[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 75 (Friday, April 18, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21882-21890]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-08600]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 090313314-4317-01]
RIN 0648-AX78


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; 
Modifications to Federal Fisheries Permits and Federal Processor 
Permits

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to change criteria for submission, approval,

[[Page 21883]]

surrender, revision, and receipt of a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) or 
Federal Processor Permit (FPP) application form; allow the use of a 
valid legible copy in place of an original FFP or FPP; remove 
unnecessary FFP and FPP application form descriptions and contact 
information from regulation; clarify when an FFP or FPP is required; 
and make minor modifications to FPP regulations. This action is 
necessary to reduce industry costs of complying with fishing and 
processing permit regulations and NMFS' administrative costs of 
maintaining and updating permit application regulations and forms. This 
action would provide efficiency, flexibility, and clarity concerning 
FFP and FPP requirements. This action is intended to promote the goals 
and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable 
laws.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than May 19, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by FDMS Docket Number 
NOAA-NMFS-2009-0075, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2009-0075, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
    Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or 
individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be 
considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying 
Information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields, if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Electronic copies of the Categorical Exclusion and the Regulatory 
Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RIR/IRFA) 
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. The final 2010 Stock Assessment and Fishery 
Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated 
November 2010, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 
99501, phone (907) 271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. The draft 2011 SAFE report for the GOA 
is available from the same source.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
rule may be submitted to NMFS Alaska Region at the above address and by 
email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patsy A. Bearden, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS Alaska Region manages the U.S. 
groundfish fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off Alaska 
under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area and the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, respectively. The fishery management 
plans were prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 
under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and other 
applicable laws, and approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Regulations 
implementing the fishery management plans appear at 50 CFR part 679. 
General regulations that pertain to U.S. fisheries appear at subpart H 
of 50 CFR part 600.
    Regulations at Sec.  679.4 describe particular groundfish and 
halibut fishing permits that are necessary to participate in federally-
managed North Pacific fisheries and available from NMFS Alaska Region 
(NMFS); regulations at Sec.  679.7 describe regulatory prohibitions 
that are applicable in federally-managed North Pacific fisheries.
    The Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) is issued by NMFS Alaska Region 
and is required for vessels that are used to fish for groundfish in the 
GOA or BSAI or engage in any fishery that requires retention of 
groundfish, such as the commercial IFQ halibut fishery. These vessels 
include catcher vessels, catcher/processors, motherships, tender 
vessels (buying stations), and support vessels assisting other vessels 
in those fisheries.
    The Federal Processor Permit (FPP) is issued by NMFS Alaska Region 
and is required for shoreside processors, stationary floating 
processors (SFPs) (processing vessels that operate solely within Alaska 
State waters), and for Community Quota Entity (CQE) floating processors 
that receive or process unprocessed groundfish harvested in the GOA or 
BSAI.
    This proposed action will reduce costs associated with NMFS' 
issuance of FFPs and FPPs. This action proposes to relieve FFP and FPP 
holders from requirements that they hold original permit copies. The 
proposed revisions to NMFS regulations would benefit fisheries 
participants by reducing the time, expense, and administrative effort 
associated with submitting permit requests to NMFS. Similarly, the 
revisions would benefit NMFS by reducing preparation and postage costs 
associated with returning an FFP or FPP to the permit applicant and by 
removing unnecessary regulatory text. In addition, the proposed 
regulatory revisions would allow NMFS to easily update the permit 
application form, eliminating costly delays associated with rulemaking.
    There are six elements of this proposed action: (1) Eliminate the 
requirement to submit an original permit when surrendering the permit 
to NMFS or applying for a permit revision and add a proof of permit 
application submission standard; (2) allow the use of a valid legible 
copy in place of an original FFP or FPP; (3) remove unnecessary FFP and 
FPP application form requirements from regulation to eliminate 
redundant reporting requirements; (4) clarify the circumstances when an 
FFP or FPP must be held by fishery participants; (5) make minor 
clarifications to FPP regulations; and (6) make other corrections and 
revisions to regulatory text. These actions will reduce costs 
associated with the FFP or FPP application processes.

Action 1: Eliminate the Requirements To Submit an Original Permit and 
Add a Proof of Application Submission Standard

    Section 679.4(a)(9) governs surrender of permits issued by NMFS 
Alaska Region. This action would divide paragraph (a)(9) into two 
subparagraphs and would add two new subparagraphs. New paragraph 
(b)(3)(i)(D) would state that the application form can be used to 
request surrender of permits. Newly redesignated paragraph (a)(9)(ii) 
would be revised to eliminate the unnecessary

[[Page 21884]]

requirement for the FFP holder or FPP holder to submit the original 
permit when surrendering a permit to NMFS. Instead of mailing back the 
original permit, a permit holder would notify NMFS of intent to 
surrender an FFP or FPP by submitting a completed FFP or FPP 
application form (see http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov).
    Under the proposed rule, when a surrender application form is 
submitted NMFS would withdraw the FFP or FPP from active status in the 
permit database. The surrendered FFP or FPP would be ``inactive,'' 
which means that it is not valid until it is re-issued with an 
``active'' status. The inactive permit could be re-issued as active 
upon request. If the vessel or processing plant was sold after the 
permit was surrendered, then the permit would be re-issued to the 
current owner.
    In many instances, regulations impose filing deadlines when a 
permit application form must be received by NMFS. In some 
circumstances, persons have unsuccessfully filed application forms with 
Restricted Access Management (RAM), the Region's permit division, due 
to missing a deadline. To ensure that application forms or documents 
reach RAM and are processed within filing deadlines, NMFS proposes a 
``proof of receipt'' standard that must be met by applicants. Thus, 
redesignated paragraphs (a)(9)(iii) and (iv) would add a standard that 
requires applicants to have ``objective written evidence'' they would 
use to prove that an application form was received by NMFS. ``Objective 
written evidence'' would include, for example, the applicant's use of 
United States Post Office Priority mail delivery confirmation, or 
``green card'' return receipt requested.

Action 2: Allowing the Use of a Legible Copy in Place of an Original 
FFP or FPP

    Currently, NMFS mails an original paper FFP or FPP to successful 
applicants, who must have the original permit in possession either on 
board the vessel or on site at the processing facility when activities 
authorized by the permit, such as groundfish harvests and landings, are 
taking place. In some circumstances, the requirement to possess the 
original permit on board the vessel or at the processing plant can 
impose costs on permit holders. For example, if a vessel applies for an 
amended FFP designating a change or addition of a vessel operations 
category or any other endorsement, a new, revised original of the FFP 
must be on board the vessel before the new type of operation can begin. 
The vessel would encounter a delay from fishing or processing while the 
original permit is mailed to NMFS and another delay while the new, 
original permit is mailed to the vessel.
    To address problems associated with the requirement to possess the 
original permit at all times when permitted activities are taking 
place, this action would (1) allow the permit holder to possess a 
legible copy of a valid permit in lieu of the original when and where 
permitted activities are taking place; (2) remove the requirement that 
a permit holder must submit the original permit to NMFS when 
surrendering the permit; and (3) remove the requirement that a permit 
holder must submit the original permit to NMFS when applying for a 
permit revision.
    This rulemaking would revise Sec.  679.4(b) and (f) and Sec.  679.7 
to allow a legible copy of a valid FFP or FPP to be maintained on board 
the vessel or on site at the facility, instead of the original permit. 
NMFS has determined that a legible copy is sufficient evidence that the 
vessel has the FFP or the plant has the FPP. This regulatory change 
would greatly simplify operations for permit holders and allow 
operations to commence or continue in short-term fisheries when FFPs or 
FPPs are revised. By changing this regulation, a permit holder may 
submit a permit revision application by fax and receive a revised 
permit by fax that can serve as a valid legible copy of the original 
permit. If a permit holder were required to wait to receive the 
original permit via mail, there may be costly delays before operations 
may resume.
    These proposed changes will not hamper enforcement. NMFS is able to 
determine if a particular person holds the necessary permit without the 
presence of an original permit. Specifically, NMFS staff process and 
complete issuance of FFPs and FPPs daily, and the original permit is 
mailed to the permit holder unless another method is requested. The 
current NMFS Web site listing of permits is updated daily to include 
the newly issued, revised, and surrendered permit information. This 
information is available for enforcement and compliance monitoring 
purposes to the United States Coast Guard boarding officers, NOAA 
Office of Law Enforcement personnel, and State of Alaska Enforcement 
personnel. Currently, enforcement officials use this listing to verify 
that a permit is current.

Action 3: Remove Unnecessary FFP and FPP Application Requirements From 
Regulation

    This action would remove text from Sec.  679.4(b) and Sec.  
679.4(f) that describes each data field in an FFP or FPP application 
form, specific instructions for completion of the application form, and 
specific address and contact information. NMFS has determined that it 
is unnecessary to specify this information in regulatory text because 
each FFP or FPP application form adequately specifies that information. 
For example, each application form contains complete instructions for 
submission, whether requesting an initial permit, amending a permit, or 
surrendering a permit.
    Although NMFS proposes to remove a substantial amount of 
unnecessary regulatory text, this rulemaking would add text to require 
that each FFP or FPP application form be completed with all information 
specified on the form, that all necessary documentation be attached, 
and that the application form be signed. This measure would enhance 
compliance with application form instructions and completion. The FFP 
and FPP applications are available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ram.
    Detailed application information, along with the FFP and FPP 
application forms that are required in regulations, are included in 
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) collections-of-information that are 
available to the general public on the NOAA PRA Web site (http://www.cio.noaa.gov/Policy_Programs/pra.html). The PRA collections-of-
information for the FFP and FPP application forms are described in OMB 
Control No. 0648-0206. The proposed action would allow NMFS to make 
minor revisions by changing the application form itself and describing 
the changes in the PRA analysis. Currently, to make even a minor change 
to the application form can, in some instances, require a change in the 
regulations. In those instances, NMFS must go through the process of 
proposed and final rulemaking, which can take several months or even 
years depending on rulemaking priorities. In addition, removal text 
describing that an applicant must provide name, address, and other 
contact information on the form, from the regulations may possibly 
reduce inconsistencies that may occur if submission or contact 
information on the application differs from that specified in the 
regulatory text.
    Moreover, removal of specific permit application information 
requirements from the regulatory text would simplify and reduce the 
number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations, the official 
government regulations publication. Fewer pages would reduce future 
costs of publication of regulations.

[[Page 21885]]

Action 4: Clarify the Circumstances Where an FFP Must Be Obtained and 
Held

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.4(b), the FFP is issued by NMFS and is 
required for vessels used to fish for groundfish in the GOA or BSAI, or 
that are required to retain any groundfish. These vessels include 
catcher vessels, catcher/processors, motherships, tender vessels 
(buying stations), and support vessels assisting other vessels in those 
fisheries.
    Section 679.4(b) would be amended to further clarify the 
circumstances under which a vessel owner or authorized representative 
must obtain an FFP. Paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) would be combined and 
revised. The term ``to fish'' would be replaced with ``to retain.'' The 
term ``that fishes'' would be replaced with ``engage in any fishery . . 
. that requires retention.'' The non-groundfish fisheries previously 
listed individually would be removed because the term ``non-groundfish 
fisheries'' incorporates all species that are not defined as 
groundfish. Next, regulatory text would be revised to state that 
retention of any groundfish by a vessel in the GOA or BSAI requires a 
legible copy of a valid FFP (instead of an original FFP) on board at 
all times.
    The proposed regulatory changes simplify and clarify the 
circumstances when a vessel must carry an FFP. These amendments would 
require reorganization of subparagraph (b). Paragraphs (b)(1) and 
(b)(2) would be combined as (b)(1) to describe circumstances where a 
person must obtain and hold an FFP. Paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) would 
be redesignated as paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3), respectively. NMFS 
would redesignate paragraph (b)(7), which states that a change or 
addition of a vessel operations category or any other endorsement on an 
FFP requires that an amended FFP must be on board the vessel before the 
new type of operation begins, as (b)(3)(iii)(D). Paragraph 
(b)(5)(vi)(B), which states that selections for species endorsements 
will remain valid until an FFP is amended, surrendered, or revoked, 
would be redesignated as (b)(3)(iii)(E). A new paragraph (b)(4) would 
be added to describe submission of the FFP application but would not 
specify the form's contents for the reasons explained above. Paragraph 
(b)(5), which sets-out the contents of the FFP application, would be 
removed. Paragraph (b)(6), which describes issuance of an FFP, would be 
redesignated as new (b)(5) and revised. Paragraph (b)(8), which states 
that an FFP is not transferable or assignable, would be redesignated as 
(b)(6). Paragraphs (b)(9)(i) and (b)(9)(ii) would be combined (with 
heading, Inspection), redesignated as (b)(7), and amended to state that 
a legible copy of a valid FFP (instead of an original FFP) must be on 
board the vessel and that this copy must be presented for inspection 
upon request.

Action 5: Minor Clarifications to FPP Regulations

    The FPP is issued by NMFS and is required for shoreside processors, 
SFPs (processing vessels that operate solely within Alaska State 
waters), and for CQE floating processors, each of whom receives and 
processes groundfish harvested in the GOA or BSAI. NMFS is proposing 
changes that would provide regulatory clarity to ensure that all 
processing is adequately monitored.
    Section 679.4(f) describes the FPP requirements and NMFS proposes 
several changes to these requirements. First, NMFS would revise 
paragraph (f)(1) to add particular processor activities that must be 
conducted with an FPP that are missing from existing text. An owner of 
a shoreside processor, SFP, or CQE floating processor must hold an FPP 
in order to purchase or arrange to purchase groundfish in addition to 
the requirement to hold it when receiving or processing groundfish. In 
many cases, persons neither receive nor process groundfish, but they do 
purchase groundfish or make purchase arrangements for others. Thus, 
NMFS proposes that paragraph (f)(1) be revised by replacing ``receive 
or process groundfish'' with ``receive, process, purchase, or arrange 
to purchase unprocessed groundfish.''
    Paragraph 679.4(f)(1) would be revised:
     By adding text stating that a processor may not be 
operated in a category other than as specified on the FPP. The 
processor categories are: Shoreside Processor, SFP, and CQE Floating 
Processor.
     By replacing ``stationary floating processor'' with 
``SFP'' and by replacing an incorrect cross-reference to paragraph 
(f)(2) with Sec.  679.2.
    Paragraph (f)(1) states that the FPP is issued without charge and 
paragraph (f)(2)(i) states that the FPP is not considered complete 
until all fees are paid. The fees in question are observer fees; if the 
required observer fees are not paid, the FPP will not be issued.
    Paragraph (f)(2) would be revised:
     By replacing ``amend or renew an FFP'' with ``amend, 
renew, or surrender an FPP.'' This amendment would capture all of the 
functions that may be accomplished by submitting an FPP application.
     By adding a heading ``Fees'' to newly redesignated 
(f)(2)(i) and then adding language to (f)(2)(i) identifying who is 
subject to the observer fee as specified at Sec.  679.55(c).
    Paragraph (f)(3) would be removed because it is unnecessary text. 
This paragraph states that a complete application will result in 
issuance of an FPP.
    Paragraph (f)(4) would be redesignated as (f)(3). Newly 
redesignated paragraph (f)(3)(ii)(A) would be revised by removing the 
third sentence, which is the NMFS/RAM contact information. New 
paragraph (f)(3)(ii)(B) would be added to state that an owner or 
authorized representative must submit an FPP application when 
surrendering an FPP.
    Newly redesignated paragraph (f)(3)(iii) would be redesignated as 
paragraph (f)(3)(iii)(A). Requirements from the FPP application would 
be codified and added as new paragraphs. Paragraph (f)(3)(iii)(B) would 
be added to describe the requirements of an SFP holding a GOA inshore 
processing endorsement on the FPP. Paragraph (f)(3)(iii)(C) would be 
added to describe the requirements of a vessel holding a CQE floating 
processor endorsement on the FPP.

Action 6: Other Corrections and Revisions

    Other corrections and revisions would be made to standardize, 
simplify, and clarify regulatory text. Specifically, this rulemaking 
would:
     Replace the incorrect spelling of ``onboard'' with ``on 
board'' and would replace the incorrect spelling of ``onsite'' with 
``on site.'' This rulemaking would remove ``Federal Fisheries Permit'' 
and replace it with ``FFP.'' In addition, this rulemaking would remove 
``Federal Processor Permit'' and replace it with ``FPP.''
     Highlight three general permit requirements at Sec.  
679.4(a) by adding descriptive headings to paragraphs (a)(3)(i) through 
(iii).
     Revise paragraph (a)(3)(iii) by removing the requirement 
to retain a copy of each permit application. This requirement was 
originally intended to protect the applicant when sending the original 
FFP or FPP to NMFS to obtain an amended permit. A copy of the 
application could be used to verify that a participant had a permit, if 
boarded by enforcement officials, when the original was sent to NMFS to 
amend the permit. Currently, NMFS maintains a permit data base on the 
NMFS Web site for use by enforcement officials to check on the

[[Page 21886]]

validity of any permit. Thus, the copy retention requirement is 
unnecessary.
     The term ``card'' would be removed from paragraph (a)(5) 
because NMFS no longer issues permit cards.
     Paragraph (a)(6) would be revised by replacing ``permitted 
processors'' with ``permitted harvesters and processors'' because NMFS 
maintains a list of permitted harvesters as well as processors on the 
NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The 
list of processors is useful for harvesters to identify who can legally 
accept their fish. As for the harvesters, this list is used as a 
resource by the USCG and Office of Law Enforcement who do not always 
have access to the NMFS database to check valid permits, but often have 
Internet access through smart phones or laptops. Posting the list of 
valid FFPs (harvesters) makes it easy for these law enforcement 
personnel to validate that vessel is currently permitted. Additionally, 
it is possible for processors to ascertain that they are accepting fish 
caught in Federal waters from a permitted vessel.
     Regulations currently specify that detailed contact 
information--name, address, telephone and fax numbers--must be provided 
in several PRA-approved forms. NMFS has determined that because the 
forms themselves request the information and provide instructions, 
regulatory text is unnecessary. Thus, NMFS proposes to remove the 
detailed contact information from the following paragraphs:

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Paragraph Identification                           Which describes surrender of . . . .
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Redesignated Sec.   679.4(b)(4)(ii)(A).....  An FFP.
Sec.   679.4(d)(1)(iii)....................  An IFQ Permit.
Sec.   679.4(d)(2)(iv).....................  An IFQ Hired Master Permit.
Sec.   679.4(d)(3)(vi).....................  A Registered Buyer Permit.
Sec.   679.4(e)(2).........................  A Halibut CDQ permit.
Sec.   679.4(e)(3).........................  A Halibut CDQ Hired Master Permit.
Redesignated Sec.   679.4(f)(3)(ii)(A).....  An FPP.
Sec.   679.4(g)(1)(ii).....................  A Scallop LLP license.
Sec.   679.4(k)(6)(x)......................  A Groundfish or Crab LLP.
Sec.   679.4(l)(5)(ii).....................  An AFA Inshore Processor Permit.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     In paragraph (b)(3)(iii)(A), the cross reference 
``(b)(4)(iii)(B)'' would be replaced with ``(b)(3)(iii)(B).''

Classification

    Pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the BSAI FMP, the GOA FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    A regulatory impact review (RIR) was prepared for this action that 
assesses all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives. 
The RIR describes the potential size, distribution, and magnitude of 
the economic impacts that this action may be expected to have. The RIR 
finds that this action has a positive net social impact since it 
reduces the administrative burden and cost to groundfish fishing 
operations of compliance with FFP regulatory requirements. This action 
does not create additional administrative costs and does not impose new 
requirements, nor does it modify existing requirements, on fishing 
operations.
    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, 
would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is 
being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in 
the Background and Need for Action section and in the SUMMARY section 
of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this 
analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry 
sectors in the United States, including fish harvesting and fish 
processing businesses. Effective July 22, 2013, a business involved in 
finfish or shellfish harvesting is a small business if it is 
independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of 
operation (including its affiliates), and if it has combined annual 
receipts not in excess of $19.0 million for all its affiliated 
operations worldwide in the case of a finfish business, and $5.0 
million in the case of a shellfish business. A seafood processor is a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant 
in its field of operation (including its affiliates) and employs 500 or 
fewer persons, on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or other basis, at 
all its affiliated operations worldwide. A business involved in both 
the harvesting and processing of finfish products is a small business 
if it meets the $19 million criterion for finfish harvesting operations 
or of $5 million for shellfish harvesting operations. A wholesale 
business servicing the fishing industry is a small business if it 
employs 100 or fewer persons on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or 
other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide.
    Because this action directly regulates entities carrying groundfish 
FFPs, the finfish standard of $19 million was used to estimate the 
numbers of large and small catcher vessels and catcher/processors. The 
categories for support and tender vessels, motherships, shoreside 
floating processors, and shoreside processors, have been evaluated with 
respect to the 500 person employment processing standard and by 
affiliations with firms meeting that standard. For all categories, the 
number of small entities may be larger if there are relevant 
affiliations (e.g., joint ownership, contractual agreements) between 
firms of which NMFS is unaware. The numbers of directly regulated small 
entities and presented in the table below.

[[Page 21887]]



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Total number      Number of      Notes on methods used to estimate the
            Class of entity               of entities   small entities          number of small entities
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher vessels.......................             931             814  Groundfish catcher vessels (CVs). The
                                                                         number of small entities has been
                                                                         estimated by counting the number of
                                                                         vessels with annual gross revenues
                                                                         under $19 million, from all fishing
                                                                         sources off of Alaska and the U.S.
                                                                         Pacific West Coast, and by accounting
                                                                         for cooperative, and some corporate,
                                                                         affiliations. Analysis is based on 2012
                                                                         data. The 814 small catcher vessel
                                                                         entities had median gross revenues of
                                                                         about $293,000.
Catcher/..............................              78              10  Groundfish catcher/processors (CPs). In
processors............................                                   2012, there were 88 groundfish CPs with
                                                                         FFPs. Only 10 of these were small
                                                                         entities after taking account of vessel
                                                                         gross revenues, cooperative, and some
                                                                         corporate, affiliations. These ten
                                                                         vessels had median gross revenues of
                                                                         about $1.8 million.
Fishing vessels without groundfish                 185             151  185 vessels carried Groundfish FFPs, but
 revenues.                                                               did not have groundfish revenue in
                                                                         2012. Groundfish fishing activity is
                                                                         required to classify these as catcher/
                                                                         processors or catcher vessels. These
                                                                         vessels did, however, have non-
                                                                         groundfish fishing revenues. 151 were
                                                                         small (using the finfish revenue
                                                                         standard, as this action pertains to
                                                                         the direct regulation of groundfish
                                                                         FFPs) after taking account of vessel
                                                                         gross revenues, cooperative, and some
                                                                         corporate, affiliations. These small
                                                                         vessels had median gross revenues from
                                                                         all fishing sources of about $54,000.
Support and Tender Vessels (without                 26              24  In 2012, 171 vessels carried FFPs
 fishing revenues).                                                      endorsed for support or tender
                                                                         operations. Of these, 45 did not have
                                                                         fishing revenues. Vessels with fishing
                                                                         revenues have been covered under the
                                                                         categories above. NMFS estimates that
                                                                         these vessels were owned by 26 separate
                                                                         business entities, of which 2 were
                                                                         large on the basis of identifiable
                                                                         affiliation with large processing
                                                                         companies.
Motherships...........................               2               0  AFA pollock motherships (MS). In recent
                                                                         years, there have been three AFA
                                                                         pollock motherships, with ownership
                                                                         apparently divided between two firms.
                                                                         These are considered to be large
                                                                         entities, due to their affiliations
                                                                         with large processing firms.
Shoreside floating processors.........               6               4  Groundfish shoreside floating processors
                                                                         (SFPs): In 2012, 13 vessels carried
                                                                         FPPs to operate as SFPs. Based on a
                                                                         staff review of the primary owners,
                                                                         NMFS estimates that these were owned by
                                                                         six firms, four of which were small.
Groundfish shoreside processors.......              66              60  Groundfish shoreside processors. In
                                                                         2012, 99 plants carried FPPs. Based on
                                                                         a staff review of the primary owners,
                                                                         NMFS estimates that these were owned by
                                                                         66 separate firms, 60 of which were
                                                                         small.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The preferred alternative for this action accomplishes the 
objectives of the action, and relieves recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements on small entities; this alternative has no adverse impacts 
on any directly regulated small entities. This action will provide 
greater efficiency, flexibility, and clarity to fishing and processing 
operations concerning FFP and FPP requirements. The FFP is the basic 
vessel permit for groundfish in the EEZ off Alaska; other vessel 
permits may be required in addition to the FFP. The FPP is the basic 
shoreside permit for groundfish receiving fish harvested in the EEZ off 
Alaska. If NMFS did not issue the FFP and FPP, the entire Alaska 
permitting system would fail. It would not be possible to carry out the 
mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other laws if approval to 
continue these previously approved collections were to be denied.
    The revised processes would address FFP and FPP application 
submission, approval, surrender, revision, and receipt, as well as use 
of these permits. The revisions would benefit the fisheries 
participants by reducing the time, expense, and administrative effort 
associated with submitting permit requests to NMFS. Instead of an 
original FFP or FPP, a current, legible copy of an FFP or FPP would be 
acceptable when fishing and/or processing groundfish. Instead of 
returning an original FFP or FPP to NMFS to revise or to surrender a 
permit, an application would notify NMFS of the requested change. 
Regulations regarding the FFP and FPP would be clarified, including who 
needs to have an FFP or FPP. The removal of detailed FFP and FPP 
application requirements and contact information from regulations would 
reduce the industry costs of complying with permitting regulations and 
would reduce NMFS' administrative costs of maintaining and updating 
applications.
    No other alternatives were considered/analyzed because there is no 
alternative that accomplishes the objectives of this proposed rule and 
places a smaller burden on directly regulated small entities. This 
proposed action would not impose adverse economic impacts on small 
entities, as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA).
    The analysis revealed no Federal rules that would conflict with, 
overlap, or be duplicated by the alternatives under consideration.
    This regulation does not impose new recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements on the regulated small entities. The professional skills 
necessary to prepare the reporting and recordkeeping requirements under 
this proposed rule include the ability to read, write, and understand 
English; the ability to use a computer and the Internet; and the 
authority to take actions on behalf of an entity.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This rulemaking contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which have been 
approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control 
number 0648-0206. Public reporting burden is estimated to average per 
response: 21 minutes for Application for Federal fisheries permit (FFP) 
and 21 minutes for Application for Federal processor permit (FPP).
    These estimates include the time for reviewing instructions, 
searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data 
needed, and completing and reviewing the collection-of-information.
    Send comments 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.

[[Page 21888]]

    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, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

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

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

0
1. The authority citation for part 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.  679.4,
0
a. Remove paragraphs (b)(2), (5), and (7); and (f)(3);
0
b. Redesignate paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) as (b)(2) and (b)(3), 
respectively; (b)(6) as (b)(5); (b)(8) and (b)(9) as (b)(6) and (b)(7), 
respectively; (f)(4) through (f)(6) as (f)(3) through (f)(5), 
respectively;
0
c. Revise paragraphs (a)(3)(iii); (a)(6); (a)(9); (b)(1); (d)(1)(iii); 
(d)(2)(iv); (d)(3)(vi); (e)(2) and(3); (f)(1) and (2); (g)(1)(ii); 
(k)(6)(x); and (l)(5)(ii);
0
d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(2); (b)(3)(ii)(A), (B), and 
(C); (b)(3)(iii)(A); (b)(5), (6), and (7); (f)(3)(ii) and (iii); and 
(f)(4) and (5);
0
d. Add paragraph headings for paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (ii); and
0
e. Add paragraphs (b)(3)(ii)(D); (b)(3)(iii)(D) and (E); and (b)(4).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  679.4  Permits.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Obtain and submit an application. * * *
    (ii) Deficient application. * * *
    (iii) Separate permit. The operator, manager, Registered Buyer, or 
Registered Crab Receiver must obtain a separate permit for each 
applicant, facility, or vessel, as appropriate to each Federal permit 
in this section.
* * * * *
    (6) Disclosure. NMFS will maintain a list of permitted harvesters 
and processors that may be disclosed for public inspection.
* * * * *
    (9) Permit surrender. (i) The Regional Administrator will recognize 
the voluntary surrender of a permit issued in this section, if a permit 
may be surrendered and if it is submitted by the person named on the 
permit, owner of record, or authorized representative.
    (ii) Submit the original permit, except for an FFP or an FPP, to 
NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. For surrender of an FFP and 
FPP, respectively, refer to paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) and (f)(3)(ii) of 
this section.
    (iii) Objective written evidence is considered proof of a timely 
application. The responsibility remains with the sender to prove when 
the application form to amend or to surrender a permit was received by 
NMFS (i.e., by certified mail or other method that provides written 
evidence that NMFS Alaska Region received it).
    (iv) For application forms delivered by hand delivery or carrier 
only, the receiving date of signature by NMFS staff is the date the 
application form was received. If the application form is submitted by 
fax or mail, the receiving date of the application form is the date 
stamped received by NMFS.
    (b) * * *
    (1) Requirements. (i) No vessel of the United States may be used to 
retain groundfish in the GOA or BSAI or engage in any fishery in the 
GOA or BSAI that requires retention of groundfish, unless the owner or 
authorized representative first obtains an FFP for the vessel, issued 
under this part. An FFP is issued without charge.
    (ii) Each vessel within the GOA or BSAI that retains groundfish 
must have a legible copy of a valid FFP on board at all times.
    (2) Vessel operations categories. An FFP authorizes a vessel owner 
or authorized representative to deploy a vessel to conduct operations 
in the GOA or BSAI under the following categories: Catcher vessel, 
catcher/processor, mothership, tender vessel, or support vessel. A 
vessel may not be operated in a category other than as specified on the 
FFP, except that a catcher vessel, catcher/processor, mothership, or 
tender vessel may be operated as a support vessel.
    (3) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) An FFP may be voluntarily surrendered in accordance with 
paragraph (a)(9) of this section. Except as provided under paragraphs 
(b)(3)(ii)(B) and (C) of this section, if surrendered, an FFP may be 
reissued in the same fishing year in which it was surrendered.
    (B) For the BSAI, NMFS will not reissue a surrendered FFP to the 
owner or authorized representative of a vessel named on an FFP that has 
been issued with the following combination of endorsements: Catcher/
processor vessel operation type, pot and/or hook-and-line gear type, 
and the BSAI area, until after the expiration date of the surrendered 
FFP.
    (C) For the GOA, NMFS will not reissue a surrendered FFP to the 
owner or authorized representative of a vessel named on an FFP that has 
been issued a GOA area endorsement and any combination of endorsements 
for catcher/processor operation type, catcher vessel operation type, 
trawl gear type, hook-and-line gear type, pot gear type, and/or jig 
gear type until after the expiration date of the surrendered FFP.
    (D) An owner or authorized representative, who applied for and 
received an FFP, must notify NMFS of the intention to surrender the FFP 
by submitting an FFP application found at the NMFS Web site at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov and indicating on the application that 
surrender of the permit is requested. Upon receipt and processing of an 
FFP surrender application, NMFS will withdraw the FFP from active 
status in the FFP data bases.
    (iii) * * *
    (A) An owner or authorized representative who applied for and 
received an FFP, must notify NMFS of any change in the permit 
information by submitting an FFP application found at the NMFS Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The owner or authorized 
representative must submit the application form as instructed on the 
form. Except as provided under paragraphs (b)(3)(iii)(B) and (C) of 
this section, upon receipt and approval of an application form for 
permit amendment, NMFS will issue an amended FFP.
* * * * *
    (D) If the application for an amended FFP required under this 
section designates a change or addition of a vessel operations category 
or any other endorsement, a legible copy of the valid, amended FFP must 
be on board the vessel before the new type of operation begins.
    (E) Selections for species endorsements will remain valid until an 
FFP is amended to remove those endorsements or the FFP with these 
endorsements is surrendered or revoked.
    (4) Submittal of application. NMFS will process a request for an 
FFP

[[Page 21889]]

provided that the application form contains the information specified 
on the form, with all required fields accurately completed and all 
required documentation attached. This application form must be 
submitted to NMFS using the methods described on the form. The vessel 
owner must sign and date the application form certifying that all 
information is true, correct, and complete. If the owner is not an 
individual, the authorized representative must sign and date the 
application form. An application form for an FFP will be provided by 
NMFS or is available from NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The acceptable submittal methods will be 
described on the application form.
    (5) Issuance. (i) Except as provided in subpart D of 15 CFR part 
904, upon receipt of a properly completed permit application, the 
Regional Administrator will issue an FFP required by this paragraph 
(b).
    (ii) The Regional Administrator will send an FFP with the 
appropriate logbooks to the owner or authorized representative, as 
provided under Sec.  679.5.
    (iii) NMFS will reissue an FFP to the owner or authorized 
representative who holds an FFP issued for a vessel if that vessel is 
subject to sideboard provisions as described under Sec.  679.82(d) 
through (f).
    (iv) NMFS will reissue an FFP to the owner or authorized 
representative who holds an FFP issued to an Amendment 80 vessel.
    (6) Transfer. An FFP issued under this paragraph (b) is not 
transferable or assignable and is valid only for the vessel for which 
it is issued.
    (7) Inspection. A legible copy of a valid FFP issued under this 
paragraph (b) must be carried on board the vessel at all times 
operations are conducted under this type of permit and must be 
presented for inspection upon the request of any authorized officer.
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) An IFQ permit may be voluntarily surrendered in accordance 
with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. An annual IFQ permit will not be 
reissued in the same fishing year in which it was surrendered, but a 
new annual IFQ permit may be issued to the quota share holder of record 
in a subsequent fishing year.
    (2) * * *
    (iv) An IFQ hired master permit may be voluntarily surrendered in 
accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. An IFQ hired master 
permit may be reissued to the permit holder of record in the same 
fishing year in which it was surrendered.
    (3) * * *
    (vi) A Registered Buyer permit may be voluntarily surrendered in 
accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. A Registered Buyer 
permit may be reissued to the permit holder of record in the same 
fishing year in which it was surrendered.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (2) Halibut CDQ permit. The CDQ group must obtain a halibut CDQ 
permit issued by the Regional Administrator. The vessel operator must 
have a legible copy of a halibut CDQ permit on any fishing vessel 
operated by, or for, a CDQ group that will have halibut CDQ on board 
and must make the permit available for inspection by an authorized 
officer. A halibut CDQ permit is non-transferable and is issued 
annually until revoked, suspended, surrendered, or modified. A halibut 
CDQ permit may be voluntarily surrendered in accordance with paragraph 
(a)(9) of this section. A halibut CDQ permit will not be reissued in 
the same fishing year in which it was surrendered, but a new annual 
halibut CDQ permit may be issued in a subsequent fishing year to the 
CDQ group entitled to a CDQ halibut allocation.
    (3) An individual must have on board the vessel a legible copy of 
his or her halibut CDQ hired master permit issued by the Regional 
Administrator while harvesting and landing any CDQ halibut. Each 
halibut CDQ hired master permit will identify a CDQ permit number and 
the individual authorized by the CDQ group to land halibut for debit 
against the CDQ group's halibut CDQ. A halibut CDQ hired master permit 
may be voluntarily surrendered in accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of 
this section. A halibut CDQ hired master permit may be reissued to the 
permit holder of record in the same fishing year in which it was 
surrendered.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) Requirement. No shoreside processor of the United States, SFP, 
or CQE floating processor defined at Sec.  679.2 may receive, process, 
purchase, or arrange to purchase unprocessed groundfish harvested in 
the GOA or BSAI, unless the owner or authorized representative first 
obtains an FPP issued under this part. A processor may not be operated 
in a category other than as specified on the FPP. An FPP is issued 
without charge.
    (2) FPP application. To obtain, amend, renew, or surrender an FPP, 
the owner or authorized representative must complete an FPP application 
form per the instructions at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    (i) Fees. For the FPP application to be considered complete, all 
fees due to NMFS from the owner or authorized representative of a 
shoreside processor or SFP or person named on a Registered Buyer permit 
subject to the observer fee as specified at Sec.  679.55(c) at the time 
of application must be paid.
    (ii) Signature. The owner or authorized representative of the 
shoreside processor, SFP, or CQE floating processor must sign and date 
the application form, certifying that all information is true, correct, 
and complete to the best of his/her knowledge and belief. If the 
application form is completed by an authorized representative, proof of 
authorization must accompany the application form.
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Surrendered permit. (A) An FPP may be voluntarily surrendered 
in accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. An FPP may be 
reissued to the permit holder of record in the same fishing year in 
which it was surrendered.
    (B) An owner or authorized representative, who applied for and 
received an FPP, must notify NMFS of the intention to surrender the FPP 
by submitting an FPP application form found at the NMFS Web site at 
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov and indicating on the application form 
that surrender of the FPP is requested. Upon receipt and processing of 
an FPP surrender application form, NMFS will withdraw the FPP from 
active status in permit data bases.
    (iii) Amended permit--(A) Requirement. An owner or authorized 
representative, who applied for and received an FPP, must notify NMFS 
of any change in the permit information by submitting an FPP 
application form found at the NMFS Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The owner or authorized representative must 
submit the application form as instructed on the form. Upon receipt and 
approval of an FPP amendment application form, NMFS will issue an 
amended FPP.
    (B) GOA Inshore Processing endorsement. A GOA inshore processing 
endorsement is required in order to process GOA inshore pollock and 
Eastern GOA inshore Pacific cod. If an SFP owner or authorized 
representative holds an FPP with a GOA Inshore Processing endorsement, 
the SFP is prohibited from processing GOA pollock and GOA Pacific cod 
in more

[[Page 21890]]

than one single geographic location during a fishing year and is also 
prohibited from operating as a catcher/processor in the BSAI. Once 
issued, a GOA Inshore Processing endorsement cannot be surrendered for 
the duration of a fishing year.
    (C) CQE Floating Processor endorsement. If a vessel owner or 
authorized representative holds an FPP with a GOA Inshore Processing 
endorsement in order to process Pacific cod within the marine municipal 
boundaries of CQE communities in the Western or Central GOA, the vessel 
must not meet the definition of an SFP and must not have harvested 
groundfish off Alaska in the same calendar year. Vessels are prohibited 
from holding both a GOA CQE Floating Processor endorsement and a GOA 
SFP endorsement during the same calendar year.
    (4) Transfer. An FPP issued under this paragraph (f) is not 
transferable or assignable and is valid only for the processor for 
which it is issued.
    (5) Inspection. A legible copy of a valid FPP issued under this 
paragraph (f) must be on site at the shoreside processor, SFP, or CQE 
floating processor at all times and must be presented for inspection 
upon the request of any authorized officer.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) A scallop LLP license may be voluntarily surrendered in 
accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this section. A surrendered scallop 
LLP license will cease to exist and will not be subsequently reissued.
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (6) * * *
    (x) Surrender of groundfish or crab LLP. A groundfish or crab LLP 
license may be voluntarily surrendered in accordance with paragraph 
(a)(9) of this section. A surrendered groundfish or crab LLP license 
will cease to exist and will not be subsequently reissued.
* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) Surrender of permit. An AFA inshore processor permit may be 
voluntarily surrendered in accordance with paragraph (a)(9) of this 
section. The AFA inshore processor permit will not be reissued in the 
same fishing year in which it was surrendered, but may be reapplied for 
and if approved, reissued to the permit holder of record in a 
subsequent fishing year.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  679.7, revise paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(7)(i), and (a)(15) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  679.7  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP). (i) Fish for groundfish in the 
BSAI or GOA with a vessel of the United States that does not have on 
board a legible copy of a valid FFP issued under Sec.  679.4.
    (ii) Conduct directed fishing for Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, or 
pollock with pot, hook- and-line, or trawl gear from a vessel of the 
United States that does not have on board a legible copy of a valid FFP 
issued under Sec.  679.4 and endorsed for Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, 
or pollock under Sec.  679.4(b).
* * * * *
    (7) Inshore/offshore. (i) Operate a vessel in the ``inshore 
component in the GOA'' as defined in Sec.  679.2 without a valid 
Inshore Processing endorsement on the vessel's FFP or FPP.
* * * * *
    (15) Federal processor permit (FPP). (i) Receive, purchase or 
arrange for purchase, discard, or process groundfish harvested in the 
GOA or BSAI by a shoreside processor or SFP and in the Western and 
Central GOA regulatory areas, including Federal reporting areas 610, 
620, and 630, that does not have on site a legible copy of a valid FPP 
issued pursuant to Sec.  679.4(f).
    (ii) Receive, purchase or arrange for purchase, discard, or process 
groundfish harvested in the GOA by a CQE floating processor that does 
not have on site a legible copy of a valid FPP issued pursuant to Sec.  
679.4(f).
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2014-08600 Filed 4-17-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P