[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 123 (Tuesday, June 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38013-38014]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15584]



[[Page 38013]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 120613165-2167-01]
RIN 0648-BC23


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish 
of the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 88; Correction

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

ACTION: Final rule; correcting amendment.

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SUMMARY: This action corrects the final rule published on December 27, 
2011, that implemented Amendment 88 to the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. This correction clarifies that 
participants in the entry level trawl fishery may qualify for quota 
share (QS) under the Central Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Rockfish Program only 
in proportion to the number of years that a person made rockfish legal 
landings to an entry level processor in 2007, 2008, or 2009. This 
clarification is administrative in nature and does not change the 
distribution of rockfish QS to entry level trawl participants.

DATES: Effective June 26, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gwen Herrewig, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The rockfish fisheries are conducted in Federal waters near Kodiak, 
AK, by trawl and longline vessels. NMFS published the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program) final rule in the Federal Register 
on December 27, 2011 (76 FR 81248). The Rockfish Program allocates 
harvest privileges to holders of License Limitation Program (LLP) 
groundfish licenses with a history of Central GOA rockfish legal 
landings either in 2000 through 2006, or in the entry level trawl 
fishery in 2007, 2008, or 2009. The Rockfish Program assigns QS to LLP 
licenses for rockfish primary and secondary species based on legal 
landings associated with a specific LLP license. Rockfish primary 
species are northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and pelagic shelf 
rockfish. Rockfish secondary species are Pacific cod, rougheye 
rockfish, shortraker rockfish, sablefish, and thornyhead rockfish.
    The entry level trawl fishery that occurred under the Central GOA 
Rockfish Pilot Program in 2007, 2008, and 2009 was limited to (1) those 
vessels that did not make landings in the Central GOA rockfish fishery 
from 1996 through 2002, and (2) those processors that did not meet a 
minimum amount of annual primary rockfish processing in the Central GOA 
rockfish fishery from 1996 through 2000. Additional detail on the entry 
level trawl fishery can be found in the preamble to the final rule that 
implemented the entry level trawl fishery and is not repeated here (71 
FR 67210; November 20, 2006).

Need for Correction

    This action addresses potential confusion created by an 
inconsistency in the preamble to the Rockfish Program final rule. NMFS 
made contradictory statements in the preamble in response to public 
comment 14, in which the commenter asserted that the proposed 
regulations did not follow the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council's (Council's) intent that a participant in the entry level 
trawl fishery may qualify for QS under the Rockfish Program only in 
proportion to the number of years that person made a delivery to an 
entry level processor in 2007, 2008, or 2009. The commenter asked NMFS 
to add the language ``to an entry level processor'' to the regulations.
    In response to the comment, NMFS stated it would not make a 
regulatory change, but then used an example that included that change. 
Specifically, NMFS stated that current regulations implemented by the 
Rockfish Program final rule captured Council intent by stating that 
qualification for QS is based on rockfish legal landings generated by 
an entry level trawl participant. NMFS determined that adding the 
phrase ``to an entry level processor'' would be redundant because the 
definition of ``rockfish legal landings'' already encompassed 
deliveries made to an entry level processor. This is because entry 
level trawl participants were required to deliver all harvested fish in 
the entry level fishery to an entry level processor in order to 
generate rockfish legal landings. However, later in the preamble to the 
proposed rule, in a section describing the proposed regulatory text at 
Sec.  679.80(e)(3)(i), NMFS included the phrase ``to an entry level 
processor'' as requested by the commenter, even though NMFS previously 
stated that phrase was unnecessary.
    After additional review, NMFS agrees with the commenter that the 
regulations would be clearer if they included the phrase ``to an entry 
level processor,'' which clarify the requirement that qualification for 
QS is based on rockfish legal landings made to an entry level processor 
in 2007, 2008, or 2009.
    Therefore, NMFS clarifies regulations for the Rockfish Program in 
text at Sec.  679.80(e)(1)(ii) describing the distribution of rockfish 
QS to entry level trawl applicants, and in the calculation procedure at 
Sec.  679.80(e)(3)(i) that assigns one Rockfish Landing Unit to an LLP 
license for each year a rockfish legal landing of any rockfish primary 
species was made during the season dates for the entry level trawl 
fishery in 2007, 2008, or 2009. This correction clarifies that 
qualification for QS in the entry level trawl fishery is based on 
rockfish legal landings made to an entry level processor.
    This clarification is administrative in nature and does not change 
the distribution of QS under the Rockfish Program. NMFS issued Rockfish 
Program QS in February 2012 consistent with current regulations and 
these corrections.

Classification

    The Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds 
good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is unnecessary. This action makes 
no substantive changes to the rule, nor does it modify any rights or 
responsibilities of the regulated community. This action clarifies that 
qualification for QS in the entry level trawl fishery is based on 
rockfish legal landings made to an entry level processor, but does not 
change the distribution of QS under the Rockfish Program or change 
operating practices in the fisheries. The corrections described in this 
rule are being implemented to avoid confusion for participants in the 
fisheries.
    For the reasons set forth above, the AA also finds good cause to 
waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 
U.S.C. 553(d)(3). The corrections described in this rule are being made 
effective upon publication to address the inconsistency in the final 
rule preamble for the public.
    It has been determined that this rule is not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS is correcting this error and is not making substantive changes 
to the document in rule FR Docket No. 110314196-1725-02 published on 
December 27, 2011.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.


[[Page 38014]]


    Dated: June 21, 2012.
Paul N. Doremus,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For reasons explained in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is corrected 
by making the following correcting amendments:

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. Section 679.80 is corrected by revising paragraphs (e)(1)(ii) and 
(e)(3)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.80  Allocation and transfer of rockfish QS.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) The number of years during which a person made a rockfish 
legal landing to an entry level processor under the authority of an LLP 
license in the entry level trawl fishery during 2007, 2008, or 2009 as 
established in paragraph (e)(3) of this section.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Assign one Rockfish Landing Unit to an LLP license for each 
year a rockfish legal landing of any rockfish primary species was made 
to an entry level processor under the authority of an LLP license 
during the season dates for the entry level trawl fishery in 2007, 
2008, or 2009 as established in Table 28b to this part. This yields the 
Rockfish Landing Units.l For purposes of this calculation, 
the Regional Administrator will not assign any Rockfish Landing Units 
to an LLP license that is assigned rockfish QS under the provisions in 
paragraph (e)(2) of this section.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-15584 Filed 6-25-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P