National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Final harvest guidelines.
NMFS announces the annual harvest guidelines for Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast. The Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its implementing regulations require NMFS to establish annual harvest guidelines for Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel based on a formulas appearing in the FMP. The intended effect of this action is to establish allowable harvest levels for coastal pelagic species off the Pacific coast.
Effective January 1, 2000. Comments are invited until February 24, 2000.
Submit comments on the annual specifications to Rodney R. McInnis, Acting Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, (Regional Administrator), NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213. The reports Stock Assessment of Sardine for 1999 with Management Recommendations for 2000 and Status of the Pacific Mackerel Resource and Fishery in 1999 are available from this same address.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
James J. Morgan, Southwest Region, NMFS, (562) 980-4030.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
The FMP, which was partially approved by the Secretary of Commerce on June 10, 1999, and implemented by publication of a final rule in the Federal Register on December 15, 1999 (64 FR 69888), divides managed species into the categories of actively managed and monitored. Harvest guidelines of actively managed species (Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel) are based on formulas applied to current biomass estimates. Harvest guidelines for monitored species (jack mackerel, northern anchovy, and market squid), which are underutilized or managed primarily by California, are not based on current biomass estimates. Nonetheless, the FMP includes a constant allowable biological catch (ABC) for each monitored species based on long-term yields. If an ABC for a monitored species is reached, it would be designated an actively managed species; at that time, the Pacific Fishery Management (Council) would review the condition of the resource and recommend necessary management action. Except for northern anchovy, this is the first year of managing coastal pelagic species under this FMP.
At a public meeting each year, the biomass for each actively managed species is presented by the Council's Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team (Team) to the Council's Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel). At that time, the biomass, Start Printed Page 3891the harvest guideline, and the status of the fisheries is reviewed. This information is also reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical committee. Following review by the Council and after hearing all public comments, NMFS publishes the annual harvest guidelines in the Federal Register before the beginning of the appropriate fishing season. The Pacific sardine season begins on January 1 of each year and ends on December 31. The Pacific mackerel season begins on July 1 of each year and ends on June 30. Normally, the Pacific mackerel harvest guideline would be announced in June; however, the first harvest guidelines for both species will be effective on January 1, 2000, as this will be the first year of managing these species.
The FMP allows the Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS to announce harvest guidelines before review by the Council if there is insufficient time for review. At its meeting in September 1999, the Council decided to use this procedure during the first year of managing Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel because the sardine assessment would not be completed by its November 1999 Meeting. The Council plans to complete its review at its March 2000 meeting, when the stock assessment and fishery evaluation report for Pacific sardine will be presented. At the November meeting, the Team presented the Council with the Pacific mackerel assessment to establish a harvest guideline for the season that began on July 1, 1999. The Council adopted the Team's recommendations, including the necessary procedure to subtract the estimated harvest of Pacific mackerel from July 1, 1999, to December 31, 1999, to establish a harvest guideline beginning January 1, 2000, consistent with the beginning of the fishing season.
On December 9, 1999, consistent with the procedures of the FMP, the biomass report and attendant harvest guidelines for Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel were reviewed at a public meeting of the Team at the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. A public meeting between the Team and the Subpanel was held on December 14, 1999, at the Southwest Region, NMFS, in Long Beach, California. No significant comments regarding the harvest guidelines were received.
The sardine population was estimated using a modified version of the integrated stock assessment model called Catch at Age Analysis of Sardine-Two Area Model (CANSAR-TAM). CANSAR is a forward-casting, age-structured analysis using fishery dependent and fishery independent data to obtain annual estimates of sardine abundance, year-class strength, and age-specific fishing mortality for 1983 through 1999. The modification of CANSAR was developed to account for the expansion of the Pacific sardine stock northward to include waters off the northwest Pacific coast. Documentation of the 1999 estimate is described in the Council report Stock Assessment of Sardine for 1999 with Management Recommendations for 2000 (see ADDRESSES).
The formula in the FMP uses the following factors to determine the harvest guideline for Pacific sardine:
1. The biomass of age one sardine and above. For 1999, this estimate is 1,581,346 metric tons (mt).
2. The cutoff. This is the biomass level below which no commercial fishery is allowed. The FMP established this level at 150,000 mt.
3. The portion of the sardine biomass that is in U.S. waters. For 1999, this estimate is 87 percent, based on the average of larval distribution obtained from scientific cruises and the distribution of the resource obtained from logbooks of fish-spotters.
4. The harvest fraction. This is the percentage of the biomass above 150,000 mt that may be harvested. The fraction used varies (5-15 percent) with current ocean temperatures, a higher fraction for warmer ocean temperatures and a lower fraction for cooler temperatures. Warm ocean temperatures favor the production of Pacific sardine. For 1999, the fraction used was 15 percent, based on three seasons of sea surface temperature at Scripps Pier, California.
Based on the estimated biomass of 1,581,346 mt and the formula in the FMP, a harvest guideline of 186,791 mt was calculated for the fishery beginning on January 1, 2000. The harvest guideline is allocated one third for Subarea A, which is north of 35° 40' N. lat. to the Canadian border, and two thirds for Subarea B, which is south of 35° 40' N. lat. to the Mexican border. Any unused resource in either area will be reallocated between areas to help ensure that optimum yield will be achieved. The northern allocation is 62,264 mt; the southern allocation is 124,527 mt.
The size of the Pacific mackerel population was estimated using a modified virtual population analysis stock assessment model, which employs both fishery dependent and fishery independent data to estimate abundance. The model was used to calculate biomass estimates through the end of 1998 and then project an estimate of biomass for July 1, 1999, based on the number of Pacific mackerel estimated to comprise each year class at the beginning of 1999, estimates of fishing mortality during 1998, assumptions of natural and fishing mortality through the first half of 1999, and estimates of age-specific growth. Documentation of the 1999 estimate is described in the Council report Status of the Pacific Mackerel Resource and Fishery in 1999 (see ADDRESSES).
The formula in the FMP uses the following factors to determine the harvest guideline for Pacific mackerel:
1. The biomass of Pacific mackerel. For 1999, this estimate is 239,286 mt.
2. The cutoff. This is the biomass level below which no commercial fishery is allowed. The FMP established the cutoff level at 18,200 mt.
3. The portion of the Pacific mackerel biomass that is in U.S. waters. This estimate is 70 percent, based on the average of larval distribution obtained from scientific cruises and the distribution of the resource obtained from logbooks of fish-spotters.
4. The harvest fraction. This is the percentage of the biomass above 18,200 mt that may be harvested. The FMP established the harvest fraction at 30 percent.
Based on the estimated biomass of 239,286 mt and the formula in the FMP, a harvest guideline of 46,428 was calculated for the fishery beginning on July 1, 1999. To determine a harvest guideline for the period beginning January 1, 2000, the estimated harvest of Pacific mackerel between July 1, 1999, through December 31, 1999, was subtracted from the harvest guideline. The amount harvested is 3,609 mt; therefore, the harvest guideline available to the fishery beginning on January 1, 2000, is 42,819 mt.
This action is authorized by 50 CFR 660.509 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds for good cause under 5 U.S.C. § 553(b)(B) that providing prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action is unnecessary because establishing the harvest guidelines is a ministerial act, determined by applying formulas in the FMP. Accordingly, providing prior notice and an opportunity for public comment would serve no useful purpose.
Because this rule merely announces the result of harvest guideline calculations and does not require any participants in the fishery to take action or to come into compliance, the AA finds for good cause under 5 U.S.C. § 553(d)(3) that delaying the effective Start Printed Page 3892date of this rule for 30 days is unnecessary.
Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this action by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are not applicable.Start Signature
Dated: January 18, 2000.
Andrew R. Rosenberg,
Deputy Assistant Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 00-1700 Filed 1-24-00; 8:45 am]
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