[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 4 (Tuesday, January 7, 2014)]
[Unknown Section]
[Pages 758-762]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-00021]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 121018563-3148-02]
RIN 0648-XD060


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2014 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka 
Mackerel, 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, 
and Pacific cod fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has 
determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the 
BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate 
amounts based on the best available scientific information. This action 
is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 
Area.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 2, 2014, 
until the effective date of the final 2014 and 2015 harvest 
specifications for BSAI 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superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 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 17, 2014.

[[Page 759]]


ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0210 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-2012-0210], click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit 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.
    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: Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the 
BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area 
(FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management 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 BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) set the 2014 BSAI pollock TAC at 
1,266,100 metric tons (mt), the 2014 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC at 25,379 
mt, and the 2014 BSAI Pacific cod TAC at 260,880 mt. In December 2013, 
the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended a 
2014 BSAI pollock TAC of 1,286,075 mt, which is more than the 1,266,100 
mt TAC established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications 
for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council also recommended a 2014 BSAI 
Atka mackerel TAC of 32,322 mt, which is more than the 25,379 mt TAC 
established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI. Furthermore, the Council recommended a 2014 
BSAI Pacific cod TAC of 253,894 mt, which is less than the 260,880 mt 
TAC established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI. In 2014 the Council recommended that the TAC 
for Pacific cod be split by a Bering Sea TAC of 246,897 and an Aleutian 
Island TAC of 6,997 mt. 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, Atka 
mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific 
cod are a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The 
seasonal apportionment of pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod 
harvest is necessary to ensure the 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) 
specify how the BS pollock TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at 
Sec.  679.20(a)(7) specify how the BSAI Pacific cod TAC will be 
apportioned. The regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(8) specify how the BSAI 
Atka mackerel 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 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and 
Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2014 
BSAI pollock TAC to 1,286,075 mt, the 2014 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC to 
32,322 and the 2014 BSAI Pacific cod TAC to 253,894 mt. Therefore, 
Table 1 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) is revised 
consistent with this adjustment.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i), Table 3 of the final 2013 and 
2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, 
March 1, 2013) and reallocations (78 FR 14932, March 8, 2013 and 78 FR 
49200, August 13, 2013) is revised for the 2014 BSAI allocations of 
pollock TAC to the directed pollock fisheries and to the Community 
Development Quota (CDQ) directed fishing allowances consistent with 
this adjustment.

                         Table 3--Final 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Pollock Tacs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                                                                  [Amounts are in metric tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         2013 A season \1\        2013 B  season                         2014 A season \1\        2014 B  season
                                                                       2013      --------------------------------       \1\            2014      --------------------------------       \1\
                         Area and sector                            Allocations                     SCA harvest  ----------------   Allocations                     SCA harvest  ---------------
                                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA                    A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea..............................................       1,261,900             n/a             n/a             n/a       1,267,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................         126,600          50,640          35,448          75,960         126,700          50,680          35,476          76,020
ICA \1\.........................................................          33,699             n/a             n/a             n/a          38,770             n/a             n/a             n/a
AFA Inshore.....................................................         550,801         220,320         154,224         330,480         550,765         220,306         154,214         330,459
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................................         440,640         176,256         123,379         264,384         440,612         176,245         123,371         264,367
Catch by C/Ps...................................................         403,186         161,274             n/a         241,912         403,160         161,264             n/a         241,896
Catch by CVs \3\................................................          37,454          14,982             n/a          22,473          37,452          14,981             n/a          22,471
Unlisted C/P Limit \4\..........................................           2,203             881             n/a           1,322           2,203             881             n/a           1,322
AFA Motherships.................................................         110,160          44,064          30,845          66,096         110,153          44,061          30,843          66,092
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................................         192,780             n/a             n/a             n/a         192,768             n/a             n/a             n/a

[[Page 760]]

 
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................................         330,480             n/a             n/a             n/a         330,459             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA............................................       1,101,601         440,640         308,448         660,961       1,101,530         440,612         308,428         660,918
Aleutian Islands subarea \1\....................................           6,600             n/a             n/a             n/a          19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................               0               0             n/a               0           1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA.............................................................           1,600             800             n/a             800           2,000           1,000             n/a           1,000
Aleut Corporation...............................................           5,000           5,000             n/a               0          15,100          11,863             n/a           3,237
Bogoslof District ICA \7\.......................................             100             n/a             n/a             n/a              75             n/a             n/a             n/a
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\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector--50
  percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)--40 percent, and mothership sector--10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 60
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ
  directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,000 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40
  percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery.
\2\ In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1. The remaining 12 percent of the annual DFA allocated to the A season may be
  taken outside of SCA before April 1 or inside the SCA after April 1. If less than 28 percent of the annual DFA is taken inside the SCA before April 1, the remainder will be available to be
  taken inside the SCA after April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels
  delivering to listed catcher/processors.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/processors sector's allocation of
  pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\7\ The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8), Table 4 of the final 2013 and 2014 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 
1, 2013) is revised for the 2014 seasonal and spatial allowances, gear 
shares, CDQ reserve, incidental catch allowance, and Amendment 80 
allocation of the BSAI Atka mackerel TAC.

 Table 4--Final 2013 and 2014 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                                                                 Bsai Atka Mackerel TAC
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      2013 allocation by area                         2014 allocation by area
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Eastern                                         Eastern
            Sector \1\                  Season 2 3 4         Aleutian       Central \5\       Western        Aleutian       Central \5\       Western
                                                             District/       Aleutian        Aleutian        District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                            Bering Sea       District        District       Bering Sea       District        District
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TAC...............................  n/a.................          16,900           7,520           1,500          21,652           9,670           1,000
CDQ reserve.......................  Total...............           1,808             805             161           2,317           1,035             107
                                    A...................             904             402              80           1,158             517              54
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a              40             n/a             n/a              52             n/a
                                    B...................             904             402              80           1,158             517              54
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a              40             n/a             n/a              52             n/a
ICA...............................  Total...............           1,000              75              40           1,000              75              40
Jig \6\...........................  Total...............              70               0               0              92               0               0
BSAI trawl limited access.........  Total...............           1,402             664               0           1,824             856               0
                                    A...................             701             332               0             912             428               0
                                    B...................             701             332               0             912             428               0
Amendment 80 sectors..............  Total...............          12,619           5,976           1,300          16,419           7,704             853
                                    A...................           6,310           2,988             650           8,210           3,852             427
                                    B...................           6,310           2,988             650           8,210           3,852             427
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative \7\.  Total \7\...........           7,271           3,563             783           9,482           4,596             500
                                    A...................           3,636           1,782             392           4,741           2,298             250
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a             178             n/a             n/a             230             n/a
                                    B...................           3,636           1,782             392           4,741           2,298             250
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a             178             n/a             n/a             230             n/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative \7\....  Total \7\...........           5,348           2,414             517           6,937           3,108             353
                                    A...................           2,674           1,207             259           3,469           1,554             177
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a             121             n/a             n/a             155             n/a
                                    B...................           2,674           1,207             259           3,469           1,554             177
                                    Critical Habitat \5\             n/a             121             n/a             n/a             155             n/a
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\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and
  BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is
  established in Table 33 to part 679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Regulations at Sec.  Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10 and the B season
  from June 10 to November 1.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C) requires the TAC in area 542 shall be no more than 47% of ABC, and Atka mackerel harvests for Amendment 80 cooperatives
  and CDQ groups within waters 10 nm to 20 nm of Gramp Rock and Tag Island, as described Table 12 to part 679, in Area 542 are limited to no more than
  10 percent of the Amendment 80 cooperative Atka mackerel allocation or 10 percent of the CDQ Atka mackerel allocation.

[[Page 761]]

 
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after
  subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
\7\ The 2014 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible
  participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2013. NMFS will post 2014 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in
  December 2013.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(7), Table 5 of the final 2013 and 2014 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 
1, 2013) is revised as Table 5a for the 2014 gear shares and seasonal 
allowances of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC consistent with this adjustment.

              Table 5a--Final 2014 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI Pacific Cod TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 2014 share of                     2014 seasonal apportionment
          Gear sector               Percent       gear sector    2014 share of ---------------------------------
                                                     total       sector total        Seasons          Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BS TAC........................  ..............         246,897             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
BS CDQ........................  ..............          26,418             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
AI TAC........................  ..............           6,997             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
AI CDQ........................  ..............             749             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\....             100         226,727             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear..            60.8         137,850             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\.....             n/a             500             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(ii
                                                                                 )(B).
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total...             n/a         137,350             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/                    48.7             n/a         110,016  Jan 1-Jun 10....          56,108
 processor.
                                                                                Jun 10-Dec 31...          53,908
Hook-and-line catcher vessel               0.2             n/a             452  Jan 1-Jun 10....             230
 >=60 ft LOA.
                                                                                Jun 10-Dec 31...             221
Pot catcher/processor.........             1.5             n/a           3,389  Jan 1-Jun 10....           1,728
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           1,660
Pot catcher vessel >=60 ft LOA             8.4             n/a          18,976  Jan 1-Jun 10....           9,678
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           9,298
Catcher vessel <60 ft LOA                    2             n/a           4,518  n/a.............             n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessel..........            22.1          50,107             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          37,079
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           5,512
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....           7,516
AFA trawl catcher/processor...             2.3           5,215             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,911
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,304
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Amendment 80..................            13.4          30,381             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          22,786
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           7,595
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative.             n/a             n/a           5,657  Jan 20-Apr 1....           4,243
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,414
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Seafood Cooperative....             n/a             n/a          24,724  Jan 20-Apr 1....          18,543
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           6,181
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Jig...........................             1.4           3,174             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....           1,905
                                                                                Apr 30-Aug 31...             635
                                                                                Aug 31-Dec 31...             635
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI
  Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for
  Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains.
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC
  allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2014
  based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

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 
pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod in the BSAI 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 23, 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

[[Page 762]]

comments on this action to the above address until January 17, 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: January 2, 2014.
Sean F. Corson,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-00021 Filed 1-2-14; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P