[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 31 (Wednesday, February 14, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6472-6473]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-03040]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 170322302-8104-02]
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: Final rule.


SUMMARY: NMFS is publishing this final rule to implement Amendment 16 
of the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). 
This rule will allow for very small amounts of directed, non-live bait 
fishing (referred to as ``minor directed fishing'') on CPS finfish to 
occur when a fishery is otherwise closed to directed fishing. 
Currently, when directed fishing is closed, a small sector of the CPS 
fishery that is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery has 
been precluded from landing even minor amounts because this activity 
does not fall under the existing exemptions for incidental harvest or 
for harvesting CPS to be sold as live bait. This rule allows this 
sector to continue directed fishing after other directed fisheries are 
closed, unless otherwise specified in a closure notice published by 
NMFS or if an applicable annual catch limit (ACL) is anticipated to be 
exceeded. To prevent exploitation of this rule 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. The purpose of this rule is to 
provide greater flexibility to small fishing operations, while 
continuing to conserve the target CPS fish stocks.

DATES: Effective March 16, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the CPS FMP as amended through Amendment 16, with 
notations showing how Amendment 16 will change the FMP are available 
via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=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.
    At its April 2017 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) voted to submit Amendment 16 to NMFS for review and approval. 
On November 6, 2017, NMFS published a Notice of Availability for 
Amendment 16 in the Federal Register (82 FR 51381), with a comment 
period ending January 5, 2018. On November 22, 2017,

[[Page 6473]]

NMFS published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 16 in the Federal 
Register (82 FR 55551), with a comment period ending December 22, 2017. 
NMFS approved Amendment 16 on February 1, 2018.
    This final rule implements Amendment 16 by allowing ``minor 
directed fishing'' for CPS finfish after a directed fishery has been 
closed. Current regulations allow live bait fishing and incidental 
landings to continue even after a directed fishery closure; this rule 
allows a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the 
primary commercial directed fishery to harvest minor amounts of CPS 
even during a directed fishery closure. This minor directed 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, directed fishing closures apply even to minor 
directed fisheries.
    This final rule will allow minor directed fishing to continue after 
a directed fishery is closed. Minor directed fishing will be allowed 
unless otherwise specified by NMFS when closing the directed fishery, 
or if an applicable ACL is anticipated to be exceeded. To prevent this 
rule from being exploited by those who would make large aggregate 
harvests, ``minor directed fishing'' is limited to landings that do not 
exceed 1 mt per day per vessel or person or one fishing trip per day by 
any vessel. The intent of distinguishing between a ``vessel'' and 
``person'' in these regulations is that some minor directed fishermen 
target CPS from a platform other than a vessel (e.g., beach seine); in 
that case, a single fishing trip (e.g., a single haul of a beach seine) 
may only land a few hundred pounds. Therefore, Amendment 16 allows a 
person not using a vessel to make multiple fishing trips in a single 
day as long as the person's total landings do not exceed 1 mt in a day. 
Vessels are limited to a single trip per day as their typical landings 
are much greater per trip. For vessels, the 1-mt daily landing 
restriction functions like a trip limit.
    This rule also updates 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 made by Amendment 16).
    A total of 10 public comments relevant to this action were received 
on Amendment 16 and the proposed rule. Commenters consisted of West 
Coast fishing industry representatives, seafood companies, fishermen, 
and charter boat owners/operators. All comments expressed support for 
Amendment 16, primarily noting that the ability to harvest small 
amounts of sardine will provide new business opportunities to small-
scale fishermen, including sale to specialty markets, restaurants, and 
as dead bait. No changes were made from the proposed rule.


    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with 
the FMP as revised by Amendment 16, other provisions of the MSA, and 
other applicable law.
    This final 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 during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 8, 2018.
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 amended 
as follows:


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.

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.
* * * * *

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.  
* * * * *

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 document 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. 2018-03040 Filed 2-13-18; 8:45 am]