[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 23 (Tuesday, February 4, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6486-6487]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02285]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 130717633-4069-02]
RIN 0648-XC772


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species 
Fisheries; Annual Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement the annual catch 
limit (ACL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch target 
(ACT) and associated annual reference points for Pacific mackerel in 
the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for the 
fishing season of July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. This final rule 
is implemented according to the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP). The 2013/2014 ACL for Pacific mackerel is 52,358 
metric tons (mt). The ACT, which will be the directed fishing harvest 
target, is 39,268 mt. If the fishery attains the ACT, the directed 
fishery will close, reserving the difference between the ACL and ACT 
(which is 13,089 mt) as a set aside for incidental landings in other 
CPS fisheries and other sources of mortality. This final rule is 
intended to conserve and manage the Pacific mackerel stock off the U.S. 
West Coast.

DATES: Effective March 6, 2014, through June 30, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua Lindsay, West Coast Region, 
NMFS, (562) 980-4034.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: During public meetings each year, the 
estimated biomass for Pacific mackerel is presented to the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's (Council) CPS Management Team (Team), the 
Council's CPS Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel) and the Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC), where the biomass and the status of 
the fisheries are reviewed and discussed. The biomass estimate is then 
presented to the Council along with the calculated overfishing limit 
(OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL) and 
annual catch target (ACT) recommendations and comments from the Team, 
Subpanel and SSC. Following review by the Council and after hearing 
public comment, the Council adopts a biomass estimate and makes its 
catch level recommendations to NMFS.
    The final rule will implement the 2013/2014 ACL, ACT and other 
annual catch reference points, including OFL and an ABC that takes into 
consideration uncertainty surrounding the current estimate of biomass, 
for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast. The CPS FMP 
and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set these annual catch 
levels for the Pacific mackerel fishery based on the annual 
specification framework in the FMP. For the 2013/2014 fishing season 
the ACL is set equal to the result of the ABC calculation. This formula 
is:

ABC = Biomass * Buffer * FMSY * Distribution with the 
parameters described as follows:

    1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific mackerel for the 
2013/2014 management season is 272,932 mt.
    2. Buffer. Used to addresses uncertainty in the OFL. For the 2013/
2014 fishing season the buffer value is 0.913496. This is based on the 
Council's recommendation of a P* of 0.45 and the SSC recommended sigma 
of 0.72. The sigma for this year is double that used for previous years 
due to a higher level of uncertainty in the biomass estimate.
    3. FMSY. The fishing mortality rate at maximum sustainable yield 
(MSY) is set to 0.30.
    4. Distribution. The average portion (currently 70%) of the total 
Pacific mackerel biomass that is estimated to be in the U.S. EEZ off 
the Pacific coast.
    At the June 2013 Council meeting, the Council recommended 
management measures for the Pacific mackerel fishery. These management 
measures and catch specifications are based on the control rules 
established in the CPS FMP and a biomass estimate of 272,932 mt (the 
result of a full stock assessment that was completed in 2011 and 
updated based on a projection estimate for 2013). This biomass estimate 
was reviewed and approved by the SSC as the best available science for 
use in management.
    In this final rule, based on recommendations from the Council's SSC 
and other advisory bodies, the Council recommended and NOAA Fisheries 
(NMFS) is implementing, an OFL of 57,316 mt, an ABC of 52,358 mt, an 
ACL 52,358 and an ACT of 39,268 mt for the 2013/2014 Pacific mackerel 
fishing season. The Pacific mackerel fishing season runs from July 1 to 
June 30 of the following year.
    Amendment 13 (``ACL'' amendment) to the CPS FMP established a 
framework

[[Page 6487]]

that sets the ACL equal to the calculated ABC (reduced from OFL for 
scientific uncertainty) or the result of the harvest guideline (HG) 
equation (maximum quota prior to Amendment 13), whichever value is 
less. This is the first time in the two years since implementation of 
Amendment 13 that the ACL (maximum directed fishing quota) is based on 
the ABC as opposed to the HG; which for 2013 was calculated to be 
53,494 mt.
    If the ACT is attained, the directed fishery will close, and the 
difference between the ACL and ACT (13,089 mt) will be reserved as a 
set aside for incidental landings in other CPS fisheries and other 
sources of mortality. In that event, incidental harvest measures will 
be in place for the remainder of the fishing year, including a 45 
percent incidental catch allowance when Pacific mackerel are landed 
with other CPS. In other words, no more than 45 percent by weight of 
the CPS landed per trip may be Pacific mackerel, except that up to 1 mt 
of Pacific mackerel could be landed without landing any other CPS. Upon 
the fishery attaining the ACL/ABC (52,358 mt), no vessels in CPS 
fisheries may retain Pacific mackerel. The purpose of the incidental 
set-aside and allowance of an incidental fishery is to allow for the 
restricted incidental landings of Pacific mackerel in other fisheries, 
particularly other CPS fisheries, when the directed fishery is closed 
to reduce potential discard of Pacific mackerel and allow for continued 
prosecution of other important CPS fisheries.
    The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator will publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing the date of any closure to either 
directed or incidental fishing. Additionally, to ensure the regulated 
community is informed of any closure NMFS will also make announcements 
through other means available, including fax, email, and mail to 
fishermen, processors, and state fishery management agencies.
    On September 18, 2013, a proposed rule was published for this 
action and public comments solicited (78 FR 57348). No comments were 
received. For further background information on this action please 
refer to the preamble of the proposed.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has 
determined that this final rule is consistent with the CPS FMP, other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

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

    Dated: January 29, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-02285 Filed 2-3-14; 8:45 am]
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