[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 77 (Tuesday, April 22, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22449-22453]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-09180]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 131203999-4326-02]
RIN 0648-XD020


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

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement an annual catch limit 
(ACL), harvest guideline (HG), annual catch target (ACT), and 
associated annual reference points for Pacific sardine in the U.S. 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for a one-time 
interim harvest period of January 1, 2014, through June 30, 2014, and 
to set annual harvest levels, such as overfishing limit (OFL), 
acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), for 
Pacific sardine for the whole calendar year 2014. These specifications 
were determined according to the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP), and reflect the recent 6-month change to the 
starting date of the annual Pacific sardine fishery from January 1 to 
July 1. The 2014 ACT or maximum directed HG is 19,846 (mt). Based on 
the seasonal allocation framework in the FMP, this equates to a first 
period (January 1 to June 30) allocation of 6,946 mt (35% of ACT). This 
rule also establishes an adjusted directed non-tribal harvest 
allocation for this period of 5,446 mt. This value was reduced from the 
total first period allocation by 1000 mt for potential harvest by the 
Quinault Indian Nation as well as 500 mt to be used as an incidental 
set aside for other non-tribal commercial fisheries if the 5,446 mt 
limit is reached and directed fishing for sardine is closed. This rule 
is intended to conserve and manage the Pacific sardine stock off the 
U.S. West Coast.

DATES: Effective April 22, 2014 through June 30, 2014.

ADDRESSES: West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, 
Long Beach, CA 90802.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: During public meetings each year, the 
estimated biomass for Pacific sardine is presented to the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's (Council) CPS Management Team (Team), the 
Council's CPS Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel) and the Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the biomass and the status of the 
fisheries are reviewed and discussed. The biomass estimate is then 
presented to the Council along with the calculated OFL, ABC, ACL and 
HG, along with recommendations and comments from the Team, Subpanel and 
SSC. Following review by the Council and after hearing public comment, 
the Council adopts a biomass estimate and makes its catch level 
recommendations to NMFS. Each year NMFS then implements regulations 
that set the annual quota for the Pacific sardine fishing year that 
currently begins January 1 and ends December 31.
    However, on February 28, 2014, NMFS published a final rule (79 FR 
11343) to change the start date of the 12-month Pacific sardine fishery 
from January 1 to July 1, thus changing the fishing season from one 
based on the calendar year to a fishing year that will begin on July 1 
and extend till the following June 30, as well as establish a one-time 
interim harvest period for the 6 months from January 1, 2014, through 
June 30, 2014. The purpose of this change is to better align the timing 
of the research and science that is used in the annual stock 
assessments with the annual management schedule. As a result of this 
action, the start of the next complete fishing season will begin on

[[Page 22450]]

July 1, 2014, and extend through June 30, 2015. Because the 2013 
fishing season ended on December 31, 2013, it is necessary to implement 
interim management measures and harvest specifications for the period 
January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014, to allow for fishing opportunities to 
continue during a transition from the current start of the fishing 
season to the new start on July 1. The purpose of this final rule is to 
implement the quota for the January 2014 through June 2014 period, as 
well as the other annual harvest levels (OFL, ABC and ACL) for the 
whole calendar year 2014, with the expectation that the annual harvest 
levels will be replaced for the new fishing year, beginning in July 
2014, based on a new stock assessment and Council action in April 2014. 
The Council is scheduled to address sardine management for the next 
complete year (July 1 to June 30) at its April 2014 meeting.
    The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set 
these annual catch levels for the Pacific sardine fishery based on the 
annual specification framework in the FMP. This framework includes a 
harvest control rule that determines the maximum HG, the primary 
management target for the fishery, for the current fishing season. The 
HG is based, in large part, on the current estimate of stock biomass. 
The harvest control rule in the CPS FMP is HG = [(Biomass -CUTOFF) * 
FRACTION * DISTRIBUTION] with the parameters described as follows:
    1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific sardine age one 
and above.
    2. CUTOFF. This is the biomass level below which no commercial 
fishery is allowed. The FMP established this level at 150,000 mt.
    3. DISTRIBUTION. The average portion throughout the year of the 
Pacific sardine biomass estimated to occur in the EEZ off the Pacific 
coast in any given year. The FMP established this level at is 87 
percent.
    4. FRACTION. The harvest fraction is the percentage of the biomass 
above 150,000 mt that may be harvested.
    At the November 2013 Council meeting, the Council adopted a report 
completed by NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center providing a 
biomass projection estimate for Pacific sardine of 378,120 mt. This 
report and the resulting biomass estimate were endorsed by the 
Council's SSC as the best available information on the stock status. 
Based on recommendations from its SSC and other advisory bodies, the 
Council recommended and NMFS is implementing an OFL of 59,214 metric 
tons (mt), an ABC of 54,052 mt, an ACL of 54,052 mt (equal to the ABC), 
and a HG of 29,770. The current 2014 biomass estimate represents a 42 
percent decrease from the updated stock assessment previously adopted 
by the Council in November, 2012. This current biomass estimate is 
based on a catch-only projection model that included updated catches 
from 2012 and 2013, but did not include other fishery or survey data 
collected over the past year. New data will, however, be incorporated 
in the next full assessment that will serve as the basis for the 
complete 12-month fishery management cycle beginning July 1, 2014.
    The Council also adopted and NMFS is implementing an ACT or maximum 
directed HG of 19,846 (mt) as the maximum harvest level from which to 
calculate the first period allocation. Based the seasonal allocation 
framework in the FMP, this equates to a January 1 to June 30 allocation 
of 6,946 mt (35% of HG/ACT). The Council then adopted and NMFS is 
implementing an adjusted non-tribal harvest allocation for this period 
of 5,946 mt. This number has been reduced from the total allocation for 
this period by 1,000 mt for potential harvest by the Quinault Indian 
Nation. A 500 mt incidental catch set aside is also being established 
for this period, leaving 5,446 mt as the non-tribal directed fishing 
allocation for the period of January 1, 2014, through June 30, 2014. 
The purpose of the incidental set-aside allotment and allowance of an 
incidental catch-only fishery is to allow for the restricted incidental 
landings of Pacific sardine in other fisheries, particularly other CPS 
fisheries, when a seasonal directed fishery is closed to reduce bycatch 
and allow for continued prosecution of other important CPS fisheries. 
If during this period the directed harvest allocation is projected to 
be taken, fishing would be closed to directed harvest and only 
incidental harvest would be allowed. For the remainder of the period, 
any incidental Pacific sardine landings would be counted against that 
period's incidental set-aside. As an additional accountability measure, 
the incidental fishery would also be constrained to a 40 percent by 
weight incidental catch rate when Pacific sardine are landed with other 
CPS so as to minimize the targeting of Pacific sardine and reduce 
potential discard of sardine. In the event that an incidental set-aside 
is projected to be attained, the incidental fishery will be closed for 
the remainder of the period. If the total January 1 to June 30 
allocation of Pacific sardine is reached or is expected to be reached, 
the Pacific sardine fishery will be closed until it re-opens at the 
beginning of the next fishing season.
    As explained in the proposed rule, 1,000 mt of the HG is being set 
aside for use by the Quinault Indian Nation. NMFS will consult with 
Quinault Department of Fisheries staff and Quinault Fisheries Policy 
representatives prior to the end of the allocation period to determine 
whether any part of this set-aside is available for transfer into the 
non-tribal directed fishery.
    The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator will publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing the date of any closure to either 
directed or incidental fishing. Additionally, to ensure the regulated 
community is informed of any closure, NMFS will also make announcements 
through other means available, including fax, email, and mail to 
fishermen, processors, and state fishery management agencies.
    On February 4, 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule for this action 
and solicited public comments (79 FR 6527). NMFS received one comment--
explained below--regarding the proposed interim Pacific sardine 
specifications. The rule was not changed as a result of the comment; 
the final rule is the same as proposed.
    Comment: The commenter requested that NMFS disapprove the proposed 
action and take emergency action to close the sardine fishery. The 
commenter states closing the fishery is necessary because certain 
parameters of the harvest control rules (such as the FRACTION parameter 
in the HG rule and sigma value used to calculate the ABC) used to 
determine the proposed quotas are flawed and/or are not based on best 
available information. Additionally, based on the commenter's opinion, 
the stock has fallen to a level requiring the fishing to be closed to 
allow the stock to recover to some higher level.
    Response: The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS 
to set an OFL, ABC, ACL and HG for the Pacific sardine fishery using 
the control rules set in the FMP. Reconsideration of the existing 
control rules and their parameters is beyond the scope of this 
rulemaking. Additionally, as explained in the preamble to this rule, 
the annual harvest reference points being established by this rule 
(OFL, ABC, ACL) are temporary, and will be replaced when complete year 
(12-month) sardine management (July 1 to June 30) is addressed in a 
subsequent rulemaking in late Spring 2014.
    With regard to the parameters of the harvest control rules, the 
commenter specifically calls into question the

[[Page 22451]]

calculation of the FRACTION parameter as well as the determination of 
scientific uncertainty by the Council's SSC used in the calculation of 
the ABC. NMFS will respond to some aspects of the comment that relate 
to the control rules, such as these two items. However, in addition to 
responding to the comments about the calculation of the FRACTION 
parameter and the sigma value, for information purposes only, NMFS will 
respond to some aspects of the comments that are beyond the scope of 
this action, such as the CUTOFF and status of the sardine stock, as 
well as some of the more general comments relating to optimum yield, 
overfishing and concerns regarding forage for other species.
    Contrary to the opinion of the commenter, the interim 2014 Pacific 
sardine ACL, HG, and associated annual reference points are based on 
the best available science. As explained above under SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION, this year's biomass estimate used for these interim 
specifications went through scientific review, and along with the 
resulting OFL and ABC, was endorsed by the SSC and NMFS as the best 
available science.
    Due to past shifts in sardine productivity being linked with warm 
or cold ocean regimes, the CPS FMP currently uses a correlation between 
sea surface temperature measured at the Scripps Institution of 
Oceanography (SIO) pier and sardine productivity to determine the 
FRACTION parameter of the HG rule. NMFS recognizes that the management 
regime is likely transitioning to a new temperature index generated 
through the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations as 
well as a new temperature-recruit relationship for use in annually 
calculating the FRACTION component of the HG control rule. The 
rationale for this revision being that this new method of measuring 
temperature is a better predictor of sardine recruitment variability 
than the previous relationship based on temperatures at SIO. However, 
only when and if the Council process, subsequent NMFS review, and 
implementation processes for the revised FRACTION calculation are 
completed, the current control rule remains the best available science 
for setting harvest levels for Pacific sardine.
    Also specific to the values used in the harvest control rules for 
this interim period the commenter questions the quantification of 
scientific uncertainty, or ``sigma'' value, used in the ABC control. 
This sigma value, the scientific uncertainty associated with estimating 
the OFL, is quantified annually by the Council's SSC based upon the 
best available data. Therefore although, as suggested by the commenter, 
this value may not encompass all possible sources of uncertainty in the 
OFL, NMFS believes that this determination by the SSC represents the 
best available information for calculating the ABC.
    Beyond the specific comments regarding the HG FRACTION and the 
sigma value, the commenter also states that sardine management overall 
is not achieving OY, not preventing overfishing and directly impacting 
predators of Pacific sardine by removing their prey source. With regard 
to OY, as described in the FMP, catch levels determined from the HG 
formula will result in OY. The interim 2014 HG (i.e., the basis for the 
directed fishing management target for this period) was determined 
using this HG formula. The Council then recommended a lower ACT or 
maximum directed HG as the maximum harvest level from which to 
calculate the first period allocation. Directed commercial fishing is 
not allowed above this level and management measures are in place to 
prevent the fishery from exceeding the limit based on in-season catch 
monitoring, in-season closures and incidental catch set-asides. As it 
relates to overfishing, the interim 2014 ACT catch level is 
approximately 40,000 mt below the interim 2014 OFL, providing a large 
buffer against overfishing. Additionally, due to a similar buffer in 
2013, total catch for the 2013 fishing season was approximately 40,000 
mt lower than the OFL, therefore contrary to the statement made by the 
commenter, overfishing did not occur in 2013. These lower HGs are the 
result of OY considerations, including ecological, and the management 
strategy in the CPS FMP that establishes catch levels much lower than 
is needed to simply avoid overfishing or because of a risk of exceeding 
the ABC/ACL due to management uncertainty. These considerations and 
precautions are based on the environmentally driven dynamic nature of 
the Pacific sardine stock as well as its importance in the ecosystem as 
forage for other species. Therefore sardine management is intended to 
be more conservative than other MSY-based management strategies (OFL/
ABC), because the focus for CPS management is oriented primarily 
towards biomass versus catch, leaving adequate forage in the ocean and 
maintaining long-term, consistent catch levels for industry. 
Highlighting the fact that current management puts a higher emphasis on 
maintaining biomass versus maximizing catch, the calculated HG for the 
2014 interim period only equates to approximately four percent of the 
estimated biomass. Although the commenter cites mortality events and 
breeding failures of certain marine mammals and seabirds over recent 
years, no evidence is provided that links these circumstances with lack 
of prey due to fishing on sardine and in some cases whether they were 
linked to the status of the sardine stock on the whole.
    With regard to overall sardine stock status, the HG control rule 
explicitly protects the stock from approaching an overfished condition 
(while explicitly reducing fishing if biomass decreases) through the 
use of a 150,000 mt CUTOFF parameter (level at which fishing is 
prohibited), which is three times the biomass at which the stock is 
considered overfished (50,000 mt). Although not the subject of this 
rulemaking, the commenter questions the values used for the CUTOFF 
parameter as well as the FMP's designation of 50,000 mt as the 
overfished level, as reflected in their assertion that the stock has 
fallen to a level that requires ``recovery.'' NMFS notes that the use 
of a CUTOFF parameter is not a requirement of the MSA or National 
Standard Guidelines; rather, it is a proactive and precautionary policy 
choice of the council and NMFS to use such an explicit mechanism in the 
control rule to prevent the fishery from causing the stock to approach 
the level that would be considered overfished. With regard to the 
overfished level, it represents the best available science and is the 
stock size level from which, on average, the stock would be expected to 
rebuild in ten years. Additionally, low biomass conditions for Pacific 
sardine may result from overfishing, unfavorable environmental 
conditions, or both acting in concert. Experience with CPS stocks 
around the world indicates that overfished/low biomass conditions 
usually occur when unfavorable environmental conditions and high 
fishing mortality rates occur at the same time. Management measures for 
sardine do not, however, depend on whether a low biomass condition was 
due to excess fishing or unfavorable environmental conditions, because 
reductions in fishing mortality are required in either case.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the Assistant Administrator, NMFS, has 
determined that this final rule is consistent with the CPS FMP, other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens

[[Page 22452]]

Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable law.
    NMFS finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness for the establishment of these interim harvest 
specifications for the 2014 Pacific sardine fishing season. For the 
reasons set forth below, a reduction in the delay in effectiveness of 
this measure is necessary for the conservation and management of the 
Pacific sardine resource. This rule establishes the ability to restrict 
fishing when the directed harvest allocation is approached or reached, 
as well as institute and manage the incidental harvest allocation. A 
delay in effectiveness is likely to prevent the ability to close the 
fishery when necessary, and cause the fishery to exceed both the 
directed and incidental harvest allocations. Because the directed 
harvest allocation is approximately 12,000 mt less than the level for 
the same time period in 2013, NMFS expects that it will be necessary to 
close the directed fishery and institute an incidental catch only 
fishery prior to the start of the next fishing year on July 1, 2014. 
Delaying the effective date of this rule is contrary to the public 
interest because it may cause the fishery to exceed the established 
directed and incidental allocations. These allocations are important 
mechanisms in preventing overfishing and managing the fishery at 
optimum yield while allowing fair and equitable opportunity to the 
resource by all sectors of the Pacific sardine fishery. Additionally, 
the ability to close the directed fishery and institute the incidental 
fishery prior to the entire allocation being caught allows access to 
other profitable CPS fisheries, such as market squid, northern anchovy 
and Pacific mackerel. To inform the regulated community of this final 
rule NMFS will also announce this action through other means available, 
including fax, email, and mail to fishermen, processors, and state 
fishery management agencies. Additionally, NMFS will advise the CPS 
Advisory Subpanel, which is comprised of representatives from all 
sectors and regions of the sardine industry, including processors, 
fishermen, user groups, conservation groups and fishermen association 
representatives, of current landings as they become available and for 
the public at-large also post them on NMFS' West Coast Regional Office 
Web site, http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/pelagic/coastal_pelagic_species.html. Therefore, NMFS finds that there is 
good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness in this 
circumstance.
    These final specifications are exempt from review under Executive 
Order 12866.
    No comments were submitted by public comments regarding the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared pursuant to the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) for this action or on the economic 
impacts of the rule generally. Therefore, the Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) contains no changes from the IRFA. A 
description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal 
basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section in 
the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. The results of 
the FRFA are stated below. For copies of the FRFA, please see the 
ADDRESSES section above.
    The purpose of this action is to implement harvest specifications 
for the Pacific sardine fishery in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast. 
The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set an 
OFL, ABC, ACL and HG or ACT for the Pacific sardine fishery based on 
the specified harvest control rules in the FMP.
    On February 28, 2014, NMFS published a final rule (79 FR 11343) 
changing the start date of the 12-month Pacific sardine fishery from 
January 1 to July 1, thus changing the fishing season from one based on 
the calendar year to a fishing year that will begin on July 1 and 
extend until the following June 30, as well as establish a one-time 
interim harvest period for the 6 months from January 1, 2014, through 
June 30, 2014. The purpose of this change is to better align the timing 
of the research and science that is used in the annual stock 
assessments with the annual management schedule. As a result of this 
action, the start of the next complete fishing season will begin on 
July 1, 2014, and extend until June 30, 2015. Because the 2013 fishing 
season ended on December 31, 2013, it is necessary to implement interim 
management measures and harvest specifications for the period January 
1, 2014 to June 30, 2014, to allow for fishing opportunities to 
continue during the transition from January 1, the current start of the 
fishing season, to the proposed new start on July 1. Therefore, the 
purpose of this final rule is to implement the quota and associated 
management measures for the January 2014 through June 2014 interim 
harvest period, as well as the other annual harvest levels (OFL, ABC 
and ACL) for 2014, with the expectation that these annual reference 
points will be replaced when complete year (12-month) sardine 
management (July 1 to June 30) is addressed in a subsequent rulemaking 
in spring 2014.
    On June 20, 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 
issued a final rule revising the small business size standards for 
several industries effective July 22, 2013 (78 FR 37398). The rule 
increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $4.0 million to 
$19.0 million, Shellfish Fishing from $4.0 million to $5.0 million, and 
Other Marine Fishing from $4.0 million to $7.0 million. NMFS conducted 
its analysis for this action using the new size standards
    As stated above, the SBA now defines small businesses engaged in 
finfish fishing as those vessels with annual revenues of or below $19 
million. Under the former, lower size standards, all entities subject 
to this action in previous years were considered small entities, and 
under the new standards they continue to be considered small. The 
entities that would be affected by this action are the vessels that 
fish for Pacific sardine as part of the West Coast CPS finfish fleet. 
In 2013, there were approximately 96 vessels permitted to operate in 
the directed sardine fishery component of the CPS fishery off the U.S. 
West Coast, 55 vessels in the Federal CPS limited entry fishery off 
California (south of 39 N. lat.), and a combined 23 vessels in Oregon 
and Washington's state Pacific sardine fisheries. The average annual 
per vessel revenue in 2013 for the West Coast CPS finfish fleet was 
well below $19 million; therefore, all of these vessels are considered 
small businesses under the RFA. Because each affected vessel is a small 
business, this action has an equal effect on all of these small 
entities, and therefore will impact a substantial number of these small 
entities in the same manner. Therefore this rule will not create 
disproportionate costs between small and large vessels/businesses.
    The profitability of these vessels as a result of this action is 
based on the average Pacific sardine ex-vessel price per mt. NMFS used 
average Pacific sardine ex-vessel price per mt to conduct a 
profitability analysis because cost data for the harvesting operations 
of CPS finfish vessels was unavailable.
    For the 2013 fishing year, approximately 19,000 mt were available 
for harvest by the directed fishery during the 6-month time period of 
January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013. Approximately 4,000 mt 
(approximately 2,500 mt in California and 1,500 mt in Oregon and 
Washington) of this allocation was harvested during that time period, 
for an estimated ex-vessel

[[Page 22453]]

value of $850,000. Using these figures, the average 2013 ex-vessel 
price per mt of Pacific sardines was approximately $215 during that 
time period.
    The ACT or maximum directed HG that is used to calculate the first 
period allocation of January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 is 19,846 mt. 
This value is approximately 40,000 mt less than the maximum directed HG 
used to calculate the three seasonal allocations in 2013. Based on the 
seasonal allocation framework in the FMP, this equates to an allocation 
of 6,946 mt (35% of the 19,846 HG/ACT) for the interim harvest period 
of January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014. From this value, the non-tribal 
directed fishing allocation for this period, accounting for a tribal 
set-aside and an incidental harvest allocation, is 5,446 mt. This 
equates to a decrease of approximately 12,000 mt between the first 
period (January-June) directed harvest allocation for 2014 compared to 
the same period in 2013. If the fleet were to take the entire January 1 
through June 30, 2014, allocation, and assuming a coastwide average ex-
vessel price per mt of $230 (average 2013 ex-vessel price per mt), the 
potential revenue to the fleet would be approximately $1.25 million. 
Therefore, because the non-tribal directed fishing allocation for the 
January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 period is 12,000 mt less than for the 
same period in 2013, this action will decrease the effected small 
entities' potential profitability during this same time period when 
compared to the same period last season.
    However, although there is a decrease in potential profitability to 
sardine harvesting vessels for the January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 
time period based on this rule compared to last season, as stated 
above, only approximately 4,000 mt of the allocated 19,000 mt were 
landed in 2013 during the first allocation period, therefore it is 
difficult to predict whether the allocation will ultimately restrict 
the harvesting capacity of the fleet for this period. Additionally, 
revenue derived from harvesting Pacific sardine is typically only one 
factor determining the overall revenue for a majority of the vessels 
that harvest Pacific sardine; as a result, the economic impact to the 
fleet from the action cannot be viewed in isolation. From year to year, 
depending on market conditions and availability of fish, most CPS/
sardine vessels supplement their income by harvesting other species. 
Many vessels in California also harvest anchovy, mackerel, and in 
particular, squid, making Pacific sardine only one component of a 
multi-species CPS fishery. For example, market squid have been readily 
available to the fishery in California over the last three years with 
total annual ex-vessel revenue averaging approximately $66 million over 
that time, compared to an annual average ex-vessel from sardine of $16 
million over that same time period.
    These vessels typically rely on multiple species for profitability 
because abundance of sardine, like the other CPS stocks, is highly 
associated with ocean conditions and can vary seasonally, and therefore 
are harvested at various times and areas throughout the year. Because 
each species responds to ocean conditions in its own way, not all CPS 
stocks are likely to be abundant at the same time; therefore, as 
abundance levels and markets fluctuate, it has necessitated that the 
CPS fishery as a whole rely on a group of species for its annual 
revenues. Therefore, although there will be a potential reduction in 
sardine revenue for the small entities affected by this action when 
compared to the previous season, it is difficult to predict exactly how 
this reduction will impact overall annual revenue for the fleet.
    There are no significant alternatives to this action that would 
accomplish the stated objectives of the applicable statutes and would 
also minimize any significant economic impact of this action on the 
affected small entities. The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations 
require NMFS to set an annual HG for the Pacific sardine fishery based 
on the harvest formula in the FMP. The harvest formula is applied to 
the current stock biomass estimate to determine the HG. Therefore, if 
the estimated biomass decreases or increases from one year to the next, 
the HG will correspondingly decrease or increase. Because the current 
stock biomass estimate decreased from 2013 to 2014, the HG and 
subsequent first period allocation also decreased.
    There are no reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance 
requirements required by this rule. Additionally, no other Federal 
rules duplicate, overlap or conflict with this rule.
    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Small Business 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 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 explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a notice to fishermen that also serves as a 
small entity compliance guide (guide) was prepared and will be 
distributed to fishermen and processors. The guide is also available on 
the Internet at http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov. Copies of this final rule and 
guide, i.e., the notice to fishermen, will be available upon request 
from the West Coast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES).

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

    Dated: April 17, 2014.
Paul N. Doremus,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-09180 Filed 4-21-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P