[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 143 (Friday, July 25, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 43272-43280]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-17579]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 120814338-2711-02]
RIN 0648-BE39


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries off West Coast States; 
Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures.

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SUMMARY: This final rule announces inseason changes to management 
measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which 
is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan 
(PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant 
groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks.

DATES: Effective 0001 hours (local time) July 25, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colby Brady (West Coast Region, NMFS), 
phone: 206-526-6117, fax: 206-526-6736, colby.brady@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This final rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the 
Federal Register's Web site at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/home.action, or http://federalregister.gov. Background information and 
documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Web 
site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Copies of the final environmental 
impact statement (FEIS) for the 2013-2014 Groundfish Specifications and 
Management Measures are available from Donald McIsaac, Executive 
Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 NE 
Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503-820-2280.

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Background

    The PCGFMP and its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code 
of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate 
fishing for over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, 
Oregon, and California. Groundfish specifications and management 
measures are developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council), and are implemented by NMFS.
    On November 14, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to implement 
the 2013-2014 harvest specifications and management measures for most 
species of the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery (77 FR 67974). The 
final rule to implement the 2013-2014 harvest specifications and 
management measures for most species of the Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Fishery was published on January 3, 2013 (78 FR 580).
    The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian 
Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, 
recommended the changes to current groundfish management measures at 
its June 18-June 25, 2014 meeting. Management measures are designed to 
meet two primary goals: To achieve to the extent possible, but not 
exceed, annual catch limits (ACLs) of target species; and to foster the 
rebuilding of overfished stocks by keeping harvest within their 
rebuilding ACLs. The Council recommended adjusting groundfish 
management measures to respond to updated fishery information and 
additional inseason management needs. Those changes to management 
measures are implemented in this action. The adjustments to fishery 
management measures are not expected to result in greater impacts to 
overfished species than originally projected through the end of the 
year.
Fishery Management Measures for the Limited Entry Fixed Gear (LEFG) and 
Open Access (OA) Sablefish Daily Trip Limit (DTL) Fisheries North of 
36[deg] N. Lat.
    To increase harvest opportunities for the LEFG and OA fixed gear 
sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat., the Council 
considered increases to trip limits. The Council's Groundfish 
Management Team (GMT) made model-based landings projections for the 
LEFG and OA fixed gear sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat. 
for the remainder of the year. These projections were based on the most 
recent information available. The model predicted harvest of 88 percent 
(187.2 mt) of the LEFG harvest guideline (214 mt) and 45 percent (156.8 
mt) of the OA harvest guideline (352 mt) under current trip limits. 
With the increase in trip limits, predicted harvest assuming medium ex-
vessel price curves, is 91 percent (194.3 mt) of the LEFG harvest 
guideline (214 mt) and 66 percent (233.2 mt) of the OA harvest 
guideline (352 mt). Projections for the fixed gear sablefish fisheries 
south of 36[deg] N. lat. were tracking within their targets and no 
inseason actions were considered.
    Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing trip 
limit changes for the LEFG and the OA sablefish DTL fisheries north of 
36[deg] N. lat. The trip limits for sablefish in the LEFG fishery north 
of 36[deg] N. lat. increase from ``950 lb (431 kg) per week, not to 
exceed 2,850 lb (1,293 kg) per two months'' to ``1,000 lb (453 kg) per 
week, not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per two months'' beginning 
during period 4 through the end of the year.
    The trip limits for sablefish in the OA sablefish DTL fishery north 
of 36[deg] N. lat. are increased from ``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one 
landing per week of up to 800 lb (363 kg), not to exceed 1,600 lb (726 
kg) per two months'' to ``350 lb (159 kg) per day, or one landing per 
week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), not to exceed 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) per 
two months'' during period 4 through the end of the year.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures, based on the best available information, 
consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available 
for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, during business hours.
    NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on 
the revisions to groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) 
because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the 
public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to 
waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), 
so that this final rule may become effective July 25, 2014.
    At the June Council meeting, the Council recommended that these 
changes be implemented as quickly as possible during the July-August 
two-month cumulative limit period. There was not sufficient time after 
that meeting to draft this document and undergo proposed and final 
rulemaking before these actions need to be in effect. For the actions 
to be implemented in this final rule, affording the time necessary for 
prior notice and opportunity for public comment would prevent NMFS from 
managing fisheries using the best available science to approach, 
without exceeding, the ACLs for federally managed species in accordance 
with the PCGFMP and applicable law. The adjustments to management 
measures in this document affect commercial fisheries in Washington, 
Oregon and California. These adjustments to management measures must be 
implemented as quickly as possible during the July-August 2-month 
cumulative limit period to allow LEFG and OA fixed gear fishermen an 
opportunity to harvest their limits for sablefish without exceeding the 
ACL north of 36[deg] N. lat. It would be contrary to the public 
interest to delay implementation of these changes until after public 
notice and comment, because making this regulatory change by July 25, 
2014, allows harvest as intended by the Council, consistent with the 
best scientific information available. These changes allow additional 
harvest in fisheries that are important to coastal communities while 
continuing to prevent ACLs of overfished and target species from being 
exceeded.
    No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this 
nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications and 
management measures established for 2013-2014.
    Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place 
that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would 
impair achievement of the PCGFMP goals and objectives of managing for 
appropriate harvest levels while providing for year-round fishing and 
marketing opportunities.
    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to 
waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: July 22, 2014.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended 
as follows:

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PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.


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2. Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, are revised 
to read as follows:
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3. Table 3 (North) and 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, are revised to 
read as follows:
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[FR Doc. 2014-17579 Filed 7-22-14; 4:15 p.m.]
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