[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 5 (Wednesday, January 8, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1354-1361]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31592]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 300 and 665

[Docket No. 130708597-3999-01]
RIN 0648-BD46


Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; U.S. Territorial Catch and 
Fishing Effort Limits

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; proposed specifications; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS seeks public comment on two proposed actions. First, NMFS 
proposes to establish a management framework for specifying catch and 
fishing effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries 
in the U.S. Pacific territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern 
Mariana Islands). The framework would authorize the government of each 
territory to allocate a portion of its catch or fishing effort limit to 
a U.S. fishing vessel or vessels through a specified fishing agreement, 
and establish the criteria that an agreement would need to satisfy. The 
proposed framework also includes accountability measures for adhering 
to catch and fishing effort limits to ensure sustainability.
    Second, NMFS proposes an annual limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for each territory, using the framework 
described in the proposed rule. NMFS would allow a territory to 
allocate up to 1,000 mt of the 2,000 mt each year to a U.S. longline 
fishing vessel or vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets 
the established criteria. NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict 
catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a 
specified fishing agreement, using the procedures and accountability 
measures described in the proposed rule. The longline bigeye tuna catch 
limit specifications would be effective in 2014.
    NMFS also proposes to make technical administrative changes to 
certain international fisheries requirements under the Western and 
Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act, to make them 
consistent with this proposed rule.
    NMFS intends the proposed rule and specifications to implement 
Section 113 of the Consolidated and Further

[[Page 1355]]

Continuing Appropriation Act of 2012, consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: In order to be considered, NMFS must receive any comments on the 
proposed rule and proposed specifications by February 24, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule and proposed 
specifications, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0178, 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-2012-0178, 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.
    The proposed rule and proposed specifications would implement 
Amendment 7 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the 
Western Pacific Region (Pelagics FEP). Amendment 7, which includes an 
environmental assessment and regulatory impact review, provides 
background information on the proposed rule and proposed specifications 
and is available from www.regulations.gov or the Western Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, 
Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, 
www.wpcouncil.org.
    You may submit written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates 
or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements 
contained in this proposed rule to Michael D. Tosatto (see ADDRESSES) 
and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Bailey, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries Division, 808-944-2248.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the pelagic 
fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Hawaii under the Pelagics FEP. Typically, 
the Council recommends conservation and management measures for NMFS to 
implement under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Certain pelagic 
fish stocks, including tunas, are also subject to conservation and 
management measures cooperatively agreed to by the Western and Central 
Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an international regional 
fisheries management organization that has jurisdiction over fisheries 
harvesting highly migratory species in the western and central Pacific 
Ocean (WCPO, generally west of 150[deg] W. longitude). Although NMFS 
often implements these decisions directly under the authority of the 
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act, 
the Council may also recommend conservation and management measures 
applicable to the U.S. component of internationally-managed fisheries 
for implementation by NMFS under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    In 2008, the WCPFC adopted Conservation and Management Measure 
(CMM) 2008-01 ``Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye and 
Yellowfin Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.'' CMM 2008-01 
established an annual bigeye tuna catch limit for U.S. longline 
fisheries operating in the WCPO, and separate longline bigeye tuna 
catch limits for the U.S. participating territories to the WCPFC, which 
are American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. The U.S. bigeye tuna limit was 
3,763 mt, which NMFS implemented in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (December 7, 
2009, 74 FR 63999). This limit applied only to Hawaii- and U.S. West 
Coast-based longline fisheries that fished in the WCPO; the limit did 
not apply to longline fisheries of the U.S. participating territories. 
CMM 2008-01 also provided that WCPFC members and Participating 
Territories of the WCPFC that caught less than 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna 
in 2004 would be subject to an annual limit of 2,000 mt, except that 
Small Island Developing States and Participating Territories of the 
WCPFC undertaking responsible development of their fisheries would not 
be subject to individual annual limits for bigeye tuna. The three U.S. 
participating territories fell into this category.
    The WCPFC extended the U.S. bigeye tuna limit for 2012 through CMM 
2011-01 (August 27, 2012, 77 FR 51709), and for fishing year 2013 
through CMM 2012-01 (September 23, 2013, 78 FR 58240). In addition, 
under CMM 2012-01, Small Island Developing States and Participating 
Territories of the WCPFC, including American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI, 
were not subject to individual longline limits for bigeye tuna for 
fishing year 2013. Subsequently, in December 2013, the WCPFC adopted a 
new tropical tuna conservation and management measure, which maintain 
the U.S. longline bigeye tuna catch limit of 3,763 mt for 2014, and 
reduces the limit to 3,554 mt in 2015 and 2016, and to 3,345 mt for 
2017. CMM 2013-01 further provides that members that caught less than 
2,000 mt of bigeye in 2004 are limited to no more than 2,000 mt in each 
of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, this limit does not apply to 
Small Island Developing States and Participating Territories of the 
WCPFC. Consistent with previous WCPFC measures, the U.S. participating 
territories are not subject to individual longline limits for bigeye 
tuna under CMM 2013-01.
    There are two Hawaii longline fisheries: The deep-set fishery that 
targets bigeye tuna, and the shallow-set fishery that targets 
swordfish, but also retains other pelagic management unit species 
(MUS), including bigeye tuna. Therefore, the U.S. bigeye tuna limit 
applies to both fisheries. NMFS monitors the longline catch and, when 
NMFS projects the fisheries will reach the U.S. bigeye tuna limit, NMFS 
prohibits the retention, transshipment, or landing of bigeye tuna by 
Hawaii longline vessels in the WCPO through the remainder of the year. 
NMFS restricted the fisheries in this way in 2009 and 2010.
    In 2011, Congress passed Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., 
the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (CFCAA), 
2012. Section 113 of the CFCAA authorized the U.S. participating 
territories to use, assign, allocate, and manage catch or fishing 
effort limits agreed to by the WCPFC through fishing agreements with 
U.S. fishing vessels to support fisheries development in the 
territories, and directed NMFS to attribute pelagic MUS catches made by 
such vessels to the U.S. participating territory to which the agreement 
applies. In 2011, NMFS forecasted that the U.S. bigeye catch limit of 
3,763 mt would be reached on November 17, 2011. Under the authority

[[Page 1356]]

of Section 113, the government of American Samoa entered into a fishing 
agreement with certain Hawaii longline fishing vessels for 2011 and 
2012. From November 18 through December 31, 2011, NMFS attributed to 
American Samoa 628 mt of bigeye tuna caught by those vessels. Because 
of the Section 113 agreement, the U.S. bigeye tuna limit was not 
reached, and Hawaii longline vessels that were not part of that 
agreement continued to catch bigeye tuna in the WCPO under the 
remaining amount of the U.S. bigeye tuna limit.
    In 2012, NMFS forecasted that the U.S. bigeye tuna catch limit of 
3,763 mt would be reached on November 27, 2012. In accordance with NMFS 
regulations at 50 CFR 300.224, from November 20, 2012, through December 
31, 2012, NMFS attributed to American Samoa 771 mt of bigeye tuna 
caught by Hawaii longline vessels in the American Samoa fishing 
agreement. Consequently, the U.S. bigeye tuna limit was not reached, 
and Hawaii longline vessels that were not part of that agreement 
continued to catch bigeye tuna in the WCPO under the remaining amount 
of the U.S. bigeye tuna limit. In both 2011 and 2012, the United States 
did not exceed its bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 mt, and the amount of 
bigeye tuna caught by Hawaii-based longline vessels and attributed to 
American Samoa was less than 1,000 mt each year.
    In 2013, Congress extended the Section 113 provisions through 
Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, Section 110, the Department of 
Commerce Appropriations Act. For 2013, the government of the CNMI 
entered into a Section 113 agreement with certain Hawaii longline 
vessels. On December 5, 2013, in accordance with NMFS regulations at 50 
CFR 300.224, NMFS began attributing to the CNMI bigeye tuna catches 
made by vessels identified in the agreement. The attribution is 
expected to continue through the end of 2013. NMFS does not expect the 
2013 U.S. bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 mt to be reached.

Proposed Rule

    As provided in Section 113 of the CFCAA, and based on 
recommendations from the Council, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, this proposed rule would implement the following:
     Establish a framework consistent with WPCFC conservation 
and management measures for specifying catch or fishing effort limits 
and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. 
participating territories, which are American Samoa, Guam, and the 
Northern Mariana Islands;
     Authorize each U.S. participating territory to enter into 
specified fishing agreements with U.S. fishing vessels permitted under 
the Pelagic FEP, and allocate to those vessels a specified portion of a 
territory's catch or fishing effort limit, as determined by NMFS and 
the Council;
     Establish the criteria that specified fishing agreements 
must satisfy, and the procedures for reviewing agreements; and
     Establish accountability measures for attributing and 
restricting catch and fishing effort toward specified limits, including 
catches and fishing effort made by vessels in the agreements.
    Under the proposed rule, the Council would review existing and 
proposed catch or fishing effort limit specifications and the portion 
available for allocation at least annually to ensure consistency with 
the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other 
applicable laws. Based on this review, at least annually, the Council 
would recommend to NMFS whether such catch or fishing effort limit 
specification or the portion available for allocation should be 
approved for the next fishing year. NMFS would review any Council 
recommendation and, if determined to be consistent with the Pelagics 
FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions and other applicable laws, 
would approve such recommendation. If NMFS determines that a 
recommendation is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, WCPFC decisions and other applicable laws, NMFS would disapprove 
the recommendation and provide the Council with a written explanation 
of the reasons. If a catch or fishing effort limit specification or 
allocation limit is disapproved, or if the Council recommends and NMFS 
approves no catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation 
limit, then no specified fishing agreements would be accepted for the 
fishing year covered by such action.

Proposed Specifications

    In addition to the proposed framework process, NMFS also proposes 
to apply that process to specify a longline bigeye tuna catch limit of 
2,000 mt for each U.S. participating territory. The current WCPFC 
Conservation and Management Measure for tropical tuna stocks (CMM 2013-
01), adopted in December 2013, limits members that harvested less than 
2,000 mt of bigeye in 2004 to no more than 2,000 mt for each of the 
years 2014 through 2017. However, paragraph 7 of CMM 2013-01 does not 
establish an individual limit on the amount of bigeye tuna that may be 
harvested annually in the WCPFC Convention Area by Small Island 
Developing States and Participating Territories of the WCPFC, including 
American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. NMFS and the Council, however, 
believe it is important that the paragraph 7 exemption not apply to 
U.S. participating territories, since bigeye tuna is currently subject 
to overfishing. Therefore, NMFS proposes to establish 2,000-mt limits 
for the U.S. participating territories. These limits, in conjunction 
with the 1,000-mt limits that may be allocated under specified fishing 
agreements (see below), will help ensure stock sustainability under the 
proposed action.
    NMFS would specify that each U.S. participating territory may 
allocate up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to a U.S. 
longline fishing vessel or vessels based in another U.S. participating 
territory or Hawaii, and identified in a specified fishing agreement. 
For U.S. fishing vessels identified in a valid specified fishing 
agreement that are subject to the U.S. bigeye tuna limit and fishing 
restrictions set forth in 50 CFR 300 Subpart O, NMFS would attribute 
catch made by such vessels to the applicable territory. The attribution 
would begin seven days before the date that NMFS projects the limit to 
be reached, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is 
later. The effective date is the date upon which NMFS provides written 
notice to the authorized official or designated representative that the 
specified fishing agreement meets the requirements of this rule.
    For all other U.S. fishing vessels identified in a valid specified 
fishing agreement, NMFS would attribute catch made by such vessels to 
the applicable territory beginning seven days before the date NMFS 
determines the limit is projected to be reached, or upon the effective 
date of the agreement, whichever is later. NMFS would monitor and 
restrict, as appropriate, catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, 
including catches made under a specified fishing agreement, using the 
accountability measures described in the proposed rule. The longline 
bigeye tuna catch limit specifications would be effective for the 2014 
fishing year, which is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2014.
    In addition to seeking public comments on this proposed rule and 
associated proposed specifications, NMFS is soliciting comments on 
proposed Amendment 7 to the Pelagics

[[Page 1357]]

FEP, as stated in the Notice of Availability published on December 30, 
2013 (78 FR 79388). NMFS must receive comments on Amendment 7 by 
February 28, 2014. The Secretary of Commerce will consider public 
comments on this proposed rule and proposed specifications in the 
decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 7.

Classification

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

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Certification Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed action, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal 
basis for this action are contained in the preamble to this proposed 
rule.
    In 2011, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 
et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 
(CFCAA), 2012. Section 113 of the CFCAA allows the U.S. participating 
territories (i.e., American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI) of the WCPFC to 
use, assign, allocate, and manage catch limits of highly migratory fish 
stocks, or fishing effort limits agreed to by the WCPFC through fishing 
agreements with fishing vessels of the United States for the purpose of 
supporting fisheries development in those territories. Section 113 also 
authorizes NMFS to attribute catches made by such vessels to the U.S. 
participating territory to which the agreement applies. Section 113, as 
extended through the end of 2013 by Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, 
Section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, also 
directed the Council to amend the Pelagics FEP to implement these 
provisions under the plan. The proposed action intends to implement 
Section 113 of the CFCAA through Amendment 7 to the Pelagics FEP, 
consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    This proposed action would directly apply to vessels federally 
permitted under the Pelagics FEP, specifically Hawaii longline limited 
entry, American Samoa longline limited entry, Western Pacific general 
longline, Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA) troll and handline, and 
Western Pacific Pelagic squid jig permit holders. As of August 2013, 
131 vessels possessed Hawaii longline limited entry permits (out of 164 
total permits), 47 possessed American Samoa longline limited entry 
permits (out of 60 total permits), no vessels held Western Pacific 
general longline permits, five vessels held Pacific Remote Island Areas 
(PRIA) troll and handline permits, and one held a Western Pacific 
pelagic squid jig permit. Among the American Samoa and Hawaii longline 
vessels with limited entry permits in August 2013, 16 held both 
American Samoa and Hawaii longline limited entry permits (dual permit 
holders).
    According to landings information provided in the environmental 
assessment in support of this action and logbook information, Hawaii-
based longline vessels landed approximately 25,866,000 lb of pelagic 
fish valued at $94,901,000 in 2012 (see Tables 7 and 8 of Amendment 7). 
These vessels made 1,437 trips, caught 159,787 bigeye tuna, and kept 
157,502, along with other pelagic fish. With 129 vessels making either 
a deep- or shallow-set trip that year, the ex-vessel value of pelagic 
fish caught by Hawaii-based longline fisheries averaged about $736,000 
per vessel. In 2012, 25 American Samoa longline vessels turned in 
logbooks reporting the landing of 255,686 pelagic fish valued at 
$9,793,153, of which almost $7.7 million came from albacore tuna 
landings. With 25 active longline vessels, the ex-vessel value of 
pelagic fish caught by the American Samoa longline fishery averaged 
about $391,720 per vessel.
    With respect to non-longline pelagic fisheries, NMFS requires 
federal permits only for pelagic troll and handline vessels fishing in 
the PRIA and squid jig vessels. Assuming average landings of pelagic 
species by all pelagic troll and handline vessels in the western 
Pacific reflect landings made by those vessels possessing PRIA troll 
and handline permits, annual revenues earned from landings of pelagic 
species are not expected to exceed $10,000 for a typical vessel. 
Information on catch or revenue from the one federally permitted squid 
jig vessel is considered confidential and cannot be publicly reported.
    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 Pelagics FEP 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 would not result 
in significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. While the 
proposed framework would potentially apply to any highly migratory 
species under the Pelagics FEP that is subject to annual catch or 
fishing effort limits in the WCPO, in recent years, bigeye tuna has 
been the only species subject to these limits. Therefore, the 
discussion on impacts will center on bigeye tuna catch and longline 
fisheries.
    The proposed action would potentially benefit Hawaii-based longline 
fishery participants, including dual permit holders that possess an 
American Samoa and Hawaii longline limited entry permit. The benefits 
to these vessels come through allowing the territorial fishing 
agreements, similar to those authorized under Section 113, to continue 
under the Pelagics FEP. In 2011 and 2012, American Samoa entered into a 
Section 113 agreement with almost all Hawaii longline fishery 
participants, under a framework that was similar to that proposed here. 
In both years, NMFS projected that the U.S. bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 
mt would

[[Page 1358]]

be reached in mid to late November. Within seven days of the date that 
NMFS projected the fishery would reach the U.S. bigeye tuna limit, NMFS 
began attributing to American Samoa, bigeye tuna catches made by 
longline vessels identified in the Section 113 agreement. Under 
regulations at 50 CFR 300 Subpart O, vessels that possess both Hawaii 
and American Samoa limited entry permits are allowed to land bigeye 
tuna in Hawaii that was caught outside the U.S. EEZ around Hawaii, 
after the date that the U.S. bigeye tuna limit is projected to be 
reached. However, under the Section 113 agreement with American Samoa, 
these vessels are also allowed to land bigeye tuna in Hawaii that was 
caught inside the U.S. EEZ around Hawaii after the projection date. The 
2011 and 2012 fishing agreement with American Samoa allowed the Hawaii-
based longline fishery to land 628 mt and 771 mt of bigeye tuna, 
respectively, after the date NMFS projected the U.S. bigeye tuna limit 
would be reached.
    For fishing year 2013, the CNMI entered into a Section 113 
agreement with certain Hawaii longline fishery participants. NMFS 
projected that the U.S. bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 mt would be reached 
in early December, and on December 5, 2013, began attributing to the 
CNMI bigeye tuna catches made by vessels identified in the Section 113 
agreement. The attribution will continue through the end of December 
2013.
    Based on catch and fishing effort under the 2011 and 2012 fishing 
agreement, it is likely that under the proposed action, less than 1,000 
mt of bigeye tuna would be harvested by Hawaii vessels identified in a 
specified fishing agreement for 2014. Providing opportunity to land 
bigeye tuna in Hawaii in the last quarter of the year when market 
demand is significant will result in positive economic benefits for 
fishery participants and net benefits to the nation. In terms of the 
impacts of reducing the limits of bigeye tuna catch by longline vessels 
based in the territories from an unlimited amount to 2,000 mt, this is 
not likely to adversely affect vessels based in the territories.
    Historical catch of bigeye tuna attributed to American Samoa has 
been less than 2,000 mt, even when including catch by vessels based in 
American Samoa, catch attributed by U.S. vessels (in 2011 and 2012), 
and dual permitted vessels. There appears to have been little, if any, 
catch of bigeye tuna by longline vessels in Guam or CNMI in recent 
years.
    Under the proposed action, longline fisheries managed under the 
Pelagics FEP are not expected to expand substantially nor change the 
manner in which they are currently conducted, (i.e., area fished, 
number of vessels longline fishing, number of trips taken per year, 
number of hooks set per vessel during a trip, depth of hooks, or 
deployment techniques in setting longline gear), due to existing 
operational constraints in the fleet, the limited entry permit 
programs, and protected species mitigation requirements. The likely 
scenario under the proposed action is expected to result fishing 
similar to what occurred in 2011 and 2012 under Section 113 fishing 
agreements.
    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. There does not appear to be disproportionate economic 
impacts from the proposed rule based on home port, gear type, or 
relative vessel size. 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.
    For the reasons above, NMFS does not expect the proposed action to 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is 
not required and none has been prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA). This requirement has been submitted to OMB for approval. The 
public reporting burden for a specified fishing agreement is estimated 
to average six hours per response, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection information. NMFS expects to receive up to nine applications 
for specified fishing agreements each year, for a total maximum 
reporting burden of 54 hours per year.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on 
these or any other aspects of the collection of information to Michael 
D. Tosatto (see ADDRESSES), and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or by fax to 202-395-7285.

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 300

    Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, 
Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

50 CFR Part 665

    Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Commercial 
fishing, Fisheries, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Western and 
Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

    Dated: December 31, 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.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR parts 300 and 665 as follows:

PART 300--INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  300.224, remove paragraph (g) and revise paragraphs (d) and 
(f)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  300.224  Longline fishing restrictions.

* * * * *
    (d) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels included in 
specified fishing agreements under Sec.  665.819(c) of this title. 
Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel that is included in a specified fishing 
agreement under Sec.  665.819(c) of this title will be attributed to 
the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana 
Islands, according to the terms of the agreement to the extent the 
agreement is consistent with Sec.  665.819(c) of this title and other 
applicable laws, and will not be counted against the limit, provided 
that:
    (1) The start date specified in Sec.  665.819(c)(9)(i) of this 
title has occurred or passed; and
    (2) NMFS has not made a determination under Sec.  
665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna

[[Page 1359]]

exceeds the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the 
agreement.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear may be retained on board, 
transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a vessel that is 
included in a specified fishing agreement under Sec.  665.819(c) of 
this title, if the agreement provides for bigeye tuna to be attributed 
to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern 
Mariana Islands, provided that:
    (A) The start date specified in Sec.  665.819(c)(9)(i) of this 
title has occurred or passed; and
    (B) NMFS has not made a determination under Sec.  
665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna exceeds 
the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the agreement.
* * * * *

PART 665--FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC

0
3. The authority citation for part 665 continues to read as follows:

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

0
4. In Sec.  665.800, add new definitions of ``Effective date,'' ``U.S. 
participating territory,'' and ``WCPFC'' in alphabetical order to read 
as follows:


Sec.  665.800  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Effective date means the date upon which the Regional Administrator 
provides written notice to the authorized official or designated 
representative of the U.S. participating territory that a specified 
fishing agreement meets the requirements of this section.
* * * * *
    U.S. participating territory means a U.S. participating territory 
to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly 
Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean 
(including any annexes, amendments, or protocols that are in force, or 
have come into force, for the United States), and includes American 
Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
* * * * *
    WCPFC means the Commission for the Conservation and Management of 
Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, 
including its employees and contractors.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  665.802, add paragraph (o) to read as follows:


Sec.  665.802  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (o) Use a fishing vessel to retain on board, transship, or land 
pelagic MUS captured by longline gear in the WCPFC Convention Area, as 
defined in Sec.  300.211 of this title, in violation of any restriction 
announced in accordance with Sec.  665.819(d)(2).
* * * * *
0
6. Add Sec.  665.819 to subpart F to read as follows:


Sec.  665.819  Territorial catch and fishing effort limits.

    (a) General. (1) Notwithstanding Sec.  665.4, if the WCPFC agrees 
to a catch or fishing effort limit for a stock of western Pacific 
pelagic MUS that is applicable to a U.S. participating territory, the 
Regional Administrator may specify an annual or multi-year catch or 
fishing effort limit for a U.S. participating territory, as recommended 
by the Council, not to exceed the WCPFC adopted limit. The Regional 
Administrator may authorize such U.S. participating territory to 
allocate a portion, as recommended by the Council, of the specified 
catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a 
valid permit issued under Sec.  665.801 through a specified fishing 
agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
    (2) If the WCPFC does not agree to a catch or fishing effort limit 
for a stock of western Pacific pelagic MUS applicable to a U.S. 
participating territory, the Council may recommend that the Regional 
Administrator specify such a limit that is consistent with the Pelagics 
FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws. The Council may also recommend that the Regional Administrator 
authorize a U.S. participating territory to allocate a portion of a 
specified catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels 
holding valid permits issued under Sec.  665.801 through a specified 
fishing agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
    (3) The Council shall review any existing or proposed catch or 
fishing effort limit specification and portion available for allocation 
at least annually to ensure consistency with the Pelagics FEP, 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. Based 
on this review, at least annually, the Council shall recommend to the 
Regional Administrator whether such catch or fishing effort limit 
specification or portion available for allocation should be approved 
for the next fishing year.
    (4) The Regional Administrator shall review any Council 
recommendation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section and, if 
determined to be consistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws, shall approve such 
recommendation. If the Regional Administrator determines that a 
recommendation is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, WCPFC decisions and other applicable laws, the Regional 
Administrator would disapprove the recommendation and provide the 
Council with a written explanation of the reasons for disapproval. If a 
catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit is 
disapproved, or if the Council recommends and NMFS approves no catch or 
fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, no specified 
fishing agreements as described in paragraph (c) of this section will 
be accepted for the fishing year covered by such action.
    (b) Procedures and timing. (1) After receiving a Council 
recommendation for a catch or fishing effort limit specification, or 
portion available for allocation, the Regional Administrator will 
evaluate the recommendation for consistency with the Pelagics FEP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws.
    (2) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal Register 
a notice and request for public comment of the proposed catch or 
fishing effort limit specification and any portion of the limit that 
may be allocated to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a valid permit 
issued under Sec.  665.801.
    (3) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal 
Register, and will use other reasonable methods to notify permit 
holders, a notice of the final catch or fishing effort limit 
specification and portion of the limit that may be allocated to a 
fishing vessel or vessels holding valid permits issued under Sec.  
665.801. The final specification of a catch or fishing effort limit 
will also announce the deadline for submitting a specified fishing 
agreement for review as described in paragraph (c) of this section. The 
deadline will be no earlier than 30 days after the publication date of 
the Federal Register notice that specifies the final catch or fishing 
effort limit and the portion of the limit that may be allocated through 
a specified fishing agreement.
    (c) Specified fishing agreements. A specified fishing agreement 
means an agreement between a U.S. participating territory and the owner 
or a designated representative of a fishing vessel or vessels holding a 
valid permit issued

[[Page 1360]]

under Sec.  665.801 of this part. An agreement provides access to an 
identified portion of a catch or fishing effort limit and may not 
exceed the amount specified for the territory and made available for 
allocation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section. The identified 
portion of a catch or fishing effort limit in an agreement must account 
for recent and anticipated harvest on the stock or stock complex or 
fishing effort, and any other valid agreements with the territory 
during the same year not to exceed the territory's catch or fishing 
effort limit or allocation limit.
    (1) An authorized official or designated representative of a U.S. 
participating territory may submit a complete specified fishing 
agreement to the Council for review. A complete specified fishing 
agreement must meet the following requirements:
    (i) Identify the vessel(s) to which the fishing agreement applies, 
along with documentation that such vessel(s) possesses a valid permit 
issued under Sec.  665.801;
    (ii) Identify the amount of western Pacific pelagic MUS to which 
the fishing agreement applies, if applicable;
    (iii) Identify the amount of fishing effort to which the fishing 
agreement applies, if applicable;
    (iv) Be signed by an authorized official of the applicable U.S. 
participating territory, or designated representative;
    (v) Be signed by each vessel owner or designated representative; 
and
    (vi) Satisfy either paragraph (c)(1)(vi)(A) or (B) of this section:
    (A) Require the identified vessels to land or offload catch in the 
ports of the U.S. participating territory to which the fishing 
agreement applies; or
    (B) Specify the amount of monetary contributions that each vessel 
owner in the agreement, or his or her designated representative, will 
deposit into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund;
    (vii) Be consistent with the Pelagics FEP and implementing 
regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws; and
    (viii) Shall not confer any right of compensation to any party 
enforceable against the United States should action under such 
agreement be prohibited or limited by NMFS pursuant to its authority 
under Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws.
    (2) Council review. The Council, through its Executive Director, 
will review a submitted specified fishing agreement to ensure that it 
is consistent with paragraph (c)(1) of this section. The Council will 
advise the authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. 
participating territory to which the agreement applies of any 
inconsistency and provide an opportunity to modify the agreement, as 
appropriate. The Council will transmit the complete specified fishing 
agreement to the Regional Administrator for review.
    (3) Agency review. (i) Upon receipt of a specified fishing 
agreement from the Council, the Regional Administrator will consider 
such agreement for consistency with paragraph (c)(1) of this section, 
the Pelagics FEP and implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable laws.
    (ii) Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the fishing agreement 
from the Council, the Regional Administrator will provide the 
authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. 
participating territory to which the agreement applies with written 
notice of whether the agreement meets the requirements of this section. 
The Regional Administrator will reject an agreement for any of the 
following reasons:
    (A) The agreement fails to meet the criteria specified in this 
subpart;
    (B) The applicant has failed to disclose material information;
    (C) The applicant has made a material false statement related to 
the specified fishing agreement;
    (D) The agreement is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, 
implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable 
laws; or
    (E) The agreement includes a vessel identified in another valid 
specified fishing agreement.
    (iii) The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Council, 
may recommend that specified fishing agreements include such additional 
terms and conditions as are necessary to ensure consistency with the 
Pelagics FEP and implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable laws.
    (iv) The U.S. participating territory must notify NMFS and the 
Council in writing of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to 
which the specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the 
change.
    (v) Upon written notice that a specified fishing agreement fails to 
meet the requirements of this section, the Regional Administrator may 
provide the U.S. participating territory an opportunity to modify the 
fishing agreement within the time period prescribed in the notice. Such 
opportunity to modify the agreement may not exceed 30 days following 
the date of written notice. The U.S. participating territory may 
resubmit the agreement according to paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
    (vi) The absence of the Regional Administrator's written notice 
within the time period specified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this 
section or, if applicable, within the extended time period specified in 
paragraph (c)(3)(v) of this section shall operate as the Regional 
Administrator's finding that the fishing agreement meets the 
requirements of this section.
    (4) Transfer. Specified fishing agreements authorized under this 
section are not transferable or assignable, except as allowed pursuant 
to paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section.
    (5) A vessel shall not be identified in more than one valid 
specified fishing agreement at a time.
    (6) Revocation and suspension. The Regional Administrator, in 
consultation with the Council, may at any time revoke or suspend 
attribution under a specified fishing agreement upon the determination 
that either: Operation under the agreement would violate the 
requirements of the Pelagics FEP or implementing regulations, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws; or the U.S. 
participating territory fails to notify NMFS and the Council in writing 
of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to which the 
specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the change.
    (7) Cancellation. The U.S. participating territory and the vessel 
owner(s), or designated representative(s), that are party to a 
specified fishing agreement must notify the Regional Administrator in 
writing within 72 hours after an agreement is cancelled or no longer 
valid. A valid notice of cancellation shall require the signatures of 
both parties to the agreement. All catch or fishing effort attributions 
under the agreement shall cease upon the written date of a valid notice 
of cancellation.
    (8) Appeals. An authorized official or designated representative of 
a U.S. participating territory may appeal the granting, denial, 
conditioning, or suspension of a specified fishing agreement affecting 
their interests to the Regional Administrator in accordance with the 
permit appeals procedures set forth in 665.801(o) of this subpart.
    (9) Catch or fishing effort attribution procedures. (i) For vessels 
identified in a valid specified fishing agreement that are subject to 
the U.S. bigeye tuna limit and fishing restrictions set forth in 50 CFR 
part 300, subpart O, NMFS will attribute catch made by such vessels to 
the applicable U.S. participating

[[Page 1361]]

territory starting seven days before the date NMFS projects the annual 
U.S. bigeye tuna limit to be reached, or upon the effective date of the 
agreement, whichever is later.
    (ii) For U.S. fishing vessels identified in a valid specified 
fishing agreement that are subject to catch or fishing effort limits 
and fishing restrictions set forth in this subpart, NMFS will attribute 
catch or fishing effort to the applicable U.S. participating territory 
starting seven days before the date NMFS projects the limit to be 
reached, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is 
later.
    (iii) If NMFS determines catch or fishing effort made by fishing 
vessels identified in a specified fishing agreement exceeds the 
allocated limit, NMFS will attribute any overage of the limit back to 
the U.S. or Pacific island fishery to which the vessel(s) is registered 
and permitted in accordance with the regulations set forth in 50 CFR 
part 300, subpart O and other applicable laws.
    (d) Accountability measures. (1) NMFS will monitor catch and 
fishing effort with respect to any territorial catch or fishing effort 
limit, including the amount of a limit allocated to vessels identified 
in a valid specified fishing agreement, using data submitted in 
logbooks and other information. When NMFS projects a territorial catch 
or fishing effort limit or allocated limit to be reached, the Regional 
Administrator shall publish notification to that effect in the Federal 
Register at least seven days before the limit will be reached and shall 
use other reasonable means to notify permit holders.
    (2) The notice will include an advisement that fishing for the 
applicable pelagic MUS stock or stock complex, or fishing effort, will 
be restricted on a specific date. The restriction may include, but is 
not limited to, a prohibition on retention, closure of a fishery, 
closure of specific areas, or other catch or fishing effort 
restrictions. The restriction will remain in effect until the end of 
the fishing year.
    (e) Disbursement of contributions from the Sustainable Fisheries 
Fund. (1) NMFS shall make available to the Western Pacific Fishery 
Management Council monetary contributions, made to the Fund pursuant to 
a specified fishing agreement, in the following order of priority:
    (i) Project(s) identified in an approved Marine Conservation Plan 
(16 U.S.C. 1824) of a U.S. participating territory that is a party to a 
valid specified fishing agreement, pursuant to Sec.  665.819(c); and
    (ii) In the case of two or more valid specified fishing agreements 
in a fishing year, the projects listed in an approved Marine 
Conservation Plan applicable to the territory with the earliest valid 
agreement will be funded first.
    (2) At least seven calendar days prior to the disbursement of any 
funds, the Council shall provide in writing to NMFS a list identifying 
the order of priority of the projects in an approved Marine 
Conservation Plan that are to be funded. The Council may thereafter 
revise this list.

[FR Doc. 2013-31592 Filed 1-2-14; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P