[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 245 (Friday, December 20, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 77089-77093]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30312]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 131028907-3999-01]
RIN 0648-XC954


Pacific Island Fisheries; 2014 Annual Catch Limits and 
Accountability Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed specification; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes annual catch limits for 2014 Pacific Island 
bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem 
fisheries, and accountability measures to correct or mitigate any 
overages of catch limits. The proposed catch limits and accountability 
measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of 
the U.S. Pacific Islands.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 6, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2013-0156, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0156, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1601 
Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814-4700.
    Instructions: 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 by NMFS. 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, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous), and will accept attachments to electronic comments in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    NMFS prepared three environmental assessments that describe the 
potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the 
proposed annual catch limits and accountability measures. NMFS provided 
additional background information in the 2013 proposed and final 
specifications (78 FR 6798, January 31, 2013, 78 FR 15885, March 13, 
2013, 78 FR 40875 (August 7, 2013). Copies of these documents are 
available at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-944-2108.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Fisheries in the U.S. Exclusive Economic 
Zone (EEZ, or Federal waters) around the U.S. Pacific Islands are 
managed under archipelagic fishery ecosystem plans (FEP) for American 
Samoa, Hawaii, the Pacific Remote Islands, and the Mariana Archipelago 
(covering Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 
(CNMI)). A fifth FEP covers pelagic fisheries. The Western Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) developed the FEPs, and NMFS 
implemented them under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    Each FEP contains a process for the Council and NMFS to specify 
annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs); that 
process is codified at 50 CFR 665.4 (76 FR 37285, June 27, 2011). The 
regulations require NMFS to specify, every fishing year, an ACL for 
each stock and stock complex of management unit species (MUS) included 
in an FEP, as recommended by the Council and considering the best 
available scientific, commercial, and other information about the 
fishery. If a fishery exceeds an ACL, the regulations require the 
Council to take action, which may include reducing the ACL for the 
subsequent fishing year by the amount of the overage, or other 
appropriate action.

Annual Catch Limits

    NMFS proposes to specify ACLs for bottomfish, crustacean, precious 
coral, and coral reef ecosystem fishery MUS in American Samoa, Guam, 
the CNMI, and Hawaii. NMFS based the proposed specifications on 
recommendations from the Council at its 157th meeting held on June 25-
28, 2013. The Council recommended 101 ACLs: 22 in American Samoa, 27 in 
Guam, 22 in the CNMI, and 30 in Hawaii. This rule proposes the ACLs for 
the 2014 fishing year (January 1 through December 31, 2014, except for 
precious coral fisheries, which is July 1, 2013, through June 30, 
2014). The proposed ACLs are identical to those that NMFS specified for 
these fisheries in 2013.
    NMFS is not proposing ACLs for MUS that are currently subject to 
Federal fishing moratoria or prohibitions. These MUS include all 
species of gold coral (78 FR 32181, May 29, 2013), the three Hawaii 
seamount groundfish, that is, pelagic armorhead, alfonsin, and raftfish 
(75 FR 69015, November 10, 2010), and deep water precious corals at the 
Westpac Bed Refugia (75 FR 2198, January 14, 2010). The current 
prohibitions on fishing for these MUS serve as the functional 
equivalent of an ACL of zero.
    Additionally, NMFS is not proposing ACLs for bottomfish, 
crustacean, precious coral, or coral reef ecosystem MUS identified in 
the Pacific Remote Islands Area (PRIA) FEP. On June 3, 2013, NMFS 
published a final rule implementing fishing requirements for the 
Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Monument), which 
include a prohibition on all fishing in the EEZ within 12 nm of 
emergent land, unless authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(78 FR 32996, June 3, 2013). NMFS is not proposing ACLs for PRIA FEP 
bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, or coral reef ecosystem 
fisheries because there is no suitable habitat for these fisheries 
beyond the 12-nm no-fishing zone, except at Kingman Reef, where fishing 
for these resources does not occur. Therefore, the current prohibitions 
on fishing serve as the functional equivalent of an ACL of zero. 
However, NMFS will continue to monitor authorized fishing within the 
Monument in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and 
may develop additional fishing requirements, including Monument-
specific catch limits for species that may require them.
    NMFS is also not proposing ACLs for pelagic MUS at this time, 
because NMFS previously determined that

[[Page 77090]]

pelagic species are subject to international fishery agreements or have 
a life cycle of approximately one year and, therefore, are statutorily 
excepted from the ACL requirements.

Proposed Annual Catch Limit Specifications

                                             Table 1--American Samoa
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                                                                                               Proposed ACL
                     Fishery                              Management unit species           specification (lb)
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Bottomfish.......................................  Bottomfish multi-species stock                        101,000
                                                    complex.
Crustacean.......................................  Deepwater Shrimp....................                   80,000
                                                   Spiny Lobster.......................                    2,300
                                                   Slipper Lobster.....................                       30
                                                   Kona Crab...........................                    3,200
Precious Coral...................................  Black Coral.........................                      790
                                                   Precious Corals in the American                         2,205
                                                    Samoa Exploratory Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem.............................  Acanthuridae--surgeonfish...........                   19,516
                                                   Lutjanidae--snappers................                   18,839
                                                   Selar crumenophthalmus--atule or                        8,396
                                                    bigeye scad.
                                                   Mollusks--turbo snail; octopus;                        16,694
                                                    giant clams.
                                                   Carangidae--jacks...................                    9,490
                                                   Lethrinidae--emperors...............                    7,350
                                                   Scaridae--parrotfish................                    8,145
                                                   Serranidae--groupers................                    5,600
                                                   Holocentridae--squirrelfish.........                    2,585
                                                   Mugilidae--mullets..................                    2,857
                                                   Crustaceans--crabs..................                    2,248
                                                   Bolbometopon muricatum--bumphead                          235
                                                    parrotfish.
                                                   Cheilinus undulatus--Humphead                           1,743
                                                    (Napoleon) wrasse.
                                                   Carcharhinidae--Reef Sharks.........                    1,309
                                                   All Other CREMUS combined...........                   18,910
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                                       Table 2--Mariana Archipelago--Guam
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                                                                                               Proposed ACL
                     Fishery                              Management unit species           specification (lb)
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Bottomfish.......................................  Bottomfish multi-species stock                         66,800
                                                    complex.
Crustaceans......................................  Deepwater Shrimp....................                   48,488
                                                   Spiny Lobster.......................                    2,700
                                                   Slipper Lobster.....................                       20
                                                   Kona Crab...........................                    1,900
Precious Coral...................................  Black Coral.........................                      700
                                                   Precious Corals in the Guam                             2,205
                                                    Exploratory Area.
Cora Reef Ecosystem..............................  Acanthuridae--surgeonfish...........                   70,702
                                                   Carangidae--jacks...................                  45,377l
                                                   Selar crumenophthalmus--atulai or                      56,514
                                                    bigeye scad.
                                                   Lethrinidae--emperors...............                   38,720
                                                   Scaridae--parrotfish................                   28,649
                                                   Mullidae--goatfish..................                   25,367
                                                   Mollusks--turbo snail; octopus;                        21,941
                                                    giant clams.
                                                   Siganidae--rabbitfish...............                   26,120
                                                   Lutjanidae--snappers................                   17,726
                                                   Serranidae--groupers................                   17,958
                                                   Mugilidae--mullets..................                   15,032
                                                   Kyphosidae--chubs/rudderfish........                   13,247
                                                   Crustaceans--crabs..................                    5,523
                                                   Holocentridae--squirrelfish.........                    8,300
                                                   Algae...............................                    5,329
                                                   Labridae--wrasses...................                    5,195
                                                   Bolbometopon muricatum--bumphead                        * 797
                                                    parrotfish.
                                                   Cheilinus undulatus--Humphead                           1,960
                                                    (Napoleon) wrasse.
                                                   Carcharhinidae--Reef Sharks.........                    6,942
                                                   All Other CREMUS combined...........                  83,214)
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* (CNMI and Guam combined).


                                       Table 3--Mariana Archipelago--CNMI
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                                                                                               Proposed ACL
                     Fishery                              Management unit species           specification (lb)
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Bottomfish.......................................  Bottomfish multi-species stock                        228,000
                                                    complex.
Crustacean.......................................  Deepwater Shrimp....................                  275,570

[[Page 77091]]

 
                                                   Spiny Lobster.......................                    5,500
                                                   Slipper Lobster.....................                       60
                                                   Kona Crab...........................                    6,300
Precious Coral...................................  Black Coral.........................                    2,100
                                                   Precious Corals in the CNMI                             2,205
                                                    Exploratory Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem.............................  Lethrinidae--emperors...............                   27,466
                                                   Carangidae--jacks...................                   21,512
                                                   Acanthuridae--surgeonfish...........                    6,884
                                                   Selar crumenophthalmus--atulai or                       7,459
                                                    bigeye scad.
                                                   Serranidae--groupers................                    5,519
                                                   Lutjanidae--snappers................                    3,905
                                                   Mullidae--goatfish..................                    3,670
                                                   Scaridae--parrotfish................                    3,784
                                                   Mollusks--turbo snail; octopus;                         4,446
                                                    giant clams.
                                                   Mugilidae--mullets..................                    3,308
                                                   Siganidae--rabbitfish...............                    2,537
                                                   Bolbometopon muricatum--bumphead                         *797
                                                    parrotfish.
                                                   Cheilinus undulatus--Humphead                           2,009
                                                    (Napoleon) wrasse.
                                                   Carcharhinidae--Reef Sharks.........                    5,600
                                                   All Other CREMUS combined...........                    9,820
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* (CNMI and Guam combined).


                                                 Table 4--Hawaii
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                                                                                               Proposed ACL
                     Fishery                              Management unit species           specification (lb)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottomfish.......................................  Non-Deep 7 Bottomfish...............                  140,000
Crustacean.......................................  Deepwater Shrimp....................                  250,773
                                                   Spiny Lobster.......................                   10,000
                                                   Slipper Lobster.....................                      280
                                                   Kona Crab...........................                   27,600
Precious Coral...................................  Auau Channel Black Coral............                    5,512
                                                   Makapuu Bed--Pink Coral.............                    2,205
                                                   Makapuu Bed--Bamboo Coral...........                      551
                                                   180 Fathom Bank--Pink Coral.........                      489
                                                   180 Fathom Bank--Bamboo Coral.......                      123
                                                   Brooks Bank--Pink Coral.............                      979
                                                   Brooks Bank--Bamboo Coral...........                      245
                                                   Kaena Point Bed--Pink Coral.........                      148
                                                   Kaena Point Bed--Bamboo Coral.......                       37
                                                   Keahole Bed--Pink Coral.............                      148
                                                   Keahole Bed--Bamboo Coral...........                       37
                                                   Precious Corals in the Hawaii                           2,205
                                                    Exploratory Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem.............................  Selar crumenophthalmus--akule or                      651,292
                                                    bigeye scad.
                                                   Decapterus macarellus--opelu or                       393,563
                                                    mackerel scad.
                                                   Carangidae--jacks...................                  193,423
                                                   Mullidae--goatfish..................                  125,813
                                                   Acanthuridae--surgeonfish...........                   80,545
                                                   Lutjanidae--snappers................                   65,102
                                                   Holocentridae--squirrelfish.........                   44,122
                                                   Mugilidae--mullets..................                   41,112
                                                   Mollusks--turbo snails; octopus.....                   28,765
                                                   Scaridae--parrotfish................                   33,326
                                                   Crustaceans--crabs..................                   20,686
                                                   Carcharhinidae--Reef Sharks.........                  111,566
                                                   All Other CREMUS combined...........                  142,282
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Accountability Measures

    Each year, NMFS and local resource management agencies in American 
Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and Hawaii collect information about MUS catches 
and apply them toward the appropriate ACLs. Pursuant to 50 CFR 665.4, 
when the available information indicates that a fishery is projected to 
reach an ACL for a stock or stock complex, NMFS must notify permit 
holders that fishing for that stock or stock complex will be restricted 
in Federal waters on a specified date. The restriction serves as the AM 
to prevent an ACL from being exceeded, and may include, closing the 
fishery, closing specific areas, changing to bag limits, or restricting 
effort. However, local resource management agencies do not have the 
personnel or resources to process catch data in near-real time, so 
fisheries statistics are generally not available to NMFS until at least 
six months after agencies collect

[[Page 77092]]

and analyze the data. Although the State of Hawaii has the capability 
to monitor and track the catch of seven preferentially-targeted 
bottomfish species in near-real time, (78 FR 59626, September 27, 
2013), these capabilities do not exist for other Hawaii bottomfish, 
crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem fisheries, or for 
fisheries in American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. Additionally, Federal 
logbook and reporting from fisheries in Federal waters is not 
sufficient to accurately monitor and track catches towards the proposed 
ACL specifications. This is because most fishing for bottomfish, 
crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem MUS occurs in 
state waters, generally 0-3 nm from shore. For these reasons, NMFS 
proposes to specify the Council's recommended AM, which requires the 
Council to conduct a post-season accounting of the annual catch for 
each stock and stock complex of MUS after the end of the fishing year. 
If an ACL is exceeded, the Council would take action in accordance with 
50 CFR 600.310(g), which may include a recommendation that NMFS reduce 
the ACL for the subsequent fishing year by the amount of the overage, 
or other appropriate measures.
    NMFS will consider public comments on the proposed ACLs and AMs and 
will announce the final specifications in the Federal Register. NMFS 
must receive any comments by January 6, 2014, not postmarked or 
otherwise transmitted by that date. Regardless of the final ACL 
specifications and AMs, all other management measures will continue to 
apply in the fisheries.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this 
proposed specification is consistent with the applicable FEPs, other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.

Certification of Finding of No Significant Impact on Substantial Number 
of Small Entities

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that these proposed specifications, if adopted, would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. A description of the proposed action, why it is being 
considered, and the legal basis for it are contained in the preamble to 
this proposed specification.
    NMFS based the proposed specifications on recommendations from the 
Council at its 157th meeting held on June 25-28, 2013. The Council 
recommended 101 ACLs: 22 in American Samoa, 27 in Guam, 22 in the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and 30 in Hawaii. 
NMFS would specify the ACLs for the 2014 fishing year, which begins on 
January 1 and ends on December 31, except for precious coral fisheries, 
which are July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. NMFS would specify ACLs 
for fisheries in which there are no participants. These include certain 
crustacean fisheries (deepwater shrimp and Kona crab) and all precious 
coral fisheries outside Hawaii.
    On June 20, 2013, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a 
final rule revising the small business size standards for several 
industries effective July 22, 2013 (78 FR 37398). The rule increased 
the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $4.0 to 19.0 million, 
Shellfish Fishing from $4.0 to 5.0 million, and Other Marine Fishing 
from $4.0 to 7.0 million. Based on available information, NMFS has 
determined that all vessels federally permitted under the FEPs for 
American Samoa, the Marianas Archipelago (Guam and CNMI) and Hawaii are 
small entities under the SBA definition of a small entity, i.e., they 
are engaged in the business of fish harvesting, are independently owned 
or operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have 
annual gross receipts not in excess of $19 million. Therefore, there 
would be no disproportionate economic impacts between large and small 
entities. Furthermore, there would be no disproportionate economic 
impacts among the universe of vessels based on gear, home port, or 
vessel length.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, NMFS has reviewed the 
analyses prepared for this action in light of the new size standards. 
Under the former, lower size standards, all vessels subject to this 
action were considered small entities, and they all would continue to 
be considered small under the new standards. NMFS does not think that 
the new size standards affect analyses prepared for this action and 
solicits public comments on the analyses in light of the new size 
standards.
    Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial 
number of vessels, the implementation of this action should not result 
in significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. For 
active fisheries, the ACLs are generally in line with or greater than 
the current annual yields. The Council and NMFS are not considering in-
season closures in any of the fisheries to which these ACLs apply, 
because fishery management agencies are not able to track catch 
relative to the ACLs during the fishing year. As a result, fishermen 
would be able to fish throughout the entire year. In addition, the 
ACLs, as proposed, would not change the gear types, areas fished, 
effort, or participation of the fishery during 2014 fishing year. A 
post-season review of the catch data would be required to determine 
whether any fishery exceeded its ACL. If an ACL is exceeded, the 
Council and NMFS would take action to correct the operational issue 
that caused the ACL overage. NMFS and the Council would evaluate the 
environmental and socio-economic impacts of future actions, such as 
changes to future ACLs or AMs, after the required data are available.
    At its 157th meeting in June 2013, the Council determined that ACLs 
were exceeded for the Hawaii non-Deep 7 bottomfish stock complex, and 
for 11 coral reef ecosystem species groups--two in Guam, four in CNMI, 
and five in Hawaii. However, the Council determined that the overages 
of the ACLs in Hawaii were the result of improved catch reporting 
compliance, while in Guam and CNMI, exceeding the ACLs was the result 
of over-estimates of catch. Given these data collection methodologies, 
and given the conservative method used to specify the ACLs, the Council 
concluded that the overages were not likely to have had an impact on 
stock sustainability or result in overfishing. The Council, therefore, 
decided that reducing the 2014 ACLs was not warranted. For these 
reasons, the Council recommended that NMFS specify the same ACLs and 
AMs in 2014 as it did in 2013.
    The proposed rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on 
small entities (as discussed above), organizations, or government 
jurisdictions. The proposed rule also will not place a substantial 
number of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a 
significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. As such, an 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required and none has been prepared.
    This action is exempt from review under the procedures of E.O. 
12866.

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


[[Page 77093]]


    Dated: December 17, 2013.
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. 2013-30312 Filed 12-19-13; 8:45 am]
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