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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2014 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka Mackerel, and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is adjusting the 2014 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate amounts based on the best available scientific information. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 2, 2014, until the effective date of the final 2014 and 2015 harvest specifications for BSAI groundfish, unless otherwise modified or superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal Register.

Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 17, 2014.

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ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0210 by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​[NOAA-NMFS-2012-0210], click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.
  • Fax: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to 907-586-7557.

Instructions: 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 by NMFS. 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.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.

The final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) set the 2014 BSAI pollock TAC at 1,266,100 metric tons (mt), the 2014 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC at 25,379 mt, and the 2014 BSAI Pacific cod TAC at 260,880 mt. In December 2013, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended a 2014 BSAI pollock TAC of 1,286,075 mt, which is more than the 1,266,100 mt TAC established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council also recommended a 2014 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC of 32,322 mt, which is more than the 25,379 mt TAC established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. Furthermore, the Council recommended a 2014 BSAI Pacific cod TAC of 253,894 mt, which is less than the 260,880 mt TAC established by the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. In 2014 the Council recommended that the TAC for Pacific cod be split by a Bering Sea TAC of 246,897 and an Aleutian Island TAC of 6,997 mt. The Council's recommended 2014 TACs, and the area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2013, which NMFS has determined is the best available scientific information for these fisheries.

Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod are a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The seasonal apportionment of pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(5) specify how the BS pollock TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(7) specify how the BSAI Pacific cod TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(8) specify how the BSAI Atka mackerel TAC will be apportioned.

In accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(iii), (a)(2)(i)(B), and (a)(2)(iv), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2013 SAFE report for this fishery, the current BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. Pursuant to § 679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2014 BSAI pollock TAC to 1,286,075 mt, the 2014 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC to 32,322 and the 2014 BSAI Pacific cod TAC to 253,894 mt. Therefore, Table 1 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) is revised consistent with this adjustment.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i), Table 3 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) and reallocations (78 FR 14932, March 8, 2013 and 78 FR 49200, August 13, 2013) is revised for the 2014 BSAI allocations of pollock TAC to the directed pollock fisheries and to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) directed fishing allowances consistent with this adjustment.

Table 3—Final 2013 and 2014 Allocations of Pollock Tacs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) 1

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Area and sector2013 Allocations2013 A season 12013 B season 12014 Allocations2014 A season 12014 B season 1
A season DFASCA harvest limit 2B season DFAA season DFASCA harvest limit 2B season DFA
Bering Sea subarea1,261,900n/an/an/a1,267,000n/an/an/a
CDQ DFA126,60050,64035,44875,960126,70050,68035,47676,020
ICA 133,699n/an/an/a38,770n/an/an/a
AFA Inshore550,801220,320154,224330,480550,765220,306154,214330,459
AFA Catcher/Processors 3440,640176,256123,379264,384440,612176,245123,371264,367
Catch by C/Ps403,186161,274n/a241,912403,160161,264n/a241,896
Catch by CVs 337,45414,982n/a22,47337,45214,981n/a22,471
Unlisted C/P Limit 42,203881n/a1,3222,203881n/a1,322
AFA Motherships110,16044,06430,84566,096110,15344,06130,84366,092
Excessive Harvesting Limit 5192,780n/an/an/a192,768n/an/an/a
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Excessive Processing Limit 6330,480n/an/an/a330,459n/an/an/a
Total Bering Sea DFA1,101,601440,640308,448660,9611,101,530440,612308,428660,918
Aleutian Islands subarea 16,600n/an/an/a19,000n/an/an/a
CDQ DFA00n/a01,900760n/a1,140
ICA1,600800n/a8002,0001,000n/a1,000
Aleut Corporation5,0005,000n/a015,10011,863n/a3,237
Bogoslof District ICA 7100n/an/an/a75n/an/an/a
1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: Inshore sector—50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)—40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,000 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery.
2 In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1. The remaining 12 percent of the annual DFA allocated to the A season may be taken outside of SCA before April 1 or inside the SCA after April 1. If less than 28 percent of the annual DFA is taken inside the SCA before April 1, the remainder will be available to be taken inside the SCA after April 1.
3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/processors.
4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/processors sector's allocation of pollock.
5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
7 The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8), Table 4 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) is revised for the 2014 seasonal and spatial allowances, gear shares, CDQ reserve, incidental catch allowance, and Amendment 80 allocation of the BSAI Atka mackerel TAC.

Table 4—Final 2013 and 2014 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the Bsai Atka Mackerel TAC

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Sector 1Season 2 3 42013 allocation by area2014 allocation by area
Eastern Aleutian District/Bering SeaCentral 5 Aleutian DistrictWestern Aleutian DistrictEastern Aleutian District/Bering SeaCentral 5 Aleutian DistrictWestern Aleutian District
TACn/a16,9007,5201,50021,6529,6701,000
CDQ reserveTotal1,8088051612,3171,035107
A904402801,15851754
Critical Habitat 5n/a40n/an/a52n/a
B904402801,15851754
Critical Habitat 5n/a40n/an/a52n/a
ICATotal1,00075401,0007540
Jig 6Total70009200
BSAI trawl limited accessTotal1,40266401,8248560
A70133209124280
B70133209124280
Amendment 80 sectorsTotal12,6195,9761,30016,4197,704853
A6,3102,9886508,2103,852427
B6,3102,9886508,2103,852427
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative 7Total 77,2713,5637839,4824,596500
A3,6361,7823924,7412,298250
Critical Habitat 5n/a178n/an/a230n/a
B3,6361,7823924,7412,298250
Critical Habitat 5n/a178n/an/a230n/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative 7Total 75,3482,4145176,9373,108353
A2,6741,2072593,4691,554177
Critical Habitat 5n/a121n/an/a155n/a
B2,6741,2072593,4691,554177
Critical Habitat 5n/a121n/an/a155n/a
1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
2 Regulations at §§ 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery.
3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10 and the B season from June 10 to November 1.
5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C) requires the TAC in area 542 shall be no more than 47% of ABC, and Atka mackerel harvests for Amendment 80 cooperatives and CDQ groups within waters 10 nm to 20 nm of Gramp Rock and Tag Island, as described Table 12 to part 679, in Area 542 are limited to no more than 10 percent of the Amendment 80 cooperative Atka mackerel allocation or 10 percent of the CDQ Atka mackerel allocation.Start Printed Page 761
6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
7 The 2014 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2013. NMFS will post 2014 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in December 2013.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7), Table 5 of the final 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013) is revised as Table 5a for the 2014 gear shares and seasonal allowances of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC consistent with this adjustment.

Table 5a—Final 2014 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI Pacific Cod TAC

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Gear sectorPercent2014 share of gear sector total2014 share of sector total2014 seasonal apportionment
SeasonsAmount
BS TAC246,897n/an/an/a
BS CDQ26,418n/asee § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)n/a
AI TAC6,997n/an/an/a
AI CDQ749n/asee § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1100226,727n/an/an/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear60.8137,850n/an/an/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2n/a500n/asee § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B)n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-totaln/a137,350n/an/an/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processor48.7n/a110,016Jan 1-Jun 1056,108
Jun 10-Dec 3153,908
Hook-and-line catcher vessel ≥60 ft LOA0.2n/a452Jan 1-Jun 10230
Jun 10-Dec 31221
Pot catcher/processor1.5n/a3,389Jan 1-Jun 101,728
Sept 1-Dec 311,660
Pot catcher vessel ≥60 ft LOA8.4n/a18,976Jan 1-Jun 109,678
Sept 1-Dec 319,298
Catcher vessel <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear2n/a4,518n/an/a
Trawl catcher vessel22.150,107n/aJan 20-Apr 137,079
Apr 1-Jun 105,512
Jun 10-Nov 17,516
AFA trawl catcher/processor2.35,215n/aJan 20-Apr 13,911
Apr 1-Jun 101,304
Jun 10-Nov 10
Amendment 8013.430,381n/aJan 20-Apr 122,786
Apr 1-Jun 107,595
Jun 10-Nov 10
Alaska Groundfish Cooperativen/an/a5,657Jan 20-Apr 14,243
Apr 1-Jun 101,414
Jun 10-Nov 10
Alaska Seafood Cooperativen/an/a24,724Jan 20-Apr 118,543
Apr 1-Jun 106,181
Jun 10-Nov 10
Jig1.43,174n/aJan 1-Apr 301,905
Apr 30-Aug 31635
Aug 31-Dec 31635
1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains.
2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2014 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod in the BSAI based on the best scientific information available. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of December 23, 2013, and additional time for prior public comment would result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions.

The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written Start Printed Page 762comments on this action to the above address until January 17, 2014.

This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: January 2, 2014.

Sean F. Corson,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2014-00021 Filed 1-2-14; 4:15 pm]

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