ``Halibut CDQ   Sec.   679.31(b)...........  Sec.   679.31(a)(2)........            1
 reserve''.
Sec.   679.5(a)(1)(iii)(A)...............  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            1
Sec.   679.5(c)(3)(ii)(A)(1).............  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            1
Sec.   679.5(c)(3)(ii)(B)(1).............  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            1
Sec.   679.5(c)(3)(v)(D).................  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            1
Sec.   679.5(c)(4)(ii)(A)(1).............  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            2
Sec.   679.5(c)(4)(ii)(B)(2).............  CDQ group number...........  CDQ number.................            1
Redesignated Sec.   679.7(d)(5)(i)(A)....  an eligible................  a..........................            1
Redesignated Sec.   679.7(d)(5)(i)(B)....  an eligible................  a..........................            1
Redesignated Sec.   679.7(d)(5)(i)(C)....  an eligible................  a..........................            1
Redesignated Sec.   679.7(d)(5)(ii)(B)...  an eligible................  a..........................            1
Sec.   679.27(j)(5)(ii)..................  a NMFS certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.28(c)(4)(v)(D)................  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.28(g)(7)(vii).................  NMFS-certified observers...  observers..................            1
Sec.   679.28(g)(7)(viii)................  NMFS-certified observer....  observer...................            1
Sec.   679.50(c)(5)(i)(A), (c)(5)(i)(B),   NMFS-certified observers...  observers..................            1
 (c)(5)(i)(C), (c)(6)(i), (c)(7)(i)(A),
 (c)(7)(i)(B), and (d)(6)(i).
Sec.   679.50(g)(1)(iii)(A)..............  NMFS-certified observers...  observers..................            2
Sec.   679.50(c)(6)(ii) and (c)(7)(i)(E).  NMFS-certified observer....  observer...................            1
Sec.   679.50(c)(7)(ii)..................  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.50(d)(6)(i)...................  a NMFS certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.50(j)(1)(v)(D) and (j)(3)(iv).  A certified observer.......  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.84(c)(1)......................  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.84(d)(1) and (d)(2)...........  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            2
Sec.   679.93(c)(1)......................  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            1
Sec.   679.93(d)(1)......................  a NMFS-certified observer..  an observer................            2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
15. Table 7 to part 679 is revised to read as follows:

 Table 7 to Part 679--Community Development Quota Groups and Communities
               Eligible To Participate in the CDQ Program
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association:
  Akutan
  Atka
  False Pass
  Nelson Lagoon
  Nikolski
  Saint George
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation:
  Aleknagik
  Clark's Point
  Dillingham
  Egegik
  Ekuk
  Ekwok
  King Salmon/Savonoski
  Levelock
  Manokotak
  Naknek
  Pilot Point
  Port Heiden
  Portage Creek
  South Naknek
  Togiak
  Twin Hills
  Ugashik
Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association:
  Saint Paul
Coastal Villages Region Fund:

[[Page 6503]]

 
  Chefornak
  Chevak
  Eek
  Goodnews Bay
  Hooper Bay
  Kipnuk
  Kongiganak
  Kwigillingok
  Mekoryuk
  Napakiak
  Napaskiak
  Newtok
  Nightmute
  Oscarville
  Platinum
  Quinhagak
  Scammon Bay
  Toksook Bay
  Tuntutuliak
  Tununak
Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation:
  Brevig Mission
  Diomede
  Elim
  Gambell
  Golovin
  Koyuk
  Nome
  Saint Michael
  Savoonga
  Shaktoolik
  Stebbins
  Teller
  Unalakleet
  Wales
  White Mountain
Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association:
  Alakanuk
  Emmonak
  Grayling
  Kotlik
  Mountain Village
  Nunam Iqua
------------------------------------------------------------------------

PART 680--SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF 
ALASKA

0
16. The authority citation for part 680 continues to read as follows:


    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

0
17. In Sec.  680.2, revise the definitions for ``CDQ community'' and 
``CDQ group'' in alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  680.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    CDQ community means a community identified as eligible for the CDQ 
Program under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(A). CDQ communities are listed in 
Table 7 to 50 CFR part 679.
    CDQ group means an entity identified as eligible for the CDQ 
Program under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(A). CDQ groups are listed in Table 7 
to 50 CFR part 679.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-2751 Filed 2-7-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P