[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 87 (Monday, May 6, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 26277-26279]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10698]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 120814338-2711-02]
RIN 0648-BD14


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures.

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SUMMARY: This final rule announces inseason changes to management 
measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which 
is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan 
(PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant 
groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks.

[[Page 26278]]


DATES: Effective 0001 hours (local time) May 6, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colby Brady (Northwest Region, NMFS), 
phone: 206-526-6117, fax: 206-526-6736, colby.brady@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This final rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the 
Federal Register's Web site at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/home.action. Background information and documents are available at the 
Pacific Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/.

Background

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP and its implementing regulations 
at title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, 
subparts C through G, regulate fishing for over 90 species of 
groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. 
Groundfish specifications and management measures are developed by the 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), and are implemented by 
NMFS. The final rule to implement the 2013-14 harvest specifications 
and management measures for most species of the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Fishery was published on January 3, 2013 (78 FR 580). The 
Council, in consultation with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and 
the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommended changes 
to current groundfish management measures at its April 5-11, 2013 
meeting. The Council recommended adjusting groundfish management 
measures, as described below, in order to respond to updated fishery 
information and additional inseason management needs. The adjustments 
to fishery management measures are not expected to result in greater 
impacts to overfished species than originally projected through the end 
of 2013. Estimated mortality of overfished and target species is the 
result of management measures designed to achieve, to the extent 
possible, but not exceed, annual catch limits (ACLs) of target species 
while fostering the rebuilding of overfished stocks by remaining within 
their rebuilding ACLs.

Washington State Recreational Management Measures

    The Council recommended and NMFS is implementing the recreational 
measures contained in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(WDFW) report for Marine Area 4 relative to cabezon and lingcod length 
limits and cabezon bag limits. Specifically, in the area between the 
U.S./Canada border and 48[deg]10' N. lat. (Cape Alava; Washington 
Marine Area 4) in order to: (1) Establish a minimum size of 18 inches 
for cabezon and reduce the daily bag limit from 2 per angler per day to 
1 per angler per day; and, (2) reduce the minimum size for lingcod from 
24 inches to 22 inches. These actions are necessary in order to reduce 
impacts to nearshore species with little available data, and to reduce 
potential impacts to overfished species such as yelloweye rockfish, 
including young of the year recruits. Additionally, Federal regulations 
that conform to state regulations provide consistency for stakeholders 
and strengthen the ability to enforce regulations pertaining to 
recreational groundfish fishing.

Limited Entry Fixed Gear Fishery Management Measures

    The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) establishes 
total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for Pacific halibut each year in 
January. Under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act, and 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 300.63, a catch sharing plan, 
developed by the Pacific Council and implemented by the Secretary, 
allocates portions of the annual TAC among fisheries off Washington, 
Oregon, and California. The catch sharing plan for Pacific halibut 
fisheries in Area 2A (waters off the U.S. West coast) allows an 
incidental total catch limit for halibut for the 2013 sablefish primary 
season (i.e. tier limit fishery) of 21,410 lb (9,711 kg). The retention 
limits for halibut were not revised as part of the 2013-2014 harvest 
specifications and management measures because the TAC of halibut for 
2013 was not determined until the IPHC meeting in January, 2013. IPHC 
recommended coast-wide catch limits for 2013 totaling 31,028,000 lb 
(14,074,064 kg), which is a coast-wide decrease of 7.5 percent from the 
2012 catch limit of 33,540,000 lb. (15,213,488 kg). However, the area 
2A allocation increased 8 percent from 910,000 lb. (412,769 kg) in 2011 
to 989,000 lb. (448,603 kg) for 2012, and increased 1 percent from 2012 
to 990,000 lb. (9,711 kg) for 2013. Due to the increase in the Pacific 
halibut TAC for area 2A, and the resulting increase in the amount of 
Pacific halibut available to the sablefish primary fishery as 
incidental take, and taking into account the fact that the limited 
entry fixed gear sablefish fishery did not achieve its 2012 incidental 
halibut allocation in 2012, the Council considered options to revise 
the catch ratio established in the groundfish regulations at 50 CFR 
660.231, starting at the March 2013 meeting. These options were 
developed to allow the fishery to achieve but not exceed the 2013 
halibut allocation in order to keep halibut incidental halibut catch 
within the 2013 allocation of 21,410 lb (9,711 kg). The options the 
Council approved for public review were: (1) The status quo option of 
50 lb (23 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional halibut in 
excess of the 50-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing; (2) 75 lb 
(34 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional halibut in 
excess of the 75-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing; and, (3) 100 
lb (45 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional halibut in 
excess of the 100-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing.
    The Council adopted their final recommendation for incidental 
retention limits for Pacific halibut in the sablefish primary fishery 
at its April meeting. The Council recommended and NMFS is implementing 
incidental halibut retention regulations at 50 CFR 660.231(b)(3)(iv) to 
read as follows: ``75 lb (34 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 
1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 
additional halibut in excess of the 75-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per 
landing.''
    NMFS is including provisions which specify that the landing 
requirement applies also to possession, and the term ``dressed'' is 
described to mean halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures based on the best available information and 
is consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP and its 
implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and 
the North Pacific Halibut Act (16 U.S.C. 773c), and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    These inseason changes to Washington State recreational management 
measures, Limited Entry Fixed Gear Fishery Management Measures and 
halibut provisions are based on the most recent data available. The 
aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for 
public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, Northwest Region, 
NMFS, during business hours.

[[Page 26279]]

    For the following reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior 
public notice and comment on the revisions to groundfish management 
measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) because notice and comment would be 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for the same 
reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that this final rule 
may become effective by May 1, 2013, or as soon as possible thereafter 
upon publication in the Federal Register.
    At the April Council meeting, the Council recommended that these 
changes, which are based on the most recent information available, be 
implemented by May 1, or as soon as possible thereafter. There was not 
sufficient time after that meeting to draft this document and undergo 
proposed and final rulemaking before these actions need to be in 
effect. For the actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording 
the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment 
would prevent NMFS from managing fisheries using the best available 
science to approach, without exceeding, the ACLs for federally managed 
species in accordance with the FMP and applicable law. The adjustments 
to management measures in this document affect recreational fisheries 
in Washington, as well as commercial fisheries in California, Oregon, 
and Washington. These adjustments to management measures must be 
implemented in a timely manner, as soon as possible, to allow the 
recreational fishery in Washington State to harvest available healthy 
stocks while staying within the ACLs for target and overfished species, 
and to allow commercial limited entry fixed gear fishermen north of Pt. 
Chehalis continued opportunities to harvest incidental halibut catch in 
the Non-treaty sablefish fishery. If this rule is not implemented 
immediately, the public could have incorrect information regarding 
allowed recreational fishery management measures in Washington State 
and allowed commercial limited entry fixed gear fishery incidental 
halibut trip limits while targeting sablefish north of Pt. Chehalis, 
which would cause confusion and be inconsistent with the Council's 
intent. It would be contrary to the public interest to delay 
implementation of these changes until after public notice and comment, 
because making this regulatory change as soon as possible allows 
harvest as intended by the Council in fisheries that are important to 
coastal communities in a manner that allows target species to be 
attained, while preventing ACLs of overfished and target species from 
being exceeded.
    No aspect of this action is controversial and no change in 
operating practices in the fishery is required from those intended in 
this inseason adjustment.
    Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place 
that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would 
impair achievement of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP goals and 
objectives of preventing overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks 
by managing for appropriate harvest levels, and adopting harvest 
specifications and management measures consistent with resource 
stewardship responsibilities for each groundfish species or species 
group.
    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to 
waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: May 1, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended 
as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 
U.S.C. 7001 et seq.


0
2. In Sec.  660.231, paragraph (b)(3)(iv) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.231  Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Incidental halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA 
(46[deg] 53.30' N. lat.). From May 1 through October 31, vessels 
authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in 
Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with 
longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.) may 
possess and land up to the following cumulative limits: 75 lb (34 kg) 
dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed 
weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional halibut in excess of 
the 75-pounds-per- 1,000-pound ratio per landing. ``Dressed'' halibut 
in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on. 
Halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery north of 
Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be 
possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.360, paragraphs (c)(1)(iii) and (c)(1)(iv)(A) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.360  Recreational fishery--management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Cabezon. In areas of the EEZ seaward of Washington that are 
open to recreational groundfish fishing, the size limits and bag limits 
are as follows:
    (A) Between the U.S./Canada border and 48[deg]10' N. lat. (Cape 
Alava) (Washington Marine Area 4), There is a 1 cabezon per day bag 
limit and cabezon may be no smaller than 18 inches (45.7 cm) total 
length.
    (B) Between 48[deg]10' N. lat. (Cape Alava) and 46[deg]16' N. lat. 
(Washington/Oregon border) (Washington Marine Areas 1-3), there is a 2 
cabezon per day bag limit.
    (iv) * * *
    (A) Between the U.S./Canada border and 48[deg]10' N. lat. (Cape 
Alava) (Washington Marine Area 4), recreational fishing for lingcod is 
open, for 2013, from April 16 through October 12, and for 2014, from 
April 16 through October 15. Lingcod may be no smaller than 22 inches 
(61 cm) total length.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-10698 Filed 5-3-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P