[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 215 (Tuesday, November 6, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66564-66565]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27075]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

RIN 0648-XA500


North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Essential Fish Habitat 
Amendments

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

ACTION: Notice of agency decision.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces approval of Amendment 98 to the Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area (BSAI Groundfish FMP); Amendment 90 to the FMP 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA Groundfish FMP); Amendment 40 
to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (BSAI 
Crab FMP); Amendment 15 to the FMP for the Scallop Fishery off Alaska 
(Scallop FMP); and Amendment 1 to the FMP for Fish Resources of the 
Arctic Management Area (Arctic FMP). These amendments update the 
existing essential fish habitat (EFH) provisions in the FMPs based on a 
5-year EFH review. This action is intended to promote the goals and 
objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act, the FMPs, and other applicable laws.

DATES: The amendments were approved on October 31, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Final EFH 5-year Review for 2010

[[Page 66565]]

Summary Report, the Environmental Assessment prepared for this action 
and the amendments may be obtained from the Alaska Region Web site at 
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Ellgen, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that each regional 
fishery management council submit any FMP amendment it prepares to NMFS 
for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval by the 
Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that 
NMFS, upon receiving an FMP amendment, immediately publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing that the amendment is available for 
public review and comment.
    On August 8, 2012, NMFS published the notice of availability for 
the amendments, with a comment period that ended on October 9, 2012 (77 
FR 47356). NMFS did not receive any comments on these proposed 
amendments.
    NMFS determined that these amendments are consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws and approved the 
amendments on October 31, 2012. The notice of availability contains 
additional information on this action. No changes to Federal 
regulations are necessary to implement these FMP amendments.
    NMFS and regional fishery management councils must describe and 
identify EFH in FMPs. The Magnuson-Stevens Act defines EFH as ``those 
waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, 
or growth to maturity.'' The FMPs contain various EFH components, 
including the requirement to review EFH every 5 years.
    In 2009 and 2010, a 5-year EFH review was conducted for the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), and the results of this 
review are documented in the Final EFH 5-year Review for 2010 Summary 
Report (see ADDRESSES). Based on the 5-year review and the summary 
report, the Council identified various elements of the EFH FMP text 
that merited revision. EFH revisions to the FMP for the Salmon 
Fisheries in the EEZ off the Coast of Alaska (Salmon FMP), Amendment 
11, were proposed with Amendments 10 and 12 to the Salmon FMP (77 FR 
19605, April 2, 2012). The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendments 
10, 11, and 12 to the Salmon FMP on June 29, 2012.
    The five amendments addressed by this notice revise the following 
FMP components for EFH:
     The EFH provisions of the BSAI and GOA Groundfish FMPs for 
24 groundfish species or complexes.
     The EFH provisions of the BSAI Crab FMP for five crab 
species or complexes.
     The EFH provisions of the Scallop FMP for weathervane 
scallop.
     The EFH conservation recommendations for non-fishing 
activities in all five FMPs.
     The timeline for considering habitat areas of particular 
concern from 3 years to 5 years in all five FMPs.
     The research objectives for EFH in the four FMPs subject 
to the 2010 EFH 5-year review (excludes the Arctic FMP).
    The details of these revisions are in each amendment (see 
ADDRESSES).
    The 5-year review concluded that no change to the 2005 EFH EIS 
conclusions on the evaluation of fishing effects on EFH was warranted 
based on information from 2005 through 2010.
    An Environmental Assessment was prepared for the amendments that 
describe the EFH background, the purpose and need for action, the EFH 
alternatives, and the environmental, social, and economic impacts of 
the alternatives (see ADDRESSES). These amendments improve fisheries 
management by updating EFH provisions in the FMPs with the best 
available information.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 1, 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.
[FR Doc. 2012-27075 Filed 11-5-12; 8:45 am]
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