National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS issues this final rule to implement the annual harvest guideline for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the Pacific Start Printed Page 4462coast for the fishing season of July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007. This harvest guideline has been calculated according to the regulations implementing the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and establishes allowable harvest levels for Pacific mackerel off the Pacific coast.
Effective March 2, 2007.
Copies of the report Pacific Mackerel (Scomber japonicus) Stock Assessment for U.S. Management in the 2006-2007 Fishing Year may be obtained by contacting Rodney R. McInnis, Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Joshua B. Lindsay, Southwest Region, NMFS, (562) 980-4034.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
The CPS FMP, which was implemented by publication of a final rule in the Federal Register on December 15, 1999 (64 FR 69888), divides management unit species into two categories: actively managed and monitored. Harvest guidelines for actively managed species (Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel) are based on formulas applied to current biomass estimates. Biomass estimates are not calculated for species that are only monitored (jack mackerel, northern anchovy, and market squid).
At a public meeting each year, the biomass for each actively managed species is reviewed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council) CPS Management Team (Team). The biomass, harvest guideline, and status of the fisheries are then reviewed at a public meeting of the Council's CPS Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel). This information is also reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The Council reviews the reports from the Team, Subpanel, and SSC, provides opportunity for public comment, and then makes its recommendation to NMFS. The annual harvest guideline and season structure are then written and published by NMFS in the Federal Register. The Pacific mackerel season begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 of each year.
Public meetings of the Team and Subpanel, as well as a subcommittee of the SSC, were held at NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), in La Jolla, CA on May 16, 17, and 18, 2006 (April 28, 2006; 71 FR 25152). During these meetings the current stock assessment update for Pacific mackerel, which included a preliminary biomass estimate and harvest guideline, were reviewed in accordance with the procedures of the FMP. These meetings are designed to allow a review of the biomass and harvest guideline, and are required by the FMP.
The formula in the FMP uses the following factors to determine the harvest guideline:
1. The biomass of Pacific mackerel. For 2006, this estimate is 112,700 metric tons (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. The cutoff is subtracted from the biomass, leaving 94,500 mt.
3. The portion of the Pacific mackerel biomass that is in U.S. waters. This estimate is 70 percent, based on the historical average of larval distribution obtained from scientific cruises and the distribution of the resource obtained from logbooks of fish-spotters. Therefore, the harvestable biomass in U.S. waters is 70 percent of 94,500 mt, or 66,150 mt.
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. The harvest fraction is multiplied by the harvestable biomass in U.S. waters (66,150 mt), which results in 19,845 mt.
The Team supported the conclusions from the Pacific mackerel stock assessment and recommended to the Council at its June 2006 Council meeting that the Council adopt a harvest guideline (HG) for the 2006/2007 management season (i.e., July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007) of 19,845 mt. The Council adopted this HG, as well as the Subpanel's recommendation on the management of the fishery by dividing the harvest guideline into a directed fishery with a guideline of 13,845 mt and set-aside of 6,000 mt to accommodate incidental landings of Pacific mackerel in other CPS fisheries. The set-aside is intended to prevent a reoccurrence of the 2000/ 2001 Pacific mackerel season where early attainment of the entire harvest guideline in the directed fishery curtailed the Pacific sardine fishery which incidentally lands mackerel.
The incidental fishery would be constrained to a 40-percent incidental catch rate when Pacific mackerel are landed with other CPS, except that up to one metric ton of Pacific mackerel can be landed without landing any other CPS. The Council recommended a review of the Pacific mackerel fishery at the March 2007 Council meeting with the understanding that NMFS will consider releasing some or all of the incidental fishery set-aside if a sufficient amount of the guideline remains available for harvest.
Based on the estimated biomass of 112,700 mt and the formula in the FMP, a harvest guideline of 19,845 mt will be in effect for the fishery which began on July 1, 2006. This harvest guideline applies to Pacific mackerel harvested in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast from 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2006, through 11:59 pm on June 30, 2007, unless the harvest guideline is attained and the fishery is closed before June 30, 2007. All landings made after July 1, 2006, will be counted toward the 2006-2007 harvest guideline of 19,845 mt. There shall be a directed fishery of 13,845 mt, followed by an incidental fishery of 6,000 mt. An incidental allowance of 40 percent of Pacific mackerel in landings of any CPS will become effective after the date when 13,845 mt of Pacific mackerel is estimated to have been harvested. A landing of 1 mt of Pacific mackerel per trip will be permitted during the incidental fishery for trips in which no other CPS is landed.
This final rule is exempt from review under 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 (October 20,2006; 71 FR 61944) and is not repeated here.
No comments were received regarding this certification or the economic impact of this rule. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.Start Signature
Dated: January 26, 2007.
William T. Hogarth,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E7-1546 Filed 1-30-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S