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Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015 Tribal Fishery Allocations for Pacific Whiting; Reapportionment Between Tribal and Non-Tribal Sectors

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Reapportionment of tribal Pacific whiting allocation; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This document announces the reapportionment of 30,000 metric tons (mt) of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal commercial fishery sectors via automatic action on September 21, 2015, in order to allow Start Printed Page 184full utilization of the Pacific whiting resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective December 30, 2015, until December 31, 2015. The reapportionment of Pacific whiting is applicable September 21, 2015, until December 31, 2015. Comments will be accepted through January 20, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0017, by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2015-0017, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070, Attn: Miako Ushio.

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. 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:

Miako Ushio (West Coast Region, NMFS), phone: 206-526-4644 or email: miako.ushio@noaa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

This document is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register's Web site at http://www.gpo.gov/​fdsys/​search/​home.action. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/​.

Pacific Whiting

Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus) is a very productive species with highly variable recruitment (the biomass of fish that mature and enter the fishery each year) and a relatively short life span when compared to other groundfish species. Pacific whiting has the largest (by volume) annual allowable harvest levels of the more than 90 groundfish species managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which governs the groundfish fishery off Washington, Oregon, and California. The coastwide Pacific whiting stock is managed jointly by the United States (U.S.) and Canada, and mature Pacific whiting are commonly available to vessels operating in U.S. waters from April through December. Background on the stock assessment for and the establishment of the 2015 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Pacific whiting is provided in the final rule for the 2015 Pacific whiting harvest specifications, published May 14, 2015 (80 FR 27588). Pacific whiting is allocated to the Pacific Coast treaty tribes (tribal fishery), and to three non-tribal commercial sectors: The catcher/processor cooperative (C/P Coop), the mothership cooperative (MS Coop), and the Shorebased Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) Program.

This document announces the reapportionment of 30,000 mt of Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal commercial sectors on September 21, 2015. Regulations at § 660.131(h) contain provisions that allow the Regional Administrator to reapportion Pacific whiting from the tribal allocation, specified at § 660.50, that will not be harvested by the end of the fishing year to other sectors.

Pacific Whiting Reapportionment

For 2015, the Pacific Coast treaty tribes were allocated 56,888 mt of Pacific whiting. The best available information through September 14, 2015, indicated that there had been no harvest by the tribes to date, and at least 30,000 mt of the tribal allocation would not be harvested by December 31, 2015. To allow for full utilization of the resource, NMFS reapportioned 30,000 mt to the Shorebased IFQ Program, C/P Coop and MS Coop in proportion to each sector's original allocation on that date. Reapportioning this amount was expected to allow for greater attainment of the TAC while not limiting tribal harvest opportunities for the remainder of the year. Emails sent directly to fishing businesses and individuals, and postings on the West Coast Region's internet site were used to provide actual notice to the affected fishers. Reapportionment was effective the same day as the notice.

After the reapportionment, the amounts of Pacific whiting available for 2015 are:

  • Tribal 26,888 mt;
  • C/P Coop 100,873 mt;
  • MS Coop 71,204 mt; and
  • Shorebased IFQ Program 124,607.45 mt.

Classification

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that good cause exists for this notification to be issued without affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) because such notification would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. As previously noted, actual notice of the reapportionment was provided to fishers at the time of the action. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this reapportionment was impracticable because NMFS had insufficient time to provide prior notice and the opportunity for public comment between the time the information about the progress of the fishery needed to make this determination became available and the time at which fishery modifications had to be implemented in order to allow fishers access to the available fish during the remainder of the fishing season. For the same reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for these actions, required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

These actions are authorized by §§ 660.55 (i), 660.60(d) and 660.131(h) and are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: December 30, 2015.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2015-33155 Filed 12-30-15; 4:15 pm]

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