[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 187 (Wednesday, September 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 59053-59061]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23721]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 902

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 120416007-2464-01]
RIN 0648-BB67


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Monitoring 
and Enforcement Requirements in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
Freezer Longline Fleet

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

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations that modify equipment and operational 
requirements for freezer longliners (catcher/processors) named on 
License Limitation Program (LLP) licenses endorsed to catch and process 
Pacific cod at sea with hook-and-line gear in the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). These regulations require 
vessel owners to select between two monitoring options: carry two 
observers so that all catch can be sampled, or carry one observer and 
use a motion-compensated scale to weigh Pacific cod before it is 
processed. The selected monitoring option is required to be used when 
the vessel is operating in either the BSAI or Gulf of Alaska groundfish 
fisheries when directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or 
while the vessel is fishing for groundfish under the Western Alaska 
Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. A vessel owner who notifies 
NMFS that the vessel will not be used to conduct directed fishing for 
Pacific cod in the BSAI or to conduct groundfish CDQ fishing at any 
time during a particular year will not be required to select one of the 
monitoring options and will continue to follow observer coverage and 
catch reporting requirements that apply to catcher/processors not 
subject to this action. These regulatory amendments address the need 
for enhanced catch accounting, monitoring, and enforcement created by 
the formation of a voluntary cooperative by the BSAI longline catcher/
processor subsector in 2010, and are necessary to improve the precision 
of the accounting for allocated quota species. This action is intended 
to promote the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other 
applicable laws.

DATES: Effective October 26, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the proposed rule, the Environmental 
Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR) 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 
21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, Records Officer; 
in person at NMFS, Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, 
Juneau, Alaska; and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or by fax 
to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Watson, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the U.S. groundfish fisheries 
of the exclusive economic zone off Alaska under the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
Management Area (BSAI). The FMPs were prepared by the North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) and approved by the Secretary of 
Commerce under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 
FMPs are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR parts 679 and 680.

[[Page 59054]]

Background

    This action modifies the equipment and operational requirements for 
catcher/processor vessels (C/Ps) named on License Limitation Program 
(LLP) licenses with a Pacific cod catcher/processor hook-and-line 
endorsement for the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, or both Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands. These vessels are commonly known as ``freezer 
longliners.'' They also are defined as the ``longline catcher processor 
subsector'' in the 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 108-
447). In 2011, 33 vessels actively fished under the 37 LLP licenses 
that met the criteria for the longline C/P subsector. A description of 
LLP license requirements, management of the longline C/P subsector, and 
the development of monitoring and enforcement regulations applicable to 
the longline C/P subsector is described in more detail in the preamble 
to the proposed rule (77 FR 35925, June 15, 2012) and is not repeated 
here.
    NMFS requires new monitoring and enforcement provisions applicable 
to vessels participating in the BSAI longline C/P subsector as a result 
of several pieces of legislation passed by Congress and recent changes 
to fishery management regulations, including (1) legislation that 
created a defined class of participants in the BSAI longline C/P 
subsector--the 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 108-447), 
(2) regulatory amendments allocating a specific quantity of Pacific cod 
resources in the BSAI to the defined class of longline C/P subsector 
participants--detailed in the final rule implementing Amendment 85 to 
the BSAI FMP (74 FR 56728, November 3, 2009), and (3) legislation that 
allows BSAI longline C/P subsector participants to receive exclusive 
catch privileges--the Longline Catcher Processor Subsector Single 
Fishery Cooperative Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-335). In combination, 
these changes created the opportunity for the longline C/P subsector to 
form a voluntary fishing cooperative.
    Under the voluntary cooperative, members in the longline C/P 
subsector allocate a proportion of the available Pacific cod resources 
among their members based on private contractual arrangements. The 
voluntary cooperative operates as a de facto catch share program 
because the cooperative includes all members of the subsector and 
together they control harvest of the sector's allocation of Pacific cod 
in the BSAI. Vessels fishing under a voluntary cooperative require a 
higher level of monitoring to ensure accurate reporting of the catch 
allocated to the subsector.
    Catch share programs create new demands for enhanced catch 
accounting, monitoring, and enforcement. They increase incentives for 
participants to misreport catch through unauthorized discards or 
inaccurate catch reports. If catch can be successfully misreported or 
underreported, the fishing season continues longer than it should, and 
the vessel owners and operators are able to catch more Pacific cod than 
are allocated to the subsector. The fact that the vessel owners and 
operators are fishing under a cooperative contract to maximize the 
harvest and value of the Pacific cod allocation for a given halibut PSC 
limit provides additional opportunities for them to communicate and 
cooperate to underreport catch.
    The voluntary cooperative and the CDQ Program present NMFS with 
similar monitoring and enforcement challenges. Therefore, this action 
applies the same requirements to longline C/Ps operating in both the 
CDQ and non-CDQ fisheries. Maintaining the same monitoring measures 
ensures consistent methods of catch accounting, avoids confusion for 
observers, and reduces the risk of data processing or catch accounting 
errors that may occur if monitoring provisions change onboard a vessel 
while fishing. Additional detail on the need for enhanced monitoring 
requirements for catch share programs and management of the CDQ Program 
is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule (77 FR 35925, June 15, 
2012) and not repeated here.

Actions Implemented by Rule

    The proposed rule for this action was published in the Federal 
Register on June 15, 2012 (77 FR 35925). The 30-day comment period on 
the proposed rule ended July 16, 2012. The regulatory provisions 
implemented by this action are summarized here. Additional information 
and a description of this action are provided in detail in the preamble 
to the proposed rule and are not repeated here.
    This action affects vessels in the longline C/P subsector when 
those vessels (1) operate in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish 
fisheries when directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or 
(2) while the vessel is participating in the CDQ fisheries 
(``groundfish CDQ fishing''). Members of the subsector who do not 
intend to fish for Pacific cod in the BSAI or to conduct groundfish CDQ 
fishing during the upcoming calendar year may notify NMFS (``opt out'') 
and will not be subject to the enhanced monitoring requirements in that 
calendar year.
    Members of the subsector who intend to fish for Pacific cod in the 
BSAI or to conduct groundfish CDQ fishing in the upcoming calendar year 
will be required to select one of two monitoring options: carry two 
observers so that all catch can be sampled, or carry one observer and 
use a motion-compensated scale to weigh Pacific cod before it is 
processed. NMFS has examined both options and determined that either 
option will improve catch accounting on the freezer longliners and 
provide the data needed to properly manage the Pacific cod and 
groundfish CDQ fisheries. Vessel owners will be required to select an 
option prior to November 1 for the upcoming calendar year. Once the 
selection is made, it will apply for the entire year and the vessel 
owner will not be able to change it during the year for which it was 
made.
    Under the increased observer coverage monitoring option, the vessel 
owner and operator will be required to carry two observers and provide 
an observer sampling station meeting location and space requirements. 
The vessel operator will be required to use an electronic logbook to 
report catch at all times during that year. One of the two observers 
must have a lead level 2 certification. The observers must have the 
opportunity to sample all sets. A lead level 2 observer must meet 
minimum time-at-sea requirements. The level 2 requirement ensures that 
observers have experience at sea; the ``lead'' requirement ensures that 
they have had experience with longline or pot gear and that, having 
taken at least two cruises, they have experience with various fixed-
gear operations. Because the data collected by observers is directly 
used to debit quota accounts, the observer estimates are carefully 
reviewed and scrutinized by catch share participants. NMFS has found 
that observers with prior experience with a specific gear type are more 
likely to collect usable data for quota management.
    Under the scales monitoring option, the vessel owner and operator 
will be required to use a NMFS-approved scale to weigh all Pacific cod, 
provide and maintain a NMFS-approved electronic monitoring system to 
monitor sorting and weighing of Pacific cod, carry one lead level 2 
observer, and provide an observer sampling station meeting location and 
space requirements. Each set must be weighed and recorded separately. 
NMFS will use the weight of all catch that passes over the scale to 
account for Pacific cod catch. The vessel operator will be required to 
use an

[[Page 59055]]

electronic logbook to report catch at all times during that year.
    This action also reduces the experience requirements for lead level 
2 observers to address concerns raised by the observer providers about 
a potential shortage of observers as a result of this action. Reducing 
the experience requirements will increase the pool of qualified lead 
level 2 observers. The number of sampled sets required for lead level 2 
qualification is reduced from 60 sampled sets to 30 sampled sets.
    Finally, this action removes the allowance for an ``alternative 
fishing plan'' under the CDQ Program. Because this action will 
standardize the monitoring options for longline C/Ps in both the CDQ 
and non-CDQ fisheries, the alternative fishing plan regulations are no 
longer necessary.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received 3 letters of comment from fishing organizations and 2 
letters of comment from the general public addressing 13 distinct 
topics related to the proposed rule. A summary of the relevant comments 
and NMFS' responses, follows. No changes were made to the proposed rule 
as a result of these comments.
    Comment 1: The commenter supports the proposed requirements for two 
observers on longline catcher/processors, but does not support the 
proposed requirements for the use of a flow scale and a lead level 2 
observer because of the difficult work schedule observers must follow 
when only one observer is aboard and the cost of installing the flow 
scale and camera equipment onboard.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges this comment. The requirements provide 
vessel owners two options to meet NMFS' monitoring objectives. A vessel 
owner may select the scales option or the increased observer coverage 
option depending on which option best meets the vessel's annual fishing 
plan and is the most cost effective for their vessel. Either monitoring 
option will result in quality data and enable NMFS to estimate Pacific 
cod catch in the longline C/P sector. The costs associated with both 
monitoring options are described in section 1.3 of the EA/RIR (see 
ADDRESSES). NMFS agrees that the scale option will increase the 
complexity of the observer's job and, as described in section 1.3.4 of 
the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES), this is part of the rationale for requiring 
that the single observer under this option be lead level 2 certified.
    Comment 2: The increase in the total number of lead level 2 
observers needed to cover the BSAI freezer longline fleet is 
unsustainable and, in the long term, will lead to a shortage of 
qualified observers. Further, all freezer longline vessels will choose 
the scale option in the next two years. When this occurs, the training 
opportunity for observers to gain lead level 2 experience will no 
longer be available. If adequate observers are not available in a 
timely manner the vessel will have to stop fishing and wait for an 
observer to become available, which will have negative economic 
consequences.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. NMFS acknowledges in section 1.3 of the 
EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) that obtaining lead level 2 observers may be 
more difficult for fishing vessels than in the past and the demand for 
fixed gear lead level 2 observers will be much greater than in the 
past. NMFS notes that there are uncertainties associated with the new 
observer employment market conditions that we anticipate will accompany 
the introduction of the restructured observer program (77 FR 23326, 
April 18, 2012). The proposed action for the restructured observer 
program would add a funding and deployment system for observer coverage 
to the existing North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program (Observer 
Program) and amend existing observer coverage requirements for vessels 
and processing plants. The new funding and deployment system would 
allow NMFS to determine when and where to deploy observers according to 
management and conservation needs. We anticipate the restructured 
observer program will be implemented in 2013. NMFS also notes that 
there are additional uncertainties with the freezer longline sector's 
observer coverage needs as vessel operations evolve under the 
cooperative's catch share program.
    Section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) describes other ways 
observers can gain lead level 2 experience. While opportunities for 
obtaining lead level 2 qualifications within the freezer longline fleet 
will be limited, observers may gain experience aboard the fixed gear 
catcher vessels, vessels in the affected fleet that choose to ``opt 
out'' of fishing under the program, freezer longliners that fish only 
in the GOA, pot catcher vessels, and pot catcher/processors. However, 
the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) highlights that the restructured observer 
program will provide the most new opportunities for observers to 
acquire lead level 2 certification. In addition, through this action 
NMFS reduced the number of sampled sets required for lead level 2 
certification by half. Both of these factors increase the likelihood 
that there will be sufficient lead level 2 observers in the long term. 
The analysis suggests that it is likely that the number of qualified 
lead level 2 observers will exceed the number required in any given 
year. The analysis highlights mobilizing fixed gear lead level 2 
observers is an essential component to ensuring vessels obtain the 
observer coverage required without stranding vessels at the dock.
    Methods exist to obtain, train, and retain the needed lead level 2 
observers as explained in section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES). 
These methods include paying observers higher wages and using the 
voluntary cooperative's structure to compensate vessels that choose to 
carry an additional observer to gain the experience required for lead 
level 2 certification. The cooperative may be able to arrange for its 
members to compensate some vessels to carry an observer in addition to 
the lead level 2 observer, and that observer could obtain the sampling 
experience needed to qualify for a lead level 2 position. The freezer 
longline fleet may also use the cooperative arrangements to adjust 
their fishing operations to ensure that a lead level 2 observer is 
available to the fleet and vessels are not stranded at the dock without 
observer coverage.
    The observer employment market will play a crucial role in ensuring 
that enough lead level 2 observers are created and mobilized to meet 
the quantity demanded. Based on the analysis prepared for this action, 
NMFS anticipates that there will be enough lead level 2 observers to 
meet the requirements of this monitoring program.
    Comment 3: The assumptions in the analysis about the numbers of 
deployments, days, and sets needed to qualify as a lead level 2 
observer for nontrawl gear and the number of days that a lead level 2 
observer are needed are inaccurate. NMFS has not accurately estimated 
the sets per day, and has failed to take account of the impact of total 
allowable catch (TAC) fluctuations on the need for observers.
    Response: NMFS agrees in part. The freezer longline fishery's exact 
future observer needs are uncertain. The EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) uses 
the best available information to evaluate the potential number of lead 
level 2 observers that may be available. NMFS has reviewed its sets per 
day estimates. After this review, NMFS found that it had based its 
estimates on longline sets rather than longline and pot sets and that 
it had not adequately distinguished between vessel days when an 
observer was aboard and vessel days at sea on which gear was retrieved. 
The EA/RIR

[[Page 59056]]

(see ADDRESSES) has been revised to use the broader fixed gear 
(longline and pot) estimates and the more conservative parameter of 
vessel days when an observer was aboard. This led to a change in the 
number of catcher vessel sets per fishing day from 2.63 to 1.87. The 
new value is known to be a conservative estimate, but NMFS believes it 
is an improvement from the original value.
    NMFS agrees that the freezer longline fleet's observer usage may 
change from year to year as the TAC changes, or from vessel to vessel 
depending on the distribution of allocations within the voluntary 
cooperative. However, in its analysis of the anticipated future demand 
for observers, NMFS made projections assuming a fleet of the current 
size fishing for an entire year. This assumption is conservative, 
because some vessels do not fish the entire year to accommodate changes 
in crews, maintenance, and product offloads.
    The modifications to revise the number of sets per day and the 
total number of days fished did not change the result of NMFS's 
analysis of the availability of lead level 2 observers. Therefore, no 
change in the regulations was made based on this comment.
    Comment 4: The analysis did not consider whether the fixed gear 
lead level 2 observers were also trawl lead level 2 certified. If 
observers are lead level 2 qualified for both gear types, then they may 
be deployed into the trawl fishery where they are also required and 
unavailable to observe aboard fixed gear vessels. Therefore, the 
analysis may have overestimated the number of lead level 2 observers 
that will be available to the freezer longliners.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges this comment. Section 1.3.4 of the EA/
RIR (see ADDRESSES) describes that, while there were about 208 lead 
level 2 observers under current qualification requirements, only 39 
were needed in 2010-2011. The analysis found that despite the large 
difference between the number of persons with the qualification and the 
number of persons used, the industry had difficulty finding enough lead 
level 2 observers. This difficulty in finding enough lead level 2 
observers could be due to many factors, including observers with both 
trawl and fixed gear lead level 2 certification. While the analysis did 
not originally discuss the reasons for the difficulties in obtaining 
lead level 2 observers, it has been modified to include this 
discussion, including the difficulties that could be associated with 
finding enough lead level 2 observers because some observers may have 
both trawl and fish gear lead level 2 certification. Although some 
vessel operators had problems obtaining lead level 2 observers, NMFS 
does not have information that suggests this difficulty prevented 
vessel operators from fishing. As described in the response to comment 
3, NMFS cannot guarantee that lead level 2 observers will always be 
available. Rather, NMFS analyzed available information and assumptions 
to estimate potential observer availability.
    Comment 5: The analysis suggests that the restructured observer 
program, which will start in 2013, will be a training ground for lead 
level 2 observers. This is an assumption about a future program that 
has not yet been implemented and could be wrong. It is possible that 
the restructured observer program will yield fewer lead level 2 
observers at a slower pace than the current observer program. The lead 
level 2 requirement in this rule should be dropped until the 
restructured observer program is implemented and has fully functioned 
for several years.
    Response: NMFS agrees that there are uncertainties about the 
restructured observer program's effect on the availability of lead 
level 2 observers to the freezer longline fleet, as discussed in 
section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES). However, NMFS disagrees 
that these uncertainties should delay implementation of this action. 
The EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) acknowledges that the number of observers 
that will gain experience as a result of the restructured observer 
program is uncertain; a wide range of observer availability scenarios 
has been examined in the analysis. NMFS examined different observer 
coverage levels in the restructured observer program and the resulting 
observer recruitment levels, as well as different attrition rates, at 
these different observer recruitment levels.
    NMFS cannot delay the implementation of the lead level 2 
requirement without delaying all the monitoring requirements in this 
program. The lead level 2 requirement is an essential component to the 
suite of monitoring tools created to manage the voluntary cooperative. 
Without this component the monitoring program will not function as 
intended. NMFS must implement these monitoring measures as soon as 
practicable because this fleet has already formed a voluntary 
cooperative and to achieve the objectives identified in the purpose and 
need statement.
    NMFS will continue to monitor the number of observers that become 
lead level 2 qualified in the fixed gear fleet in the partial coverage 
category of the restructured observer program. NMFS could reconsider 
the monitoring requirements for the freezer longline fleet if there is 
a future shortage of lead level 2 observers. Any modification to the 
monitoring provisions in this rule would require a new analysis and 
rule making. The current best information available to NMFS does not 
support changes to the proposed rule.
    Comment 6: The industry can increase the wages it pays for lead 
level 2 observers, but this will not lead to sufficient increases in 
the numbers of observers undertaking this work. Observers are motivated 
by important non-wage considerations. Even if freezer longliners and 
observer providers invest the resources to increase the number of lead 
level 2 observers, there is no certainty that the observer would remain 
available to the freezer longline fleet.
    Response: NMFS does not have statistical information about the 
responsiveness of observer supply to different types of compensation 
packages. NMFS recognizes at Section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR (see 
ADDRESSES) that many observers do not recognize observing as a career, 
that for almost all it is a seasonal job, and that observers are 
motivated by many things besides their pay.
    However, NMFS believes that, in general, wages are an important 
motivator for work effort. Increased wages are likely to motivate 
existing lead level 2 observers to work longer seasons, encourage 
existing observers within the Alaska Region to become fixed gear lead 
level 2 observers, and to draw qualified biologists, including 
observers from other regions, into the pool of North Pacific fixed gear 
lead level 2 observers. Increased wages for observer providers will 
also be necessary to encourage providers to incur the costs required in 
nurturing new lead level 2 observers. NMFS acknowledges that paying 
higher wages to lead level 2 observers will reduce the economic 
benefits freezer longline operators obtain from their cooperative 
fishing arrangements.
    As discussed in section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES), an 
increase in wages paid for fixed gear lead level 2 observers should 
increase the number of fixed gear lead level 2 observers and decrease 
the demand for them as well. Freezer longliner owners could change 
fishing operations to increase daily production to reduce the number of 
days each vessel fishes each year and thereby reduce the number of days 
an observer is required. Vessel owners may also take steps to provide 
non-monetary

[[Page 59057]]

benefits to the observers, such as improved living and working 
conditions to increase an observer's desire to return or to work longer 
aboard these freezer longliners. NMFS again acknowledges that steps 
like these would be a cost to freezer longliner owners and would reduce 
the benefits they obtain from cooperative fishing arrangements.
    Comment 7: Lead level 2 observers are not needed in this program, 
because NMFS can collect quality data on these vessels with the current 
level of observer coverage. Current training already provides the 
observer with all of the necessary skills to work on a freezer 
longliner with scales and accurately provide catch and bycatch 
information to NMFS on a daily basis.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. As stated in section 1.3.4 of the EA/RIR 
(see ADDRESSES), lead level 2 observers are required in this program 
under both the scale option and the increased observer coverage options 
to ensure that NMFS has quality data available on a haul-by-haul basis. 
The lead level 2 qualification is required for several reasons:
     Catch share programs create new incentives for operators 
to circumvent management measures. These incentives can be addressed in 
part by deploying experienced observers with specialized experience 
with the gear being deployed. In recent years, observer reports of 
harassment and intimidation in the freezer longline sector have 
increased. NMFS believes that, at least partly as a response to the new 
cooperative arrangements, vessel owners and operators are becoming more 
interested in haul-by-haul observer data in the freezer longline 
sector. As a result, some vessel operators are pressuring observers to 
change sample numbers, sample more, sample less, or sample differently. 
Experienced observers are more likely to identify vessel operator and 
crew actions that lead to sampling of unrepresentative sets, be more 
confident in their sampling decisions, and withstand pressure, 
particularly when only one observer may be on board.
     Performances issues with new observers can impact NMFS' 
monitoring of scale performance; of halibut prohibited species catch 
(PSC) and viability; and of all discard estimates, including Pacific 
cod. Experienced observers are familiar with different vessel layouts 
and operations. They can adapt quickly to vessel-specific conditions 
when assigned to a new freezer longliner. New observers or observers 
with little experience on fixed gear vessels need extra time to develop 
the best sampling techniques for that specific vessel. Lack of 
experience results in unsampled sets or lower data quality. Observers 
with experience aboard a fixed gear vessel should be able to quickly 
familiarize themselves with a new vessel and establish an unbiased 
sampling protocol.
     The scales option requires that only Pacific cod be 
weighed on the flow scale. Flow scales will be new to freezer 
longliners and NMFS believes that the sole observer must be a lead 
level 2 in order to detect and minimize problems that could occur. An 
observer with this level of experience should have the skills necessary 
to solve sampling and data collection problems in this new monitoring 
program. An observer unfamiliar with fixed gear operations will have 
difficulty determining if the scale is being used correctly. An 
experienced observer can address scale performance issues with the 
responsible vessel representatives prior to disembarking the vessel.
    Comment 8: The only way to maintain a sustainable supply of lead 
level 2 observers for the freezer longline fleet in the future is for 
NMFS to either eliminate the single lead level 2 requirement for most 
boats, or mandate a lead level 2 observer and require a second observer 
whose only reason for being on board would be to gain experience toward 
lead level 2 certification.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. As discussed in the response to comment 
2, our analysis indicates that a sustainable supply of lead level 2 
observers should be available in the short, as well as the long, term. 
NMFS does not believe that mandating a second observer for training 
purposes is necessary. To the extent the fleet believes there may be a 
shortage of trained lead level 2 observers, the cooperative structure 
of the fleet enables participants to voluntarily work with observer 
providers to provide training opportunities on board participating 
vessels. Some of the vessels could also choose to fish under the 
increased observer coverage option and increase the training 
opportunities for new observers.
    Comment 9: Compared to other fleets that require lead level 2 
observers, the Pacific cod freezer longline fleet has relatively low 
catch rates and less species diversity. NMFS should not rely on the 
experience in these other fleets as a demonstration for a need for lead 
level 2 observers for the smaller less productive freezer longliners.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. As described in the EA/RIR (see 
ADDRESSES) and the response to comment 7, the lead level 2 observer 
requirement addresses fleet incentives to circumvent management 
measures, the increased reliance by NMFS and industry for haul-by-haul 
catch composition and discard information, and the need to monitor 
compliance with the scale requirements.
    Comment 10: The freezer longliner fishery is similar to other fixed 
gear quota share fisheries, such as the halibut and sablefish 
individual fishing quota and the Bering Sea crab catcher/processor 
fleets. No lead level 2 observer requirement exists for these similar 
fleets.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. NMFS did not use the measures implemented 
in other programs as a rationale for determining the measures necessary 
for this program. NMFS examined and developed specific monitoring 
requirements necessary for accurate catch monitoring in the freezer 
longline fleet based on the specific fishery characteristics. As 
different programs have been developed, the nature of those programs, 
their goals, and the history and nature of the fishery prior to 
rationalization has differed and therefore, NMFS has developed 
different monitoring requirements for each program. The rationale for a 
lead level 2 observer is discussed in comment 7 and section 1.3.4 of 
the EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES).
    Comment 11: The proposed rule and the analysis discount repeated 
input from industry leaders and the years of experience and knowledge 
of the entire pool of observer providers. Rather than accept input from 
these entities, NMFS is choosing to push forward with the requirement 
for lead level 2 observers based on the position that this is necessary 
in the case of the freezer longliners because it was found to be 
necessary in previous rationalized fisheries.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. NMFS has considered input from observer 
providers and freezer longline operators in preparing this final rule. 
NMFS staff presented the proposed requirements at a fleet meeting in 
May 2011 and responded to questions about the lead level 2 requirement 
at that time. NMFS received public testimony regarding the lead level 2 
requirements during the October 2011 North Pacific Fisheries Management 
Council meeting and responded by explaining that the lead level 2 
requirement ensures a quality monitoring program for this fishery. 
Following the October 2011 letter from the observer providers, NMFS 
contacted several observer providers to further understand their 
concerns. The EA/RIR (see ADDRESSES) was revised to add a new section 
on the lead level 2 requirement analyzing issues raised by

[[Page 59058]]

providers. The proposed rule for this action (77 FR 35972, June 15, 
2012), proposed reducing the number of sampled sets currently required 
to achieve lead level 2 status. This proposed change directly responded 
to public input. Finally, because of the public interest in the lead 
level 2 requirement, NMFS posted the analysis to NMFS Alaska region Web 
site earlier than required.
    As noted in the responses to comments 7 and 10, NMFS the decision 
to require a lead level 2 observer is not related to requirements in 
other rationalized fisheries. NMFS acknowledges that the experience 
gained from these other fisheries has demonstrated the need for lead 
level 2 observers to address incentives to misreport catch. NMFS 
determined that requiring observers that have the most experience and 
knowledge of fishing operations aboard fixed gear vessels was essential 
to ensure this new and unique program functions as anticipated.
    Comment 12: We agree that the scale, 100 percent observer coverage, 
and camera requirements under the scale option will provide more 
precise estimates and strengthen management and enforcement under this 
program.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the addition of flow scales, observer 
sampling stations, video monitoring to ensure all Pacific cod are 
sorted and weighed correctly, and the requirement for every vessel in 
this fleet to be observed will serve to improve the catch and fishing 
effort data in the freezer longline fleet.
    Comment 13: The idea that freezer longline vessels could carry an 
observer in addition to the lead level 2 observer is flawed because 
Federal law mandates that vessel owners and operators cannot request 
particular individuals to work on their vessels.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Vessel owners and operators may request 
from the observer providers additional observers aboard their vessels. 
The regulations do prohibit vessels from requesting a preference for a 
specific observer, but there is no prohibition against requesting an 
additional observer in much the same way vessels currently request 
observers. In other fleets, vessel owners or operators have voluntarily 
requested an additional observer to improve data quality and observer 
working conditions. Similarly, freezer longline vessels have 
voluntarily taken extra observer coverage to monitor halibut PSC in the 
GOA fisheries.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    No changes to the regulations were made based on public comment. 
However, NMFS has identified two minor issues that require revisions to 
the proposed rule. First, this final rule does not include the proposed 
rule revisions to Sec. Sec.  679.51, 679.53, and 679.32(c)(3)(i)(E)(1). 
When this proposed rule was published (June 15, 2012), NMFS expected 
that the final rule to restructure the Observer Program, which would 
add these sections, would be in effect. NMFS predicts that the final 
rule to restructure the Observer Program will be published and 
effective after this final rule takes effect. Therefore, the proposed 
revisions to Sec. Sec.  679.51, 679.53 and 679.32(c)(3)(i)(E)(1) in the 
proposed rule are reflected as revisions to Sec. Sec.  679.50 and 
679.32(c)(3)(i)(F)(1) in this final rule. The intent and effect of 
these regulations has not changed.
    Second, this final rule corrects an error made in Sec.  
679.32(c)(3)(i)(F)(1) in a final rule published on February 8, 2012 (77 
FR 6492). NMFS identified the error in July, 2012, after CDQ groups and 
other affected Pacific cod harvesting entities asked NMFS for 
clarification on sampling requirements for CDQ sets on vessels using 
nontrawl gear. When NMFS reorganized the CDQ catch monitoring 
regulations in the February 8, 2012, final rule, NMFS inadvertently 
substituted ``hook-and-line gear'' for ``nontrawl gear'' in the 
requirement that each set be sampled by an observer. Because nontrawl 
gear includes both longline and pot gear, this regulatory amendment 
unintentionally expanded the requirement that each set be sampled to 
pot catcher/processors participating in groundfish CDQ fisheries. This 
was not NMFS' intent. In addition, NMFS carried this error forward in 
the proposed rule for this action (77 FR 35925; June 15, 2012). NMFS 
corrects this error by revising Sec.  679.32(c)(3)(i)(F)(1) to remove 
the requirement that catcher/processors using pot gear to refer only to 
the observer coverage requirements that apply to these vessels and to 
remove the requirement that each set be sampled by an observer. This 
change is consistent with the regulations in effect prior to the error.

OMB Revisions to Paperwork Reduction Act References in 15 CFR 902.1(b)

    Section 3507(c)(B)(i) of the PRA requires that agencies inventory 
and display a current control number assigned by the Director, OMB, for 
each agency information collection. Section 902.1(b) identifies the 
location of NOAA regulations for which OMB approval numbers have been 
issued. Because this final rule adds a collection-of-information for 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements, 15 CFR 902.1(b) is revised to 
reference correctly the new sections resulting from this final rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this rule is consistent 
with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other 
applicable law.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C.553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment on the correction to Sec.  
679.32(c)(3)(i)(F)(1) that is made in this final rule, as notice and 
comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. After it 
received CDQ and affected fishery participants' clarification requests, 
NMFS recognized that the proposed rule inadvertently carried forward an 
error in Sec.  679.32(c)(3)(i)(F)(1) that had been made in a previous 
final rule. This error affects only catcher/processors using pot gear 
in the groundfish CDQ fisheries. However, the error unintentionally 
increases observer sampling requirements on these vessels. By letter 
dated July 31, 2012, NMFS provided the CDQ groups actual notice of the 
error in the regulations and NMFS' intent to correct the error as soon 
as possible. Providing prior notice and opportunity to comment is 
contrary to the public interest. Unless the error is corrected 
immediately, public confusion regarding sampling requirements would 
persist and vessels would continue to be required to sample sets at a 
higher rate than NMFS meant to impose and was anticipated by the 
fishery participants. The correction will reduce the amount of sampling 
effort, thus freeing the affected participants from an unintended 
burden that affects their operations. Further, unless the error is 
corrected now, affected participants would continue to pay higher 
observer costs than was intended. No interested party will be adversely 
affected by this waiver.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a

[[Page 59059]]

regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which have been 
approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The collection-
of-information requirements are presented below by OMB control number.

OMB Control No. 0648-0213

    The reporting requirements for the C/P longline or pot gear daily 
cumulative logbook (DCPL) are removed for certain C/Ps with this final 
rule; the electronic logbook (see OMB 0648-0515) is used in place of 
the DCPL by freezer longliners (C/Ps) named on LLP licenses endorsed to 
catch and process Pacific cod at sea with hook-and-line gear in the 
BSAI.

OMB Control No. 0648-0318

    The Observer Program requirements are mentioned in this final rule; 
however, the public reporting burden for this collection-of-information 
is not directly affected by this final rule.

OMB Control No. 0648-0330

    Public reporting burden is estimated to average 30 minutes for 
Pacific Cod Monitoring Option or Opt-out Notification Form; 2 hours for 
Inspection Request for an Electronic Monitoring System; 6 minutes for 
At-Sea Scales Inspection Request; 2 minutes for notification to 
observers of at-sea scale tests; 45 minutes for Record of Daily Flow 
Scale Test; 1 minute for printed output from at-sea scale; and 2 hours 
for Observer Sampling Station Inspection Request.

OMB Control No. 0648-0334

    LLP license requirements are mentioned in this final rule; however, 
the public reporting burden for this collection-of-information is not 
directly affected by this final rule.

OMB Control No. 0648-0515

    Public reporting burden is estimated to average 15 minutes for 
eLogbook registration and 41 minutes per active response and 5 minutes 
per inactive response for the C/P longline and pot gear eLogbook.
    These reporting burden estimates 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 these burden 
estimates or any other aspect of this data collection, 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, and no person shall be subject to 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

15 CFR Part 902

    Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: September 21, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 15 CFR Chapter 
IX and 50 CFR Chapter VI as follows:

15 CFR CHAPTER IX--NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, 
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

PART 902--NOAA INFORMATION COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE 
PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT: OMB CONTROL NUMBERS

0
1. The authority citation for part 902 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.


0
2. In Sec.  902.1, in the table in paragraph (b), under the entry ``50 
CFR'', add entries in alphanumeric order for '' 679.28(k)''; 
``679.100(a) and (b)''; ``679.100(c)''; and ``679.100(d)''. The 
additions read as follows:


Sec.  902.1  OMB control numbers assigned pursuant to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Current OMB control number
 CFR part or section where the information  (all numbers begin with 0648-
     collection requirement is located                    )
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                * * * * *
50 CFR....................................
 
                                * * * * *
679.28(k).................................  -0330, -0610
 
                                * * * * *
679.100(a) and (b)........................  -0330, -0515
679.100(c)................................  -0515
679.100(d)................................  -0330
 
                                * * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------

50 CFR CHAPTER VI--FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL 
OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

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

0
3. 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
4. In Sec.  679.5, revise paragraph (f)(1)(ii) and add paragraph 
(f)(1)(viii) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Catcher/processor longline and pot gear ELB. Except for 
catcher/processors subject to Sec.  679.100(b), the operator of a 
catcher/processor using longline or pot gear may use a combination of a 
NMFS-approved catcher/processor longline and pot gear ELB and eLandings 
to record and report groundfish information. The operator may use a 
NMFS-approved catcher/processor longline and pot gear ELB to record 
daily processor identification information and catch-by-set 
information. In eLandings, the operator must record daily processor 
identification, groundfish production data, and groundfish and 
prohibited species discard or disposition data.
* * * * *
    (viii) Longline catcher/processor subsector. The operator of a 
catcher/processor subject to Sec.  679.100(b) must use a NMFS-approved 
catcher/processor longline and pot gear ELB to record processor 
identification information, catch-by-set information, and, if required 
to weigh Pacific cod on a NMFS-approved scale, the total Pacific cod 
weight from the scale for each set. This requirement applies for the 
entire year that the vessel is subject to Sec.  679.100(b) and 
operating as a catcher/

[[Page 59060]]

processor using either longline or pot gear.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  679.7, add paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.7  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) For vessel owners and operators subject to Sec.  679.100(a), to 
use the vessel as a catcher/processor to conduct directed fishing for 
Pacific cod with hook-and-line gear in the BSAI or to conduct 
groundfish CDQ fishing.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  679.28, add paragraph (k) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.28  Equipment and operational requirements.

* * * * *
    (k) Electronic monitoring in the longline catcher/processor 
subsector. The owner and operator of a catcher/processor subject to 
Sec.  679.100(b)(2) must provide and maintain a NMFS-approved 
electronic monitoring system at all times when the vessel is operating 
in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish fisheries when directed fishing 
for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or while the vessel is groundfish 
CDQ fishing.
    (1) In order to be approved by NMFS, the vessel owner and operator 
must provide an electronic monitoring system that include cameras, a 
monitor, and a digital video recorder that must--
    (i) Provide sufficient resolution and field of view to monitor all 
areas where Pacific cod are sorted from the catch, all fish passing 
over the motion-compensated scale, and all crew actions in these areas.
    (ii) Have sufficient data storage capacity to record all video data 
from an entire trip. Each frame of stored video data must record a 
time/date stamp in Alaska local time (A.l.t.).
    (iii) Include at least one external USB (1.1 or 2.0) port or other 
removable storage device approved by NMFS.
    (iv) Use commercially available software.
    (v) Use color cameras, with a minimum of 470 TV lines of 
resolution, auto-iris capabilities, and output color video to the 
recording device with the ability to revert to black and white video 
output when light levels become too low for color recognition.
    (vi) Record at a speed of no less than 5 frames per second at all 
times when Pacific cod are being sorted or weighed.
    (2) NMFS staff, or any individual authorized by NMFS, must be able 
to view any footage from any point in the trip using a 16-bit or better 
color monitor that can display all cameras simultaneously and must be 
assisted by crew knowledgeable in the operation of the system.
    (3) The vessel owner and operator must maintain the video data and 
make the data available to NMFS staff or any individual authorized by 
NMFS, upon request. The data must be retained onboard the vessel for no 
less than 120 days after the date the video is recorded, unless NMFS 
has notified the vessel owner in writing that the video data may be 
retained for less than this 120-day period.
    (4) The vessel owner or operator must arrange for NMFS to inspect 
the electronic monitoring system and maintain a current NMFS-issued 
electronic monitoring system inspection report onboard the vessel at 
all times when the vessel is required to provide an approved electronic 
monitoring system.
    (5) The vessel owner or operator must submit an Inspection Request 
for an Electronic Monitoring System to NMFS with all information fields 
accurately filled in. The application form is available on the NMFS 
Alaska Region Web site (http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/). NMFS will 
coordinate with the vessel owner to schedule the inspection no later 
than 10 working days after NMFS receives a complete request form.
    (6) Additional information required for an electronic monitoring 
system inspection. (i) A diagram drawn to scale showing all sorting 
locations, the location of the motion-compensated scale, the location 
of each camera and its coverage area, and the location of any 
additional video equipment must be submitted with the Inspection 
Request for an Electronic Monitoring System form.
    (ii) Any additional information requested by the Regional 
Administrator.
    (7) Any change to the electronic monitoring system that would 
affect the system's functionality or ability to meet the requirements 
described at paragraph (k)(1) of this section must be submitted to, and 
approved by, NMFS in writing before that change is made.
    (8) Inspections will be conducted on vessels tied to docks at Dutch 
Harbor, Alaska; Kodiak, Alaska; and in the Puget Sound area of 
Washington State.
    (9) After an inspection, NMFS will issue an electronic monitoring 
system inspection report to the vessel owner, if the electronic 
monitoring system meets the requirements of paragraph (k) of this 
section. The electronic monitoring system report is valid for 12 months 
from the date it is issued by NMFS. The electronic monitoring system 
inspection report must be made available to the observer, NMFS 
personnel, or to an authorized officer upon request.


0
7. In Sec.  679.32, revise paragraph (c)(3)(i)(F)(1), and remove 
paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(G) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.32  CDQ fisheries monitoring and catch accounting.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (F) * * *
    (1) Operators of catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear must 
comply with Sec.  679.100. Operators of catcher/processors using pot 
gear must comply with observer coverage requirements at Sec.  
679.50(c)(4)(iii)(D); and
* * * * *

0
8. In Sec.  679.50, remove and reserve paragraph (c)(4)(iii)(C), revise 
paragraph (c)(1) introductory text and paragraph (j)(1)(v)(E)(3), and 
add paragraph (c)(8) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.50  Groundfish Observer Program.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (c)(4) through (8) of 
this section, observer coverage is required as follows:
* * * * *
    (8) Longline catcher/processor subsector. The owner and operator of 
a catcher/processor subject to Sec.  679.100(b) must comply with the 
following observer coverage requirements:
    (i) Increased observer coverage option. If the vessel owner selects 
the increased observer coverage option under Sec.  679.100(b)(1), at 
least two observers must be aboard the vessel at all times when the 
vessel is operating in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish fisheries when 
directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or while the 
vessel is groundfish CDQ fishing. At least one of the observers must be 
certified as a lead level 2 observer as described at Sec.  
679.50(j)(1)(v)(E)(3). More than two observers are required if the 
observer workload would otherwise preclude sampling as required under 
Sec.  679.100(b)(1)(ii).
    (ii) Scales option. If the vessel owner selects the scales option 
under Sec.  679.100(b)(2), one lead level 2 observer as described at 
paragraph (j)(1)(v)(E)(3) of this section must be aboard the vessel at 
all times when the vessel is operating in either the BSAI or GOA 
groundfish fisheries when directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in 
the BSAI, or while the vessel is groundfish CDQ fishing.
* * * * *

[[Page 59061]]

    (j) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (3) A ``lead'' level 2 observer on a vessel using nontrawl gear 
must have completed two observer cruises (contracts) of at least 10 
days each and sampled at least 30 sets on a vessel using nontrawl gear.
* * * * *

0
9. Add subpart I to part 679 to read as follows:

Subpart I--Equipment and Operational Requirements for the Longline 
Catcher/Processor Subsector


Sec.  679.100  Applicability.

    The owner and operator of a vessel named on an LLP license with a 
Pacific cod catcher-processor hook-and-line endorsement for the Bering 
Sea, Aleutian Islands or both the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands must 
comply with the requirements of this subpart.
    (a) Opt out selection. Each year, the owner of a vessel subject to 
this subpart who does not intend to directed fish for Pacific cod in 
the BSAI or conduct groundfish CDQ fishing at any time during a year 
may, by November 1 of the year prior to fishing, submit to NMFS a 
completed notification form to opt out of directed fishing for Pacific 
cod in the BSAI and groundfish CDQ fishing in the upcoming year. The 
notification form is available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site 
(http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/). Once the vessel owner has selected 
to opt out, the owner must ensure that the vessel is not used as a 
catcher/processor to conduct directed fishing for Pacific cod with 
hook-and-line gear in the BSAI or to conduct groundfish CDQ fishing 
during the specified year.
    (b) Monitoring option selection. Each year, the owner of a vessel 
subject to this subpart that does not opt out under paragraph (a) of 
this section must, by November 1 of the year prior to fishing, submit a 
completed notification form for one of two monitoring options to NMFS. 
The notification form is available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site 
(http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/). The vessel owner must comply with 
the selected monitoring option at all times when the vessel is 
operating in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish fisheries when directed 
fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or while the vessel is 
groundfish CDQ fishing for the entire upcoming calendar year. If NMFS 
does not receive a notification to opt out or a notification for one of 
the two monitoring options by November 1 of the year prior to fishing, 
NMFS will assign that vessel to the increased observer coverage option 
under paragraph (b)(1) of this section for the upcoming calendar year.
    (1) Increased observer coverage option. Under this option, the 
vessel owner and operator must ensure that--
    (i) The vessel is in compliance with observer coverage requirements 
described at Sec.  679.50(c)(8)(i).
    (ii) The time required for an observer to complete sampling, data 
recording, and data communication duties may not exceed 12 consecutive 
hours in each 24-hour period.
    (iii) An observer sampling station meeting the requirements at 
Sec.  679.28(d) is available at all times, unless otherwise approved by 
NMFS.
    (iv) All sets are made available for sampling by an observer.
    (2) Scales option. Under this option--
    (i) The vessel owner and operator must ensure that--
    (A) The vessel is in compliance with observer coverage requirements 
described at Sec.  679.50(c)(8)(ii).
    (B) All Pacific cod brought onboard the vessel is weighed on a 
NMFS-approved scale in compliance with the scale requirements at Sec.  
679.28(b), and that each set is weighed and recorded separately.
    (C) An observer sampling station meeting the requirements at Sec.  
679.28(d) is available at all times, unless otherwise approved by NMFS.
    (D) The vessel is in compliance with the electronic monitoring 
requirements described at Sec.  679.28(k).
    (ii) NMFS will use the weight of all catch that passes over the 
scale for the purposes of accounting for Pacific cod catch.
    (iii) At the time NMFS approves the scale used to weigh Pacific 
cod, NMFS will provide the vessel owner or operator with one of the 
following designations on the scale inspection report that will be used 
for catch accounting of Pacific cod for the duration of the approval 
period:
    (A) Scale prior to bleeding. If the scale is located before the 
location where Pacific cod are bled, a PRR of 1.00 will be applied to 
all catch weighed on the motion-compensated scale.
    (B) Scale between bleeding and holding area. If Pacific cod are 
bled before being weighed and prior to the bleeding holding area, a PRR 
of 0.99 will be applied to all catch weighed on the scale.
    (C) Scale after holding area. If Pacific cod are bled and placed in 
a bleeding holding area before being weighed, a PRR of 0.98 will be 
applied to all catch weighed on the scale.
    (c) Electronic logbooks. The operator of a vessel subject to 
paragraph (b) of this section at any time during a year must comply 
with the requirements for electronic logbooks at Sec.  679.5(f) at all 
times during that year.
    (d) During 2013, the vessel owner that has selected the increased 
observer coverage option under paragraph (b)(1) of this section may 
make a one-time change to the scales option as described under 
paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The owner must submit a completed 
notification form no later than May 1 to change monitoring options. The 
change in monitoring options will become effective June 10 and will 
remain effective until December 31.

[FR Doc. 2012-23721 Filed 9-25-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P