[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 224 (Wednesday, November 22, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55551-55552]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25200]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 170322302-7999-01]
RIN 0648-BG74


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species 
Fisheries; Amendment 16 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery 
Management Plan

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS issues this proposed rule to implement Amendment 16 of 
the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The 
purpose of this proposed rule is to amend the CPS regulations to allow 
for very small amounts of directed, non-live bait fishing on CPS 
finfish to occur when a fishery is otherwise closed to directed 
fishing. Currently, when directed fishing closures are enacted, a small 
sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the primary commercial 
directed fishery has been precluded from fishing and/or harvesting even 
minor amounts because this activity does not fall under the existing 
exemptions during closures for incidental harvest or for harvesting CPS 
to be sold as live bait. NMFS is proposing changes to the CPS 
regulations to allow this sector to continue directed fishing after 
other directed fisheries are closed, unless otherwise specified or if 
an applicable annual catch limit (ACL) is anticipated to be exceeded. 
As a further restriction, to ensure this minor directed fishing 
provision is not exploited to make large aggregate harvests, minor 
directed fishing would not be allowed to exceed landings of 1 metric 
ton (mt) per day per vessel or person or one fishing trip per day by 
any vessel.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 22, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Barry A. Thom, Regional 
Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Ste. 4200, 
Long Beach, CA 90802-4250; Attn: Joshua Lindsay.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. 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. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous).
    Copies of the draft CPS FMP as amended through Amendment 16, with 
notations showing how Amendment 16 would change the FMP, if approved, 
are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, or by contacting the 
Pacific Fisheries Management Council, 7700 NE. Ambassador Place, Suite 
101, Portland, OR 97220-1384.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua B. Lindsay, Sustainable 
Fisheries Division, NMFS, at 562-980-4034; or Kerry Griffin, Pacific 
Fishery Management Council, at 503-820-2280.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CPS fishery in the U.S. exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ) off the West Coast is managed under the CPS FMP, 
which was developed by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 
Species managed under the CPS FMP include Pacific sardine, Pacific 
mackerel, jack mackerel, northern anchovy, market squid and krill. The 
CPS FMP was approved by the Secretary of Commerce and was implemented 
by regulations at 50 CFR part 660, subpart I.
    The MSA requires each regional fishery management council to submit 
any amendment to a FMP to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval. The MSA also requires that NMFS, upon receiving an 
amendment to a FMP, publish notification in the Federal Register that 
the amendment is available for public review and comment. NMFS will 
consider the public comments received during the comment period 
described above in determining whether to approve, disapprove, or 
partially approve Amendment 16.
    At its April 2017 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) voted to submit Amendment 16 to NMFS for review and approval; 
this proposed rule would revise the implementing regulations for the 
CPS FMP to implement Amendment 16 by allowing ``minor directed'' 
fishing for CPS finfish after a directed fishery has been closed. 
Current regulations provide for potential allowances of live bait 
fishing and incidental landings in the event of a directed fishery 
closure; this action would allow a small sector of the CPS fishery that 
is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery to harvest minor 
amounts of CPS. This sector of the fishery intentionally targets CPS 
and typically sells the catch as specialty dead bait to recreational 
and commercial fisheries, or as fresh fish to restaurants and the 
public. Total landings from this sector typically make up less than one 
percent of the total landings of any particular CPS stock. Currently, 
when directed fishing closures are enacted, these very small-scale 
fisheries have been precluded from fishing and/or harvesting these 
minor amounts because they do not fall under the existing exemptions 
during closures.
    If this proposed rule is approved, minor directed fishing will be 
allowed to continue after a directed fishery is closed. Minor directed 
fishing will be allowed unless otherwise specified, or if an applicable 
ACL is anticipated to be exceeded. As a further restriction, to ensure 
the minor directed landing provision is not exploited to make large 
aggregate harvests, this action proposes regulations to limit this 
directed fishing exemption so that landings cannot exceed 1 mt per day 
per vessel or person, and which is limited to one fishing trip per day 
by any vessel. The intent of distinguishing between a ``vessel'' and 
``person'' in these regulations is that some participants in

[[Page 55552]]

this small sector of the CPS fishery fish from a platform other than a 
vessel (e.g., beach seine) and in a single fishing trip (e.g., a single 
haul of a beach seine) may only land a few hundred pounds. Therefore, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, to allow a person to 
make multiple fishing trips in a single day as long as their total 
landings do not exceed 1 mt in a day. The Council recommended that 
vessels be limited to a single trip as their typical landings are much 
greater per trip. For vessels, it was the Council's intent that the 1 
mt daily landing restriction function like a trip limit.
    This rule also proposes to update the definition of ``Regional 
Administrator'' to reflect the absorption of the former NMFS Southwest 
Region into the West Coast Region, and to explicitly reference the fact 
that directed ``live bait'' fisheries may continue to operate after 
most other directed fishing is prohibited (which is an original 
provision of the FMP, not a change proposed in Amendment 16).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with 
Amendment 16, other provisions of the MSA, 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.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
for the following reasons:
    The purpose of this rule is to add an exemption to the CPS 
regulations that would allow very small levels of directed fishing to 
occur during times when directed fishing would normally be disallowed.
    For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, NMFS has 
established a small business size standard for businesses, including 
their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 
CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS 
code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently 
owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation 
(including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in 
excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide.
    The primary entities that would be affected by the proposed action 
are the vessels and individuals that target very small levels of CPS 
finfish as part of a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part 
of the primary commercial directed fishery and are all considered small 
businesses under the above size standards. This small sector of the 
fishery intentionally targets CPS and typically sells the catch as 
specialty dead bait to recreational and commercial fisheries, or as 
fresh fish to restaurants and the public. Total landings from this 
sector typically make up less than one percent of the total landings of 
any particular CPS stock. For example, the highest landing year for 
Pacific sardine from this sector between 2005 and 2015 included 134 
landings by 12 vessels, totaling only 50 mt of sardines, with an 
average of 20 mt per year over this same time period. In comparison, 
the average total landings of Pacific sardine over this time period was 
around 69,000 mt. Although the landings from this sector are small in 
comparison to the primary directed fisheries for CPS, the revenue 
derived from these small landings make up an important revenue stream 
for the participants.
    The proposed action is not expected to have direct or indirect 
adverse socioeconomic impacts as the primary function of this action is 
to provide relief for the small entities who harvest small amounts of 
CPS but are precluded from doing so under the existing directed fishery 
closure regulations. Although the CPS FMP requires prohibitions on 
directed fishing in certain situations, such as to protect the stock 
when biomass is low, any fishing done under the proposed minor harvest 
regulations would be accounted for and tracked under any applicable 
catch limit for that year thereby continuing to protect the stock and 
prevent overfishing. Additionally, because the landings from this 
sector are so small this action is not expected to indirectly 
negatively impact, through lost harvesting potential, those that are 
currently provided exemptions during closures, such as the live bait 
sector or the traditional purse seine vessels that utilize the 
incidental harvest provisions during closures.
    Based on the analysis above, the proposed action, if adopted, will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of these 
small entities. As a result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
is not required, and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 16, 2017.
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 660 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
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., and 
16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  660.502, revise the definition of ``Regional 
Administrator'' to read as follows:


Sec.  660.502  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-
4213, or a designee.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  660.505, revise paragraph (i) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.505  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (i) When a directed fishery has been closed, take and retain, 
possess, or land more than the incidental trip limit announced in the 
Federal Register, or a directed trip limit as described in Sec.  
660.511(d).
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  660.511, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.511  Catch restrictions.

* * * * *
    (d) After the directed fishery for a CPS is closed under Sec.  
660.509, no person may take and retain, possess or land more of that 
species than the incidental trip limit set by the Regional 
Administrator, except the following directed fisheries may continue 
until the effective date of a Federal Register notice published by the 
Regional Administrator that the annual catch limit has been reached or 
is projected to be reached:
    (1) Fishing exclusively for live bait;
    (2) Minor directed fishing for finfish that does not exceed 1 mt 
per day per vessel or person, and which is limited to 1 fishing trip 
per day by any vessel.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-25200 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P