Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish, Crab, Salmon, and Scallop Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Gulf of Alaska, 6031-6032 [06-1083]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 24 / Monday, February 6, 2006 / Proposed Rules This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be regulated by the proposed rule. To determine whether your facility is regulated by the proposed rule, you should examine the applicability criteria in 40 CFR 63.320 of subpart M (1993 Dry Cleaning NESHAP). If you have any questions regarding the applicability of the proposed rule to a particular entity, contact the person listed in the preceding FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Submitting CBI: Do not submit information which you claim to be CBI to EPA through http:// www.regulations.gov or e-mail. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information submitted on a disk or CD ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information marked as CBI will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2. Worldwide Web (WWW). In addition to being available in the docket, an electronic copy of the proposed rule is also available on the WWW. Following the Administrator’s signature, a copy of the proposed rule will be posted on EPA’s Technology Transfer Network (TTN) policy and guidance page for newly proposed or promulgated rules at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg. The TTN provides information and technology exchange in various areas of air pollution control. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with PROPOSALS1 Comment Period We received a request to extend the public comment period to March 23, 2006. We agreed to this request, therefore, the public comment period will now end on March 23, 2006, rather than February 6, 2006. How can I get copies of the proposed amendments and other related information? EPA has established the official public docket for the proposed rulemaking under docket ID No. EPA– HQ–OAR–2005–0155. Information on how to access the docket is presented above in the ADDRESSES section. In addition, information may be obtained from the webpage for the proposed rulemaking at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/ VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Feb 03, 2006 Jkt 208001 atw/dryperc/dryclpg.html, or from the Federal Register (70 FR 75884, December 21, 2005). Dated: January 27, 2006. William L. Wehrum, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. [FR Doc.06–1070 Filed 2–3–06 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [I.D. 013006I] RIN 0648–AT09 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish, Crab, Salmon, and Scallop Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Announcement of availability of proposed amendments to fishery management plans; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendments 78 and 65 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI), Amendments 73 and 65 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), Amendments 16 and 12 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, Amendments 7, 9, and 11 to the FMP for the Scallop Fishery Off Alaska, and Amendments 7 and 8 to the FMP for Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone Off the Coast of Alaska. These amendments, if approved, would revise the FMPs by identifying and authorizing protection measures for essential fish habitat (EFH) and habitat areas of particular concern (HAPCs) in all five FMPs and update the biological and management information in the scallop FMP. This action is necessary to revise the descriptions of EFH in the FMPs based on the best available scientific information and to protect areas that have important habitat features for the sustainability of managed fish stocks. This action also is necessary to provide an updated FMP for scallop fishery management. This action is intended to promote the goals PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 6031 and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMPs, and other applicable laws. Comments from the public are welcome. DATES: Comments on the amendments must be received by close of business on April 7, 2006. ADDRESSES: Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Records Officer. Comments may be submitted by: • Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. • Hand delivery: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK. • Fax: 907–586–7557. • E-mail: EFH-HAPC-NOA–0648– AT09@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line the following document identifier: EFH-HAPC NOA. E-mail comments, with or without attachments, are limited to 5 megabytes. • Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at that site for submitting comments. Copies of FMP amendments, maps of the EFH and HAPC areas, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for EFH, and the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/ Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) for HAPCs may be obtained from the same address or from the Alaska Region NMFS website at www.fakr.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melanie Brown, 907–586–7228 or melanie.brown@noaa.gov. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the Council submit any FMP amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a FMP amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register that the amendment is available for public review and comment. Section 303(a)(7) of the MagnusonStevens Act requires that each FMP describe and identify EFH, minimize to the extent practicable the adverse effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other measures to promote the conservation and enhancement of EFH. The Council adopted the EFH and HAPC amendments in February 2005. If approved by NMFS, these amendments would revise the FMPs by updating the description and identification of EFH, changing the identification of HAPCs, and authorizing protection measures for SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\06FEP1.SGM 06FEP1 6032 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 24 / Monday, February 6, 2006 / Proposed Rules rmajette on PROD1PC67 with PROPOSALS1 EFH and HAPCs. This action would continue the Council’s policy of implementing precautionary conservation measures for the Alaska fisheries, as described in the management policies and objectives added to the groundfish FMPs in 2004 (69 FR 31091, June 2, 2004). The Council developed the EFH and HAPC FMP amendments as a result of a new and thorough EIS analysis of the measures needed to identify and conserve EFH in Alaska. The analysis stemmed from a United States District Court order resulting from litigation that challenged the approval of previous EFH amendments to the Council’s FMPs (American Oceans Campaign et al. v. Daley et al., Civil Action N. 99–982– GK). The amendments specify EFH and HAPC provisions for each FMP. The following summarizes the amendments under each group of provisions. The EIS for EFH, the EA/RIR/IRFA for HAPC, and maps of the proposed fishery restrictions described below are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). EFH Amendments The Council recommended three actions for EFH. Action 1 would revise the description and identification of EFH in the FMPs using new information and improved mapping. This action would ensure the best scientific information available is used to describe and identify EFH in the FMPs, as required by 50 CFR 600.815(a)(1)(ii)(B). Action 2 would adopt an approach for identifying HAPCs. The amendments would rescind existing HAPCs and would add a procedure for identifying HAPCs based on specific sites within EFH that are necessary to address particular habitat concerns. Action 3 would establish several types of management areas in the BSAI and the GOA to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on EFH. The Aleutian Islands Habitat Conservation Area (AIHCA) would consist of the entire Aleutian Islands subarea except for specified areas that have supported the highest groundfish catches in the past. The AIHCA would be closed to all nonpelagic trawling to protect relatively undisturbed habitats. The Council determined that the AIHCA would provide a balance between continued fishing in the Aleutian Islands subarea and protection of sensitive habitats such as cold water corals. This closure would include habitat areas that are not identified as EFH. Specifically, the AIHCA would include habitat areas that extend beyond the limits of EFH for groundfish, crabs, and scallops. The Council has identified the water column VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Feb 03, 2006 Jkt 208001 in all of these areas as EFH for marine salmon, but the bottom habitats have not been well surveyed, and therefore are not considered EFH. The Council developed the AIHCA primarily to address potential effects on EFH, but included these habitat areas outside of EFH as part of the Council’s overall effort to be precautionary and preclude damage to habitats that may be important for Council managed species. The EFH amendments also would establish six Aleutian Islands Coral Habitat Protection Areas (AICHPAs) that would be closed to all bottom contact gear (nonpelagic trawl, hook-and-line, pot, dredge, and dinglebar gears) and to anchoring by fishing vessels. These areas contain especially diverse and fragile living habitat structures that are particularly sensitive to the impacts of bottom contact gear and anchoring, and have long recovery times once damaged. The Council determined that a higher level of protection is appropriate for these uncommon habitats. In the GOA, the EFH amendments would establish ten GOA Slope Habitat Conservation Areas (GOASHCAs) where nonpelagic trawling for groundfish would be prohibited. These areas would provide refuge for rockfish and other managed species and long term protection for corals. Pelagic trawl gear used in the directed pollock fishery would be allowed in the AIHCA, AICHPAs, and GOASHCAs only in an off-bottom mode based on the performance standard contained in 50 CFR 679.7(a)(14). HAPC Amendments The Council also recommended three actions to identify and manage HAPCs. Action 1 identifies 15 Alaska Seamount Habitat Protection Areas where all bottom contact gear and anchoring by fishing vessels would be prohibited. Seamounts provide unique oceanographic and living habitat features that provide important habitat for fish. Action 2 establishes the GOA Coral Habitat Protection Areas where all bottom contact gear and anchoring by fishing vessels would be prohibited. During survey work using submersible dives, NMFS identified dense thickets of Primnoa sp. coral in these areas. These living habitat structures grow very slowly, are sensitive to disturbance by bottom contact gear and anchoring, have long recovery times, and have been identified as potential refugia for managed species. Restricting bottom contact gear and anchoring would ensure the living structures would be protected from fishing activities that may adversely impact the habitat. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Action 3 would designate the Bowers Ridge Habitat Conservation Zone (BRHCZ) as a HAPC located in the BSAI and would prohibit mobile bottom contact fishing gear (nonpelagic trawl, dredge, and dinglebar gear) in this area. The Council recommended limiting the fishery prohibition for the BRHCZ to mobile bottom contact gear until more research can be done in this area to determine if additional restrictions would be appropriate for fixed gear fisheries. The mobile bottom contact gear prohibition would provide precautionary management for Bowers Ridge and the Ulm Plateau based on the limited information available for these sites located in the BRHCZ. Scallop FMP Update In April 2005, the Council unanimously voted to adopt Amendment 11, a housekeeping amendment that would update the scallop FMP to reflect the current management of the scallop fishery and recent biological information. No implementing regulations would be required for this amendment. Public Comments NMFS is soliciting public comments on the proposed amendments through April 7, 2006. A proposed rule that would implement the EFH and HAPC amendments will be published in the Federal Register for public comment at a later date, following NMFS’ evaluation under the Magnuson-Stevens Act procedures. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period on the amendments in order to be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendments. All comments received on the amendments by the end of the comment period, whether specifically directed to the amendments or to the proposed rule, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendments. To be considered, comments must be received—not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted— by close of business on the last day of the comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: January 31, 2006. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–1083 Filed 2–3–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\06FEP1.SGM 06FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 24 (Monday, February 6, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 6031-6032]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-1083]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[I.D. 013006I]
RIN 0648-AT09


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish, 
Crab, Salmon, and Scallop Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area and Gulf of Alaska

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

ACTION: Announcement of availability of proposed amendments to fishery 
management plans; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has 
submitted Amendments 78 and 65 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for 
Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area 
(BSAI), Amendments 73 and 65 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of 
Alaska (GOA), Amendments 16 and 12 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian 
Islands King and Tanner Crabs, Amendments 7, 9, and 11 to the FMP for 
the Scallop Fishery Off Alaska, and Amendments 7 and 8 to the FMP for 
Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone Off the Coast of 
Alaska. These amendments, if approved, would revise the FMPs by 
identifying and authorizing protection measures for essential fish 
habitat (EFH) and habitat areas of particular concern (HAPCs) in all 
five FMPs and update the biological and management information in the 
scallop FMP. This action is necessary to revise the descriptions of EFH 
in the FMPs based on the best available scientific information and to 
protect areas that have important habitat features for the 
sustainability of managed fish stocks. This action also is necessary to 
provide an updated FMP for scallop fishery management. This action is 
intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the 
FMPs, and other applicable laws. Comments from the public are welcome.

DATES: Comments on the amendments must be received by close of business 
on April 7, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 
Attn: Records Officer. Comments may be submitted by:
     Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     Hand delivery: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.
     Fax: 907-586-7557.
     E-mail: EFH-HAPC-NOA-0648-AT09@noaa.gov. Include in the 
subject line the following document identifier: EFH-HAPC NOA. E-mail 
comments, with or without attachments, are limited to 5 megabytes.
     Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 
www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.
    Copies of FMP amendments, maps of the EFH and HAPC areas, the 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for EFH, and the Environmental 
Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) for HAPCs may be obtained from the same address 
or from the Alaska Region NMFS website at www.fakr.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melanie Brown, 907-586-7228 or 
melanie.brown@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the 
Council submit any FMP amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and 
approval, disapproval, or partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act 
also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a FMP amendment, immediately 
publish a notice in the Federal Register that the amendment is 
available for public review and comment.
    Section 303(a)(7) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each 
FMP describe and identify EFH, minimize to the extent practicable the 
adverse effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other measures to 
promote the conservation and enhancement of EFH. The Council adopted 
the EFH and HAPC amendments in February 2005. If approved by NMFS, 
these amendments would revise the FMPs by updating the description and 
identification of EFH, changing the identification of HAPCs, and 
authorizing protection measures for

[[Page 6032]]

EFH and HAPCs. This action would continue the Council's policy of 
implementing precautionary conservation measures for the Alaska 
fisheries, as described in the management policies and objectives added 
to the groundfish FMPs in 2004 (69 FR 31091, June 2, 2004).
    The Council developed the EFH and HAPC FMP amendments as a result 
of a new and thorough EIS analysis of the measures needed to identify 
and conserve EFH in Alaska. The analysis stemmed from a United States 
District Court order resulting from litigation that challenged the 
approval of previous EFH amendments to the Council's FMPs (American 
Oceans Campaign et al. v. Daley et al., Civil Action N. 99-982-GK).
    The amendments specify EFH and HAPC provisions for each FMP. The 
following summarizes the amendments under each group of provisions. The 
EIS for EFH, the EA/RIR/IRFA for HAPC, and maps of the proposed fishery 
restrictions described below are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

EFH Amendments

    The Council recommended three actions for EFH. Action 1 would 
revise the description and identification of EFH in the FMPs using new 
information and improved mapping. This action would ensure the best 
scientific information available is used to describe and identify EFH 
in the FMPs, as required by 50 CFR 600.815(a)(1)(ii)(B). Action 2 would 
adopt an approach for identifying HAPCs. The amendments would rescind 
existing HAPCs and would add a procedure for identifying HAPCs based on 
specific sites within EFH that are necessary to address particular 
habitat concerns.
    Action 3 would establish several types of management areas in the 
BSAI and the GOA to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on EFH. The 
Aleutian Islands Habitat Conservation Area (AIHCA) would consist of the 
entire Aleutian Islands subarea except for specified areas that have 
supported the highest groundfish catches in the past. The AIHCA would 
be closed to all nonpelagic trawling to protect relatively undisturbed 
habitats. The Council determined that the AIHCA would provide a balance 
between continued fishing in the Aleutian Islands subarea and 
protection of sensitive habitats such as cold water corals. This 
closure would include habitat areas that are not identified as EFH. 
Specifically, the AIHCA would include habitat areas that extend beyond 
the limits of EFH for groundfish, crabs, and scallops. The Council has 
identified the water column in all of these areas as EFH for marine 
salmon, but the bottom habitats have not been well surveyed, and 
therefore are not considered EFH. The Council developed the AIHCA 
primarily to address potential effects on EFH, but included these 
habitat areas outside of EFH as part of the Council's overall effort to 
be precautionary and preclude damage to habitats that may be important 
for Council managed species.
    The EFH amendments also would establish six Aleutian Islands Coral 
Habitat Protection Areas (AICHPAs) that would be closed to all bottom 
contact gear (nonpelagic trawl, hook-and-line, pot, dredge, and 
dinglebar gears) and to anchoring by fishing vessels. These areas 
contain especially diverse and fragile living habitat structures that 
are particularly sensitive to the impacts of bottom contact gear and 
anchoring, and have long recovery times once damaged. The Council 
determined that a higher level of protection is appropriate for these 
uncommon habitats.
    In the GOA, the EFH amendments would establish ten GOA Slope 
Habitat Conservation Areas (GOASHCAs) where nonpelagic trawling for 
groundfish would be prohibited. These areas would provide refuge for 
rockfish and other managed species and long term protection for corals. 
Pelagic trawl gear used in the directed pollock fishery would be 
allowed in the AIHCA, AICHPAs, and GOASHCAs only in an off-bottom mode 
based on the performance standard contained in 50 CFR 679.7(a)(14).

HAPC Amendments

    The Council also recommended three actions to identify and manage 
HAPCs. Action 1 identifies 15 Alaska Seamount Habitat Protection Areas 
where all bottom contact gear and anchoring by fishing vessels would be 
prohibited. Seamounts provide unique oceanographic and living habitat 
features that provide important habitat for fish. Action 2 establishes 
the GOA Coral Habitat Protection Areas where all bottom contact gear 
and anchoring by fishing vessels would be prohibited. During survey 
work using submersible dives, NMFS identified dense thickets of Primnoa 
sp. coral in these areas. These living habitat structures grow very 
slowly, are sensitive to disturbance by bottom contact gear and 
anchoring, have long recovery times, and have been identified as 
potential refugia for managed species. Restricting bottom contact gear 
and anchoring would ensure the living structures would be protected 
from fishing activities that may adversely impact the habitat.
    Action 3 would designate the Bowers Ridge Habitat Conservation Zone 
(BRHCZ) as a HAPC located in the BSAI and would prohibit mobile bottom 
contact fishing gear (nonpelagic trawl, dredge, and dinglebar gear) in 
this area. The Council recommended limiting the fishery prohibition for 
the BRHCZ to mobile bottom contact gear until more research can be done 
in this area to determine if additional restrictions would be 
appropriate for fixed gear fisheries. The mobile bottom contact gear 
prohibition would provide precautionary management for Bowers Ridge and 
the Ulm Plateau based on the limited information available for these 
sites located in the BRHCZ.

Scallop FMP Update

    In April 2005, the Council unanimously voted to adopt Amendment 11, 
a housekeeping amendment that would update the scallop FMP to reflect 
the current management of the scallop fishery and recent biological 
information. No implementing regulations would be required for this 
amendment.

Public Comments

    NMFS is soliciting public comments on the proposed amendments 
through April 7, 2006. A proposed rule that would implement the EFH and 
HAPC amendments will be published in the Federal Register for public 
comment at a later date, following NMFS' evaluation under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act procedures. Public comments on the proposed rule must be 
received by the end of the comment period on the amendments in order to 
be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendments. 
All comments received on the amendments by the end of the comment 
period, whether specifically directed to the amendments or to the 
proposed rule, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision. 
Comments received after that date will not be considered in the 
approval/disapproval decision on the amendments. To be considered, 
comments must be received--not just postmarked or otherwise 
transmitted--by close of business on the last day of the comment 
period.

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

    Dated: January 31, 2006.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 06-1083 Filed 2-3-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S