[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 3 (Monday, January 6, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 601-603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31558]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 120918468-3111-02]
RIN 0648-XD058


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2014 Gulf of Alaska Pollock and Pacific Cod Total 
Allowable Catch Amounts

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the 2014 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts 
for the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) pollock and Pacific cod fisheries. This 
action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are 
incorrectly specified, and will ensure the GOA pollock and Pacific cod 
TACs are the appropriate amounts based on the best available scientific 
information for pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA. This action is 
consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2014, 
until the effective date of the final 2014 and 2015 harvest 
specifications for GOA groundfish, unless otherwise modified or 
superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 
Register.
    Comments must be received at the following address no later than 
4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0252 by any 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-2012-0252, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     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.
    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). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the 
GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations 
governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at 
subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.
    The final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in 
the GOA (78 FR 13162, February 26, 2013) set the 2014 pollock TAC at 
111,530 metric tons (mt) and the 2014 Pacific cod TAC at 63,150 mt in 
the GOA. In December 2013, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) recommended a 2014 pollock TAC of 174,976 mt for the GOA, 
which is more than the 111,530 mt established by the final 2013 and 
2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA. The Council also 
recommended a 2014 Pacific cod TAC of 64,738 mt for the GOA, which is 
more than the 63,150 mt established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the GOA. The Council's recommended 
2014 TACs, and the area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the 
Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 
2013, which NMFS has determined is the best available scientific 
information for these fisheries.
    Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the pollock and 
Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA). Pollock and Pacific cod are a principal prey species 
for Steller sea lions in the GOA. The seasonal apportionment of pollock 
and Pacific cod harvest is necessary to ensure the

[[Page 602]]

groundfish fisheries are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. The 
regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv) specify how the pollock TAC will 
be apportioned. The regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  
679.20(a)(12)(i) specify how the Pacific cod TAC will be apportioned.
    In accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), (a)(2)(i)(B), and 
(a)(2)(iv) the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional 
Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2013 SAFE 
report for this fishery, the current GOA pollock and Pacific cod TACs 
are incorrectly specified. Consequently, pursuant to Sec.  
679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2014 GOA 
pollock TAC to 174,976 mt and the 2014 GOA Pacific cod TAC to 64,738 
mt. Therefore, Table 2 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the GOA (78 FR 13162, February 26, 
2013) is revised consistent with this adjustment.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv), Table 4 of the final 2013 and 
2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (78 FR 13162, 
February 26, 2013) is revised for the 2014 TACs of pollock in the 
Central and Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

 Table 4--Final 2014 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the GOA; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments;
                                                          and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
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Season \1\                                           Shumagin
                                                     Chirikof
                                                      Kodiak                   Total \2\
                                                    (Area 610)
                                                    (Area 620)
                                                    (Area 630)
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A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................           4,800        (12.18%)          25,924        (65.79%)           8,680        (22.03%)          39,402
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................           4,799        (12.18%)          30,963        (78.58%)           3,636         (9.23%)          39,402
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................          13,235        (33.59%)          12,448        (31.59%)          13,720        (34.82%)          39,402
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................          13,235        (33.59%)          12,448        (31.59%)          13,720        (34.82%)          39,402
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          36,070  ..............          81,784  ..............          39,756  ..............         157,610
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\1\ 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.
\2\ 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.
Note: Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual TAC total due to rounding down, rather than up).

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), 
Table 6 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the GOA (78 FR 13162, February 26, 2013) is revised for 
the 2014 seasonal apportionments and allocation of Pacific cod TAC in 
the GOA consistent with this adjustment.

 Table 6--Final 2014 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts in the
GOA; Allocations for the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing
                                                   Components
 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not
                                  total precisely to annual allocation amount]
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                                                             A season                        B season
                                      Annual     ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation      Sector % of      Seasonal       Sector % of      Seasonal
                                       (mt)       annual non-jig    allowances    annual non-jig    allowances
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (1.5% of TAC)...........             573             N/A             344             N/A             229
    Hook-and-line CV............             313            0.70             156            0.70             156
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           4,425           10.90           2,436            8.90           1,989
    Trawl CV....................           8,582           27.70           6,191           10.70           2,391
    Trawl C/P...................             536            0.90             201            1.50             335
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           8,492           19.80           4,425           18.20           4,067
        Total...................          22,922           60.00          13,753           40.00           9,169
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Central GOA
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........             797             N/A             478             N/A             319
    Hook-and-line < 50 CV.......           5,699            9.32           3,636            5.29           2,063
    Hook-and-line >= 50 CV......           2,617            5.61           2,189            1.10             428
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,992            4.11           1,603            1.00             389
    Trawl CV....................          16,230           21.14           8,249           20.45           7,981
    Trawl C/P...................           1,638            2.00             782            2.19             856
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......          10,852           17.83           6,959            9.97           3,893
        Total...................          39,825           60.00          23,895           40.00          15,930
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Eastern GOA                       ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           1,991  ..............           1,792  ..............             199
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Note: Seasonal apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 603]]

Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior 
notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set 
forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from 
responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and 
would allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for 
Pacific cod based on the best scientific information available. NMFS 
was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment 
because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of 
December 30, 2013, and additional time for prior public comment would 
result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions.
    The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the 
effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is 
based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment.
    Under Sec.  679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit 
written comments on this action to the above address until January 21, 
2014.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.20 and Sec.  679.25 and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 31, 2013.
Sean F. Corson,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-31558 Filed 12-31-13; 4:15 pm]
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