[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 234 (Wednesday, December 5, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 72297-72318]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29137]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 120918468-2468-01]
RIN 0648-XC254


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Proposed 2013 and 2014 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2013 
and 2014 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 4, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2012-0180, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-0180 in the keyword search. 
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and 
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on that line.
     Mail: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.

[[Page 72298]]

     Fax: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to: (907) 586-7557.
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: Address written 
comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, 
Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen 
Sebastian. Deliver comments to 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, 
AK.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible.
    Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise 
sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments 
(enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). 
Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word 
or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Supplementary 
Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained 
from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at 
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2011 Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the 
GOA, dated November 2011, is available from the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, 
Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. The draft 2012 SAFE report 
for the GOA is available from the same source.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) limits for each target species, the sum of which must be within 
the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). 
Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit 
public comment on proposed annual TACs, halibut prohibited species 
catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. 
The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 20 of this 
document satisfy these requirements. For 2013 and 2014, the sum of the 
proposed TAC amounts is 447,752 mt.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2013 and 2014 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2012 meeting, and (3) considering information presented in the 
Final EIS (see ADDRESSES) and the final 2012 SAFE report prepared for 
the 2013 and 2014 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2013 and 2014 Harvest 
Specifications

Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits Revisions

    At its June 2012 meeting, the Council took final action to reduce 
halibut PSC limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line groundfish 
fisheries. The Council's preferred alternative for Amendment 95 to the 
GOA FMP would change the process for setting halibut PSC limits. 
Halibut PSC limits would be established in Federal regulations and 
would remain in effect until changed by a subsequent Council action to 
amend those regulations.
    If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 95 would reduce 
the GOA halibut PSC limit for the groundfish trawl gear sector and 
groundfish catcher vessel (CV) hook-and-line gear sector by 15 percent. 
The Council's proposed reduction would be phased in over 3 years: 7 
percent in year 1, 5 percent in year 2 (to 12 percent), and 3 percent 
in year 3 (for a total of 15 percent). The Council's proposed reduction 
for the catcher/processor (C/P) hook-and-line gear sector would be 7 
percent, which would be implemented in one step in year 1. The Council 
used 1,973 mt as the baseline for the proposed trawl halibut PSC limit 
reductions. This is based on a deduction of 27 mt from the 2,000 mt 
trawl halibut PSC limit, per halibut PSC limit reductions made in 
conjunction with the implementation of the Central Gulf of Alaska 
Rockfish Program in 2011 (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011). The Council 
recommended that the first year of implementation would occur in 2014 
and that all reductions would occur by 2016.
    Amendment 95 would result in a new trawl sector halibut PSC limit 
of 1,848 mt (in 2014), 1,759 mt (in 2015), and 1,705 mt (in 2016 and 
later years). The hook-and-line sector halibut PSC limits may vary 
annually, as these limits are based on how the Pacific cod TAC is 
annually apportioned between the Central and Western regulatory areas 
of the GOA. Based on 2012 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
GOA the hook-and-line C/P sector would receive a 109 mt halibut PSC 
limit. The hook-and-line CV sector PSC limit would be 161 mt (in 2014), 
152 mt (in 2015), and 147 mt (in 2016 and later years).

Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In October 2012, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent 
biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish 
stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish 
Plan Team and presented in the final 2011 SAFE report for the GOA 
groundfish fisheries, dated November 2011 (see ADDRESSES). The amounts 
proposed for the 2013 and 2014 ABCs are based on the 2011 SAFE report, 
as discussed below. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 
2013 and 2014 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and 
species groups, with the exception of the species categories further 
discussed below. The proposed ABCs and TACs could be changed in the 
final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific 
information contained in the final 2012 SAFE report. The SAFE report 
contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of 
each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as well as 
summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the 
economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these 
data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an

[[Page 72299]]

OFL and ABC for each species or species group.
    In November 2012, the Plan Team updated the 2011 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2012, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team 
compiled this information and produced the draft 2012 SAFE report for 
presentation at the December 2012 Council meeting. At that meeting, the 
Council will consider information in the draft 2012 SAFE report, 
recommendations from the November 2012 Plan Team meeting and December 
2012 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public 
comments in making its recommendations for the final 2013 and 2014 
harvest specifications. Pursuant to section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the 
Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ``warranted on the basis 
of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic 
considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to 
fall within the OY range.''
    In previous years, the largest changes from the proposed to the 
final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs based on the 
most recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of 
stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used 
for making stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new 
survey results, changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock 
estimates at the September 2012 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed 
this information at the October 2012 Council meeting. The species with 
possible model changes are Pacific cod, rex sole, dover sole, rock 
sole, sharks, and octopus. In November 2012, the Plan Team considered 
updated stock assessments for groundfish, which were included in the 
draft 2012 SAFE report.
    If the draft 2012 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2013 and 2014 harvest 
specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the 
proposed harvest specifications. The draft 2012 SAFE reports indicate 
that the biomass trend for octopuses may be increasing. Conversely, if 
the draft 2012 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is 
decreasing for a species, then the final 2013 and 2014 harvest 
specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest 
specifications. The draft 2012 SAFE reports indicate that the biomass 
trend for pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, northern rockfish, other 
rockfish, and dusky rockfish may be decreasing. The biomass trends for 
the following species are relatively stable: shallow-water flatfish, 
deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, 
Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, rougheye 
rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, Atka mackerel, 
big skate, longnose skates, other skates, squids, sharks, and sculpins.
    The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass 
trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and 
revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the 
formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute ABCs and OFLs. The formulas 
applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the 
level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. 
This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers 
to define OFL and ABC amounts, with tier one representing the highest 
level of information quality available and tier six representing the 
lowest level of information quality available.
    The SSC adopted the proposed 2013 and 2014 OFLs and ABCs 
recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council 
adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC 
recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2013 
harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 14, 
2012 (77 FR 15194).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, flathead 
sole, other rockfish, and Atka mackerel. The Pacific cod TACs are set 
to accommodate the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest levels 
(GHL) for Pacific cod so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The flathead 
sole, shallow-water flatfish, and arrowtooth flounder TACs are set to 
conserve the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The other 
rockfish TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards in the 
Southeast Outside (SEO) District. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to 
accommodate incidental catch amounts of this species in other directed 
fisheries.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and 
West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) has been adjusted to reflect 
the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) 
pollock fishery since its inception in 1995. Genetic studies revealed 
that the pollock in PWS was not a separate stock from the combined W/C/
WYK population. Accordingly, the Council recommended decreasing the W/
C/WYK pollock ABC to account for the State's PWS GHL. For 2013 and 
2014, the PWS GHL for pollock is 2,770 mt, per the recommendation of 
State of Alaska fisheries managers.
    The apportionment of annual pollock TAC among the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA reflects the seasonal biomass 
distribution and is discussed in greater detail below. The annual 
pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is 
apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, and divided 
equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 
20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C 
season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 
through November 1) (Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Table 2 lists these amounts.
    The AP, SSC, and Council recommended apportionment of the ABC for 
Pacific cod in the GOA among regulatory areas based on the three most 
recent NMFS summer trawl surveys. The proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific 
cod TACs are affected by the State's GHL fishery for Pacific cod in 
State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in 
PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of 
all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not 
exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council recommended 
reducing the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs from the proposed 
ABCs for the Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account 
for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs 
are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern 
GOA, 683 mt; (2) Central GOA, 14,788 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 7,280 mt. 
These amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2013 and 2014 GHLs in 
these areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and Western 
GOA proposed ABCs. These are the same percentage amounts used to 
apportion the Pacific cod ABCs to State waters GHLs that were used in 
2012.
    NMFS also is proposing seasonal apportionments of the annual 
Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for

[[Page 72300]]

trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual 
TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through 
December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through 
December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 
(Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)).
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments also 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available five 
percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to trawl gear for 
use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the 
WYK District (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). Tables 4 and 5 list these 
amounts.
    The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 447,752 mt 
for 2013 and 2014, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. 
The sums of the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs are higher than the final 
2012 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish fisheries (77 FR 
15194, March 14, 2012). The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for pollock, 
Pacific cod, flathead sole, and rougheye rockfish are higher than the 
final 2012 TACs for these species. The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for 
sablefish, shallow-water flatfish, rex sole, Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish are lower than the final 
2012 TACs for these species. The proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs are equal 
to the final 2012 TACs for the remaining species.
    For 2013 and 2014, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect 
harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. 
The sum of the proposed 2013 and 2014 ABCs for all assessed groundfish 
is 612,506 mt, which is higher than the final 2012 ABC total of 606,048 
mt (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012).
    Table 1 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area 
apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2011 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required 
OY range. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, 
and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 
2012 SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2013 
and 2014 harvest specifications during its December 2012 meeting.

  Table 1--Proposed 2013 and 2014 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/
 WYK), Western (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside
                            (SEO), and Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
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                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC             TAC
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Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          32,816          32,816
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a          49,662          49,662
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          28,565          28,565
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           3,517           3,517
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         155,402         114,560         114,560
                                        SEO (650)...............          14,366          10,774          10,774
                                        Total...................         169,768         125,334         125,334
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Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a          29,120          21,840
                                        C.......................             n/a          59,150          44,363
                                        E.......................             n/a           2,730           2,047
                                        Total...................         108,000          91,000          68,250
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Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           1,757           1,757
                                        C.......................             n/a           5,686           5,686
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,219           2,219
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,132           3,132
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           5,351           5,351
                                         (subtotal).
                                        Total...................          15,129          12,794          12,794
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish \6\............  W.......................             n/a          20,171          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          21,012          18,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,950           3,950
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,350           1,350
                                        Total...................          56,781          46,483          36,550
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Deep-water flatfish \5\...............  W.......................             n/a             176             176
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,308           2,308
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,581           1,581
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,061           1,061
                                        Total...................           6,834           5,126           5,126
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Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           1,283           1,283
                                        C.......................             n/a           6,291           6,291
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             821             821
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,037           1,037
                                        Total...................          12,326           9,432           9,432
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          27,386          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a         142,591          75,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          21,074           6,900

[[Page 72301]]

 
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          20,982           6,900
                                        Total...................         249,066         212,033         103,300
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Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          15,518           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          26,205          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           4,623           4,623
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,735           1,735
                                        Total...................          60,219          48,081          30,408
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................           2,364           2,050           2,050
                                        C.......................          12,662          10,985          10,985
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,650           1,650
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,815           1,815
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                    3,995             n/a             n/a
                                         (subtotal).
                                        Total...................          19,021          16,500          16,500
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish 8 9.................  W.......................             n/a           2,017           2,017
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,136           3,136
                                        E.......................             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Total...................           6,152           5,153           5,153
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \11\..............  W.......................             n/a             104             104
                                        C.......................             n/a             452             452
                                        E.......................             n/a             525             525
                                        Total...................           1,441           1,081           1,081
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish 9 12...................  W.......................             n/a              44              44
                                        C.......................             n/a             606             606
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             230             230
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,165             200
                                        Total...................           5,305           4,045           1,080
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic shelf rockfish \13\...........  W.......................             n/a             381             381
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,581           3,581
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             504             504
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             296             296
                                        Total...................           5,822           4,762           4,762
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye rockfish \10\................  W.......................             n/a              82              82
                                        C.......................             n/a             861             861
                                        E.......................             n/a             297             297
                                        Total...................           1,492           1,240           1,240
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish \14\..........  SEO.....................             467             293             293
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             n/a             150             150
                                        C.......................             n/a             766             766
                                        E.......................             n/a             749             749
                                        Total...................           2,220           1,665           1,665
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           2,000
Big skates \15\.......................  W.......................             n/a             469             469
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,793           1,793
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,505           1,505
                                        Total...................           5,023           3,767           3,767
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates \16\..................  W.......................             n/a              70              70
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,879           1,879
                                        E.......................             n/a             676             676
                                        Total...................           3,500           2,625           2,625
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \17\.....................  GW......................           2,706           2,030           2,030
Squids................................  GW......................           1,530           1,148           1,148
Sharks................................  GW......................           8,037           6,028           6,028
Octopus...............................  GW......................           1,941           1,455           1,455
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           7,641           5,731           5,731
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 72302]]

 
    Total.............................  ........................         756,621         612,506         447,752
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide).
\2\ Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. Table 2 lists
  the proposed 2013 and 2014 seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the
  Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned
  among various sectors 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent
  for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists
  the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2013 and trawl gear in 2014. Tables 4 and 5 list
  the proposed 2013 and 2014 allocations of sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole.
\6\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the slope rockfish species group.
\9\ ``Other rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA
  only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinous.
\10\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\11\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\12\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means slope
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District means slope
  rockfish.
\13\ ``Pelagic shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis (dusky).
\14\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja spp.

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, skates, sharks, squids, 
sculpins, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a 
later date during the fishing year. In 2012, NMFS apportioned all of 
the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2013 and 2014, 
NMFS proposes reapportionment of all the reserves for pollock, Pacific 
cod, flatfish, skates, sharks, squids, sculpins, and octopuses in 
anticipation of the projected annual catch of these species. Table 1 
reflects the apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and 
species groups. Each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species 
categories contains the full TAC recommended by the Council, since no 
reserve was created from the relevant species and species groups.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated between inshore and offshore processing components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 
through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the 
four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the 
apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass 
based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2013 and 2014, 
the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and 
summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A 
season and instead of using the distribution based on only the winter 
surveys. The average is intended to reflect the migration patterns, 
distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area 
during the A season for 2013 and 2014. During the A season, the 
apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative 
distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 23 percent, 55 
percent, and 23 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively. During the B season, the apportionment is based on the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 23 percent, 
67 percent, and 10 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively. During the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on 
the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 36 
percent, 28 percent, and 35 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 
630, respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover

[[Page 72303]]

amount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal 
apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above 
the 20 percent limit could be further distributed to the other 
statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the 
subsequent season in those statistical areas (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2013 and 2014 pollock TACs in the 
WYK District of 3,517 mt and SEO District of 10,774 mt are not 
allocated by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to 
vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after 
subtraction of pollock amounts that are projected by the Regional 
Administrator to be caught incidentally by, or delivered to, the 
offshore component engaged in directed fishing for other groundfish 
species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels 
harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that 
amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing 
for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable 
amounts allowed under Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these 
incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined 
during the fishing year as NMFS monitors the fishing activities in the 
offshore component.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

       Table 2--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass
                                      Distribution, Area Apportionments, and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season \2\                                                        Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                                  Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                                   Kodiak (Area 630)           Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10)............................................        6,285     (22.64%)       15,202     (54.76%)        6,274     (21.15%)       27,761
B (Mar 10-May 31)............................................        6,285     (22.64%)       18,668     (67.25%)        2,806     (10.11%)       27,760
C (Aug 25-Oct 1).............................................       10,123     (36.47%)        7,896     (28.44%)        9,743     (32.19%)       27,761
D (Oct 1-Nov 1)..............................................       10,123     (36.47%)        7,896     (28.44%)        9,743     (32.19%)       27,761
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual Total \3\.............................................       34,816  ...........       49,662  ...........       28,565  ...........      111,043
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod

    Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation among gear and 
operational sectors of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the 
allocation between the inshore and offshore components of the Pacific 
cod TACs in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS allocates the 
proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TAC based on these sector 
allocations annually between the inshore and offshore components in the 
Eastern GOA; seasonally between vessels using jig gear, CVs less than 
50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or 
greater than 50 in length overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using 
hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and 
vessels using pot gear in the Central GOA; and seasonally between 
vessels using jig gear, CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-
and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the 
Western GOA. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and 
Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 
percent of the annual TAC to the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that are 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishery year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) NMFS proposes the allocations of 
the proposed 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig 
sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs depending on the annual 
performance of the jig sector (See Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP 
for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 
74670, December 1, 2011)). NMFS proposes that the jig sector would 
receive 2.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. 
This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 1.0 
percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its 
initial 2012 allocation in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that the 
jig sector would receive 2.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in 
the Central GOA. This also is because this sector harvested greater 
than 90 percent of its initial 2012 allocation in the Central GOA. The 
jig sector allocations are further apportioned between the A (60 
percent) and B (40 percent) season. The sector allocations based on 
gear type, operation type, and vessel length overall are allocated the 
remainder of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central GOA. 
These amounts are slightly less than the 2013 sector and seasonal 
amounts established in the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications 
(77 FR 15195, March 14, 2012), due to the proposed increase in the jig 
apportionments in the Western and Central GOA. Table 3 lists the 
seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2013 and 2014 
Pacific cod TACs.

[[Page 72304]]



   Table 3--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts to Gear
  Types, Operational Types, and Vessel Length Overall in the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska and Allocations
               for Processing by the Inshore and Offshore Components in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             A Season                        B Season
                                      Annual     ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation      Sector % of      Seasonal       Sector % of      Seasonal
                                       (mt)         annual non-     allowances      annual non-     allowances
                                                      jig TAC          (mt)           jig TAC          (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (2.5% of TAC)...........             546             N/A             328             N/A             218
    Hook-and-line CV............             298            0.70             149            0.70             149
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           4,216           10.90           2,321            8.90           1,895
    Trawl CV....................           8,177           27.70           5,898           10.70           2,278
    Trawl C/P...................             511            0.90             192            1.50             319
    Pot CV and Pot C/P..........           8,092           19.80           4,216           18.20           3,876
        Total...................          21,840           60.00          13,104           40.00           8,736
Central GOA:
    Jig (2.0% of TAC)...........             887             N/A             532             N/A             355
    Hook-and-line < 50 CV.......           6,348            9.32           4,050            5.29           2,298
    Hook-and-line >= 50 CV......           2,916            5.61           2,439            1.10             477
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           2,219            4.11           1,785            1.00             434
    Trawl CV....................          18,079           21.13           9,189           20.45           8,890
    Trawl C/P...................           1,825            2.00             871            2.19             954
    Pot CV and Pot C/P..........          12,088           17.83           7,752            9.97           4,337
        Total...................          44,363           60.00          26,168           40.00          17,745
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA.....................  ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           2,047                   1,842
                                                     205
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using 
Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA 
may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed 
fisheries for other target species (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District making 
the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-
and-line gear. As a result, NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of 
the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line 
gear. This recommendation results in a proposed 2013 allocation of 268 
mt to trawl gear and 5,083 mt to hook-and-line gear in the Eastern GOA. 
Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2013 sablefish TACs to 
hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the 
proposed 2014 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) 
fishery is conducted concurrent with the halibut IFQ fishery and is 
based on the most recent survey information. The Council also 
recommended that only the trawl sablefish TAC be established for two 
years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear 
could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest 
specifications. Since there is an annual NMFS survey and assessment for 
sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be 
published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the 
Council recommended that the sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis so 
that the best and most recent scientific information could be 
considered in recommending the ABCs and TACs. With the exception of the 
trawl allocations that were provided to the Rockfish Program 
cooperatives, directed fishing for sablefish is closed for trawl gear 
for the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is 
prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the 
sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the 
effective date of the final harvest specifications.

  Table 4--Proposed 2013 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Hook-and-Line and Trawl
                                                      Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,757           1,406             351
Central.........................................................           5,686           4,549           1,137
West Yakutat \1\................................................           2,219           1,951             268

[[Page 72305]]

 
Southeast Outside...............................................           3,132           3,132               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          12,794          11,038           1,756
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat district.


       Table 5--Proposed 2014 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,757             n/a             351
Central.........................................................           5,686             n/a           1,137
West Yakutat \2\................................................           2,219             n/a             268
Southeast Outside...............................................           3,132             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          12,794             n/a           1,756
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing
  Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat district.

Proposed Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2013 and 2014 groundfish harvest specifications for 
the GOA include the various fishery cooperative allocations and 
sideboard limitations established by the Central GOA Rockfish Program. 
Under the Rockfish Program, the rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish) are allocated to 
participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other 
directed groundfish fisheries.
    The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to 
participants for primary and secondary species, allows a participant 
holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota 
share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows 
holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt-out of the fishery. The Rockfish 
Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species 
for vessels using longline gear. Additionally, the Rockfish Program 
continues to establish sideboard limits to limit the ability of 
harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program from increasing their 
participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. Besides 
groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the 
halibut PSC limit from the third season deep-water species fishery 
allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants 
(Sec.  679.81(d)). This includes 117 mt to the CV sector and 74 mt to 
the C/P sector.
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific 
ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of pelagic shelf 
rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2013 and 2014. The 
allocation for the entry level longline fishery would increase 
incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the 
allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation 
would continue each year until it the maximum percent of the TAC for 
that species. In 2012, the catch did not exceed 90 percent of any 
allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an 
increase to the entry level longline fishery 2013 and 2014 allocations 
in the Central GOA. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, 
and handline gear. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary 
species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 
lists the allocations of the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs for each 
rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the 
incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percent of the 
TAC for the entry level longline fishery.

 Table 6--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                        Up to
                                                Allocations of the        Incremental increase per     maximum
         Rockfish primary species           proposed 2013 and 2014 TAC   season if catch exceeds 90   percent of
                                                                         percent of the  allocation      TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch......................  5 metric tons..............  5 metric tons..............            1
Northern rockfish........................  5 metric tons..............  5 metric tons..............            2
Pelagic shelf rockfish...................  30 metric tons.............  20 metric tons.............            5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 72306]]

    NMFS proposes allocations of rockfish primary species among various 
components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2013 and 
2014 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA to the entry level 
longline fishery and other participants in the Rockfish Program, which 
include CV and C/P cooperatives. NMFS also proposes setting aside 
incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the 
Central GOA of 900 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 125 mt of northern 
rockfish, and 125 mt of pelagic shelf rockfish. These amounts are based 
on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other 
groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations between vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives, C/P cooperatives, and C/Ps electing 
to opt-out of the program are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each 
calendar year, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating 2013 and 2014 
allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. 
NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at 
(http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/goarat/default.htm) when they become available after March 1.

  Table 7--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the
                   Entry Level Longline Fishery and Other Participants in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Initial          Other
                                                                                  allocation  to     rockfish
                                                    Incidental                      the  entry        program
    Rockfish primary species            TAC            catch      TAC minus  ICA       level       participants
                                                     allowance                      longline\1\         \2\
                                                                                      fishery       allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          10,985             900          10,085               5          10,080
Northern rockfish...............           3,136             125           3,011               5           3,006
Pelagic shelf rockfish..........           3,581             125           3,456              30           3,426
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          17,702           1,150          16,552              40          16,512
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (see 679.2 Definitions: Longline gear).
\2\ Other Rockfish Program participants include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives.

    Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary 
species to program participants in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives 
receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear 
allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/P cooperatives receive 
allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, 
shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the 
apportionments of the proposed 2013 and 2014 TACs of rockfish secondary 
species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives.

  Table 8--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P
                                                  Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          CV cooperatives                C/P cooperatives
                                    Central GOA  ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Rockfish secondary species       annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................          44,363            3.81           1,690             N/A             N/A
Sablefish.......................           5,686            6.78             386            3.51             200
Shortraker rockfish.............             452             N/A             N/A           40.00             181
Rougheye rockfish...............             861             N/A             N/A           58.87             507
Thornyhead rockfish.............             766            7.84              60           26.50             203
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2012, the 
Council recommended proposed halibut PSC limits of 1,973 mt for trawl 
gear and 300 mt for hook-and-line gear for the 2013 and 2014 groundfish 
fisheries. This is a result of a 27 mt reduction to the halibut PSC 
apportionment to trawl gear fisheries incorporated in the Rockfish 
Program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011) and specified in Table 28d to 
50 CFR part 679. As discussed previously in this preamble, at its June 
2012 meeting the Council took action to further reduce the GOA halibut 
PSC limits. Implementation of those reductions may lead to adjustments 
or reductions to the 2014 halibut PSC limits proposed in this action at 
the beginning of 2014.
    Ten mt of the 300 mt hook-and-line halibut PSC limit is further 
allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO 
District. The DSR fishery is defined at Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(A). 
This fishery has been apportioned 10 mt of the halibut PSC limit in 
recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. Most vessels in 
the DSR fishery are less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall and have 
been exempt from observer coverage. Therefore, observer data are not 
available to verify actual halibut bycatch amounts. NMFS estimates low 
halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR 
fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs 
in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and 
halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR

[[Page 72307]]

TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the GHL for the DSR 
fishery after estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries 
(including halibut and subsistence) and allocation to the DSR sport 
fish fishery have been deducted. Of the 293 mt TAC for DSR in 2012, 128 
mt were available for the DSR commercial directed fishery, of which 105 
mt were harvested.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limit. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2013 and 
2014. The Council recommended and NMFS is proposing these exemptions 
because: (1) Pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality (averaging 19 mt annually from 2001 through 2010), (2) IFQ 
program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ 
permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ (Sec.  
679.7(f)(11)), (3) sablefish IFQ fishermen typically hold halibut IFQ 
permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch 
while fishing sablefish IFQ, and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut 
mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates halibut mortality 
is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of 
groundfish harvested by jig gear (averaging 297 mt annually from 2003 
through 2011), the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival 
rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear.
    Section 679.21(d)(5) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the 
halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and 
regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following 
information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal 
distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish 
species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch 
needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and 
expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates 
on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish 
fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) 
economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on 
segments of the target groundfish industry.
    The final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications (77 FR 15194, March 
14, 2012) summarized the Council's and NMFS' findings with respect to 
halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council's and 
NMFS' findings for 2013 and 2014 are unchanged from 2012, with one 
exception. As previously mentioned, the total trawl gear PSC limit has 
been adjusted to 1,973 mt from 2,000 mt. Table 9 lists the proposed 
2013 and 2014 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and 
apportionments. Section 679.21(d)(5)(iii) and (iv) specify that any 
underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will 
be deducted from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment 
within the fishing year.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05DE12.005

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual 
apportionments are based on each category's proportional share of the 
anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and 
optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the 
halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC 
limits are (1) a deep-water species category, composed of sablefish, 
rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and 
(2) a shallow-water species category, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, 
shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, and ``other 
species'' (skates, sharks, squids, sculpins, and octopuses) (Sec.  
679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 10 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 seasonal 
apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the deep-water and 
the shallow-water species categories. Based on public comment and 
information presented in the final 2012 SAFE report, the Council may 
recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or 
fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 
2013 and 2014 harvest specifications.

[[Page 72308]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05DE12.006

    Section 679.21(d)(4) requires the ``other than DSR'' halibut PSC 
apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be apportioned 
between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut PSC limit 
apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps in 
accordance with Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B)(1) and (2) in conjunction 
with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and 
example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ``other than 
DSR'' hook-and-line halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and 
C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 
83 (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and is not repeated here.
    For 2013 and 2014, NMFS proposes that hook-and-line CV and hook-
and-line C/P sectors receive annual halibut PSC limits of 173 mt and 
117 mt, respectively. In addition, these annual limits are divided 
between three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 
percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 lists the proposed annual 
limits and seasonal apportionments.
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS would calculate the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-
line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount 
of halibut PSC limit would be made available to the other hook-and-line 
sector for the remainder of that fishing year.

  Table 11--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries'' Halibut PSC Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher
                                                          Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Percent of                                                                    Sector
  ``Other than DSR'' allowance       Hook-and-line sector         annual       Sector annual            Season               Seasonal        seasonal
                                                                 allowance        amount                                    percentage        amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
290.............................  Catcher Vessel............           59.69             173  January 1-June 10.........              86             149
                                                                                              June 10-September 1.......               2               3
                                                                                              September 1-December 31...              12              21
                                  Catcher/Processor.........           40.31             117  January 1-June 10.........              86             101
                                                                                              June 10-September 1.......               2               2
                                                                                              September 1-December 31...              12              14
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Estimated Halibut Bycatch in Prior Years

    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch is data 
collected by fisheries observers during 2012. The calculated halibut 
bycatch mortality through October 20, 2012, is 1,573 mt for trawl gear, 
152 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 38 mt for pot gear for a total 
halibut mortality of 1,763 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated 
using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's 
catch accounting system. This system contains historical and recent 
catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.
    Halibut bycatch restrictions seasonally constrained trawl gear 
fisheries during the 2012 fishing year. Table 12 displays the closure 
dates for fisheries that resulted from the attainment of seasonal or 
annual halibut PSC limits. NMFS does not know the amount of groundfish 
that trawl gear might have harvested if halibut PSC

[[Page 72309]]

limits had not restricted some 2012 GOA groundfish fisheries.

                 Table 12--2012 Fishery Closures Due to Attainment of Pacific Halibut PSC Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Fishery category                Opening date            Closure date        Federal Register citation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trawl Shallow-water, Amendment 80    January 20, 2012......  February 24, 2012.....  77 FR 12213, February 29,
 vessels, season 1.                                                                   2012.
Trawl Shallow-water,\1\ season 1...  January 20, 2012......  March 26, 2012........  77 FR 19146, March 30,
                                                                                      2012.
Trawl Deep-water,\1\ season 2......  April 1, 2012.........  April 19, 2012........  77 FR 24154, April 23,
                                                                                      2012.
Trawl Shallow-water, season 2......  April 1, 2012.........  May 31, 2012..........  77 FR 33103, June 5, 2012.
Trawl Shallow-water, season 3......  July 1, 2012..........  July 14, 2012.........  77 FR 42193, July 18, 2012.
Trawl Shallow-water,\1\ season 4...  September 1, 2012.....  September 2, 2012.....  77 FR 54837, September 6,
                                                                                      2012.
Hook-and-line gear, all sectors and  January 1, 2012.......  Remains open.
 targets \2\.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ With the exception of vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program and vessels fishing for
  pollock using pelagic trawl gear.
\2\ With the exception of the IFQ sablefish fishery, which is open March 17, 2012, through November 7, 2012.

Current Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition

    The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) annually 
assesses the abundance and potential yield of the Pacific halibut using 
all available data from the commercial and sport fisheries, other 
removals, and scientific surveys. Additional information on the Pacific 
halibut stock assessment may be found in the IPHC's 2011 Pacific 
halibut stock assessment (December 2011), available on the IPHC Web 
site at www.iphc.int. The IPHC considered the 2011 Pacific halibut 
stock assessment for 2012 at its January 2012 annual meeting when it 
set the 2012 commercial halibut fishery catch limits. The IPHC will 
consider the 2012 Pacific halibut stock assessment for 2013 at its 
January 2013 annual meeting when it set the 2013 commercial halibut 
fishery catch limits.
    The halibut resource is fully utilized. Recent catches in the 
commercial halibut fisheries in Alaska over the last 18 years (1994 
through 2011) have averaged 31,535 mt round weight per year. In January 
2012, the IPHC recommended Alaska commercial catch limits totaling 
15,430 mt round weight for 2012, a 21.5 percent decrease from 19,662 mt 
in 2011. Through December 31, 2011, commercial hook-and-line harvests 
of halibut off Alaska totaled 19,140 mt round weight. The IPHC staff 
recommendations for commercial catch limits continue to be based on 
applying the Slow Up--Full Down policy of a 33 percent increase from 
the previous year's catch limits when stock yields are projected to 
increase, but uses a 100 percent decrease in recommended catch when 
stock yields are projected to decrease, as was done for the 2011 
fishery.
    The 2012 commercial halibut catch limits were lower in all Alaska 
regions except Area 2C. The largest decreases in the 2012 catch limit 
recommendations for Alaska were for Area 3A, from 8,685 mt round weight 
in 2011 to 7,208 mt round weight in 2012; for Area 3B, from 4,542 mt in 
2011 to 3,066 mt in 2012; for Area 4A, from 1,458 mt in 2011 to 948 mt 
in 2012; for Area 4B, from 1,318 mt in 2011 to 1,130 mt in 2012; and 
for combined Areas CDE, from 2,250 mt in 2011 to 1,491 mt in 2012. The 
only increase in catch limit recommendations in Alaska was for Area 2C, 
from 1,409 mt round weight in 2011 to 1,587 mt round weight in 2012.
    Additional information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may 
be found in the IPHC's 2011 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 
2011), available on the IPHC Web site at http://www.iphc.int. The IPHC 
will consider the 2012 Pacific halibut stock assessment at its January 
2013 annual meeting when it will set the 2013 commercial halibut 
fishery catch limits.

Other Considerations Associated With Halibut PSC

    The IPHC determines the allowable directed commercial catch by 
first accounting for recreational and subsistence catch, waste, and 
bycatch mortality, and then provides the remainder to the directed 
fishery. Accordingly, the IPHC will adjust the allowable 2013 
commercial catch of halibut to account for the overall halibut PSC 
limit established for groundfish fisheries. NMFS expects the 2013 GOA 
groundfish fisheries to use the entire proposed annual halibut PSC 
limit of 2,273 mt. Methods available for reducing halibut bycatch 
include (1) consistent monitoring through publication of vessel 
specific bycatch rates on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov, (2) modifications to gear, (3) changes in 
groundfish fishing seasons, (4) individual transferable quota programs, 
and (5) time/area closures.
    With respect to fishing gear modifications, NMFS has implemented 
various regulations to address halibut bycatch concerns that are 
associated with different gear types. The definitions of the various 
gear types defined at Sec.  679.2 under ``Authorized fishing gear'' 
delineate a variety of different requirements and restrictions by gear 
type. Many of these requirements are intended to decrease or minimize 
halibut bycatch by pot, trawl, and hook-and-line gear.
    For example, groundfish pots must be constructed with biodegradable 
panels and tunnel openings to reduce halibut bycatch, thereby reducing 
halibut mortality in the groundfish pot fisheries. Further, the 
definition of ``pelagic trawl gear'' includes specific construction 
parameters and performance characteristics that distinguish it from 
nonpelagic trawl gear, which is designed for use in proximity to the 
seafloor. Because halibut bycatch by pelagic trawl gear is minimal, 
directed fishing for pollock with pelagic trawl gear may continue even 
when the halibut PSC limit for the shallow-water species fishery is 
reached (see Sec.  679.21(d)(7)(i)). Finally, all hook-and-line vessel 
operators are required to employ careful release measures when

[[Page 72310]]

handling halibut bycatch (Sec.  679.7(a)(13)). These measures are 
intended to reduce handling mortality, thereby lowering overall halibut 
bycatch mortality in the groundfish fisheries, and to increase the 
amount of groundfish harvested under the available halibut mortality 
bycatch limits.
    The FMP requires that the Council review recent halibut bycatch 
data and recommend proposed halibut PSC limits in conjunction with 
developing proposed groundfish harvest levels. NMFS and the Council 
will review the methods listed here that are available for reducing 
halibut bycatch to determine their effectiveness and will initiate 
changes to these PSC limits, as necessary, in response to this review 
or to public testimony and comment.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, discard 
mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project 
when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal 
apportionment is reached. The DMRs are based on the best information 
available, including information contained in the annual SAFE report.
    NMFS proposes that the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by 
the IPHC and the Council for the 2013-2015 GOA groundfish fisheries be 
used to monitor the proposed 2013 and 2014 halibut bycatch mortality 
allowances (see Tables 9-11). The IPHC developed the DMRs for the GOA 
groundfish fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. 
Long-term average DMRs were not available for some fisheries, so rates 
from the most recent years were used. For the squid, shark, sculpin, 
octopus, and skate fisheries, where insufficient mortality data are 
available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in the Pacific cod 
fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default rate. The IPHC 
will analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs 
when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the mean. A discussion of 
the DMRs and how the IPHC establishes them is available from the 
Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 13 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 
DMRs.

  Table 13--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for
                  Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
           [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Mortality rate
               Gear                    Target fishery           (%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hook-and-line.....................  Other fisheries \1\.              11
                                    Skates..............              11
                                    Pacific cod.........              11
                                    Rockfish............               9
Trawl.............................  Arrowtooth flounder.              73
                                    Deep-water flatfish.              43
                                    Flathead sole.......              65
                                    Non-pelagic pollock.              60
                                    Other fisheries.....              62
                                    Pacific cod.........              62
                                    Pelagic pollock.....              71
                                    Rex sole............              69
                                    Rockfish............              66
                                    Sablefish...........              71
                                    Shallow-water                     67
                                     flatfish.
Pot...............................  Other fisheries.....              17
                                    Pacific cod.........              17
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Other fisheries includes all gear types for Atka mackerel, sculpins,
  sharks, skates, squids, octopuses, and hook-and-line sablefish.

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    In 2012, NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 93 to the 
GOA FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). Amendment 93 established separate 
Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in the 
directed pollock fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the 
pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of 
the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (Sec.  679.21(h)(6)). The 
annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 
6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA 
are set in regulation at Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In addition, 
all salmon (regardless of species), taken in the pollock directed 
fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until an 
observer at the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch is 
provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect 
any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon (Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)).

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from 
harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock 
harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish 
harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits 
under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs 
operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of 
TAC in

[[Page 72311]]

groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iii) 
establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on 
the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 
1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same 
period.
    Table 14 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 14.

             Table 14--Proposed 2013 and 2014 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                        Ratio of 1995-
                                                                                                          1997  non-                      Proposed 2013
                 Species                     Apportionments by season/          Area/component          exempt AFA CV    Proposed 2013    and 2014 non-
                                                       gear                                             catch to 1995-   and 2014 TACs    exempt AFA CV
                                                                                                           1997 TAC                      sideboard limit
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock..................................  A Season--January 20-March    Shumagin (610)..............           0.6047            6,285            3,801
                                            10.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............           0.1167           15,202            1,774
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................           0.2028            6,274            1,272
                                           B Season--March 10-May 31...  Shumagin (610)..............           0.6047            6,285            3,801
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............           0.1167           18,668            2,179
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................           0.2028            2,806              569
                                           C Season--August 25-October   Shumagin (610)..............           0.6047           10,123            6,121
                                            1.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............           0.1167            7,896              921
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................           0.2028            9,743            1,976
                                           D Season--October 1-November  Shumagin (610)..............           0.6047           10,123            6,121
                                            1.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............           0.1167            7,896              921
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................           0.2028            9,743            1,976
                                           Annual......................  WYK (640)...................           0.3495            3,517            1,229
                                                                         SEO (650)...................           0.3495           10,774            3,766
Pacific cod..............................  A Season \1\--January 1-June  W...........................           0.1331           13,104            1,744
                                            10.                          C...........................           0.0692           26,618            1,842
                                           B Season) \2\--September 1-   W...........................           0.1331            8,736            1,163
                                            December 31.                 C...........................           0.0692           17,745            1,228
                                           Annual......................  E inshore...................           0.0079            1,842               15
                                                                         E offshore..................           0.0078              205                2
Sablefish................................  Annual, trawl gear..........  W...........................           0.0000              351                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0642            1,137               73
                                                                         E...........................           0.0433              268               12
Flatfish, shallow-water..................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0156           13,250              207
                                                                         C...........................           0.0587           18,000            1,057
                                                                         E...........................           0.0126            5,300               67
Flatfish, deep-water.....................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0000              176                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0647            2,308              149
                                                                         E...........................           0.0128            2,642               34
Rex sole.................................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0007            1,283                1
                                                                         C...........................           0.0384            6,291              242
                                                                         E...........................           0.0029            1,858                5
Arrowtooth flounder......................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0021           14,500               30
                                                                         C...........................           0.0280           75,000            2,100
                                                                         E...........................           0.0002           13,800                3
Flathead sole............................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0036            8,650               31
                                                                         C...........................           0.0213           15,400              328
                                                                         E...........................           0.0009            6,358                6
Pacific ocean perch......................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0023            2,050                5
                                                                         C...........................           0.0748           10,985              822
                                                                         E...........................           0.0466            3,465              161
Northern rockfish........................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0003            2,017                1
                                                                         C...........................           0.0277            3,136               87
Shortraker rockfish......................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0000              104                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0218              452               10
                                                                         E...........................           0.0110              525                6
Other rockfish...........................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0034               44                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.1699              606              103
                                                                         E...........................           0.0000              430                0
Pelagic shelf rockfish...................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0001              381                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0000            3,581                0
                                                                         E...........................           0.0067              800                5
Rougheye rockfish........................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0000               82                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0237              861               20
                                                                         E...........................           0.0124              297                4

[[Page 72312]]

 
Demersal shelf rockfish..................  Annual......................  SEO.........................           0.0020              293                1
Thornyhead rockfish......................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0280              150                4
                                                                         C...........................           0.0280              766               21
                                                                         E...........................           0.0280              749               21
Atka mackerel............................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0309            2,000               62
Big skates...............................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0063              469                3
                                                                         C...........................           0.0063            1,793               11
                                                                         E...........................           0.0063            1,505                9
Longnose skates..........................  Annual......................  W...........................           0.0063               70                0
                                                                         C...........................           0.0063            1,879               12
                                                                         E...........................           0.0063              676                4
Other skates.............................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0063            2,030               13
Squids...................................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0063            1,148                7
Sharks...................................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0063            6,028               38
Octopuses................................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0063            1,455                9
Sculpins.................................  Annual......................  Gulfwide....................           0.0063            5,731               36
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)). Table 15 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 non-
exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the 
GOA.

  Table 15--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut Prohibited Species
                           Catch (PSC) Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                            [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest whole metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                    1997  non-                     Proposed 2013
                                                                   exempt AFA CV   Proposed 2013  and 2014  non-
       Season             Season dates         Target fishery     retained catch   and 2014 PSC    exempt AFA CV
                                                                      to total         limit         PSC limit
                                                                  retained catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..................  January 20-April 1...  shallow-water.......           0.340             444             151
                                            deep-water..........           0.070              99               7
2..................  April 1-July 1.......  shallow-water.......           0.340              99              34
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             296              21
3..................  July 1-September 1...  shallow-water.......           0.340             197              67
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             395              28
4..................  September 1-October 1  shallow-water.......           0.340             148              50
                                            deep-water..........           0.070               0               0
5..................  October 1-December 31  all targets.........           0.205             296              61
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with 
a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation 
in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these 
vessels' catch to their collective historical landings in all GOA 
groundfish fisheries (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). 
Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license 
derived from the history of a vessel with sideboard limits, even if 
that license is used on another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of the Allocation of 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crab Fishery Resources 
(707 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management 
Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Island King and Tanner Crabs, and 
Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011).
    Table 16 lists these proposed 2013 and 2014 groundfish sideboard 
limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch 
of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses

[[Page 72313]]

will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

                     Table 16--Proposed 2013 and 2014 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         Ratio of 1996-
                                                                                          2000 non-AFA                     Proposed 2013
                                                                                          crab vessel     Proposed 2013    and 2014 non-
               Species                      Season/gear          Area/component/gear     catch to 1996-   and 2014 TACs       AFA crab
                                                                                           2000 total                          vessel
                                                                                            harvest                       sideboard limit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.............................  A Season--January 20-    Shumagin (610).........           0.0098            6,285               62
                                       March 10.
                                                               Chirikof (620).........           0.0031           15,202               47
                                                               Kodiak (630)...........           0.0002            6,274                1
                                      B Season--March 10-May   Shumagin (610).........           0.0098            6,285               62
                                       31.
                                                               Chirikof (620).........           0.0031           18,668               58
                                                               Kodiak (630)...........           0.0002            2,806                1
                                      C Season--August 25-     Shumagin (610).........           0.0098           10,123               99
                                       October 1.
                                                               Chirikof (620).........           0.0031            7,896               24
                                                               Kodiak (630)...........           0.0002            9,743                2
                                      D Season--October 1-     Shumagin (610).........           0.0098           10,123               99
                                       November 1.
                                                               Chirikof (620).........           0.0031            7,896               24
                                                               Kodiak (630)...........           0.0002            9,743                2
                                      Annual.................  WYK (640)..............           0.0000            3,517                0
                                                               SEO (650)..............           0.0000           10,774                0
Pacific cod.........................  A Season \1\--January 1- W Jig CV...............           0.0000           13,104                0
                                       June 10.
                                                               W Hook-and-line CV.....           0.0004           13,104                5
                                      January 1-June 10......  W Hook-and-line C/P....           0.0018           13,104               24
                                                               W Pot CV...............           0.0997           13,104            1,306
                                                               W Pot C/P..............           0.0078           13,104              102
                                                               W Trawl CV.............           0.0007           13,104                9
                                                               C Jig CV...............           0.0000           26,618                0
                                                               C Hook-and-line CV.....           0.0001           26,618                3
                                                               C Hook-and-line C/P....           0.0012           26,618               32
                                                               C Pot CV...............           0.0474           26,618            1,262
                                                               C Pot C/P..............           0.0136           26,618              362
                                                               C Trawl CV.............           0.0012           26,618               32
                                      B Season \2\--September  W Jig CV...............           0.0000            8,736                0
                                       1-December 31.
                                                               W Hook-and-line CV.....           0.0004            8,736                3
                                                               W Hook-and-line C/P....           0.0018            8,736               16
                                                               W Pot CV...............           0.0997            8,736              871
                                                               W Pot C/P..............           0.0078            8,736               68
                                                               W Trawl CV.............           0.0007            8,736                6
                                                               C Jig CV...............           0.0000           17,745                0
                                                               C Hook-and-line CV.....           0.0001           17,745                2
                                                               C Hook-and-line C/P....           0.0012           17,745               21
                                                               C Pot CV...............           0.0474           17,745              841
                                                               C Pot C/P..............           0.0136           17,745              241
                                                               C Trawl CV.............           0.0012           17,745               21
                                      Annual.................  E inshore..............           0.0110            1,842               20
                                                               E offshore.............           0.0000              205                0
Sablefish...........................  Annual, trawl gear.....  W......................           0.0000              351                0
                                                               C......................           0.0000            1,137                0
                                                               E......................           0.0000              268                0
Flatfish, shallow-water.............  Annual.................  W......................           0.0059           13,250               78
                                                               C......................           0.0001           18,000                2
                                                               E......................           0.0000            5,300                0
Flatfish, deep-water................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0035              176                1
                                                               C......................           0.0000            2,308                0
                                                               E......................           0.0000            2,642                0
Rex sole............................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0000            1,283                0
                                                               C......................           0.0000            6,291                0
                                                               E......................           0.0000            1,858                0
Arrowtooth flounder.................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0004           14,500                6
                                                               C......................           0.0001           75,000                8
                                                               E......................           0.0000           13,800                0
Flathead sole.......................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0002            8,650                2

[[Page 72314]]

 
                                                               C......................           0.0004           15,400                6
                                                               E......................           0.0000            6,358                0
Pacific ocean perch.................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0000            2,050                0
                                                               C......................           0.0000           10,985                0
                                                               E......................           0.0000            3,465                0
Northern rockfish...................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0005            2,017                1
                                                               C......................           0.0000            3,136                0
Shortraker rockfish.................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0013              104                0
                                                               C......................           0.0012              452                1
                                                               E......................           0.0009              525                0
Other rockfish......................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0035               44                0
                                                               C......................           0.0033              606                2
                                                               E......................           0.0000              430                0
Pelagic shelf rockfish..............  Annual.................  W......................           0.0017              381                1
                                                               C......................           0.0000            3,581                0
                                                               E......................           0.0000              800                0
Rougheye rockfish...................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0067               82                1
                                                               C......................           0.0047              861                4
                                                               E......................           0.0008              297                0
Demersal shelf rockfish.............  Annual.................  SEO....................           0.0000              293                0
Thornyhead rockfish.................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0047              150                1
                                                               C......................           0.0066              766                5
                                                               E......................           0.0045              749                3
Atka mackerel.......................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0000            2,000                0
Big skate...........................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0392              469               18
                                                               C......................           0.0159            1,793               29
                                                               E......................           0.0000            1,505                0
Longnose skate......................  Annual.................  W......................           0.0392               70                3
                                                               C......................           0.0159            1,879               30
                                                               E......................           0.0000              676                0
Other skates........................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0176            2,030               36
Sharks..............................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0176            1,148               20
Squids..............................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0176            6,028              106
Octopuses...........................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0176            1,455               26
Sculpins............................  Annual.................  Gulfwide...............           0.0176            5,731             101
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish 
sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. 
These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish 
harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
pelagic shelf rockfish (dusky rockfish) in the Western GOA and West 
Yakutat Districts from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not 
participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water 
flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  
679.82(d)).
    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limitations. These C/Ps are 
prohibited from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean 
perch, and pelagic shelf rockfish (dusky rockfish) in the Western GOA 
and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-
designated LLP licenses that opt-out of participating in a rockfish 
cooperative will receive the portion of each sideboard limit that is 
not assigned to rockfish cooperatives. Table 17 lists the proposed 2013 
and 2014 Rockfish Program C/P sideboard limits in the Western GOA and 
West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated 
with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District 
are not displayed.

[[Page 72315]]



 Table 17--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits for the West Yakutat District and Western GOA
                                   by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Proposed 2013
               Area                        Fishery           C/P sector  (% of     Proposed 2013   and 2014 C/P
                                                                    TAC)           and 2014 TACs       limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA.......................  Pelagic shelf          72.3.................             381             275
                                     rockfish.
                                    Pacific ocean perch..  50.6.................           2,050           1,037
                                    Northern rockfish....  74.3.................           2,017           1,499
West Yakutat District.............  Pelagic shelf          Confid.\1\...........             504             N/A
                                     rockfish.
                                    Pacific ocean perch..  Confid.\1\...........           1,650            N/A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data established by NMFS and
  the State of Alaska.

    The C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the 
trawl deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 
through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV 
sector. C/Ps that opt-out of the Rockfish Program would be able to 
access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC 
sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The 
sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt-out of participating in 
a rockfish cooperative are described in Sec.  679.82(c), (e), and (f). 
Sideboards are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may 
choose to opt-out. The applications for C/Ps electing to opt-out are 
due to NMFS on March 1 of each calendar year, thereby preventing NMFS 
from calculating proposed 2013 and 2014 allocations. Once opt-out 
applications (if any) are received in 2013, the ratios and amounts used 
to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios will be known. NMFS will then 
calculate any applicable opt-out sideboards and post these allocations 
on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/goarat/default.htm) when they have been prepared.
    Table 18 lists the 2013 and 2014 proposed Rockfish Program halibut 
PSC limits for the C/P sector.

   Table 18--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Shallow-water    Deep-water
                                      species         species                     Annual shallow-  Annual deep-
                                      fishery         fishery     Annual halibut   water species   water species
             Sector                 halibut PSC     halibut PSC      mortality        fishery         fishery
                                     sideboard       sideboard      limit  (mt)     halibut PSC     halibut PSC
                                       ratio           ratio                         sideboard       sideboard
                                     (percent)       (percent)                      limit  (mt)     limit  (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor...............            0.10            2.50           1,973               2              49
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Vessel Program Groundfish Sideboard and PSC Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/
P sector. To limit the ability of participants eligible for the 
Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA, the 
Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for 
Amendment 80 Program participants.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. 
Under regulations at Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is 
prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific 
ocean perch, pelagic shelf rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 to 2004. Table 19 lists the proposed 2013 and 2014 sideboard 
limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. All targeted or incidental 
catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 19.

                            Table 19--Proposed 2013 and 2014 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                          Proposed 2013
                                                                                                           Ratio of                          and 2014
                                                                                                         Amendment 80    Proposed 2013     Amendment 80
                 Species                              Season                         Area               sector vessels    and 2014 TAC        vessel
                                                                                                       1998-2004 catch        (mt)          sideboards
                                                                                                            to TAC                             (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock..................................  A Season--January 20-         Shumagin (610)..............            0.003            6,285               19
                                            February 25.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............            0.002           15,202               30
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................            0.002            6,274               13

[[Page 72316]]

 
                                           B Season--March 20-May 31...  Shumagin (610)..............            0.003            6,285               19
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............            0.002           18,668               37
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................            0.002            2,806                6
                                           C Season--August 25-          Shumagin (610)..............            0.003           10,123               30
                                            September 15.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............            0.002            7,896               16
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................            0.002            9,743               19
                                           D Season--October 1-November  Shumagin (610)..............            0.003           10,123               30
                                            1.
                                                                         Chirikof (620)..............            0.002            7,896               16
                                                                         Kodiak (630)................            0.002            9,743               19
                                           Annual......................  WYK (640)...................            0.002            3,517                7
Pacific cod..............................  A Season \1\--January 1-June  W...........................            0.020           13,104              262
                                            10.
                                                                         C...........................            0.044           26,618            1,171
                                           B Season \2\--September 1-    W...........................            0.020            8,736              175
                                            December 31.
                                                                         C...........................            0.044           17,745              781
                                           Annual......................  WYK.........................            0.034            2,047               70
Pacific ocean perch......................  Annual......................  W...........................            0.994            2,050            2,038
                                                                         WYK.........................            0.961            1,650            1,586
Northern rockfish........................  Annual......................  W...........................            1.000            2,017            2,017
Pelagic shelf rockfish...................  Annual......................  W...........................            0.764              381              291
                                                                         WYK.........................            0.896              504             452
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the 
GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 
Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to 
accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota 
under the Central GOA Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V 
Golden Fleece from this restriction. Table 20 lists the proposed 2013 
and 2014 halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels, as 
contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679.

    Table 20--Proposed 2013 and 2014 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Historic                      Proposed 2013
                                                                  Amendment 80    Proposed 2013      and 2014
                                                                   use of the       and 2014       Amendment 80
       Season            Season dates        Fishery category    annual halibut    annual PSC       vessel PSC
                                                                    PSC limit      limit  (mt)   sideboard limit
                                                                     (ratio)                           (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..................  January 20-April 1..  shallow-water.......          0.0048           1,973                9
                                           deep-water..........          0.0115           1,973               23
2..................  April 1-July 1......  shallow-water.......          0.0189           1,973               37
                                           deep-water..........          0.1072           1,973              212
3..................  July 1-September 1..  shallow-water.......          0.0146           1,973               29
                                           deep-water..........          0.0521           1,973              103
4..................  September 1-October   shallow-water.......          0.0074           1,973               15
                      1.
                                           deep-water..........          0.0014           1,973                3
5..................  October 1-December    shallow-water.......          0.0227           1,973               45
                      31.
                                           deep-water..........          0.0371           1,973               73
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws.

[[Page 72317]]

    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action (see ADDRESSES) and made it 
available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 
13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the EIS. Copies 
of the EIS and ROD for this action are available from NMFS. The EIS 
analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish 
harvest specifications and its alternatives on resources in the action 
area. The EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the 
proposed action or its alternatives.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, analyzing 
the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated 
the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the 
groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the 
methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY 
specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology 
may produce vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains 
constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP 
prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The directly regulated small entities include approximately 1,002 
CVs and approximately 6 C/Ps in the GOA. The entities directly 
regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the EEZ 
of the GOA and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include 
entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities 
receiving direct allocations of groundfish. CVs and C/Ps are considered 
to be small entities if they have annual gross receipts of $4 million 
per year or less from all economic activities, including the revenue of 
their affiliated operations (see Table 37 to the Economic Status of the 
Groundfish off Alaska, 2011, in the 2011 SAFE report, dated November 
2011, available from the Council (see ADDRESSES)). Because the 1,002 
CVs and 6 C/Ps meet this size standard, they are considered to be small 
entities for the purposes of this analysis.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC 
were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which 
case harvests would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set 
TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average 
fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower 
limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action 
alternative,'' would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those 
adopted by the Council in October 2012, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and 
ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's GOA Plan Team in September 2012, and reviewed and modified by 
the Council's SSC in October 2012. The Council based its TAC 
recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in 
Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2013 and 2014 would be 
about 612,506 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. 
The sum of TACs is 447,752 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In 
this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred 
alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and 
has small entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred 
alternative. In some instances, the selection of Alternative 1 would 
not reflect the practical implications that increased TACs (where the 
sum of TACs equals the sum of ABCs) for some species probably would not 
be fully harvested. This could be due to a lack of commercial or market 
interest in such species. Additionally, an underharvest of some TACs 
could result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore 
constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA 
groundfish species.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the 
most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, 
the Council's preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take 
account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. 
Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the 
SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 reduces the TACs from the upper end of the OY range 
in the GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt, which would lead to 
significantly lower harvests of all species. Overall, this would reduce 
2013 TACs by about 74 percent. This would lead to significant 
reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While 
reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price 
increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. There are 
close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant 
quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. 
While production declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated 
with significant price increases in the GOA, these increases would 
still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very 
unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this 
alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be 
contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as 
mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The IRFA shows that, in 2011, there were 1,049 individual catcher 
vessels with gross revenues less than or equal to $4 million. Some of 
these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA 
rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI crab rationalization cooperatives. 
Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all 
participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ``under $4 
million'' threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are 
considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After 
accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 
1,002 small catcher vessel entities remaining in the GOA groundfish 
sector. This latter group of small vessels had average gross revenues 
of about $485,000, and median gross revenues of $230,000. The 25th 
percentile of gross revenues was about $79,000, and the 75th percentile 
was about $661,000. Under Alternative 5, all 1,049 individual catcher 
vessels impacted by

[[Page 72318]]

this rule would have gross revenues of $0.
    Data presented in the IRFA indicates that in 2011, 9 catcher/
processors grossed less than $4 million. Three vessels in this group 
were estimated to be large entities because of their affiliations with 
other vessels through an Amendment 80 cooperative and the Freezer 
Longline Conservation Cooperative. After taking account of these 
affiliations, NMFS estimates that six of these vessels are small 
entities. The average gross revenue for these 6 small catcher/processor 
entities was $1.17 million, and the median gross revenue was $960,000. 
Under Alternative 5, the 6 small catcher/processor impacted by this 
rule would have gross revenues of $0.
    The proposed harvest specifications extend the current 2013 OFLs, 
ABCs, and TACs to 2013 and 2014. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may 
modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2012, when it reviews the 
November 2012 SAFE reports from its groundfish plan teams, and the 
December 2012 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because TACs 
in the proposed 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications are unchanged from 
the 2013 TACs, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. 
Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 
2012 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting 
from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the 
EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-
31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-
241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: November 28, 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. 2012-29137 Filed 12-4-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P