[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 48 (Tuesday, March 12, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 15677-15679]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05636]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 680

RIN 0648-BC25


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; 
request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 42 to the Fishery Management 
Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (FMP) for 
review by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). Amendment 42 would 
revise the annual economic data reports (EDRs) currently required of 
participants in the Crab Rationalization Program (CR Program) 
fisheries. The EDRs include cost, revenue, ownership, and employment 
data the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and NMFS 
use to study the economic impacts of the CR Program on harvesters, 
processors, and affected communities. Amendment 42 is necessary to 
eliminate redundant reporting requirements, standardize reporting 
across participants, and reduce costs associated with the data 
collection. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Comments on the amendment must be submitted on or before May 13, 
2013.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional 
Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: 
Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by NMFS docket 
number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0111, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, 
first click the ``submit a comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-
0111 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.
     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 http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, telephone number) 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, Excel, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.
    Electronic copies of Amendment 42, the Regulatory Impact Review/
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, the categorical exclusion 
prepared for this action, and the Environmental Impact Statement 
prepared for the Crab Rationalization Program may be obtained from 
http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Palmigiano, 907-586-7228 or 
karen.palmigiano@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each 
regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan 
amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act 
also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan 
amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register 
announcing that the amendment is available for public review and 
comment.
    The king and Tanner crab fisheries in the exclusive economic zone 
of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) are managed under the 
FMP. The FMP was prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) under the Magnuson-Stevens Act as amended by the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-199, section 801). 
The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendments 18 and 19 to the FMP on 
November 19, 2004. NMFS published final regulations implementing the 
Crab Rationalization Program (CR Program) in 2005 (70 FR 10174, March 
2, 2005). Regulations implementing the FMP, including the CR Program, 
are located at 50 CFR part 680.
    The CR Program is a limited-access system that allocates crab 
managed under the FMP among harvesters, processors, and coastal 
communities. Each year, the quota share (QS) issued to a person yields 
an amount of individual fishing quota (IFQ), which is a permit 
providing an exclusive harvesting privilege for a specific amount of 
raw crab pounds, in a specific crab fishery, in a given season. The 
size of each annual IFQ allocation is based on the amount of QS held by 
a person in relation to the total QS pool in a crab fishery. For 
example, a person holding QS equaling 1 percent of the QS pool in a 
crab fishery would receive IFQ to harvest 1 percent of the annual total 
allowable catch (TAC) in that crab fishery.
    As part of the CR Program, the Council recommended and NMFS 
implemented a comprehensive economic data collection program. The CR 
Program requires participants to complete an annual economic data 
report (EDR) based on harvesting and processing activities for that 
fishing season. The Council and NMFS use the EDR to assess the success 
of the CR Program and develop amendments to the FMP necessary to 
mitigate any unintended consequences of the CR Program. An annual EDR 
is currently required for four categories of participants in the CR 
Program fisheries: catcher vessels, catcher/processors, shoreside 
processors, and stationary floating crab processors.

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    The information collected in the EDR is intended to provide 
comprehensive data to assist the Council and analysts in understanding 
the costs and benefits of the CR Program on harvesters' and processors' 
crab operations. Specifically, the Council and analysts use the data to 
examine changes in usage of the crab, excess harvesting and processing 
capacity, economic returns, variable costs and revenues, economic 
efficiency, and the stability of harvesters, processors and coastal 
communities. Data submission is mandatory (see regulations at Sec.  
680.6(a)). The EDR Program is administered by NMFS through contracts 
with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). NMFS 
collects fees from CR Program participants to recover the costs of 
administering the EDR (see regulations at Sec.  680.44 for cost 
recovery fee collection under the CR Program). Section 304(d)(2) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that NMFS collect fees necessary to 
recover the actual costs directly related to data collection of limited 
access privilege programs, such as the CR Program.
    Since the beginning of the CR Program, EDRs containing cost, 
revenue, ownership, and employment data have been collected by NMFS 
annually from the harvesting and processing sectors. This comprehensive 
approach to collecting data was implemented because the data collection 
programs in place at the time the CR Program began did not collect 
employment, cost, and sales information necessary to adequately examine 
how processing plants and vessels were being affected by the 
implementation of the CR Program. Collection of these data could help 
the Council understand the economic performance of crab fishermen, 
determine how this performance has changed after rationalization, and 
assess what aspects of these changes are specifically attributable to 
crab rationalization.
    In 2010, the Council initiated an analysis to modify the EDR based 
on the results of its data quality review process and public comment 
received during the Council's 5-year review of the CR Program. As part 
of this analysis, the Council considered input from a Center for 
Independent Experts review of the data collection program that was 
completed in October 2011 (see Section 2.4.3 of the analysis for 
additional detail). In February 2012, the Council recommended Amendment 
42 to the FMP to modify the EDR. This proposed rule would implement the 
Council's recommended changes to the EDR under Amendment 42. The 
proposed modifications to the current EDRs are presented in the 
analysis for this action (see Section 2.2. of the analysis) and 
summarized below.
    Amendment 42 to the FMP is the Council's solution to these issues 
that would increase the quality of data collected, as well as reduce 
the burden on the submitters. If approved, this action would also 
reduce the amount of data collected from each of the three sectors: 
catcher vessels, shoreside and stationary floating crab processors, and 
catcher/processors. The Council's objective is to collect data that can 
be accurately and reliably reported, and to only collect data that is 
unavailable through other data collection programs.

Annual Catcher Vessel Crab EDR

    Much of the data requested on the current annual catcher vessel 
Crab EDR is available through other sources (e.g., eLandings data 
collected by NMFS contains information on the specific quota accounts 
debited during a landing). Further, the quality of some data currently 
collected is poor and results in limited usefulness of the data for 
analyses (e.g., estimates of bait used are known to be inaccurate and 
unreliable). The Council recommended scaling back the data collection 
in the EDR, including eliminating the data collected in some categories 
so that only data that could be accurately and reliably collected would 
be required.
    The proposed catcher vessel EDR would continue the collection of 
revenue data, including landings by share type by crab fishery (pounds 
and revenue), and market-value or negotiated-price transfers of IFQ and 
community development quota (CDQ) received for harvest on the vessel 
during the calendar year, by fishery and harvest quota permit type 
(pounds and revenue). Data on payments to captains and crew would still 
be collected by fishery. Crew license and Commercial Fisheries Entry 
Commission (CFEC) permit numbers would also continue to be collected to 
facilitate analysis of demographic distribution of crew benefits. The 
proposed EDR would also require the reporting of vessel costs such as 
bait, food, and provisions purchased by crab fishery. This is slightly 
different from the current forms, which require submitters to include 
the quantity of these items used versus what is purchased. This new 
data on the quantity of items purchased would provide some 
understanding of expenditures and would be more easily reported by 
submitters than the quantity of items used.

Annual Shoreside Processor/Stationary Floating Processor Crab EDR

    Amendment 42 proposes an Annual Shoreside Processor/Stationary 
Floating Processor Crab EDR (processor EDR), which combines the Annual 
Shoreside Processor Crab EDR and the Annual Stationary Floating 
Processor Crab EDR into a processor EDR. The proposed processor EDR 
would eliminate several elements from the current data collections. 
Most of the deleted elements represent production data, which are 
similar to data found within the State of Alaska's Commercial Operators 
Annual Report (COAR). Crab processors must submit the COAR annually and 
report processing and plant costs in it. The production data that is 
not available through other sources could be estimated by NMFS based on 
landings data. Therefore, the proposed exclusion of these data from the 
processor EDR would not affect the analysis of EDR data and may 
decrease the submitter's time burden required to fill in the form.
    Revenue data collected under the proposed processor EDR would 
remain essentially the same. However, the proposed processor EDR would 
not require sales data by crab size or grade. Packing box sizes would 
continue to be reported by categories. Revenues from custom processing 
(an arrangement under which a person processes crab on behalf of 
another) would be added. Reporting of labor data (i.e., man-hours, 
total processing labor payments, and crab processing employees by 
residence) would not change from the status quo. Custom processing 
services purchased would be reported with some differences from the 
status quo (i.e., excluding crab size and grade and box size). Crab 
purchases by share type would still be collected.

Annual Catcher/Processor Crab EDR

    Catcher/processors participate in both harvesting and processing. 
Therefore, the proposed catcher/processor EDR includes elements for the 
collection of harvesting and processing information.
    Amendment 42 would eliminate some of the current reporting 
requirements for catcher/processors, which have been deemed to be 
inaccurately reported. Several elements would remain, including sales 
by species by packing box size to affiliated entities and unaffiliated 
entities, custom processing revenue and production, payments to 
captains and crews, crew license, CFEC permit numbers and residence 
information, custom processing services purchased, and crab purchases 
by share type. All this information provides data

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that is not found in other data collections and is useful to analysts 
when assessing the CR Program.
    Public comments are being solicited on proposed Amendment 42 
through the end of the comment period (see DATES). Public comments on 
the proposed FMP amendment must be received by the close of the comment 
period on Amendment 42 to be considered in the approval/disapproval 
decision on Amendment 42. All comments received by the end of the 
comment period, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment or 
the proposed rule will be considered in the approval/disapproval 
decision on Amendment 42. Comments received after the end of the public 
comment period for Amendment 42, even if received within the comment 
period for the proposed rule, will not be considered in the approval/
disapproval decision on the FMP amendment. To be considered, comments 
must be received, not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the 
close of business on the last day of the comment period.

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

    Dated: March 7, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-05636 Filed 3-11-13; 8:45 am]
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