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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 18152

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of the Aleut Corporation's pollock directed fishing allowances from the Aleutian Islands subarea to the Bering Sea subarea directed fisheries. These actions are necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2020 total allowable catch of pollock, 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.), March 27, 2020, until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2020.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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 (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.

In the Aleutian Islands subarea, the portion of the 2020 pollock total allowable catch (TAC) allocated to the Aleut Corporation's directed fishing allowance (DFA) is 14,700 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020).

As of March 24, 2020, the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) has determined that 10,000 mt of Aleut Corporation's DFA in the Aleutian Islands subarea will not be harvested. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(4), NMFS reallocates 10,000 mt of Aleut Corporation's DFA from the Aleutian Islands subarea to the Bering Sea subarea DFA allocations. The 10,000 mt of pollock in the Bering Sea subarea is apportioned to the AFA Inshore sector (50 percent), AFA catcher/processor sector (40 percent), and the AFA mothership sector (10 percent). The 2020 Bering Sea subarea pollock incidental catch allowance remains at 47,453 mt. As a result, the 2020 harvest specifications for pollock in the Aleutian Islands subarea included in the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020 and 85 FR 17034, March 26, 2020) are revised as follows: 4,700 mt to Aleut Corporation's DFA. Furthermore, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5), Table 4 of the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (85 FR 13553, March 9, 2020 and 85 FR 17034, March 26, 2020) is revised to make 2020 pollock allocations consistent with this reallocation.

Table 4—Final 2020 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 sector2020 Allocations2020 A season 12020 B season 1
A season DFASCA harvest limit 2B season DFA
Bering Sea subarea TAC 11,436,900n/an/an/a
CDQ DFA144,40064,98040,43279,420
ICA 147,453n/an/an/a
Total Bering Sea non-CDQ DFA1,245,047560,271348,613684,776
AFA Inshore622,524280,136174,307342,388
AFA Catcher/Processors 3498,019224,108139,445273,910
Catch by C/Ps455,687205,059n/a250,628
Catch by CVs 342,33219,049n/a23,282
Unlisted C/P Limit 42,4901,121n/a1,370
AFA Motherships124,50556,02734,86168,478
Excessive Harvesting Limit 5217,883n/an/an/a
Excessive Processing Limit 6373,514n/an/an/a
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC55,120n/an/an/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC 17,100n/an/an/a
CDQ DFAn/a
ICA2,4001,200n/a1,200
Aleut Corporation4,7004,700n/a
Area harvest limit 7n/an/an/an/a
54116,536n/an/an/a
5428,268n/an/an/a
5432,756n/an/an/a
Bogoslof District ICA 875n/an/an/a
1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.7 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 Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual Aleutian Islands pollock (AI pollock) TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the Aleutian Islands subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock.Start Printed Page 18153
2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C), no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1.
3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels with a C/P endorsement delivering to listed C/Ps, unless there is a C/P sector cooperative for the year.
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 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 of no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 of no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 of no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(B), the Bogoslof District is closed to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector.
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 delay the reallocation of AI pollock. Since the pollock fishery opened January 20, 2020, it is important to immediately inform the industry as to the final Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. Immediate notification is necessary to allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery; allow the industry to plan for the fishing season and avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet as well as processors; and provide opportunity to harvest increased seasonal pollock allocations while value is optimum. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of March 24, 2020.

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.

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

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: March 27, 2020.

Hélène M.N. Scalliet,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2020-06813 Filed 3-27-20; 4:15 pm]

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