Pacific Island Fisheries; 2016 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures, 18716-18720 [2017-08116]

Download as PDF 18716 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 76 / Friday, April 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations § 648.81(h); the Fippennies Ledge Area as defined in paragraph (c)(2)(i)(A) of this section; Closed Area I and Closed Area II, as defined in § 648.81(a) and (b), respectively, during the period February 16 through April 30; and the Western GOM Closure Area, as defined at § 648.81(e), where it overlaps with GOM Cod Protection Closures I through III, as defined in § 648.81(f)(4). This list may be modified through a framework adjustment, as specified in § 648.90. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 648.90, revise paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (iii) to read as follows: § 648.90 NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and specifications, and flexible area action system. nlaroche on DSK30NT082PROD with RULES * * * * * (a) * * * (2) Biennial review. (i) At a minimum, the NE multispecies PDT shall meet on or before September 30 every other year to perform a review of the fishery, using the most current scientific information available provided primarily from the NEFSC. Data provided by states, ASMFC, the USCG, and other sources may also be considered by the PDT. The PDT shall review available data pertaining to: Catch and landings, discards, DAS allocations, DAS use, sector operations, and other measures of fishing effort; survey results; stock status; current estimates of fishing mortality and overfishing levels; social and economic impacts; enforcement issues; and any other relevant information. The PDT may also review the performance of different user groups or fleet sectors. (ii) Based on this review, the PDT shall recommend ACLs for the upcoming fishing year(s), as described in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, and develop options for consideration by the Council, if necessary, on any changes, adjustments, or additions to DAS allocations, closed areas, or other measures necessary to rebuild overfished stocks and achieve the FMP goals and objectives, which may include a preferred option. The range of options developed by the PDT may include any of the management measures in the FMP, including, but not limited to: ACLs, which must be based on the projected fishing mortality levels required to meet the goals and objectives outlined in the FMP for the 12 regulated species and ocean pout if able to be determined; identifying and distributing ACLs and other subcomponents of the ACLs among various segments of the fishery; AMs; DAS changes; possession limits; gear restrictions; closed areas; permitting restrictions; minimum fish sizes; VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:51 Apr 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 recreational fishing measures; describing and identifying EFH; fishing gear management measures to protect EFH; designating habitat areas of particular concern within EFH; and changes to the SBRM, including the CVbased performance standard, the means by which discard data are collected/ obtained, fishery stratification, the process for prioritizing observer sea-day allocations, reports, and/or industryfunded observers or observer set aside programs. The PDT must demonstrate through analyses and documentation that the options it develops are expected to meet the FMP goals and objectives. (iii) In addition, the PDT may develop ranges of options for any of the management measures in the FMP and the following conditions that may be adjusted through a framework adjustment to achieve FMP goals and objectives including, but not limited to: Revisions to DAS measures, including DAS allocations (such as the distribution of DAS among the four categories of DAS), future uses for Category C DAS, and DAS baselines, adjustments for steaming time, etc.; accumulation limits due to a permit buyout or buyback; modifications to capacity measures, such as changes to the DAS transfer or DAS leasing measures; calculation of area-specific ACLs (including sub-ACLs for specific stocks and areas (e.g., Gulf of Maine cod)), area management boundaries, and adoption of area-specific management measures including the delineation of inshore/offshore fishing practices, gear restrictions, declaration time periods; sector allocation requirements and specifications, including the establishment of a new sector, the disapproval of an existing sector, the allowable percent of ACL available to a sector through a sector allocation, an optional sub-ACL specific to Handgear A permitted vessels, and the calculation of PSCs; sector administration provisions, including at-sea and dockside monitoring measures; sector reporting requirements; state-operated permit bank administrative provisions; measures to implement the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding, including any specified TACs (hard or target); changes to administrative measures; additional uses for Regular B DAS; reporting requirements; declaration requirements pertaining to when and what time period a vessel must declare into or out of a fishery management area; the GOM Inshore Conservation and Management Stewardship Plan; adjustments to the Handgear A or B permits; gear requirements to improve selectivity, PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 reduce bycatch, and/or reduce impacts of the fishery on EFH; SAP modifications; revisions to the ABC control rule and status determination criteria, including, but not limited to, changes in the target fishing mortality rates, minimum biomass thresholds, numerical estimates of parameter values, and the use of a proxy for biomass may be made either through a biennial adjustment or framework adjustment; changes to the SBRM, including the CV-based performance standard, the means by which discard data are collected/obtained, fishery stratification, the process for prioritizing observer sea-day allocations, reports, and/or industry-funded observers or observer set aside programs; and any other measures currently included in the FMP. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–08035 Filed 4–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 160422356–7283–02] RIN 0648–XE587 Pacific Island Fisheries; 2016 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final specifications. AGENCY: In this final rule, NMFS specifies the 2016 annual catch limits (ACLs) for Pacific Island bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem fisheries, and accountability measures (AMs) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The final ACLs and AMs are effective for fishing year 2016. The fishing year for each fishery begins on January 1 and ends on December 31, except for precious coral fisheries, which begin July 1 and end on June 30 the following year. Although the 2016 fishing year has ended for most stocks, we will evaluate 2016 catches against these final ACLs when data become available in mid-2017. The ACL and AM specifications support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. DATES: The final specifications are effective May 22, 2017. The final SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21APR1.SGM 21APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 76 / Friday, April 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations specifications are applicable from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. ADDRESSES: Copies of the fishery ecosystem plans (FEPs) are available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel. 808–522–8220, fax 808–522– 8226, or www.wpcouncil.org. Copies of the environmental assessments and findings of no significant impact for this action, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2016–0049, are available from www.regulations.gov, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matt Dunlap, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5177. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is specifying the 2016 ACLs for bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem management unit species (MUS) in American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and Hawaii. NMFS proposed these specifications on January 18, 2017 (82 FR 5517), and the final specifications do not differ from those proposed. The 2016 fishing year began on January 1 and ended on December 31, except for precious coral fisheries, which began on July 1, 2016, and ends on June 30, 2017. Except for bottomfish in American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI, and Guam jacks, Hawaii crabs, and Hawaii octopus, the final 2016 ACLs are identical to those that NMFS specified for 2015 (80 FR 52415, August 31, 2015). For bottomfish in American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, the 2016 ACLs are based on new estimates of maximum sustainable yield contained in a 2016 stock assessment updated by the NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). This stock assessment update represents the best scientific information available for specifying ACLs. For Guam jacks, Hawaii crabs, and Hawaii octopus, NMFS and the Council determined that the average 2013–2015 catch for each of these three stock complexes exceeded their respective 2015 ACLs. Specifically, average 2013– 2015 catch for Guam jacks was 37,399 lb and exceeded the 2015 ACL of 29,300 lb by 8,099 lb. For Hawaii crabs, average 2013–2015 catch was 40,363 lb and exceeded the 2015 ACL of 33,500 lb by 6,863 lb. For Hawaii octopus, average 2013–2015 catch was 40,237 lb and exceeded the 2015 ACL of 35,700 lb by 4,537 lb. In accordance with the 2015 AMs (80 FR 52415, August 31, 2015), and in consideration of the best available scientific information available, NMFS proposes to reduce the 2016 ACLs from the 2015 ACL by the amount of the 2015 overages for each of the three stocks. As a result, the final ACL for Guam jacks is 21,201 lb, 26,637 lb for Hawaii crabs, and 31,163 lb for Hawaii mollusks. In addition, NMFS prepared an updated environmental assessment for Pacific Island crustacean and precious coral fisheries; in December 2015, NMFS and the Council received new information on the historical and projected stock status of Kona crab in Hawaii. The information indicates that the Hawaii Kona crab stock was likely to be overfished as of 2006. However, an independent review identified data gaps and methodological concerns with the 2015 stock assessment. The PIFSC also noted concerns with the data used in the recent stock assessment, but found that the assessment provided useful information regarding stock status within the last decade. Because of the uncertainty in the projected stock status and structure of Hawaii Kona crab after 2006, the Council did not account for the information in the stock assessment, along with the other relevant information that they considered in recommending the 2016 Hawaii Kona crab ACL. For this reason, NMFS will not set a 2016 ACL for Hawaii Kona crab. Instead, NMFS will continue to work with the Council and other partners to review the available data and to set a 2017 acceptable biological catch and ACL for the Hawaii Kona crab stock, consistent with the Magnuson- 18717 Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). NMFS is also not specifying ACLs for MUS that are currently subject to Federal fishing moratoria or prohibitions. These MUS include all species of gold coral (78 FR 32181, May 29, 2013), the three Hawaii seamount groundfish (pelagic armorhead, alfonsin, and raftfish (75 FR 69015, November 10, 2010), and deepwater precious corals at the Westpac Bed Refugia (75 FR 2198, January 14, 2010). The current prohibitions on fishing for these MUS serve as the functional equivalent of an ACL of zero. Additionally, NMFS is not specifying ACLs for bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, or coral reef ecosystem MUS identified in the Pacific Remote Islands Area (PRIA) FEP. This is because fishing is prohibited in the EEZ within 12 nm of emergent land, unless authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (78 FR 32996, June 3, 2013). To date, NMFS has not received fishery data that would support any such approvals. In addition, there is no suitable habitat for these stocks beyond the 12 nm no-fishing zone, except at Kingman Reef, where fishing for these resources does not occur. Therefore, the current prohibitions on fishing serve as the functional equivalent of an ACL of zero. However, NMFS will continue to monitor authorized fishing within the Pacific Remote Islands Monument in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and may develop additional fishing requirements, including monument-specific catch limits for species that may require them. NMFS is also not specifying ACLs for pelagic MUS at this time, because NMFS previously determined that pelagic species are subject to international fishery agreements or have a life cycle of approximately one year and, therefore, are statutorily excepted from the ACL requirements. 2016 Annual Catch Limit Specifications Tables 1–4 list the final 2016 ACL specifications. TABLE 1—AMERICAN SAMOA ACL specification (lb) nlaroche on DSK30NT082PROD with RULES Fishery Management unit species Bottomfish ................................................. Crustacean ................................................ Bottomfish multi-species stock complex ...................................................................... Deepwater shrimp ........................................................................................................ Spiny lobster ................................................................................................................ Slipper lobster .............................................................................................................. Kona crab ..................................................................................................................... Black coral .................................................................................................................... Precious corals in the American Samoa Exploratory Area ......................................... Precious Coral .......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:51 Apr 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\21APR1.SGM 21APR1 106,000 80,000 4,845 30 3,200 790 2,205 18718 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 76 / Friday, April 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1—AMERICAN SAMOA—Continued ACL specification (lb) Fishery Management unit species Coral Reef Ecosystem .............................. Selar crumenophthalmus—atule, bigeye scad ............................................................ Acanthuridae—surgeonfish .......................................................................................... Carangidae—jacks ....................................................................................................... Carcharhinidae—reef sharks ....................................................................................... Crustaceans—crabs ..................................................................................................... Holocentridae—squirrelfish .......................................................................................... Kyphosidae—rudderfishes ........................................................................................... Labridae—wrasses ....................................................................................................... Lethrinidae—emperors ................................................................................................. Lutjanidae—snappers .................................................................................................. Mollusks—turbo snail; octopus; giant clams ................................................................ Mugilidae—mullets ....................................................................................................... Mullidae—goatfishes .................................................................................................... Scaridae—parrotfish ..................................................................................................... Serranidae—groupers .................................................................................................. Siganidae—rabbitfishes ............................................................................................... Bolbometopon muricatum—bumphead parrotfish ....................................................... Cheilinus undulatus—Humphead (Napoleon) wrasse ................................................. All other CREMUS combined ...................................................................................... 37,400 129,400 19,900 1,615 4,300 15,100 2,000 16,200 19,600 63,100 18,400 4,600 11,900 272,000 25,300 200 235 1,743 18,400 TABLE 2—MARIANA ARCHIPELAGO—GUAM Fishery Management unit species ACL specification (lb) Bottomfish ....................................... Crustaceans .................................... Bottomfish multi-species stock complex ................................................ Deepwater shrimp .................................................................................. Spiny lobster .......................................................................................... Slipper lobster ........................................................................................ Kona crab .............................................................................................. Black coral ............................................................................................. Precious corals in the Guam Exploratory Area ..................................... Selar crumenophthalmus—atulai, bigeye scad ..................................... Acanthuridae—surgeonfish .................................................................... Carangidae—jacks ................................................................................. Carcharhinidae—reef sharks ................................................................. Crustaceans—crabs .............................................................................. Holocentridae—squirrelfish .................................................................... Kyphosidae—chubs/rudderfish .............................................................. Labridae—wrasses ................................................................................ Lethrinidae—emperors .......................................................................... Lutjanidae—snappers ............................................................................ Mollusks—octopus ................................................................................. Mugilidae—mullets ................................................................................. Mullidae—goatfish ................................................................................. Scaridae—parrotfish .............................................................................. Serranidae—groupers ............................................................................ Siganidae—rabbitfish ............................................................................. Bolbometopon muricatum—bumphead parrotfish ................................. Cheilinus undulatus—humphead (Napoleon) wrasse ........................... All other CREMUS combined ................................................................ 66,000. 48,488. 3,135. 20. 1,900. 700. 2,205. 50,200. 97,600. 21,201. 1,900. 7,300. 11,400. 9,600. 25,200. 53,000. 18,000. 23,800. 17,900. 15,300. 71,600. 22,500. 18,600. 797 (CNMI and Guam combined). 1,960. 185,000. Precious Coral ................................. Coral Reef Ecosystem .................... TABLE 3—MARIANA ARCHIPELAGO—CNMI ACL specification (lb) Management unit species Bottomfish ....................................... Crustacean ...................................... nlaroche on DSK30NT082PROD with RULES Fishery Bottomfish multi-species stock complex ................................................ Deepwater shrimp .................................................................................. Spiny lobster .......................................................................................... Slipper lobster ........................................................................................ Kona crab .............................................................................................. Black coral ............................................................................................. Precious corals in the CNMI Exploratory Area ..................................... Selar crumenophthalmus—Atulai, bigeye scad ..................................... Acanthuridae—surgeonfish .................................................................... Carangidae—jacks ................................................................................. Carcharhinidae—reef sharks ................................................................. Crustaceans—crabs .............................................................................. Precious Coral ................................. Coral Reef Ecosystem .................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:51 Apr 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\21APR1.SGM 228,000. 275,570. 7,410. 60. 6,300. 2,100. 2,205. 77,400. 302,600. 44,900. 5,600. 4,400. 21APR1 18719 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 76 / Friday, April 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 3—MARIANA ARCHIPELAGO—CNMI—Continued Management unit species ACL specification (lb) Holocentridae—squirrelfishes ................................................................ Kyphosidae—rudderfishes ..................................................................... Labridae—wrasses ................................................................................ Lethrinidae—emperors .......................................................................... Lutjanidae—snappers ............................................................................ Mollusks—turbo snail; octopus; giant clams ......................................... Mugilidae—mullets ................................................................................. Mullidae—goatfish ................................................................................. Scaridae—parrotfish .............................................................................. Serranidae—groupers ............................................................................ Siganidae—rabbitfish ............................................................................. Bolbometopon muricatum—Bumphead parrotfish ................................. Cheilinus undulatus—Humphead (Napoleon) wrasse ........................... All other CREMUS combined ................................................................ 66,100. 22,700. 55,100. 53,700. 190,400. 9,800. 4,500. 28,400. 144,000. 86,900. 10,200. 797 (CNMI and Guam combined). 2,009. 7,300. Fishery TABLE 4—HAWAII ACL specification (lb) Fishery Management unit species Bottomfish ................................................. Crustacean ................................................ Non-Deep 7 bottomfish ................................................................................................ Deepwater shrimp ........................................................................................................ Spiny lobster ................................................................................................................ Slipper lobster .............................................................................................................. Kona crab ..................................................................................................................... Auau Channel black coral ............................................................................................ Makapuu Bed—Pink coral ........................................................................................... Makapuu Bed—Bamboo coral ..................................................................................... 180 Fathom Bank—Pink coral ..................................................................................... 180 Fathom Bank—Bamboo coral ............................................................................... Brooks Bank—Pink coral ............................................................................................. Brooks Bank—Bamboo coral ....................................................................................... Kaena Point Bed—Pink coral ...................................................................................... Kaena Point Bed—Bamboo coral ................................................................................ Keahole Bed—Pink coral ............................................................................................. Keahole Bed—Bamboo coral ....................................................................................... Precious corals in the Hawaii Exploratory Area .......................................................... Selar crumenophthalmus—akule, bigeye scad ........................................................... Decapterus macarellus—opelu, mackerel scad .......................................................... Acanthuridae—surgeonfishes ...................................................................................... Carangidae—jacks ....................................................................................................... Carcharhinidae—reef sharks ....................................................................................... Crustaceans—crabs ..................................................................................................... Holocentridae—squirrelfishes ...................................................................................... Kyphosidae—rudderfishes ........................................................................................... Labridae—wrasses ....................................................................................................... Lethrinidae—emperors ................................................................................................. Lutjanidae—snappers .................................................................................................. Mollusks—octopus ....................................................................................................... Mugilidae—mullets ....................................................................................................... Mullidae—goatfishes .................................................................................................... Scaridae—parrotfishes ................................................................................................. Serranidae—groupers .................................................................................................. All other CREMUS combined ...................................................................................... Precious Coral .......................................... Coral Reef Ecosystem .............................. nlaroche on DSK30NT082PROD with RULES Accountability Measures Federal logbook entries and required catch reporting from fisheries in Federal waters are not sufficient to monitor and track catches towards the ACL specifications accurately. This is because most fishing for bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem MUS occurs in state waters, generally 0–3 nm from shore. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:51 Apr 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 For these reasons, NMFS will apply a moving 3-year average catch to evaluate fishery performance against the ACLs. Specifically, NMFS and the Council will use the average catch during fishing year 2014, 2015, and 2016 to evaluate fishery performance against the appropriate 2016 ACL. At the end of each fishing year, the Council will review catches relative to each ACL. If NMFS and the Council determine that PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 178,000 250,773 15,000 280 None 5,512 2,205 551 489 123 979 245 148 37 148 37 2,205 988,000 438,000 342,000 161,200 9,310 26,637 148,000 105,000 205,000 35,500 330,300 31,163 19,200 165,000 239,000 128,400 485,000 the three-year average catch for the fishery exceeds the specified ACL, NMFS and the Council will reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount of the overage in the subsequent year. You may find additional background information on this action in the preamble to the proposed specifications published on January 18, 2017 (82 FR 5517). E:\FR\FM\21APR1.SGM 21APR1 18720 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 76 / Friday, April 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations nlaroche on DSK30NT082PROD with RULES Comments and Responses The comment period for the proposed specifications ended on February 2, 2017. NMFS received three comments and responds, as follows: Comment 1: The commenter supports annual catch limits and strict limits to end fishing practices that incur bycatch. Response: NMFS and the Council consider the effects to target and nontarget species (including bycatch) when setting ACLs and AMs. The fisheries affected by this action, in general, have very little bycatch. Comment 2: The commenter supports ACLs because maintaining catch limits keeps the ecology in balance and sustains the financial future of catches for years to come. Response: NMFS agrees. Comment 3: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) questioned the NMFS interpretation of the MagnusonStevens Act statutory exception to the ACL requirements for fish stocks managed under international agreements. The NRDC interpretation is that the international exception was not permanent; rather the ACLs would take effect in either 2010 or 2011, depending on a stock’s overfishing status. The NRDC expressed the notion that, if a stock is managed under an international agreement, then the start date could be adjusted to match the start date for hardcap management provided by the international agreement. The NRDC requested that NMFS set ACLs for all stocks in the region, including those VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:51 Apr 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 subject to management under international fishery agreements. Response: NMFS disagrees with the NRDC interpretation of the statute and stands by our interpretation that confirms the ACL exception for stocks managed by international agreements, as described in previous final actions revising the National Standard guidelines (74 FR 3178, January 16, 2009; 81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016). As the commenter observed, the text of the statute’s ‘‘international exception’’ is vague. NMFS has considered public comment on different possible interpretations, including looking specifically at the interpretation advanced by some commenters that the exception only pertains to the 2010– 2011 timing requirements. Having considered the text of the exception and other relevant provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS decided in 2009, and again in 2016, not to interpret the exception as applying only to the timing of the ACL and AM requirements. Based on the NRDC comments on this proposed rule, NMFS has identified no new considerations or issues that warrant re-examination of the approach it adopted in 2009 and confirmed in 2016 when revising National Standard guidelines. Changes From the Proposed Specifications There are no changes in the final specifications from the proposed specifications. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 Classification The Regional Administrator, NMFS PIR, determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island fisheries, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. 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 specification stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for certification in the proposed specifications, and does not repeat it here. NMFS did not receive comments regarding this certification. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and one was not prepared. This action is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: April 18, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–08116 Filed 4–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21APR1.SGM 21APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 76 (Friday, April 21, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18716-18720]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-08116]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 160422356-7283-02]
RIN 0648-XE587


Pacific Island Fisheries; 2016 Annual Catch Limits and 
Accountability Measures

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

ACTION: Final specifications.

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SUMMARY: In this final rule, NMFS specifies the 2016 annual catch 
limits (ACLs) for Pacific Island bottomfish, crustacean, precious 
coral, and coral reef ecosystem fisheries, and accountability measures 
(AMs) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The final 
ACLs and AMs are effective for fishing year 2016. The fishing year for 
each fishery begins on January 1 and ends on December 31, except for 
precious coral fisheries, which begin July 1 and end on June 30 the 
following year. Although the 2016 fishing year has ended for most 
stocks, we will evaluate 2016 catches against these final ACLs when 
data become available in mid-2017. The ACL and AM specifications 
support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. 
Pacific Islands.

DATES: The final specifications are effective May 22, 2017. The final

[[Page 18717]]

specifications are applicable from January 1, 2016, through December 
31, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the fishery ecosystem plans (FEPs) are available 
from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 
Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel. 808-522-8220, fax 808-
522-8226, or www.wpcouncil.org. Copies of the environmental assessments 
and findings of no significant impact for this action, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0049, are available from www.regulations.gov, or from 
Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region 
(PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matt Dunlap, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5177.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is specifying the 2016 ACLs for 
bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem 
management unit species (MUS) in American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and 
Hawaii. NMFS proposed these specifications on January 18, 2017 (82 FR 
5517), and the final specifications do not differ from those proposed. 
The 2016 fishing year began on January 1 and ended on December 31, 
except for precious coral fisheries, which began on July 1, 2016, and 
ends on June 30, 2017. Except for bottomfish in American Samoa, Guam, 
and the CNMI, and Guam jacks, Hawaii crabs, and Hawaii octopus, the 
final 2016 ACLs are identical to those that NMFS specified for 2015 (80 
FR 52415, August 31, 2015). For bottomfish in American Samoa, Guam, and 
the Northern Mariana Islands, the 2016 ACLs are based on new estimates 
of maximum sustainable yield contained in a 2016 stock assessment 
updated by the NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). 
This stock assessment update represents the best scientific information 
available for specifying ACLs.
    For Guam jacks, Hawaii crabs, and Hawaii octopus, NMFS and the 
Council determined that the average 2013-2015 catch for each of these 
three stock complexes exceeded their respective 2015 ACLs. 
Specifically, average 2013-2015 catch for Guam jacks was 37,399 lb and 
exceeded the 2015 ACL of 29,300 lb by 8,099 lb. For Hawaii crabs, 
average 2013-2015 catch was 40,363 lb and exceeded the 2015 ACL of 
33,500 lb by 6,863 lb. For Hawaii octopus, average 2013-2015 catch was 
40,237 lb and exceeded the 2015 ACL of 35,700 lb by 4,537 lb. In 
accordance with the 2015 AMs (80 FR 52415, August 31, 2015), and in 
consideration of the best available scientific information available, 
NMFS proposes to reduce the 2016 ACLs from the 2015 ACL by the amount 
of the 2015 overages for each of the three stocks. As a result, the 
final ACL for Guam jacks is 21,201 lb, 26,637 lb for Hawaii crabs, and 
31,163 lb for Hawaii mollusks.
    In addition, NMFS prepared an updated environmental assessment for 
Pacific Island crustacean and precious coral fisheries; in December 
2015, NMFS and the Council received new information on the historical 
and projected stock status of Kona crab in Hawaii. The information 
indicates that the Hawaii Kona crab stock was likely to be overfished 
as of 2006. However, an independent review identified data gaps and 
methodological concerns with the 2015 stock assessment. The PIFSC also 
noted concerns with the data used in the recent stock assessment, but 
found that the assessment provided useful information regarding stock 
status within the last decade. Because of the uncertainty in the 
projected stock status and structure of Hawaii Kona crab after 2006, 
the Council did not account for the information in the stock 
assessment, along with the other relevant information that they 
considered in recommending the 2016 Hawaii Kona crab ACL. For this 
reason, NMFS will not set a 2016 ACL for Hawaii Kona crab. Instead, 
NMFS will continue to work with the Council and other partners to 
review the available data and to set a 2017 acceptable biological catch 
and ACL for the Hawaii Kona crab stock, consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    NMFS is also not specifying ACLs for MUS that are currently subject 
to Federal fishing moratoria or prohibitions. These MUS include all 
species of gold coral (78 FR 32181, May 29, 2013), the three Hawaii 
seamount groundfish (pelagic armorhead, alfonsin, and raftfish (75 FR 
69015, November 10, 2010), and deepwater precious corals at the Westpac 
Bed Refugia (75 FR 2198, January 14, 2010). The current prohibitions on 
fishing for these MUS serve as the functional equivalent of an ACL of 
zero.
    Additionally, NMFS is not specifying ACLs for bottomfish, 
crustacean, precious coral, or coral reef ecosystem MUS identified in 
the Pacific Remote Islands Area (PRIA) FEP. This is because fishing is 
prohibited in the EEZ within 12 nm of emergent land, unless authorized 
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (78 FR 32996, June 3, 
2013). To date, NMFS has not received fishery data that would support 
any such approvals. In addition, there is no suitable habitat for these 
stocks beyond the 12 nm no-fishing zone, except at Kingman Reef, where 
fishing for these resources does not occur. Therefore, the current 
prohibitions on fishing serve as the functional equivalent of an ACL of 
zero. However, NMFS will continue to monitor authorized fishing within 
the Pacific Remote Islands Monument in consultation with the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, and may develop additional fishing requirements, 
including monument-specific catch limits for species that may require 
them.
    NMFS is also not specifying ACLs for pelagic MUS at this time, 
because NMFS previously determined that pelagic species are subject to 
international fishery agreements or have a life cycle of approximately 
one year and, therefore, are statutorily excepted from the ACL 
requirements.

2016 Annual Catch Limit Specifications

    Tables 1-4 list the final 2016 ACL specifications.

                         Table 1--American Samoa
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                ACL
            Fishery              Management unit species   specification
                                                               (lb)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottomfish.....................  Bottomfish multi-               106,000
                                  species stock complex.
Crustacean.....................  Deepwater shrimp.......          80,000
                                 Spiny lobster..........           4,845
                                 Slipper lobster........              30
                                 Kona crab..............           3,200
Precious Coral.................  Black coral............             790
                                 Precious corals in the            2,205
                                  American Samoa
                                  Exploratory Area.

[[Page 18718]]

 
Coral Reef Ecosystem...........  Selar crumenophthalmus--         37,400
                                  atule, bigeye scad.
                                 Acanthuridae--surgeonfi         129,400
                                  sh.
                                 Carangidae--jacks......          19,900
                                 Carcharhinidae--reef              1,615
                                  sharks.
                                 Crustaceans--crabs.....           4,300
                                 Holocentridae--squirrel          15,100
                                  fish.
                                 Kyphosidae--rudderfishe           2,000
                                  s.
                                 Labridae--wrasses......          16,200
                                 Lethrinidae--emperors..          19,600
                                 Lutjanidae--snappers...          63,100
                                 Mollusks--turbo snail;           18,400
                                  octopus; giant clams.
                                 Mugilidae--mullets.....           4,600
                                 Mullidae--goatfishes...          11,900
                                 Scaridae--parrotfish...         272,000
                                 Serranidae--groupers...          25,300
                                 Siganidae--rabbitfishes             200
                                 Bolbometopon muricatum--            235
                                  bumphead parrotfish.
                                 Cheilinus undulatus--             1,743
                                  Humphead (Napoleon)
                                  wrasse.
                                 All other CREMUS                 18,400
                                  combined.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 2--Mariana Archipelago--Guam
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               ACL
            Fishery                 Management unit       specification
                                        species               (lb)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottomfish....................  Bottomfish multi-       66,000.
                                 species stock complex.
Crustaceans...................  Deepwater shrimp......  48,488.
                                Spiny lobster.........  3,135.
                                Slipper lobster.......  20.
                                Kona crab.............  1,900.
Precious Coral................  Black coral...........  700.
                                Precious corals in the  2,205.
                                 Guam Exploratory Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem..........  Selar                   50,200.
                                 crumenophthalmus--atu
                                 lai, bigeye scad.
                                Acanthuridae--surgeonf  97,600.
                                 ish.
                                Carangidae--jacks.....  21,201.
                                Carcharhinidae--reef    1,900.
                                 sharks.
                                Crustaceans--crabs....  7,300.
                                Holocentridae--squirre  11,400.
                                 lfish.
                                Kyphosidae--chubs/      9,600.
                                 rudderfish.
                                Labridae--wrasses.....  25,200.
                                Lethrinidae--emperors.  53,000.
                                Lutjanidae--snappers..  18,000.
                                Mollusks--octopus.....  23,800.
                                Mugilidae--mullets....  17,900.
                                Mullidae--goatfish....  15,300.
                                Scaridae--parrotfish..  71,600.
                                Serranidae--groupers..  22,500.
                                Siganidae--rabbitfish.  18,600.
                                Bolbometopon            797 (CNMI and
                                 muricatum--bumphead     Guam combined).
                                 parrotfish.
                                Cheilinus undulatus--   1,960.
                                 humphead (Napoleon)
                                 wrasse.
                                All other CREMUS        185,000.
                                 combined.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 3--Mariana Archipelago--CNMI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               ACL
            Fishery                 Management unit       specification
                                        species               (lb)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottomfish....................  Bottomfish multi-       228,000.
                                 species stock complex.
Crustacean....................  Deepwater shrimp......  275,570.
                                Spiny lobster.........  7,410.
                                Slipper lobster.......  60.
                                Kona crab.............  6,300.
Precious Coral................  Black coral...........  2,100.
                                Precious corals in the  2,205.
                                 CNMI Exploratory Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem..........  Selar                   77,400.
                                 crumenophthalmus--Atu
                                 lai, bigeye scad.
                                Acanthuridae--surgeonf  302,600.
                                 ish.
                                Carangidae--jacks.....  44,900.
                                Carcharhinidae--reef    5,600.
                                 sharks.
                                Crustaceans--crabs....  4,400.

[[Page 18719]]

 
                                Holocentridae--squirre  66,100.
                                 lfishes.
                                Kyphosidae--rudderfish  22,700.
                                 es.
                                Labridae--wrasses.....  55,100.
                                Lethrinidae--emperors.  53,700.
                                Lutjanidae--snappers..  190,400.
                                Mollusks--turbo snail;  9,800.
                                 octopus; giant clams.
                                Mugilidae--mullets....  4,500.
                                Mullidae--goatfish....  28,400.
                                Scaridae--parrotfish..  144,000.
                                Serranidae--groupers..  86,900.
                                Siganidae--rabbitfish.  10,200.
                                Bolbometopon            797 (CNMI and
                                 muricatum--Bumphead     Guam combined).
                                 parrotfish.
                                Cheilinus undulatus--   2,009.
                                 Humphead (Napoleon)
                                 wrasse.
                                All other CREMUS        7,300.
                                 combined.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                             Table 4--Hawaii
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                ACL
            Fishery              Management unit species   specification
                                                               (lb)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bottomfish.....................  Non-Deep 7 bottomfish..         178,000
Crustacean.....................  Deepwater shrimp.......         250,773
                                 Spiny lobster..........          15,000
                                 Slipper lobster........             280
                                 Kona crab..............            None
Precious Coral.................  Auau Channel black                5,512
                                  coral.
                                 Makapuu Bed--Pink coral           2,205
                                 Makapuu Bed--Bamboo                 551
                                  coral.
                                 180 Fathom Bank--Pink               489
                                  coral.
                                 180 Fathom Bank--Bamboo             123
                                  coral.
                                 Brooks Bank--Pink coral             979
                                 Brooks Bank--Bamboo                 245
                                  coral.
                                 Kaena Point Bed--Pink               148
                                  coral.
                                 Kaena Point Bed--Bamboo              37
                                  coral.
                                 Keahole Bed--Pink coral             148
                                 Keahole Bed--Bamboo                  37
                                  coral.
                                 Precious corals in the            2,205
                                  Hawaii Exploratory
                                  Area.
Coral Reef Ecosystem...........  Selar crumenophthalmus--        988,000
                                  akule, bigeye scad.
                                 Decapterus macarellus--         438,000
                                  opelu, mackerel scad.
                                 Acanthuridae--surgeonfi         342,000
                                  shes.
                                 Carangidae--jacks......         161,200
                                 Carcharhinidae--reef              9,310
                                  sharks.
                                 Crustaceans--crabs.....          26,637
                                 Holocentridae--squirrel         148,000
                                  fishes.
                                 Kyphosidae--rudderfishe         105,000
                                  s.
                                 Labridae--wrasses......         205,000
                                 Lethrinidae--emperors..          35,500
                                 Lutjanidae--snappers...         330,300
                                 Mollusks--octopus......          31,163
                                 Mugilidae--mullets.....          19,200
                                 Mullidae--goatfishes...         165,000
                                 Scaridae--parrotfishes.         239,000
                                 Serranidae--groupers...         128,400
                                 All other CREMUS                485,000
                                  combined.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Accountability Measures

    Federal logbook entries and required catch reporting from fisheries 
in Federal waters are not sufficient to monitor and track catches 
towards the ACL specifications accurately. This is because most fishing 
for bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem 
MUS occurs in state waters, generally 0-3 nm from shore. For these 
reasons, NMFS will apply a moving 3-year average catch to evaluate 
fishery performance against the ACLs. Specifically, NMFS and the 
Council will use the average catch during fishing year 2014, 2015, and 
2016 to evaluate fishery performance against the appropriate 2016 ACL. 
At the end of each fishing year, the Council will review catches 
relative to each ACL. If NMFS and the Council determine that the three-
year average catch for the fishery exceeds the specified ACL, NMFS and 
the Council will reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount of the 
overage in the subsequent year.
    You may find additional background information on this action in 
the preamble to the proposed specifications published on January 18, 
2017 (82 FR 5517).

[[Page 18720]]

Comments and Responses

    The comment period for the proposed specifications ended on 
February 2, 2017. NMFS received three comments and responds, as 
follows:
    Comment 1: The commenter supports annual catch limits and strict 
limits to end fishing practices that incur bycatch.
    Response: NMFS and the Council consider the effects to target and 
non-target species (including bycatch) when setting ACLs and AMs. The 
fisheries affected by this action, in general, have very little 
bycatch.
    Comment 2: The commenter supports ACLs because maintaining catch 
limits keeps the ecology in balance and sustains the financial future 
of catches for years to come.
    Response: NMFS agrees.
    Comment 3: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) questioned 
the NMFS interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act statutory exception 
to the ACL requirements for fish stocks managed under international 
agreements. The NRDC interpretation is that the international exception 
was not permanent; rather the ACLs would take effect in either 2010 or 
2011, depending on a stock's overfishing status. The NRDC expressed the 
notion that, if a stock is managed under an international agreement, 
then the start date could be adjusted to match the start date for hard-
cap management provided by the international agreement. The NRDC 
requested that NMFS set ACLs for all stocks in the region, including 
those subject to management under international fishery agreements.
    Response: NMFS disagrees with the NRDC interpretation of the 
statute and stands by our interpretation that confirms the ACL 
exception for stocks managed by international agreements, as described 
in previous final actions revising the National Standard guidelines (74 
FR 3178, January 16, 2009; 81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016). As the 
commenter observed, the text of the statute's ``international 
exception'' is vague. NMFS has considered public comment on different 
possible interpretations, including looking specifically at the 
interpretation advanced by some commenters that the exception only 
pertains to the 2010-2011 timing requirements. Having considered the 
text of the exception and other relevant provisions of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, NMFS decided in 2009, and again in 2016, not to interpret 
the exception as applying only to the timing of the ACL and AM 
requirements. Based on the NRDC comments on this proposed rule, NMFS 
has identified no new considerations or issues that warrant re-
examination of the approach it adopted in 2009 and confirmed in 2016 
when revising National Standard guidelines.

Changes From the Proposed Specifications

    There are no changes in the final specifications from the proposed 
specifications.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, NMFS PIR, determined that this action 
is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island 
fisheries, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws.
    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 specification stage that this action 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for certification in 
the proposed specifications, and does not repeat it here. NMFS did not 
receive comments regarding this certification. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and one was not 
prepared.
    This action is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: April 18, 2017.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-08116 Filed 4-20-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P