[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 31 (Friday, February 14, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 8870-8885]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-03291]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 130306200-4084-02]
RIN 0648-BD03


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Amendment 102

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS publishes regulations to implement Amendment 102 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP), and a regulatory amendment to the 
Individual Fishing Quota Program for the Fixed-Gear Commercial 
Fisheries for Pacific Halibut and Sablefish in Waters in and off Alaska 
(IFQ Program). Amendment 102 and the implementing regulations create, 
in halibut IFQ regulatory area 4B (Area 4B) and the sablefish Aleutian 
Islands regulatory area, a Community Quota Entity (CQE) Program that is 
similar to the existing CQE Program in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). These 
actions allow an eligible community in Area 4B and in the Aleutian 
Islands to establish a non-profit organization as a CQE to purchase 
halibut catcher vessel quota share (QS) assigned to Area 4B and 
sablefish QS assigned to the Aleutian Islands. The CQE would assign the 
annual halibut and sablefish IFQ derived from the QS to participants 
according to defined CQE Program elements. In addition, this action 
revises the IFQ Program regulations to allow IFQ derived from D share 
halibut QS to be fished on Category C vessels in Area 4B. These actions 
provide additional fishing opportunities for residents of fishery 
dependent communities and sustain participation in the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ fisheries. These actions are intended to promote the 
goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, the BSAI FMP, 
and other applicable law.

DATES: Effective March 17, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for 
Amendment 102 and the RIR/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RIR/

[[Page 8871]]

IRFA) for the regulatory amendment to allow IFQ derived from D share 
halibut QS to be fished on Category C vessels in Area 4B prepared for 
this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the 
NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. An 
electronic copy of the 2010 Review of the CQE Program under the 
Halibut/Sablefish IFQ Program, Anchorage, Alaska, March 2010 by the 
North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is available from 
the Council Web site at www.npfmc.org/community-quota-entity-program/.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
final rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. Box 
21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, Records Officer; 
in person at NMFS, Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, 
Juneau, AK; or by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 
395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peggy Murphy, (907) 586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Regulatory Authority

    NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 102 to the BSAI FMP 
and a regulatory amendment to the IFQ Program to authorize a CQE 
Program for halibut and sablefish in the Aleutian Islands. NMFS also 
amends the halibut and sablefish IFQ regulations to allow IFQ derived 
from D share halibut QS to be fished on Category C vessels in Area 4B 
and to describe current CQE QS use caps. The North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council) recommended and NMFS approved the BSAI FMP 
in 1982 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 
et seq.). Regulations implementing the BSAI FMP and general regulations 
governing sablefish appear at 50 CFR part 679. Fishing for Pacific 
halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is managed by the International 
Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council under the Northern 
Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). Section 773(c) of the 
Halibut Act authorizes the Council to develop regulations that are in 
addition to, and not in conflict with, regulations adopted by the IPHC. 
Such Council-recommended regulations may be implemented by NMFS only 
after approval by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary).

Background

    The Notice of Availability for Amendment 102 was published in the 
Federal Register on November 1, 2013 (78 FR 65602), with a 60-day 
comment period that ended December 31, 2013. The Secretary approved 
Amendment 102 on January 30, 2014. The Council submitted the proposed 
rule to NMFS, and it was published in the Federal Register on November 
14, 2013 (78 FR 68390). The 30-day comment period on the proposed rule 
ended on December 16, 2013. NMFS received a total of nine comment 
letters on Amendment 102 and the proposed rule during the comment 
periods. Three comment letters addressed Amendment 102 and the proposed 
regulations for the amendment. The letters contained six substantive 
comments. Four comment letters addressed the proposed regulations to 
allow D share QS to be fished on category C vessels in Area 4B. These 
letters contained one substantive comment. Two comment letters 
concerned fishery management policies that are beyond the scope of this 
final action. A summary of the comments and the responses by NMFS are 
provided under the Comments and Responses section of this preamble.
    A detailed review of the provisions of Amendment 102, the proposed 
regulations, and the rationale for these regulations is provided in the 
preamble to the proposed rule (78 FR 68390, November 14, 2013), and a 
brief summary is provided here. The proposed rule is available from the 
NMFS Alaska Region Web site (see ADDRESSES).
    This final rule implements two separate actions, it: (1) 
Establishes a CQE Program in the Aleutian Islands (Amendment 102); and 
(2) allows IFQ derived from D share halibut QS to be fished on vessels 
less than or equal to 60 ft. length overall (LOA) in Area 4B. Action 1, 
as it relates to sablefish, amends the BSAI FMP. Action 1, as it 
relates to halibut, and action 2 amend the IFQ Program and CQE Program 
regulations. The following sections provide background on the need for, 
objectives of, and the provisions of Amendment 102 and this final rule.

The IFQ and CQE Programs

    The IFQ Program, a limited access privilege program for the fixed-
gear halibut and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) fisheries off Alaska, 
was recommended by the Council in 1992 and approved by NMFS in 1993. 
Initial implementing rules were published November 9, 1993 (58 FR 
59375), and fishing under the IFQ Program began on March 15, 1995. The 
IFQ Program limits access to the halibut and sablefish fisheries to 
those persons holding QS in specific management areas. The IFQ Program 
for the sablefish fishery is implemented by the BSAI FMP and Federal 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679 under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. The IFQ Program for the halibut fishery is implemented by 
Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 under the authority of the 
Halibut Act. A comprehensive explanation of the IFQ Program can be 
found in the final rule implementing the program (58 FR 59375, November 
9, 1993).
    Under the IFQ Program, NMFS issued QS in the fixed-gear halibut and 
sablefish fishery by area and vessel size. Halibut QS was issued 
specific to one of eight IPHC halibut management areas throughout the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and GOA, and four vessel 
categories: Freezer (catcher/processor) category (A share); catcher 
vessel greater than 60 ft. LOA (B share); catcher vessel greater than 
35 ft. to 60 ft. LOA (C share); and catcher vessel less than or equal 
to 35 ft. LOA (D share). Sablefish QS was issued specific to one of six 
sablefish management areas throughout the BSAI and GOA, and three 
vessel categories: Freezer (catcher/processor) category (A share); 
catcher vessel greater than 60 ft. LOA (B share); and catcher vessel 
less than or equal to 60 ft. LOA (C share). The amount of halibut and 
sablefish that each QS holder may harvest is calculated annually and 
issued as IFQ in pounds on an IFQ permit. An IFQ halibut permit 
authorizes participation in the fixed-gear fishery for Pacific halibut 
in and off Alaska, and an IFQ sablefish permit authorizes participation 
in most fixed-gear sablefish fisheries off Alaska. IFQ permits are 
issued annually to persons holding Pacific halibut and sablefish QS, or 
to those persons who are recipients of IFQ transfers from QS holders.

Actions Implemented by this Rule

Action 1: Aleutian Islands CQE Program

    Since the inception of the IFQ Program, many residents of Alaska's 
small, remote, coastal communities who held QS have transferred their 
QS to non-community residents or moved out of these communities. As a 
result, the number of resident QS holders has declined substantially in 
most remote coastal communities throughout Alaska. This transfer of 
halibut and sablefish QS and the associated fishing effort from the 
small, remote, coastal communities has limited the ability of residents 
to locally purchase or lease QS and

[[Page 8872]]

reduced the diversity of fisheries to which fishermen in these 
communities have access. The ability of fishermen in these communities 
to purchase QS or maintain existing QS may be limited by factors shared 
among and unique to each community. Although the reasons for decreasing 
QS holdings in a community may vary, the net effect is overall lower 
participation by residents of these communities in the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ fisheries. The substantial decline in the number of 
resident QS holders and the total amount of QS held by residents of 
small, remote, coastal communities may have aggravated unemployment and 
related social and economic conditions in those communities (see North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2010. Review of the CQE Program 
under the Halibut/Sablefish IFQ Program. Anchorage, Alaska. March 2010. 
This document is available from the Council [see ADDRESSES]).
    In 2001, the Council recognized that a number of small, remote, 
coastal communities, particularly in the GOA, were struggling to remain 
economically viable. The Council developed the CQE Program to provide 
these communities with long-term opportunities to access the halibut 
and sablefish resources. In 2002, the Council recommended the CQE 
Program in the GOA as Amendment 66 to the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA FMP)) and an amendment to the IFQ 
Program. NMFS implemented the program in 2004 (69 FR 23681, April 30, 
2004). The CQE Program allows small, remote, coastal communities that 
meet historic participation criteria in the halibut and sablefish 
fisheries to purchase and hold catcher vessel halibut QS in halibut 
Areas 2C, 3A, and 3B, and catcher vessel sablefish QS in the GOA. A 
comprehensive explanation of CQE Program provisions can be found in the 
final rule implementing the CQE program (69 FR 23681, April 30, 2004).
    The communities are eligible to participate in the CQE Program once 
they are represented by a CQE, which is a NMFS-approved non-profit 
organization. The CQE receives the QS by transfer and becomes the 
holder of the QS. NMFS issues the corresponding IFQ annually to the 
CQE. Once the CQE holds QS, the CQE can lease the annual IFQ resulting 
from the CQE-held QS to individual community residents. Individual 
community residents who lease annual IFQ from the CQE can use IFQ 
revenue to purchase their own QS. With certain exceptions, the QS must 
remain with the CQE. This program structure creates a permanent asset 
for the community to use. The structure promotes community access to QS 
to generate participation in, and fishery revenues from, the commercial 
halibut and sablefish fisheries. The Council believed, and NMFS agrees, 
that both the CQE and non-CQE-held QS are important in terms of 
providing community residents fishing access that promotes the economic 
health of communities.
    In 2002, the Council recommended the CQE Program for the GOA, but 
not for the BSAI. When the CQE Program was initially adopted by the 
Council, and implemented by NMFS, it was specifically intended to 
provide opportunities to GOA communities that had a historic dependence 
on the halibut and sablefish fisheries in the GOA. The Council 
considered but did not recommend applying the CQE Program to the BSAI 
because nearly all small, remote, coastal communities located in the 
BSAI also participate in the Western Alaska Community Development Quota 
Program (CDQ Program) that is authorized under section 305(i) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. The CDQ Program allocates a percentage of all 
BSAI quotas for groundfish, prohibited species, halibut and crab to CDQ 
groups that represent 65 coastal communities throughout the BSAI. This 
allocation to the CDQ Program allows the distribution of benefits from 
that allocation to be shared among the residents of the CDQ Program 
communities. In contrast, the CQE Program requires communities to 
purchase halibut and sablefish QS for use by community residents. At 
the time the Council recommended, and NMFS implemented, the CQE Program 
for the GOA, communities located in the BSAI did not meet the 
geographic scope, or intent, of the CQE Program.
    Amendment 102 amends the BSAI FMP and this final rule revises 
halibut and sablefish IFQ Program regulations to allow a designated 
non-profit organization to purchase and hold catcher vessel QS on 
behalf of any rural community located adjacent to the coast of the 
Aleutian Islands (defined in regulations at Sec.  679.2 as the Aleutian 
Islands Subarea of the BSAI) that meets specific qualification 
criteria. This final rule revises Federal regulations at Sec. Sec.  
679.2, 679.5, 679.41, 679.42, and Table 21 to part 679 to authorize an 
Aleutian Islands CQE to purchase a limited amount of Area 4B halibut 
and Aleutian Islands sablefish QS and lease the resulting IFQ.
    The Council initiated the analysis to develop a CQE Program for the 
Aleutian Islands after receiving a proposal from the Adak Community 
Development Corporation (ACDC) in January of 2010. Specifically, ACDC 
requested that the Council modify the existing CQE Program to allow 
ACDC to use revenues generated from its holdings of Western Aleutian 
Islands golden king crab to purchase Area 4B halibut and Aleutian 
Islands sablefish QS for use by fishery participants delivering to 
Adak, AK. Under regulations established for the BSAI Crab 
Rationalization Program (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), the Adak 
Community Entity is designated (50 CFR 680.2) to receive an exclusive 
allocation of 10 percent of the total allowable catch issued for 
Western Aleutian Islands golden king crab (Sec.  680.40(a)(1)). ACDC 
was formed by representatives of the community of Adak as the Adak 
Community Entity to promote the development of fishery related 
resources, infrastructure, and assets for the community of Adak. The 
purchase of Area 4B halibut and Aleutian Islands sablefish QS would be 
consistent with those goals.
    As described in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 102 (78 FR 
68390, November 14, 2013), the Council recognized that there may be 
opportunity for Adak or other similarly situated communities in the 
Aleutian Islands to maintain and improve access to commercial halibut 
and sablefish fisheries through a community QS holding program similar 
to the GOA CQE Program. In February 2012, the Council recommended 
establishing a CQE Program in the Aleutian Islands that would be 
similar to the current CQE Program in the GOA. When the Council was 
requested to consider implementing a CQE program in the Aleutian 
Islands, there was no similar request for the Bering Sea. Therefore, 
the Council did not develop a CQE Program for the Bering Sea.
    The Council considered comments from the public, NMFS, and the 
State of Alaska, and incorporated the foundation of the GOA CQE program 
in its recommendation for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program. As noted 
earlier, the GOA CQE Program was developed to provide harvest 
opportunities for small, remote, coastal communities that lacked access 
to fishery resources. The Aleutian Islands CQE Program is intended to 
meet that same purpose.
    The Council included provisions of the current GOA CQE Program in 
the Aleutian Islands CQE Program, as the goals of the programs are 
similar. After reviewing the applicable criteria for the GOA CQE 
Program, the Council and NMFS found that the Aleutian Islands CQE 
Program required only limited changes from the GOA CQE Program 
regulations. Therefore, the basic

[[Page 8873]]

provisions for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program are similar to those 
described in the final rule implementing the CQE Program for GOA 
communities (69 FR 23681, April 30, 2004), and as amended by the final 
rule implementing Amendment 94 to the GOA FMP and associated regulatory 
amendments (78 FR 33243, June 4, 2013). Additional information on the 
criteria considered in developing the Aleutian Islands CQE Program is 
provided in the proposed rule and in Section 2.6.2 of the RIR prepared 
for this action (see ADDRESSES). The provisions of the Aleutian Islands 
CQE Program are briefly summarized here.
1. Eligible Community
    The Amendment and the final rule list the criteria a potentially 
eligible community must meet to participate in the Aleutian Islands CQE 
Program. An evaluation of the criteria indicates no communities in the 
Aleutian Islands other than Adak will satisfy the criteria to 
participate in the CQE program. A description of Adak's eligibility for 
the Aleutian Islands CQE Program and the reasons other communities 
(Atka, Attu Station and CDQ communities) are not included are detailed 
in the Eligible Community section of the proposed rule preamble (78 FR 
68390, November 14, 2013).
    Under this final rule, Table 21 to part 679 is amended to include 
Adak as the only eligible Aleutian Islands CQE community. This 
regulatory amendment ensures that if an Aleutian Islands community 
other than Adak appears to meet the eligibility criteria but is not 
specifically designated on the list of communities adopted by the 
Council, then that community would have to apply directly to the 
Council to be included. In this event, the Council may modify the list 
of eligible communities adopted by the Council through a regulatory 
amendment.
2. Community Quota Entity
    This final rule modifies the definition of a CQE at Sec.  679.2 to 
specify that in addition to meeting the eligibility criteria currently 
defined at Sec.  679.2 and Sec.  679.41(l), an Aleutian Islands CQE 
also needs to be the non-profit corporation defined at Sec.  680.2 as 
the Adak Community Entity that is formed for the purpose of holding the 
allocation of Western Aleutian Islands golden king crab made to Adak 
under the provisions of Sec.  680.40(a)(1). CQE Program regulations at 
Sec.  679.2 and Sec.  679.41(l) define a CQE as a non-profit 
organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Alaska for the 
purpose of transferring, holding, and managing QS for an eligible 
community. Since Adak is the only community that is eligible in the 
Aleutian Islands CQE Program, the provision identifying the non-profit 
organization that can serve as the CQE for the community of Adak is 
specific to Adak. The current Adak Community Entity is ACDC. The 
Council recommended that the entity eligible to hold the Western 
Aleutian Islands golden king crab allocation (i.e., the Adak Community 
Entity) serve as the eligible CQE for Adak, because the overall 
responsibility of the entity is to hold an exclusive fishery allocation 
for use on behalf of Adak. This responsibility is identical to the 
responsibility of a non-profit organization that serves as a CQE in the 
GOA CQE Program.
    An Aleutian Islands CQE must meet the three existing requirements 
that define a CQE at Sec.  679.2. First, the non-profit organization 
needs to be incorporated after April 10, 2002, the date the Council 
took final action on the GOA CQE Program. Second, the community 
represented by the non-profit organization needs to be listed in Table 
21 to part 679. Third, the CQE needs to be approved by NMFS to obtain 
QS by transfer and to hold QS as well as to lease IFQ resulting from 
the QS on behalf of an eligible community (see regulations at Sec.  
679.41(l) for the CQE application process).
    ACDC meets the first requirement for a CQE defined at Sec.  679.2. 
If ACDC dissolves, or otherwise ceases to be designated as the Adak 
Community Entity, a new Adak Community Entity could form to hold the 
Western Aleutian Islands golden king crab allocation and represent Adak 
for purposes of the Aleutian Islands CQE Program. This new entity would 
need to have been incorporated after April 10, 2002, to meet the first 
requirement for a CQE. This final rule amends Table 21 to part 679 to 
list Adak, to meet the second requirement for a CQE, and the Aleutian 
Islands CQE will need to be approved by NMFS under existing regulations 
at Sec.  679.41(l)(3) to meet the third requirement.
    This final rule retains the regulation at Sec.  679.41(l)(3) 
(Transfer of QS to CQEs) specifying that the non-profit organization 
(i.e., ACDC) must apply to NMFS for eligibility as a CQE. The 
Administrative Oversight section of the proposed rule preamble explains 
the specific procedure a community must follow to demonstrate its 
support for a CQE. Once an application to become a CQE has been 
approved, then that CQE is eligible to receive and hold QS for 
community members to use as IFQ. With certain exceptions, the QS 
remains with the CQE (see the Transfer and Use Restrictions section in 
the proposed rule preamble for additional detail). NMFS will issue the 
IFQ annually to the CQE. An approved CQE can lease IFQ under the 
mechanisms described in Sec.  679.41 and Sec.  679.42 (see the Transfer 
and Use Restrictions section in the proposed rule preamble for 
additional detail).
    Existing regulations at Sec.  679.41(l)(2) specify that a community 
cannot be represented by more than one CQE. This final rule applies 
this provision to the Aleutian Islands.
3. Individual Community Use Caps
    Community use caps limit the amount of halibut QS and sablefish QS 
that each CQE can purchase and hold on behalf of an eligible community.
    This final rule establishes CQE use caps for halibut and sablefish, 
respectively, equal to 15 percent of the Area 4B halibut QS pool 
(1,392,716 QS units) and 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands sablefish 
QS pool (4,789,874 QS units). This final rule modifies regulations at 
Sec.  679.42(e)(6) and (f)(5) to establish the applicable use caps for 
the Aleutian Islands CQE. The use caps also address existing QS 
holders' concerns that shifting potential QS holdings to communities 
could disadvantage individual fishermen by reducing the amount of QS 
available to them in the QS market. In examining appropriate use caps, 
the Council considered both the problem statement and the current level 
of exploitation of the halibut and sablefish resource. On average from 
2005 through 2010 about 45 percent of the Aleutian Islands sablefish 
IFQ and about 15 percent of the Area 4B halibut IFQ were not harvested. 
Thus the Council determined and NMFS agrees that the 15 percent use 
caps are of sufficient size to accommodate the purchase and holding of 
QS for the community's benefit and existing harvests by individual 
fishermen. The Individual Community Use Caps section of the proposed 
rule preamble and section 2.6.2.3 of the Analysis provide additional 
detail on the rationale for Aleutian Islands CQE Program use caps.
    This final rule modifies Table 21 to this part and adds a 
regulation at Sec.  679.42(e)(9) to limit the transfer or use of 
Aleutian Islands sablefish QS by the Aleutian Islands CQE representing 
the eligible community of Adak to those management areas that are 
adjacent to the CQE eligible community in the Aleutian Islands. Only 
IFQ regulatory Area 4B, for halibut, and IFQ regulatory area Aleutian 
Islands, for sablefish, are adjacent to the Aleutian Islands. These 
limits support a principal goal of the Council in creating the Aleutian 
Islands

[[Page 8874]]

CQE Program, which is to improve the access of residents of the 
eligible community to local resources.
4. Cumulative Community Use Cap
    This final rule establishes a 15 percent cumulative community use 
cap that limits the amount of halibut QS and sablefish QS that all 
Aleutian Islands CQEs combined can purchase and hold collectively. 
Under this final action, Adak is the only eligible community; 
therefore, the individual CQE community use cap of 15 percent of the 
Area 4B halibut QS pool (1,392,716 QS units) and 15 percent of the 
Aleutian Islands sablefish QS pool (4,789,874 QS units) also serve as 
the cumulative CQE community use cap. See the Cumulative Community Use 
Cap section of the proposed rule preamble for additional details on the 
rationale for the cumulative community use cap.
    This final rule modifies regulations at Sec.  679.42(e)(6) and 
(f)(5) to remove regulatory text describing the mechanism for phasing 
in the use cap for GOA CQE communities that is outdated and no longer 
applicable. This final rule clarifies that GOA CQEs are now subject to 
a 21 percent use cap for halibut and sablefish QS in the GOA.
5. Transfer and Use Restrictions
    This final rule establishes restrictions in the Aleutian Islands on 
the type of blocked QS that a CQE may purchase; the type of vessel 
category QS that a CQE may purchase; the permanent transfer of QS from 
a CQE once the CQE holds QS; who can lease IFQ from a CQE; how much IFQ 
can be used by an individual lessee; and how much IFQ can be used on an 
individual vessel. See the Transfer and Use Restrictions section of the 
proposed rule preamble for additional detail on the purpose for, and 
effects of, these restrictions on the Aleutian Islands CQE Program.
a. Block Limits
    Two block provisions apply to an Aleutian Islands CQE under this 
final rule. The first block provision allows an Aleutian Islands CQE to 
purchase both blocked and unblocked Area 4B halibut QS and Aleutian 
Islands sablefish QS, without restrictions on the size of blocked QS 
that may be held. Blocked QS are aggregates of small units of QS that 
were designated as blocks when they were initially issued and that 
cannot be subdivided upon transfer.
    Because existing regulations at Sec.  679.41(e)(4) and (5) do not 
limit the size of Area 4B halibut and Aleutian Islands sablefish QS 
blocks that a CQE can hold, no change in regulations is necessary to 
implement this provision.
    The second block provision limits the number of QS blocks the 
Aleutian Islands CQE may hold to a maximum of 10 blocks of halibut QS 
and 5 blocks of sablefish QS in each IFQ regulatory area for halibut 
and sablefish. No change to existing regulations at Sec.  
679.42(g)(1)(ii) is necessary to implement this provision.
b. Vessel Category Restrictions
    This final rule allows an Aleutian Islands CQE to purchase and hold 
all categories of Area 4B halibut catcher vessel QS (B, C, and D share 
QS), and all categories of Aleutian Islands sablefish catcher vessel QS 
(B and C share QS). Because existing regulations at Sec.  679.41(g)(5) 
restrict CQEs from holding D share QS only in Area 2C, and not in Area 
4B, no changes to the regulations are necessary to implement this 
provision.
    This final rule does not limit the amount of D share halibut QS 
that an Aleutian Islands CQE may hold because residents of the only CQE 
eligible community in the Aleutian Islands (i.e., Adak) were not 
initially issued any halibut or sablefish QS. Because existing 
regulations at Sec.  679.41(g)(5)(iii) restrict CQEs from holding more 
than a specific amount of D share QS in Area 3A, no changes to the 
regulations are necessary to implement this provision.
    This final rule modifies regulations at Sec.  679.42(a)(2)(iii) to 
specify that IFQ derived from B and C share catcher vessel QS held by 
the Aleutian Islands CQE can be fished from a vessel of any size 
regardless of the QS vessel category from which the IFQ was derived. 
This provision applies only to QS held by the CQE. The vessel category 
requirements for use of the QS would apply if the QS were transferred 
from a CQE to a qualified recipient that was not a CQE.
    Action 2 of this final rule allows Area 4B D share halibut IFQ to 
be harvested on a vessel less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA. This 
limitation on the size of vessel that may be used to harvest IFQ 
derived from D share halibut QS applies to both CQE and non-CQE D share 
QS holders in Area 4B, and is addressed in the section on Action 2 in 
this preamble.
c. Sale Restrictions
    Under this final rule, the regulations that apply to a CQE transfer 
of QS in the GOA (Sec.  679.41(g)(7) and (8)) will apply to a CQE 
transfer of QS in the Aleutian Islands. An Aleutian Islands CQE may 
only transfer its catcher vessel QS to an individual or initial QS 
recipient eligible to receive QS under the IFQ Program or to another 
eligible CQE in the Aleutian Islands CQE Program. Under this final 
rule, Adak is the only community eligible to be represented by a CQE in 
the Aleutian Islands; therefore a CQE representing Adak is only able to 
transfer its catcher vessel QS to an individual or initial recipient. 
An Aleutian Islands CQE cannot transfer Area 4B halibut QS or Aleutian 
Islands sablefish QS to any of the GOA CQEs eligible to hold QS under 
the GOA CQE Program because those CQEs are prohibited under existing 
regulations from purchasing QS outside the GOA.
    Regulations at Sec.  679.41(g)(7) specify the conditions under 
which a CQE may transfer QS: (1) To generate revenue to provide funds 
to meet administrative costs for managing the community QS holdings; 
(2) to generate revenue to improve the ability of residents within the 
community to participate in the halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries; 
(3) to generate revenue to purchase QS to yield IFQ for use by 
community residents; (4) to dissolve the CQE; or (5) as a result of a 
court order, operation of law, or as part of a security agreement.
    Existing regulations at Sec.  679.41(g)(8) require that if the 
Regional Administrator determines that a CQE transferred QS for 
purposes other than to sustain, improve, or expand the opportunities 
for community residents, then (1) the CQE must divest itself of any 
remaining QS holdings and will not be eligible to receive QS by 
transfer for a period of 3 calendar years after the effective date of 
final agency action on the Regional Administrator's determination; and 
(2) the Regional Administrator will not approve a CQE to represent the 
eligible community in whose name the CQE transferred QS for a period of 
3 years after the effective date of the final agency action on the 
Regional Administrator's determination. The 3-year restriction is 
intended to discourage CQEs from speculating in the QS market or using 
potential assets to fund other unrelated projects.
    These restrictions encourage the CQE community to hold its QS as a 
long-term asset to provide access to and benefits from fisheries over 
time. The restrictions provide the CQE some flexibility to respond to 
unanticipated circumstances and to act in its best interest and the 
interests of community residents.
    Under this final rule, NMFS will approve a transfer of QS held by 
an Aleutian Islands CQE on behalf of a community only if the community 
for which the CQE holds the QS authorizes that transfer (see Sec.  
679.41(l)(3)(v)(E)(4)). This authorization needs to be in the form of a 
signature on the Application for Transfer of QS/IFQ to or from a 
Community Quota Entity (CQE) by an

[[Page 8875]]

authorized representative of the governing body of the community. The 
purpose of the authorization is to ensure that the community is fully 
aware of the transfer because of the consequences of the restrictions 
explained above.
    Under existing regulations applicable to CQEs, if the Regional 
Administrator determines that a transfer of QS was made by the Aleutian 
Islands CQE for reasons other than to sustain, improve, or expand the 
opportunities for community residents, or to comply with a court order, 
operation of law, or security agreement, NMFS will withhold annual IFQ 
permits on any remaining QS held by the CQE on behalf of that community 
and will disqualify that CQE from holding QS on behalf of that 
community for 3 calendar years after the effective date of final agency 
action on the Regional Administrator's determination (see Sec.  
679.41(g)(8)).
    As under existing regulations applicable to CQEs, NMFS will not 
impose this restriction on an Aleutian Islands CQE until the CQE has 
received full administrative due process, including notice of the 
potential action and the opportunity to be heard. The procedures for 
appeal are provided at Sec.  679.43. No regulatory changes are required 
to implement these existing CQE requirements.
d. Use Restrictions
    This final rule modifies regulations at Sec.  679.41(g)(6) and 
Sec.  679.42(e)(8) and (f)(7) to establish limitations on the use of 
halibut and sablefish QS and IFQ held by an Aleutian Islands CQE and to 
provide, for a limited time, additional flexibility on the use of IFQ 
derived from QS held by an Aleutian Islands CQE.
    An Aleutian Islands CQE is allowed to lease any IFQ derived from 
their QS to either an eligible community resident of Adak or a non-
resident for a period of up to 5 years after the effective date of this 
final rule. This additional flexibility was allowed because a limited 
number of harvesters that have landed catch in Adak in the past were 
Adak residents. After the 5 year period, the CQE is required to lease 
the annual IFQ derived from QS it holds only to an eligible community 
resident of Adak. The intent of this requirement is to tie the 
potential long-term benefits of QS held by an Aleutian Island CQE to 
the residents of Adak.
    For GOA CQEs, an eligible community resident is defined at Sec.  
679.2 as an individual who is a citizen of the United States; maintains 
a domicile in one of the communities listed in Table 21 to part 679 for 
the 12 consecutive months preceding the time when the assertion of 
residence is made, and who is not claiming residency in another 
community, state, territory, or country; and is an IFQ crew member. An 
IFQ crew member is defined in regulations at Sec.  679.2 as any 
individual who has at least 150 days experience working as part of the 
harvesting crew in any U.S. commercial fishery, or any individual who 
receives an initial allocation of QS. IFQ Program regulations at Sec.  
679.41(d) require that for an individual to be eligible to receive QS 
or IFQ by transfer, that individual must submit an Application for 
Eligibility to Receive QS/IFQ to obtain a Transfer Eligibility 
Certificate (TEC). A TEC requires that the individual be a U.S. citizen 
and approved by NMFS as an IFQ crew member.
    This final rule modifies the definition of an eligible community 
resident at Sec.  679.2 to create an exception to the requirement that 
an individual needs to be an IFQ crew member when that person is 
receiving halibut or sablefish IFQ that is derived from QS held by an 
Aleutian Islands CQE. This change allows an Aleutian Islands CQE to 
lease IFQ to an individual who is a citizen of the United States and 
who has maintained a domicile in one of the communities listed in Table 
21 to part 679 for the 12 consecutive months preceding the time when 
the assertion of residence is made, and who is not claiming residency 
in another community, state, territory, or country, but is not an ``IFQ 
crew member'' and so may have less than 150 days experience on board a 
vessel working as part of the harvesting crew in a U.S. commercial 
fishery. The individual will still need to obtain a TEC; however, this 
final rule also modifies regulations at Sec.  679.41(d)(6) to provide 
that NMFS will not disapprove an application for a TEC on the basis 
that a person has fewer than 150 days of experience working as an IFQ 
crew member if the person attests that he or she is an eligible 
community resident of Adak and that person is receiving only IFQ from 
an Aleutian Islands CQE for Area 4B halibut or Aleutian Islands 
sablefish. The Transfer and Use Restrictions section of the proposed 
rule's preamble describes the process for applying to receive a 
transfer of IFQ from the Aleutian Islands CQE and the process NMFS will 
use to review and approve the transfer applications.
    This final rule retains regulations at Sec.  679.42(i)(5) 
specifying that an individual who receives IFQ derived from QS held by 
a CQE may not designate a hired master to fish the community IFQ: The 
individual must be on board the vessel when the IFQ is being fished. 
Individuals who hold leases of IFQ from communities will be considered 
IFQ permit holders and will be subject to the regulations that govern 
other permit holders, including the payment of annual fees as required 
under Sec.  679.45.
e. Individual and Vessel Use Caps
    This final rule does not modify the vessel use caps currently 
applicable to vessels fishing either halibut or sablefish IFQ derived 
from CQE-held QS. Under regulations at Sec.  679.42(h), a vessel may 
not be used to harvest more than 50,000 pounds (22.7 mt) of IFQ derived 
from QS held by a CQE. In addition, a vessel that harvests IFQ derived 
from CQE-held QS is subject to the overall vessel use caps described at 
Sec.  679.42(h). In effect, a vessel cannot use more than 50,000 pounds 
of halibut IFQ and 50,000 pounds of sablefish IFQ derived from QS held 
by a CQE during the fishing year. A vessel can be used to harvest 
additional IFQ from non-CQE-held QS up to the overall vessel use caps 
applicable in the IFQ Program, if the overall vessel use caps are 
greater than 50,000 pounds. If the vessel use caps in the IFQ Program 
are lower than 50,000 pounds in a given year, then the lowest vessel 
use cap will apply. Because existing regulations at Sec.  679.42(h) 
apply to all CQEs, which includes the Aleutian Islands CQE, no 
additional regulatory changes are required to implement this provision.
6. Joint and Several Liability for Violations
    Consistent with current regulations at Sec.  679.42(h)(4), both the 
Aleutian Islands CQE and the individual fisherman to whom the CQE 
leases its IFQ will be considered jointly and severally liable for any 
IFQ fishery violation committed while the individual fisherman is 
fishing the CQE leased IFQ. This joint and several liability is 
analogous to the joint and several liability currently imposed on IFQ 
permit holders and any hired masters fishing the permit holders' IFQ. 
Because existing regulations at Sec.  679.42(h)(4) apply to all CQEs, 
including the Aleutian Islands CQE, no additional regulatory changes 
are required to implement this provision.
7. Performance Standards
    The performance standards for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program will 
be the same as those established for the GOA CQE Program and are 
described in the Performance Standards section of the proposed rule 
preamble and Section 2.6.2.5 of the RIR (see ADDRESSES). These 
performance standards serve as

[[Page 8876]]

guidance to the public in how the Council and NMFS intend that CQE QS 
and IFQ be used. The performance standards describe the CQE Program 
goals and allow the CQE to describe the steps to meet those goals. As 
guidance, compliance is voluntary and not implemented in regulation. 
CQE performance is monitored through the CQE annual report and 
evaluated through periodic review of the CQE Program.
8. Administrative Oversight
    This final rule applies administrative oversight provisions 
applicable to GOA CQEs to the Aleutian Islands CQE at Sec.  
679.41(l)(3)) and 679.5(t). Implementation of the Aleutian Islands CQE 
requires that NMFS (1) review an application of eligibility for a non-
profit organization seeking to be qualified as a CQE for a community in 
the Aleutian Islands and certify the CQE as eligible; and (2) review an 
annual report detailing the use of QS and IFQ by the CQE and Aleutian 
Islands fishery participants. See the Administrative Oversight section 
of the proposed rule preamble for additional detail on these 
requirements. If a CQE does not remain in compliance, (e.g., by failing 
to submit a complete annual report) then NMFS can initiate 
administrative proceedings to deny the transfer of QS to or IFQ from 
the CQE. As with other administrative determinations under the IFQ 
Program, any such determination could be appealed under the procedures 
set forth in regulations at Sec.  679.43.
a. CQE Eligibility Application
    This final rule requires an Aleutian Islands community to form a 
non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Alaska before 
submitting an application to NMFS for approval to be eligible as a CQE 
consistent with existing regulations at Sec.  679.41(l)(3)(i). Under 
the CQE Program for the Aleutian Islands, the Council identified the 
CQE for the community of Adak as the Adak Community Entity approved by 
NMFS to hold the allocation of Western Aleutian Islands golden king 
crab provided under regulations at Sec.  680.40(a)(1). The non-profit 
corporation that currently holds the Western Aleutian Islands golden 
king crab allocation is ACDC. Even though ACDC is the Adak Community 
Entity, ACDC is still required to submit an application to the NMFS 
Regional Administrator that contains specific eligibility information. 
Should the holder of the Western Aleutian Islands golden king crab 
allocation change, then a new CQE would need to be incorporated and 
apply to NMFS to be an eligible CQE.
    To minimize potential conflict that may exist among non-profit 
entities seeking qualification as a CQE, NMFS will not consider a 
recommendation from a community governing body supporting more than one 
non-profit entity to hold QS on behalf of that community. The specific 
governing body that provides the recommendation is defined in 
regulations at Sec.  679.41(l)(3)(v). Because Adak is the only 
identified eligible community in the Aleutian Islands that qualifies 
under this final rule, and that community is incorporated as a 
municipality under State of Alaska statutes, the City Council of Adak 
will recommend the non-profit organization to serve as the CQE for that 
community.
    Under regulations at Sec.  679.41(l)(3), a non-profit entity 
seeking approval from the Regional Administrator to become an Aleutian 
Islands CQE must submit a complete application to NMFS. This final rule 
modifies the application process at Sec.  679.41(l)(3)(iv) to require a 
non-profit entity to provide a statement describing the procedures that 
will be used to determine the distribution of IFQ to eligible community 
residents and non-residents of Adak, including procedures used to 
solicit requests from eligible community residents and non-residents to 
lease IFQ; and criteria used to determine the distribution of IFQ 
leases among eligible community residents and non-residents and the 
relative weighting of those criteria. Because this final rule allows an 
Aleutian Islands CQE to lease IFQ to eligible community residents and 
non-residents for the first 5 years after the effective date of the 
final rule, this modification clarifies the mechanisms for considering 
and distributing IFQ among eligible community residents and non-
residents of Adak.
b. Annual Report
    Consistent with current annual reporting requirements applicable to 
CQEs at Sec.  679.5(t), by January 31 the Aleutian Islands CQE will 
need to submit an annual report to NMFS and to the governing body for 
the community represented by the CQE (i.e., City of Adak). The report 
must detail the use of QS and IFQ by the CQE and fishery participants 
during the previous year's fishing season. This final rule modifies 
Sec.  679.5(t)(5)(v)(B), (C), (E), and (J) to require the Aleutian 
Islands CQE to provide a description of the process used to solicit 
applications from eligible community residents and non-residents; the 
total number of eligible community residents and non-residents who 
applied to use IFQ; a detailed description of the criteria used by the 
CQE to distribute IFQ among eligible community residents and non-
residents who applied to use IFQ; and any payments made to the CQE for 
use of the IFQ by eligible community residents and non-residents. These 
revisions are necessary to gather information on the use of IFQ by 
persons who are not residents of Adak during the first 5 years after 
the effective date of this final rule. These provisions do not affect 
GOA CQEs. Existing regulations at Sec.  679.42(e)(8) and (f)(7) 
prohibit persons other than eligible community residents from fishing 
the IFQ held by GOA CQEs; therefore, no additional reporting of 
information on non-residents is required from GOA CQEs.
    Consistent with regulations applicable to CQEs at Sec.  
679.41(l)(3), if an Aleutian Islands CQE fails to submit a timely and 
complete annual report, or if other information indicates that the CQE 
is not adhering to the procedures for distributing or managing QS and 
IFQ on behalf of a community as established under its application and 
these regulations, then NMFS will initiate an administrative action to 
suspend the ability of the CQE to transfer QS and IFQ, and to receive 
additional QS by transfer. This action is implemented consistent with 
the administrative review procedures provided at Sec.  679.43.

Action 2: Allow D Share IFQ To Be Fished on Category C Vessels

    The purpose of Action 2 is to allow both CQE and non-CQE D share 
halibut IFQ to be fished on vessels less than or equal to 60 ft. LOA 
(vessel category C) in IFQ regulatory area 4B. This action is commonly 
known as a ``fish-up'' action because it allows IFQ derived from QS 
designated for a small vessel category to be fished ``up'' on a larger 
vessel category. In 2007, NMFS implemented a similar action for Areas 
3B and 4C (72 FR 44795, August 9, 2007).
    The proposed rule and the RIR/FRFA prepared for Action 2 (See 
ADDRESSES) describe that this action is intended to addresses economic 
hardship and safety concerns resulting from fishing on small vessels. 
This final rule relieves a restriction placed on IFQ fishery 
participants in Area 4B and furthers the Council's and NMFS' goals for 
the IFQ Program by effectively increasing the amount of IFQ that may be 
harvested by category C vessels.
    This final rule modifies regulations at Sec.  679.42(a)(2)(iv) to 
allow IFQ derived from Area 4B halibut D share QS to be fished on 
vessels less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA.

[[Page 8877]]

Comments and Responses

    During the public comment period on the Notice of Availability for 
Amendment 102, and the proposed rule to revise the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ Program regulations, NMFS received nine comment letters. 
Two letters from a member of the public expressed a general dislike of 
fishery management policies that are outside the scope of this action. 
Three comment letters addressed Amendment 102 to establish a CQE in the 
Aleutian Islands (Action 1). One letter supported Amendment 102 and the 
implementation of Action 1 in this final rule. Two comment letters did 
not support Amendment 102 or the implementation of Action 1 in this 
final rule. Four comment letters supported the proposed action to allow 
vessel D share QS to be fished on category C vessels (Action 2). Two of 
these comment letters were submitted by participants in the halibut IFQ 
fishery. No changes were made to this final rule in response to the 
comment letters received. NMFS' response to the substantive public 
comments on Amendment 102 and the proposed rule is presented below.
    Comment 1: The commenter supports adoption of the final rule to 
implement Amendment 102 as soon as possible to allow acquisition of QS, 
preparation of the CQE application, and timely certification of the CQE 
for the 2014 IFQ fishery season. The commenter states that the proposed 
rule correctly captures the intent of the Council's recommendation to 
create an Aleutian Islands CQE Program.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment.
    Comment 2: Amendment 102 ignores National Standard 4 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, which specifies that conservation and management 
measures shall not discriminate between residents of different states 
and that any allocation of fishing privileges must be fair and 
equitable. Instead, the proposed action unfairly and unlawfully relies 
on National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which specifies 
that conservation and management measures shall take into account the 
importance of fishery resources to fishing communities and provide for 
the sustained participation of such communities. Amendment 102 benefits 
selected Alaskans at the expense of other non-Alaskan residents that 
participate in the fishery. This is unfair, discriminatory, and 
contrary to the requirements of National Standard 4.
    Response: The Council and NMFS have determined that Amendment 102 
is consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This 
Amendment specifically defines an eligible community that may be 
included in the Aleutian Islands CQE Program and cannot help but 
exclude others. However, those that have been excluded from 
participation in the program include both Alaskan and non-Alaskan 
communities, so this action is not predicated upon any effort to 
discriminate between residents of different states.
    As described in the proposed rule preamble (78 FR 68390, November 
14, 2013) and in section 2.1 of the RIR, this final rule promotes the 
Council's objective to provide an opportunity for Adak to improve 
access to the commercial halibut and sablefish fisheries in the 
Aleutian Islands and to provide stability to shoreside processing 
operations in Adak through a structure similar to the GOA CQE Program. 
The Aleut Corporation and the Adak Community Development Corporation 
have invested significant effort into developing Adak as a commercial 
center and civilian community with a private sector economy focused 
heavily on commercial fishing (see section 2.4.5 of the RIR for 
additional detail). Section 2.6.2.4 of the RIR notes that residents of 
Adak were not initially issued halibut and sablefish QS during 
implementation of the IFQ Program, and the costs of purchasing QS have 
restricted the ability of residents to participate in the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ fisheries. Individuals in small, remote communities such 
as Adak may realize a higher cost of participation than larger 
communities with road access to markets (see section 2.6.2.4 of the 
RIR). The Council and NMFS intend for Amendment 102 and this final rule 
to provide fishing opportunities for residents of Adak, as well as to 
minimize the adverse economic impacts of the costs of entering the 
current IFQ program for CQE Program fishery participants.
    The Council and NMFS have determined that Amendment 102 and this 
final rule meet the objectives of National Standard 8 by facilitating 
long-term access to and participation in the commercial halibut and 
sablefish fisheries by residents of a small, remote, coastal community 
in the Aleutian Islands. The mechanism implemented by this final rule 
to help facilitate participation is to allow the Aleutian Islands CQE 
to purchase a limited amount of QS and lease the annual IFQ to 
community residents. Amendment 102 and this final rule are intended to 
benefit one community, Adak, which is the only community in the area 
with historical participation in the halibut and sablefish fisheries 
that is not also eligible under the western Alaska Community 
Development Quota (CDQ) Program. The Council and NMFS determined that 
under Amendment 102 and this final rule, individuals residing in 
communities other than Adak will still realize the majority of the 
benefit from halibut QS in Area 4B and sablefish QS in the Aleutian 
Islands, but more of the revenues will be captured in the community of 
Adak than are currently, and less in the larger, more accessible 
communities, or in communities outside Alaska, where other QS holders 
reside (see section 3.1 of the RIR for additional detail).
    Comment 3: Two commenters asserted that an Aleutian Islands CQE 
Program was unlikely to provide the intended benefits to the community 
of Adak. One commenter stated that Amendment 102 does not guarantee 
that Adak residents receiving benefits from QS held by the CQE will 
continue to live in Adak. The other commenter stated that Adak's 
reliance on a fishing economy is not sustainable in the long term.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments and agrees that Amendment 
102 and this final rule do not guarantee that the community of Adak or 
residents of Adak will participate in, or receive benefits, from the 
IFQ fisheries in the Aleutian Islands. As described in the response to 
comment 2, Amendment 102 and this final rule provide an opportunity for 
a non-profit entity representing Adak to purchase QS on the open 
market. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that Amendment 102 and 
this final rule may provide an opportunity for Adak to improve access 
to the commercial halibut and sablefish fisheries in the Aleutian 
Islands and to provide stability to shoreside processing operations in 
Adak through a structure similar to the GOA CQE Program.
    NMFS notes that a number of small, remote, coastal communities in 
Alaska are reliant on commercial fisheries for a significant portion of 
their economic activity. This reliance is reasonable given the 
communities' proximity to salt water, lack of road access to larger 
communities, and limited infrastructure. As described in section 2.4.5 
of the RIR and in the response to comment 2, the Aleut Corporation and 
ACDC have pursued a number of strategies to develop community 
participation in harvesting and processing activities in a broad range 
of fisheries in the Aleutian Islands. The Council and NMFS have 
determined that Amendment 102 and this final rule may further aid in 
the development of

[[Page 8878]]

seafood harvesting and processing activities within Adak.
    Comment 4: Two commenters did not support the proposed requirement 
for a non-profit organization (i.e., the Aleutian Islands CQE) to be 
the designated entity to purchase and hold halibut and sablefish QS for 
the Aleutian Islands CQE. One commenter noted that a non-profit CQE is 
exempt from paying taxes, and this would give the organization a 
competitive advantage over non-CQE fishermen in purchasing QS. This 
advantage could flow to a limited number of eligible lessees of CQE 
IFQ, who could use their IFQ-derived income to purchase QS. The second 
commenter suggested that non-profit organizations may not provide 
sufficient benefits to warrant their tax-exempt status.
    Response: The Council and NMFS determined that a non-profit entity 
is the appropriate type of entity to hold halibut and sablefish QS on 
behalf of Adak for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program. This determination 
was based on the Council's consideration of the GOA CQE Program and the 
objectives for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program. This response 
addresses the rationale for determining that a non-profit entity is 
appropriate as the Aleutian Islands CQE. NMFS notes that the decision 
to grant non-profit organizations tax-exempt status is based on State 
of Alaska law and is outside NMFS's authority and the scope of this 
action.
    The proposed rule to implement the GOA CQE Program describes that 
the Council selected a non-profit entity as the appropriate holder of 
QS for communities based on recommendations from GOA communities (68 FR 
59564, October 16, 2003). These recommendations indicated that a non-
profit entity could be more flexible and cost-effective than either a 
for-profit corporation or an existing governmental body.
    The preamble to the proposed rule and section 2.6.2.2 of the RIR 
describe that the GOA CQE Program is premised on the ability of a non-
profit entity to purchase and hold halibut and sablefish catcher vessel 
QS on behalf of a community for lease to and use by community 
residents. The intent of the Council in establishing the Program is to 
provide a long-term asset (i.e., halibut or sablefish QS) for 
individual and community use and benefit. The QS cannot be sold unless 
it improves the community's ability to enhance or expand its 
participation in the CQE Program (e.g., the CQE could sell some amount 
of QS at a price that would facilitate the purchase of more QS) (see 
Sec.  679.41(g)(7)). Individual QS holders and for-profit corporations 
could leave the community, sell their QS, or otherwise act in their own 
best interest, rather than in the best interest of the community. The 
GOA CQE Program and the Aleutian Islands CQE Program are intended to 
ensure that some level of QS access remains for community residents for 
the long term. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that 
designating a non-profit entity to hold QS on behalf of the community 
best meets this objective.
    As described in section 2.6.2.7 of the RIR and in the response to 
comment 2, NMFS does not anticipate that this final rule will have 
significant effects on individual participants in the IFQ fisheries or 
residents of non-CQE communities. NMFS expects that this final rule 
will allow some redistribution of QS because it is intended to have 
distributional effects among QS holders by promoting the transfer of QS 
from existing QS holders to the CQE.
    The Council and NMFS considered the impacts of Amendment 102 and 
this final rule on non-CQE participants in the IFQ fisheries. Section 
2.6.2.7 of the RIR notes that authorizing a CQE to purchase QS could 
create the potential for greater competition in the market for 
purchasing Area 4B halibut QS and Aleutian Islands sablefish QS, which 
could result in a higher QS price. However, a significant portion of 
the QS pool remains unused each year in these areas because the IFQ is 
not fully harvested, suggesting there is limited existing demand for 
QS. Section 2.6.2.3 of the RIR indicates that under the QS use caps 
implemented by this final rule, the Aleutian Islands CQE would be able 
to purchase QS that is not currently being used. Therefore, NMFS 
expects potential competition between individual QS holders and the CQE 
would be limited.
    Several other factors are also likely to limit the impact of the 
Aleutian Islands CQE Program on non-CQE fishery participants. The most 
important factors are that the CQE must purchase QS on the open market, 
only one community is eligible to participate, and the Adak CQE will be 
subject to QS purchase and use limits. Section 2.6.2.7 of the RIR notes 
that the cumulative community use caps of 15 percent of the QS pools 
for halibut and sablefish (see Sec.  679.42(e)(4)(ii) and (f)(2)(ii)) 
and the block limits (see Sec.  679.41(e)(4) and (5)) ensure that even 
if the Adak CQE purchases QS up to the program limits, non-CQE 
participants would continue to have access to the remaining QS pool 
without potential competition from CQEs. Additionally, the Aleutian 
Islands CQE Program does not affect IFQ participants' access to QS in 
areas other than Area 4B for halibut and the Aleutian Islands for 
sablefish.
    Section 2.6.4 of the RIR notes that if an Aleutian Islands CQE is 
provided the opportunity to purchase QS, then use of the resulting IFQ 
will provide economic benefits that are not currently realized. In 
addition, because current demand for QS in these areas is relatively 
low, including a CQE in the market for QS may benefit private sellers 
of QS.
    Comment 5: Individuals who are not qualified to lease IFQ from the 
Aleutian Islands CQE would be disadvantaged compared to fishermen 
harvesting CQE-held IFQ, because non-CQE fishery participants are 
subject to more restrictive QS and IFQ transfer and limits. These 
restrictions include QS block and use limits, vessel category 
restrictions for harvesting IFQ, and eligibility to lease IFQ.
    Response: In recommending transfer and use restrictions for the 
Aleutian Islands CQE Program, the Council and NMFS balanced the 
objective of promoting community access to QS and IFQ with the intent 
to maintain entry-level opportunities for fishermen residing in other 
fishery-dependent communities, consistent with the goals of the IFQ 
Program. The Council and NMFS do not anticipate that the provisions of 
Amendment 102 implemented by this final rule will have significant 
effects on individual participants in the IFQ fisheries or residents of 
non-CQE communities (see the response to comment 4 and section 2.6.2.7 
of the RIR for additional detail).
    The rationale for each of the transfer and use provisions 
implemented by this final rule was examined in section 2.6.2.4 of the 
RIR for the action and described in the Transfer and Use Restrictions 
section of the proposed rule preamble. The rationale for the specific 
transfer and use provisions referenced by the commenter is summarized 
here.
    The Council did not recommend, and NMFS does not establish, 
restrictions on the size of QS blocks the Aleutian Islands CQE can 
purchase. The Council and NMFS reviewed data on the number of and size 
of QS blocks in Area 4B and the Aleutian Islands and determined that 
implementing a block size restriction would greatly limit the QS 
available for purchase by the CQE (see Section 2.6.2.4 of the RIR for 
additional information). This final rule applies the same QS block 
limits to the Aleutian Islands CQE that apply to GOA CQEs because large 
portions of the QS in the Aleutian Islands are available only in 
blocked shares. Limiting the Aleutian Islands CQE to existing unblocked 
QS would effectively limit the QS available

[[Page 8879]]

to a small portion of the QS pool that is typically higher priced than 
the more available blocked QS. The Council and NMFS determined that the 
potential impacts of its recommended block restrictions on new entrants 
to this fishery would be limited because not all QS is currently being 
used to harvest halibut and sablefish IFQ in Area 4B and the Aleutian 
Islands (see Transfer and Use Restrictions in the proposed rule 
preamble for additional detail).
    This final rule applies the same regulations on the vessel 
categories of QS to the Aleutian Islands CQE that currently apply to 
CQEs in Areas 3A and 3B of the GOA. Specifically, under this final 
rule, the Aleutian Islands CQE could purchase and hold (1) all 
categories of Area 4B halibut catcher vessel QS (B, C, and D share QS); 
(2) all categories of Aleutian Islands sablefish catcher vessel QS (B 
and C share QS); and (3) any amount of Area 4B catcher vessel D share 
halibut QS, up to the program limit of 15 percent of the total QS pool. 
As described in the proposed rule and section 2.6.2.4 of the RIR, the 
Council and NMFS determined that allowing the Aleutian Islands CQE to 
hold D share QS would not conflict with new entrants in the Aleutian 
Islands IFQ fisheries, because there is likely to be minimal 
competition between individuals and the Aleutian Islands CQE for D 
share QS in the Area 4B halibut QS market. As described in the proposed 
rule, approximately 70 percent of the D share halibut QS in Area 4B is 
not used on an annual basis. This suggests that there is little market 
demand for D share QS in the Aleutian Islands.
    This final rule allows IFQ derived from B and C catcher vessel 
share QS held by an Aleutian Islands CQE to be fished from a vessel of 
any size regardless of the QS vessel category from which the IFQ was 
derived. This provision is consistent with the same provisions in the 
GOA CQE Program on which the Aleutians Islands CQE is modeled, and 
facilitates the use of IFQ on the wide range of vessel types that fish 
in Aleutian Islands communities.
    This final rule establishes limitations on the use of QS and IFQ 
assigned to an Aleutian Islands CQE. These limitations are consistent 
with regulations for the GOA CQE Program, with minor modifications to 
provide additional flexibility on the use of IFQ derived from QS held 
by an Aleutian Islands CQE. This final rule allows an Aleutian Islands 
CQE to lease any IFQ derived from QS it holds to either eligible 
community residents of Adak or non-residents for a period of up to 5 
years after the effective date of the regulations. After the 5-year 
period, the CQE will be required to lease the IFQ derived from QS it 
holds only to eligible community residents of Adak. This final rule 
limits the period during which non-residents may lease IFQ from an 
Aleutian Islands CQE to explicitly tie the potential long-term benefits 
of QS held by an Aleutian Islands CQE to the residents of Adak. The 
five-year time period is intended to provide adequate time to accrue 
benefits to the community of Adak through IFQ deliveries, provide crew 
opportunities for residents, and earn revenue that could assist in the 
purchase of additional QS.
    Under this final rule, an eligible community resident of an 
Aleutian Islands CQE community is relieved from the requirement to have 
150 days of experience working as part of the harvesting crew in a U.S. 
commercial fishery in order to lease IFQ from the Adak CQE. This 
provision of the Aleutian Islands CQE Program is not limited to the 
first five years of the program, like the non-resident IFQ leasing 
provision. Removing the 150 days of experience requirement for eligible 
community residents of Adak accommodates younger residents of Adak who 
may seek employment but who lack 150 days of experience as a crew 
member. Many younger fishermen have experience operating a vessel out 
of Adak fishing subsistence halibut, but in the western Aleutian 
Islands there are few commercial fisheries in which they can gain the 
necessary number of days of experience as crew members, compared to 
what is available for residents of GOA communities. This is due in part 
to fewer fishermen operating out of the Aleutian Islands on whose 
vessels one might be employed as a crew member.
    Comment 6: The Aleutian Islands CQE is not required to be an owner 
onboard, is allowed to lease out its IFQ, and is able to benefit from 
QS through multiple generations. In contrast, an individual who was not 
initially issued QS and purchased their QS is restricted by the owner 
onboard requirement and is not able to lease their IFQ. Furthermore, an 
individual QS holder's beneficiaries do not receive the long-term 
benefit of the QS after the death of the QS holder. The QS holder's 
beneficiary may only lease the resulting IFQ for three years and after 
that time, the beneficiary must meet the eligibility requirements to 
hold QS and must be onboard the vessel when the IFQ is harvested, or 
they must transfer the QS.
    Response: The comment refers to IFQ Program regulations at Sec.  
679.42(c) that require, with some exceptions, a catcher vessel QS 
holder to be onboard the vessel during harvest and offloading of IFQ 
derived from their QS. As described in the final rule to implement the 
IFQ Program, this requirement is intended to promote stewardship by 
providing active fishermen with a vested interest in the long-term 
productivity of the halibut and sablefish resources (58 FR 59375, 
November 9, 1993). By design, CQE community fishermen do not hold QS 
but instead are allowed to lease IFQ derived from CQE-held QS. However, 
the lessee is required by regulations atSec.  679.42(c) and Sec.  
679.42(h)(5) to be onboard the vessel fishing the IFQ leased from the 
CQE during harvest and offloading, consistent with the owner onboard 
objective for the IFQ Program (see the Transfer and Use Restrictions 
section of the proposed rule preamble for additional detail).
    The commenter is correct that the Aleutian Islands CQE could lease 
IFQ to multiple generations of CQE community fishermen. NMFS notes this 
is consistent with the CQE Program objective to provide Adak with long-
term opportunities to access the halibut and sablefish fisheries, as 
described in the proposed rule and in Section 2.1 of the RIR. Also see 
the response to comment 2.
    The commenter contrasts the Aleutian Islands CQE objective to 
promote long-term QS holdings by the community entity with regulations 
at Sec.  679.41(k) that impose a limit on the amount of time a non-CQE 
QS holder's beneficiary may hold the QS after the QS holder's death, if 
the beneficiary is not otherwise eligible to hold QS under IFQ Program 
requirements. The final rule implementing the GOA CQE Program (68 FR 
59564, October 16, 2003) and the proposed rule to implement Amendment 
102 describe that the Council and NMFS have determined that the CQE 
Program structure promotes community access to QS to generate 
participation in, and fishery revenues from, the commercial halibut and 
sablefish fisheries. This is consistent with the goals for the IFQ 
Program (58 FR 59375, November 9, 1993). NMFS notes that the Council 
has identified specific objectives for the Aleutian Islands CQE Program 
and rationale for specific provisions that result in different 
requirements for CQE and non-CQE participants in the IFQ fisheries (see 
the proposed rule preamble and section 2.1 of the RIR for additional 
detail). NMFS has determined that this final rule meets the Council's 
objective to provide the community of Adak with long-term opportunities 
to access the halibut and sablefish fisheries, is consistent with the

[[Page 8880]]

goals for the IFQ Program, and is not likely to have significant 
effects on individual participants in the IFQ fisheries or residents of 
non-CQE communities. Also see the response to comment 4.
    Comment 7: Four commenters supported the proposed rule to allow D 
share IFQ to be fished on category vessels. The commenters believe that 
allowing IFQ derived from D share QS to be fished on vessels less than 
or equal to 60 ft. LOA would address the economic hardship and safety 
concerns resulting from fishing on small vessels in the Aleutian 
Islands.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment.

Changes From the Proposed Rule to the Final Rule

    NMFS modified the proposed regulatory text to change the definition 
of an eligible community resident at Sec.  679.2. As proposed, the 
definition would have provided that an individual must be an IFQ crew 
member only if the person was receiving halibut or sablefish IFQ that 
is derived from QS held by a CQE on behalf of an eligible community in 
the GOA. For purposes of clarity, the proposed definition has been 
rewritten and, as included in this final rule, creates an exception to 
the IFQ crew member requirement when that person is receiving halibut 
or sablefish IFQ that is derived from QS held by an Aleutian Islands 
CQE. There is no change in the substantive effect of the definition.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator determined that Amendment 102 to 
the BSAI FMP and this final rule are necessary for the conservation and 
management of the halibut and sablefish IFQ and CQE fisheries and that 
they are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Halibut Act, and 
other applicable laws.
    Regulations governing the U.S. fisheries for Pacific halibut are 
developed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), the 
Pacific Fishery Management Council, the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council), and the Secretary of Commerce. Section 5 
of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act, 16 U.S.C. 
773c) allows the regional council having authority for a particular 
geographical area to develop regulations governing the allocation and 
catch of halibut in U.S. Convention waters as long as those regulations 
do not conflict with IPHC regulations. The final action is consistent 
with the Council's authority to allocate halibut catches among fishery 
participants in the waters off Alaska.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis (FRFA), the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist 
small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such 
publications as ``small entity compliance guides.'' The agency shall 
also explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply 
with a rule or group of rules. The preamble to the proposed rule and 
this final rule serve as the small entity compliance guide. This action 
does not require any additional compliance from small entities that is 
not described in the proposed and final rules. Copies of this final 
rule are available from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

Executive Order 12866

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

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) is required by the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). This FRFA incorporates the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for the proposed rule 
and addresses the applicable requirements of section 604 of the RFA. A 
statement of the need for, and objectives of, this final rule is 
described in the preamble to this rule and is not repeated here. This 
information also was provided in the preamble to the proposed rule.

Comments on the IRFA

    NMFS published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 102 and a 
regulatory amendment on November 14, 2013 (78 FR 68390), with comments 
invited through December 16, 2013. NMFS received nine comment letters 
from the public on Amendment 102 and the proposed rule. None of these 
comments specifically addressed the IRFA, but comments 2, 4, 5, and 6 
expressed concerns about the potential impacts of establishing a CQE in 
the Aleutian Islands on current participants in the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ fisheries. NMFS' responses to these comments explain that 
the Council and NMFS considered the potential impacts of Amendment 102 
on participants in the halibut and sablefish fisheries and determined 
that it is unlikely to have negative impacts on non-CQE participants in 
the halibut and sablefish fisheries. Several provisions of the Aleutian 
Islands CQE Program, including the QS transfer and use limits 
implemented by this final rule, limit the amount of total QS that a CQE 
may obtain and use. NMFS has determined that this final rule balances 
the objectives of the action with consideration of the impacts on non-
CQE participants in the halibut and sablefish fisheries.
    No comments on the proposed rule were filed with NMFS by the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Number and Description of Directly Regulated Small Entities

    The determination of the number and description of small entities 
regulated by these actions is based on small business standards 
established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). On June 20, 
2013, the SBA issued a final rule revising the small business size 
standards for several industries effective July 22, 2013 (78 FR 37398, 
June 20, 2013). 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. Id., at 
37400 (Table 1). The new size standards were used to prepare the FRFA 
for this action.
    At present, NMFS does not have sufficient ownership and affiliation 
information to determine precisely the number of entities in the IFQ 
Program that are ``small'' based on SBA guidelines, nor the number that 
would be adversely impacted by either of the present actions. This FRFA 
therefore assumes that all directly regulated operations are small.

Action 1: Aleutian Islands CQE Program

    Action 1 applies to communities in the Aleutian Islands that meet 
the CQE Program eligibility criteria. For the foreseeable future, Adak, 
Alaska, is the only community in the Aleutian Islands that meets the 
CQE eligibility criteria. The eligible community of Adak, AK, is 
considered a small entity (small governmental jurisdiction) under the 
RFA, since it is a government of a town or village with a population of 
less than 50,000. The purpose and intent of this action is to have the 
affected community entity acquire QS and make the resulting IFQ 
available by lease to eligible harvesters. This action requires those 
harvesters to make a series of reports and declarations to NMFS in 
order to be found eligible to participate. Therefore, those commercial 
fishing

[[Page 8881]]

operations are directly regulated small entities, although their number 
is unknown at this time. Further, NMFS anticipates that any economic 
impacts accruing from the action to these small entities are beneficial 
because it is expected to improve access to the IFQ fisheries for 
affected small entities.

Action 2: Allow D Share IFQ To Be Fished on Category C Vessels

    Businesses operating in the commercial halibut fisheries will also 
be directly regulated by Action 2 of this rule. There are 12 halibut QS 
holders who are eligible to transfer D share QS in Area 4B. This action 
directly regulates all of these holders, although NMFS expects the 
actual number of participants will be smaller. Additionally, the 
entities affected by Action 2 may be divided into two, mutually 
exclusive groups to estimate their size relative to the $19 million 
threshold. There are operations that harvest both halibut and 
groundfish (sablefish is considered a groundfish species, while halibut 
is not) for which gross revenue data exist. There are also operations 
that harvest halibut but no groundfish that have gross receipts data. 
These entities may also harvest species such as herring or salmon.
    In 2009, the most recent year of complete ex-vessel price data, the 
total standard ex-vessel value of the total catch taken in the 
commercial halibut fishery in Area 4B was about $3 million. Since this 
action only affects up to 12 Area 4B D share IFQ holders, who hold 
potentially 3 percent of the total Area 4B IFQ, the affected IFQ 
holdings can be valued at about $90,000. Action 2 directly affects 
participants in the Area 4B halibut fishery who hold D share QS, and 
indirectly affects an unknown number of owners of larger, category C 
vessels upon whose vessels those D share QS may be used.
    Section 2.0 of the RIR/IRFA for Action 2 (see ADDRESSES) estimates 
that in 2009 the total gross revenues for fixed-gear catcher vessels by 
entity, from all sources off Alaska (not just Area 4B), did not exceed 
$19 million in gross revenues, which has been the case since 2003. The 
average gross revenue for the small fixed-gear catcher vessels was 
about $510,000. Thus, all of the entities that harvest both halibut and 
groundfish in Area 4B are under the threshold. Since the IFQ Program 
limits the amount of annual IFQ that any single vessel may use to 
harvest halibut and sablefish and the maximum number of QS units an 
entity may use, NMFS believes that no vessels that harvest halibut 
exclusively would exceed the $19 million threshold, either.
    Based upon gross receipts data for the halibut fishery, and more 
general information concerning the probable economic activity of 
vessels in this IFQ fishery, no entity (or at most a de minimis number) 
directly regulated by these restrictions could have been used to land 
fish worth more than $19 million in combined gross receipts in 2009. 
Therefore, all halibut vessels have been assumed to be ``small 
entities'' for purposes of the FRFA. This simplifying assumption may 
overestimate the number of small entities, since it does not take 
account of vessel affiliations, owing to an absence of reliable data on 
the existence and nature of these relationships.
    Based on the low revenues for the average groundfish vessel and the 
low cap on maximum halibut and sablefish revenues, additional revenues 
from herring, salmon, crab, or shrimp likely would be relatively small 
for most of this class of vessels. Therefore, the available data and 
FRFA (see ADDRESSES) suggest that there are few, if any, large entities 
among the directly regulated entities subject to the action.

Recordkeeping and Reporting

    Implementation of Action 1 in this final rule will not change the 
recordkeeping requirements or overall reporting structure of the 
vessels in the IFQ fisheries. This action requires additional 
recordkeeping, reporting, and other compliance requirements for the 
Aleutian Islands CQE entity. The community of Adak will have to qualify 
as a non-profit entity to purchase, hold, and lease the QS on behalf of 
the community in order to participate in the CQE Program. Specifically, 
to become a CQE, an Application for a Non-Profit Corporation to be 
Designated as a Community Quota Entity (CQE) is filed with the State of 
Alaska. A CQE must then submit an application of eligibility for a non-
profit organization seeking to be qualified as a CQE for a community in 
the Aleutian Islands before the NMFS Regional Administrator may certify 
the CQE as eligible. Once an eligible CQE is formed, the CQE is subject 
to the same recordkeeping and reporting requirements for QS and IFQ 
transfers as are individuals who hold QS. The CQE also is required to 
submit to NMFS an annual report detailing the use of QS and IFQ by the 
CQE and Aleutian Islands fishery participants.
    The cost to the CQE representing Adak in fulfilling these 
administrative requirements will vary, but is expected to be minimal 
relative to the potential benefits. Neither the applications to be 
designated and certified as a CQE nor the annual report is intended to 
be significantly burdensome on the entity. In sum, the CQE representing 
Adak would not be mandated to fulfill these reporting requirements 
unless it chooses to participate in the CQE program, and participation 
in the program is on a voluntary basis.
    Individuals that lease IFQ from the CQE representing Adak will 
generally be subject to the same recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements as are individuals who hold QS. The primary recordkeeping 
and reporting requirements beyond those required for individual QS 
holders, as discussed above, are the responsibility of the CQE 
representing Adak, which would be listed as the QS holder. These 
requirements are necessary to monitor how QS held by the CQE 
representing Adak is being used among eligible harvesters and to 
collect information necessary to evaluate the program.
    No new requirements for recordkeeping and reporting were identified 
for Action 2 to remove the current restrictions on vessel length 
associated with D share QS. Implementation of this final rule will not 
change the overall recordkeeping and reporting requirements of the 
vessels in the IFQ fisheries.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Final Action That 
Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities

    A FRFA must describe the steps the agency has taken to minimize the 
significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the 
stated objectives of applicable statutes, including a statement of the 
factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative 
adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other significant 
alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which affect the 
impact on small entities was rejected. ``Significant alternatives'' are 
those that achieve the stated objectives for the action, consistent 
with prevailing law with potentially lesser adverse economic impacts on 
small entities, as a whole.

Action 1: Aleutian Islands CQE Program

    During consideration of this action, the Council evaluated two 
alternatives, including (1) no action, and (2) establish an Aleutian 
Islands CQE Program to allow a community in Area 4B to hold commercial 
Area 4B halibut and Aleutian Islands sablefish QS for lease to and use 
by community residents. Although the analysis identifies two primary 
alternatives, Alternative 2 contains seven elements and multiple 
options within each element that effectively operate as separate

[[Page 8882]]

alternatives. Thus, the Council was able to specify options within each 
of the elements under Alternative 2 independent of each other. These 
elements and options effectively provided the Council with hundreds of 
different possible combinations, or ``alternatives'' from which to 
select a preferred alternative at final action. The Council therefore 
identified a wide range of elements to be analyzed that would meet the 
stated objective of this action, while minimizing, to the extent 
practicable, any adverse impacts on small entities. The no action 
alternative did not meet the objectives of the action, but would have a 
smaller adverse impact on small entities when compared with the 
preferred alternative.
    Since participation in the CQE Program is completely voluntary, 
Action 1 of this final rule is not expected to result in adverse 
impacts on directly regulated small entities. NMFS expects that there 
will be some redistribution of halibut and sablefish QS under this 
action, because it is intended to have distributional effects among QS 
holders by promoting the transfer of a limited amount of QS from 
persons to the CQE. However, this redistribution will not have 
significant costs to the fishery participants.
    The maximum amount of QS that could be purchased by an Aleutian 
Islands CQE is 15 percent of the regulatory Area 4B halibut QS and 15 
percent of the Aleutian Islands sablefish QS (Area 4B coincides with 
the Aleutian Islands). Overall, individuals residing in communities 
other than Adak, AK, will still realize the majority of the benefit 
from Aleutian Islands sablefish QS, but more of the revenues will be 
retained in the community of Adak than are currently, and less in the 
larger, more accessible communities, or in communities outside of 
Alaska, where other Aleutian Islands sablefish and Area 4B halibut QS 
holders reside. The effect of this action on Adak will depend on the 
willingness and ability of the CQE to purchase Area 4B halibut QS and 
Aleutian Islands sablefish QS. Benefits from increased QS holdings 
could include lower costs to participate in fisheries and help maintain 
access to and participation in the IFQ fisheries.
    All available evidence suggests that by the voluntary nature of the 
CQE Program and the program provisions themselves, there is no 
potential for proposed Action 1 to impose significant adverse economic 
impacts on a substantial number of small entities.

Action 2: Allow D Share IFQ To Be Fished on Category C Vessels

    During consideration of this action, the Council evaluated two 
alternatives, including (1) no action, and (2) removing the category D 
vessel-size restriction for Area 4B halibut QS to allow harvest of the 
resulting IFQ on larger vessels. Retention of the no action alternative 
would impose adverse economic impacts on directly regulated small 
entities. Under the status quo, D share QS holders (all of whom are 
assumed to be small entities) must fish their quota from boats 35 feet 
or less in LOA. This requirement puts these entities at some physical 
and economic risk, owing to the remoteness and severity of weather and 
sea conditions under which they operate.
    Alternative 2, the preferred alternative, seeks to mitigate these 
adverse economic and operational impacts on directly regulated small 
entities. It does so by removing the category D vessel-size restriction 
for Area 4B halibut QS; thus allowing harvest of the resulting IFQ from 
vessels better suited to the extremes of this region. By allowing these 
entities to harvest IFQ derived from D share QS on larger vessels, the 
action recognizes the unique needs of, and burdens imposed upon, 
directly regulated small entities in Area 4B, and makes accommodation 
for these limitations. On the basis of the foregoing analysis, the 
preferred alternative (relative to the status quo) appears to be the 
least burdensome for directly regulated small entities, among all 
available alternatives.
    Based on the analyses prepared for these actions, as well as 
consideration of the objectives of the actions, it appears that there 
are no alternatives to the actions with potentially less adverse 
economic impact while also accomplishing the stated objectives of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable statutes.
    Taking public comment into consideration, NMFS has identified no 
additional significant alternatives that accomplish statutory 
objectives and minimize any significant economic impacts of this final 
rule on small entities.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This rule contains collection-of-information requirements subject 
to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which have been approved by 
OMB. The collections are listed below by OMB control number.
OMB Control Number 0648-0272
    Public reporting burden is estimated to average per response two 
hours for the Application for Eligibility to Receive QS/IFQ.
OMB Control Number 0648-0665
    Public reporting burden is estimated to average per response two 
hours for an Application for Transfer of QS to or from a Community 
Quota Entity (CQE) and two hours for an Application for a CQE to 
transfer IFQ to or from an eligible community resident or non-resident.
    Public reporting burden includes the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information. Send comment regarding this burden estimate, 
or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for 
reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 10, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 
679 as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for 679 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447.


0
2. In Sec.  679.2, revise paragraph (3) and add paragraph (4) of the 
definition of ``Community quota entity'', revise paragraph (2) 
introductory text and add paragraph (3) of the definition of ``Eligible 
community'', and revise paragraph (1)(iii) to the definition of 
``Eligible community resident'' to read as follows:

[[Page 8883]]

Sec.  679.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Community quota entity (CQE) (for purposes of the IFQ Program) 
means a non-profit organization that:
* * * * *
    (3) Has been approved by the Regional Administrator to obtain by 
transfer and hold QS, and to lease IFQ resulting from the QS on behalf 
of an eligible community; and
    (4) Must be the Adak Community Entity as defined at Sec.  680.2 if 
that non-profit organization represents the eligible community of Adak, 
AK.
* * * * *
    Eligible community means:
* * * * *
    (2) For purposes of the IFQ program in the GOA, a community that is 
listed in Table 21 to this part, and that:
* * * * *
    (3) For purposes of the IFQ program in the Aleutian Islands 
subarea, a community that is listed in Table 21 to this part, and that:
    (i) Is a municipality or census designated place, as defined in the 
2000 United States Census, located on the Aleutian Islands subarea 
coast of the North Pacific Ocean;
    (ii) Is not an entity identified as eligible for the CDQ Program 
under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(D);
    (iii) Has a population of not less than 20 and not more than 1,500 
persons based on the 2000 United States Census;
    (iv) Has had a resident of that community with at least one 
commercial landing of halibut or sablefish made during the period from 
1980 through 2000, as documented by the State of Alaska Commercial 
Fisheries Entry Commission; and
    (v) Is not accessible by road to a community larger than 1,500 
persons based on the 2000 United States Census.
    Eligible community resident means:
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Is an IFQ crew member except when that person is receiving 
halibut or sablefish IFQ that is derived from QS held by a CQE on 
behalf of an eligible community in the Aleutian Islands.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  679.5, revise paragraphs (t)(5)(v)(B), (C), (E), and (J) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  679.5  Recordkeeping and reporting (R&R).

* * * * *
    (t) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (B) A description of the process used by the CQE to solicit 
applications from eligible community residents and non-residents to use 
IFQ that is derived from QS that the CQE is holding on behalf of the 
eligible community;
    (C) The total number of eligible community residents and non-
residents who applied to use IFQ derived from QS held by the CQE;
* * * * *
    (E) A detailed description of the criteria used by the CQE to 
distribute IFQ among eligible community residents and non-residents who 
applied to use IFQ held by the CQE;
* * * * *
    (J) For each community whose eligible community residents and non-
residents landed IFQ derived from QS held by the CQE, provide any 
payments made to the CQE for use of the IFQ.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  679.41, revise paragraphs (d)(6)(i), (g)(6), and (l)(3)(iv) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  679.41  Transfer of quota shares and IFQ.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (6) * * *
    (i) Fewer than 150 days of experience working as an IFQ crew 
member, unless that person attests in the Application for Eligibility 
that he or she is an eligible community resident of Adak, AK, who will 
receive only halibut IFQ in regulatory area 4B or sablefish IFQ in the 
regulatory area of the Aleutian Islands subarea that is derived from QS 
held by a CQE on behalf of Adak, AK.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (6) IFQ derived from QS held by a CQE on behalf of an eligible 
community:
    (i) In the GOA may be used only by an eligible community resident 
of that community.
    (ii) In the Aleutian Islands subarea may be used by any person who 
has received an approved Application for Eligibility as described in 
paragraph (d) of this section prior to March 17, 2019 and only by an 
eligible community resident of Adak, AK, after March 17, 2019.
* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) A statement describing the procedures that will be used to 
determine the distribution of IFQ to eligible community residents and 
non-residents of the community represented by that CQE, including:
    (A) Procedures used to solicit requests from eligible community 
residents and non-residents to lease IFQ; and
    (B) Criteria used to determine the distribution of IFQ leases among 
qualified community residents and non-residents and the relative 
weighting of those criteria.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  679.42,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2)(iii), (a)(2)(iv), (e)(1), (e)(3), (e)(4), 
(e)(6), (e)(8), (f)(1) introductory text, (f)(3), (f)(5), and (f)(7), 
and
0
b. Add paragraphs (e)(9) and (f)(2)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.42  Limitations on use of QS and IFQ.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) IFQ derived from QS held by a CQE may be used to harvest IFQ 
species from a vessel of any length, with the exception of IFQ derived 
from QS in IFQ regulatory areas 3A and 4B that are assigned to vessel 
category D.
    (iv) In IFQ regulatory areas 3B, 4B, and 4C, category D QS and 
associated IFQ authorizes an IFQ permit holder to harvest IFQ halibut 
on a vessel less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) No person other than a CQE representing the community of Adak, 
AK, individually or collectively, may use more than 3,229,721 units of 
sablefish QS, except if the amount of a person's initial allocation of 
sablefish QS is greater than 3,229,721 units, in which case that person 
may not use more than the amount of the initial allocation.
* * * * *
    (3) No CQE may hold sablefish QS in the IFQ regulatory area of the 
Bering Sea subarea.
    (4) No CQE may hold more than:
    (i) 3,229,721 units of sablefish QS on behalf of any single 
eligible community in the GOA; or
    (ii) 4,789,874 units of sablefish QS on behalf of any single 
eligible community in the Aleutian Islands subarea.
* * * * *
    (6) In the aggregate, all CQEs are limited to holding a maximum of:
    (i) 21 percent of the total QS in each regulatory area specified in 
Sec.  679.41(e)(2)(i) through (e)(2)(iv) of this part for sablefish.
    (ii) 15 percent of the total QS specified in Sec.  679.41(e)(2)(v) 
of this part for sablefish.
* * * * *
    (8) A CQE receiving category B or C sablefish QS through transfer 
and representing an eligible community:
    (i) In the GOA may lease the IFQ resulting from that QS only to an 
eligible community resident of the eligible community on whose behalf 
the QS is held; and
    (ii) In the Aleutian Islands subarea may lease the IFQ resulting 
from that

[[Page 8884]]

QS to any person who has received an approved Application for 
Eligibility as described in paragraph (d) of this section prior to 
March 17, 2019 and only to an eligible community resident of Adak, AK, 
after March 17, 2019.
    (9) A CQE representing an eligible community in the Aleutian 
Islands subarea may receive by transfer or use sablefish QS only in the 
Aleutian Islands subarea.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) Unless the amount in excess of the following limits was 
received in the initial allocation of halibut QS, no person other than 
a CQE representing the community of Adak, AK, individually or 
collectively, may use more than:
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) IFQ regulatory area 4B. 1,392,716 units of halibut QS.
    (3) No CQE may hold halibut QS in the IFQ regulatory areas 4A, 4C, 
4D, and 4E.
* * * * *
    (5) In the aggregate, all CQEs are limited to holding a maximum of:
    (i) 21 percent of the total QS in each regulatory area specified in 
Sec.  679.41(e)(3)(i) through (e)(3)(iii) of this part for halibut.
    (ii) 15 percent of the total QS specified in Sec.  679.41(e)(3)(v) 
of this part for halibut.
* * * * *
    (7) A CQE receiving category B, C, or D halibut QS through 
transfer:
    (i) In an IFQ regulatory area specified in Sec.  679.41(e)(3)(i) 
through (e)(3)(iii) of this part may lease the IFQ resulting from that 
QS only to an eligible community resident of the eligible community 
represented by the CQE.
    (ii) In IFQ regulatory area 4B may lease the IFQ resulting from 
that QS to any person who has received an approved Application for 
Eligibility as described in paragraph (d) of this section prior to 
March 17, 2019 and only to an eligible community resident of Adak, AK, 
after March 17, 2019.
* * * * *

0
6. Revise Table 21 to part 679 to read as follows:

  Table 21 to Part 679--Eligible Communities, Halibut IFQ Regulatory Area Location, Community Governing Body That Recommends the CQE, and the Fishing Programs and Associated Areas Where a CQE
                                                               Representing an Eligible Community May Be Permitted To Participate
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             May hold halibut QS in halibut IFQ    May hold sablefish QS   Maximum  number    Maximum number of
                                                                                                         regulatory                   in sablefish IFQ      of CHPs  that   Pacific cod endorsed
                                                                                          ----------------------------------------    regulatory areas     may be held  in  non-trawl groundfish
                                                                                                                                  -----------------------    halibut IFQ    licenses that may be
                                         Halibut IFQ regulatory  Community governing body                                                                    regulatory      assigned in the GOA
     Eligible GOA or AI  community         area in which the      that recommends the CQE                                                                ------------------      groundfish
                                          community is located                              Area 2C   Area 3A   Area 3B   Area 4B  CG, SE, WG,                                 regulatory area
                                                                                                                                   and WY (All     AI                      ---------------------
                                                                                                                                       GOA)               Area 2C  Area 3A   Central    Western
                                                                                                                                                                               GOA        GOA
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adak..................................  4B.....................  City of Adak............  ........  ........  ........        X   ...........        X   .......  .......  .........  .........
Akhiok................................  3A.....................  City of Akhiok..........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Angoon................................  2C.....................  City of Angoon..........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Chenega Bay...........................  3A.....................  Chenega IRA Village.....  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Chignik...............................  3B.....................  City of Chignik.........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......          3  .........
Chignik Lagoon........................  3B.....................  Chignik Lagoon Village    ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......          4  .........
                                                                  Council.
Chignik Lake..........................  3B.....................  Chignik Lake Traditional  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......          2  .........
                                                                  Council.
Coffman Cove..........................  2C.....................  City of Coffman Cove....        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Cold Bay..............................  3B.....................  City of Cold Bay........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........          2
Craig.................................  2C.....................  City of Craig...........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........  .........
Edna Bay..............................  2C.....................  Edna Bay Community              X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
                                                                  Association.
Elfin Cove............................  2C.....................  Community of Elfin Cove.        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........  .........
Game Creek............................  2C.....................  N/A.....................        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Gustavus..............................  2C.....................  Gustavus Community              X         X   ........  ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........  .........
                                                                  Association.
Halibut Cove..........................  3A.....................  N/A.....................  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Hollis................................  2C.....................  Hollis Community Council        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Hoonah................................  2C.....................  City of Hoonah..........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Hydaburg..............................  2C.....................  City of Hydaburg........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Ivanof Bay............................  3B.....................  Ivanof Bay Village        ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........          2
                                                                  Council.
Kake..................................  2C.....................  City of Kake............        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Karluk................................  3A.....................  Native Village of Karluk  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Kasaan................................  2C.....................  City of Kasaan..........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
King Cove.............................  3B.....................  City of King Cove.......  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........          9
Klawock...............................  2C.....................  City of Klawock.........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Larsen Bay............................  3A.....................  City of Larsen Bay......  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Metlakatla............................  2C.....................  Metlakatla Indian               X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
                                                                  Village.
Meyers Chuck..........................  2C.....................  N/A.....................        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Nanwalek..............................  3A.....................  Nanwalek IRA Council....  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Naukati Bay...........................  2C.....................  Naukati Bay, Inc........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Old Harbor............................  3A.....................  City of Old Harbor......  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          5  .........
Ouzinkie..............................  3A.....................  City of Ouzinkie........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          9  .........
Pelican...............................  2C.....................  City of Pelican.........        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Perryville............................  3B.....................  Native Village of         ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........          2
                                                                  Perryville.
Point Baker...........................  2C.....................  Point Baker Community...        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Port Alexander........................  2C.....................  City of Port Alexander..        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Port Graham...........................  3A.....................  Port Graham Village       ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
                                                                  Council.
Port Lions............................  3A.....................  City of Port Lions......  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          6  .........

[[Page 8885]]

 
Port Protection.......................  2C.....................  Port Protection                 X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
                                                                  Community Association.
Sand Point............................  3B.....................  City of Sand Point......  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......  .......  .........         14
Seldovia..............................  3A.....................  City of Seldovia........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          8  .........
Tatitlek..............................  3A.....................  Native Village of         ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
                                                                  Tatitlek.
Tenakee Springs.......................  2C.....................  City of Tenakee Springs.        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Thorne Bay............................  2C.....................  City of Thorne Bay......        X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
Tyonek................................  3A.....................  Native Village of Tyonek  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          2  .........
Whale Pass............................  2C.....................  Whale Pass Community            X         X   ........  ........           X   ........        4  .......  .........  .........
                                                                  Association.
Yakutat...............................  3A.....................  City of Yakutat.........  ........        X         X   ........           X   ........  .......        7          3  .........
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
N/A means there is not a governing body recognized in the community at this time.
CHPs are Charter halibut permits.

[FR Doc. 2014-03291 Filed 2-13-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P