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Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Cost Recovery Program

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notification of fee percentage.

SUMMARY:

NMFS publishes a notification of a zero (0) percent fee for cost recovery under the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program. This action is intended to provide holders of crab allocations with the fee percentage for the 2009/2010 crab fishing year.

DATES:

The Crab Rationalization Program Registered Crab Receiver permit holder is responsible for submitting the fee liability payment to NMFS on or before July 31, 2010.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gabrielle Aberle or Gretchen Harrington, 907-586-7228.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

NMFS Alaska Region administers the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program (Program) in the North Pacific. Fishing under the Program began in August 15, 2005. Regulations implementing the Program are set forth at 50 CFR part 680.

The Program is a limited access system authorized by section 313(j) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The Program includes a cost recovery provision to collect fees to recover the actual costs directly related to the management and enforcement of the Program. NMFS developed the cost recovery provision to conform to statutory requirements and to partially reimburse the agency for the unique added costs of management and enforcement of the Program. Section 313(j) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act provided supplementary authority to section 304(d)(2)(A) and additional detail for cost recovery provisions specific to the Program. The cost recovery provision allows collection of 133 percent of the actual management, data collecting, and enforcement costs up to three percent of the ex-vessel value of crab harvested under the Program. Additionally, section 313(j) requires the harvesting and processing sectors to each pay half the cost recovery fees. Catcher/processor quota share holders are required to pay the full fee percentage for crab processed at sea.

A crab allocation holder generally incurs a cost recovery fee liability for every pound of crab landed. The crab allocations include Individual Fishing Quota, Crew Individual Fishing Quota, Individual Processing Quota, Community Development Quota, and the Adak community allocation. The Registered Crab Receiver (RCR) permit holder must collect the fee liability from the crab allocation holder who is landing crab. Additionally, the RCR permit holder must collect his or her own fee liability for all crab delivered to the RCR. The RCR permit holder is responsible for submitting this payment to NMFS on or before the due date of July 31, following the crab fishing year in which landings of crab were made.

The dollar amount of the fee due is determined by multiplying the fee percentage (not to exceed three percent) Start Printed Page 34552by the ex-vessel value of crab debited from the allocation. Specific details on the Program's cost recovery provision may be found in the implementing regulations set forth at 50 CFR 680.44.

Fee Percentage

Each year, NMFS calculates and publishes in the Federal Register the fee percentage according to the factors and methodology described in Federal regulations at § 680.44(c)(2). The formula for determining the fee percentage is the “direct program costs” divided by “value of the fishery,” where “direct program costs” are the direct program costs for the Program for the previous fiscal year, and “value of the fishery” is the ex-vessel value of the catch subject to the crab cost recovery fee liability for the current year.

The fee percentage has declined over time because of a variety of factors including the increasing value of the fishery due to increased total allowable catch limits for various crab species such as Bristol Bay red king crab (Paralithodes camtshaticus) and Bering Sea Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio), increased ex-vessel price per pound of crab relative to previous years, and decreased management costs relative to previous years primarily due to decreased staff and contract costs. Because by regulation the fee percentage is established in the first quarter of a crab fishery year based on the fishery value and the costs of the prior year, fee collections for any given year may be less than, or greater than, the actual costs and fishery value for that year.

Using the fee percentage formula described above, the estimated percentage of costs to value for the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 crab fishing years was 3.0 percent and 1.05 percent, respectively. These fee levels have resulted in a fee collection greater than the actual management, data collection, and enforcement costs for the 2008/2009 crab fishing year. Therefore, fee revenues remain to cover projected actual costs for 2009/2010. As a result, NMFS has determined that the fee percentage will be 0 percent for the 2009/2010 crab fishing year.

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1862 et seq.

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Dated: July 9, 2009.

Kristen C. Koch,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. E9-16811 Filed 7-15-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S