Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Total Allowable Catch Amount for “Other Species” in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska, 12626-12633 [06-2388]

Download as PDF 12626 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations EPA–APPROVED MISSOURI REGULATIONS—Continued Missouri citation Title State effective date EPA approval date Explanation * 10–6.260 ......................... * * Restriction of Emission of Sulfur Compounds. * 05/30/04 ........................ * 03/13/06 [insert FR page number where the document begins]. * * Section (3)(B) is not SIP approved. The revision to the averaging time and emission rate per unit for Kansas City Power & Light, Hawthorn Plant and Montrose Station in Table 1 of (3)(C)2.B. is not approved. * * * * * * * * PART 62—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. Subpart AA—Missouri 2. Section 62.6350 is amended by adding paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows: I § 62.6350 Identification of plan. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) A revision to Missouri’s 111(d) plan for sulfuric acid mist production was state effective on May 30, 2004. This revision approves the renumbering of the rule. The effective date of the amended plan is April 12, 2006. * * * * * [FR Doc. 06–2378 Filed 3–10–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 051116304–6035–02; I.D. 110805A] RIN 0648–AT92 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Total Allowable Catch Amount for ‘‘Other Species’’ in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS issues a final rule that implements Amendment 69 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 * * Amendment 69 amends the manner in which the total allowable catch (TAC) for the ‘‘other species’’ complex is annually determined in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). The amendment allows the TAC amount for the ‘‘other species’’ complex to be set less than or equal to 5 percent of the sum of groundfish targets species in the GOA. This final rule also raises the maximum retainable amount (MRA) of ‘‘other species’’ in the directed arrowtooth flounder fishery from 0 percent to 20 percent. This action is necessary to reduce the potential for overfishing those species in the ‘‘other species’’ complex in the GOA and to reduce the amount of ‘‘other species’’ required to be discarded in the arrowtooth flounder fishery. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable laws. DATES: Effective April 12, 2006. ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 69, the Environmental Assessment/ Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/ RIR/IRFA), and EA/RIR/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802, Attn: Records Officer or from the Alaska Region website at www.fakr.noaa.gov. The FMP is available from www.fakr.noaa.gov/ npfmc/fmp/goa/goa.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, 907–481–1780 or tom.pearson@noaa.gov. The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone of the GOA are managed under the FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR part 679. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 * * The Council submitted Amendment 69 for review by the Secretary of Commerce. A notice of availability of the amendment was published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2005 (70 FR 69505), with comments invited through January 17, 2006. The proposed rule for Amendment 69 was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2005 (70 FR 71450), with comments invited through January 13, 2006. No comments were received on the notice of availability or the proposed rule. The final rule is unchanged from the proposed rule. Amendment 69 was approved by the Secretary of Commerce on February 13, 2006. Background In June 2005, the Council recommended Amendment 69 as an interim measure to prevent overfishing of species in the ‘‘other species’’ complex until a more comprehensive management plan could be developed. Designation and management of the ‘‘other species’’ complex have evolved through a series of amendments to the GOA FMP. The proposed rule (70 FR 71451, November 29, 2005) provides an overview of how the ‘‘other species’’ complex management has changed by amendments to the FMP. The proposed rule also provides a description of the effects of changing the setting of TAC for ‘‘other species’’ and of changing the ‘‘other species’’ MRA for the arrowtooth flounder fishery. Final Regulatory Amendment To manage the incidental harvest of the ‘‘other species’’ complex, this action revises Table 10 of 50 CFR part 679 to raise the MRA for the ‘‘other species’’ complex from 0 percent to 20 percent in the arrowtooth flounder fishery in the GOA. This revision is necessary to properly manage the retention of ‘‘other species’’ in the arrowtooth flounder fishery and to potentially reduce the amount of discards of otherwise marketable fish in the ‘‘other species’’ complex. E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES This action is intended to meet the conservation objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to reduce the potential for overfishing the species groups in the ‘‘other species’’ complex and to efficiently use fishery resources by reducing potential discards. This action is intended to be an interim step toward the Council’s development of a more comprehensive approach for the management of ‘‘other species.’’ In December 2005, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 69, the Council recommended a TAC for the ‘‘other species’’ complex in 2006 and 2007 of 4,500 metric tons (mt). This recommendation was based on an estimate of 4,000 mt needed as incidental catch in the other groundfish and halibut fisheries and public testimony in support of a modest directed fishery for approximately 500 mt of ‘‘other species.’’ The 2006 TAC for ‘‘other species’’ is 13,525 mt (70 FR 8958, February 24, 2005). In early 2006, NMFS will publish in the Federal Register proposed specifications notice to solicit public comment on revising the 2006 and 2007 TACs for ‘‘other species’’ to 4,500 mt. Classification The Regional Administrator determined that Amendment 69 is necessary for the conservation and management of the GOA groundfish fishery and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an IRFA and a FRFA which describe any adverse impacts this final rule would have on directly regulated small entities (see ADDRESSES). The IRFA analyzes two FMP alternatives to revise the manner in which the annual TAC for the ‘‘other species’’ in the GOA is established, along with the status quo or no action alternative. In addition, two suboptions to revise the MRAs for ‘‘other species’’ in the groundfish fisheries in the GOA are analyzed along with the status quo, or no action suboption. A summary of the FRFA for this action follows. Amendment 69 revises the manner in which the annual TAC for the ‘‘other species’’ complex in the GOA is established and raises the MRA for ‘‘other species’’ from 0 percent to 20 percent in the arrowtooth flounder fishery. As part of its annual groundfish harvest specification process, the Council will recommend a TAC amount for the ‘‘other species’’ complex at less than or equal to 5 percent of the sum of the directed groundfish fisheries TAC VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 amounts. The objective of this action is to give the Council greater flexibility in recommending a TAC amount for ‘‘other species’’ to better protect individual species in the ‘‘other species’’ complex from overfishing and to make a sustainable fishery for the ‘‘other species’’ complex more likely. The legal basis for this action is found in the Magnuson-Stevens Act and in the GOA groundfish FMP promulgated pursuant to that Act. Based on 2003 data, 782 small catcher vessels and 18 small catcher processors would be directly regulated by this action. Most of these (640 catcher vessels and 14 small catcher processors) were hook-and-line vessels. In addition, 133 catcher vessels and 1 catcher processor used pot gear, and 89 small catcher vessels and 3 small catcher processors used trawl gear. All these vessels are considered ‘‘small entities’’ as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act. In 2003, each of these vessels had average revenues of $200,000 from the federally managed groundfish fisheries. Average revenues were $160,000 for each catcher vessel and $2,350,000 for each catcher processor. By setting TAC for ‘‘other species’’ at less than 5 percent of the sum of other groundfish TACs, potential future harvests of ‘‘other species’’ and gross revenues from these harvests are limited in the short run. In the long run, however, the biomass of ‘‘other species’’ would be given additional protection. Actual impacts to small entities would depend on the actual TAC amount recommended for ‘‘other species’’ by the Council and approved by NMFS. These impacts would be assessed in the initial regulatory flexibility analysis for the TAC specification action. Nothing in the proposed action would result in changes in reporting or recordkeeping requirements. The analysis did not reveal any Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed action. No comments were received on the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule. The FRFA evaluated a no-action alternative, the preferred alternative and an alternative that would allow for only incidental catch of ‘‘other species.’’ Under the no-action alternative, the TAC for the ‘‘other species’’ complex would remain at 5 percent of the sum of the other groundfish TACs. The 2006 TAC for the ‘‘other species’’ complex is 13,525 mt (70 FR 8958, February 24, 2005). If this amount were harvested by targeting a single species in the ‘‘other species’’ complex it could drive down that species biomass and reduce its reproductive potential. While revenues PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 12627 from the fishery would be higher in the short run, they would be lower in the longer run. Thus, while this alternative may have imposed fewer short run restrictions on small fishing operations, it did not meet the objectives of providing protection to individual species within the ‘‘other species’’ complex in the GOA. This protection is necessary to a sustainable fishery. The alternative that would allow only incidental catch of ‘‘other species’’ did not allow a directed fishery for ‘‘other species.’’ This alternative would have prevented the Council’s use of the best available information in determining the appropriate management for ‘‘other species.’’ For example, if the best available information indicated that a directed fishery for ‘‘other species’’ could occur without harming its future sustainability, then achieving its optimum yield would be prevented by this alternative. The preferred alternative, however, would allow the Council to decide whether to allow for a target fishery or for only incidental catch based on the latest stock assessment information. The FRFA evaluated the preferred option to set the MRA for ‘‘other species’’ in the arrowtooth flounder fishery to 20 percent. The MRA for ‘‘other species’’ would be 20 percent in all of the GOA groundfish fisheries with this action. Setting the MRA at 20 percent in the arrowtooth flounder fishery would allow fishermen to retain and sell a limited amount of ‘‘other species.’’ Allowing fishermen to retain and sell ‘‘other species’’ would reduce discards and would allow for revenue from ‘‘other species’’ harvest that would otherwise be discarded without this action. A higher MRA might result in fishermen topping-off their harvest up to the MRA for ‘‘other species’’ if a developing market increases the price of ‘‘other species.’’ The MRA for ‘‘other species’’ at 20 percent is a compromise that addresses fluctuating ‘‘other species’’ incidental catch in the groundfish fisheries, preventing discards, and allowing for some revenue without encouraging topping-off behavior. The FRFA also considered two additional MRA options that could be applied to each of the TAC alternatives. One was a status quo option that would leave the ‘‘other species’’ MRA in the directed arrowtooth flounder fishery at 0 percent. This option could cause greater regulatory discards in the arrowtooth flounder fishery and reduce revenues to fishermen compared to the preferred alternative Another MRA option set the ‘‘other species’’ MRA in each target fishery (not just arrowtooth E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 12628 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES flounder) equal to the overall average incidental catch of ‘‘other species’’ in the groundfish fisheries. Incidental catch of ‘‘other species’’ in other directed fisheries rarely exceeded 2 percent of the targeted species catch. For many target fisheries, the ‘‘other species’’ MRA under this option would be less than the current 20 percent. This alternative would have increased the MRA in the arrowtooth flounder fishery, but not as much as the preferred alternative. With an ‘‘other species’’ MRA equal to the historical average incidental catch, fishermen who incidentally catch ‘‘other species’’ above the historical average would have to discard the excess. This may result in reduced revenues if the fishermen would otherwise have been able to sell the ‘‘other species.’’ Because of the fluctuation in incidental catch of ‘‘other species’’ among years, this option has a greater potential adverse impact on directly regulated small entities than the option implemented by this final rule. VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 The TAC alternative and MRA option chosen for this action minimize the economic impacts on small entities. The IRFA found that the preferred alternative for the ‘‘other species’’ TAC has no adverse impact on directly regulated small entities. The preferred MRA option has the smallest economic impacts on small entities compared to status quo and the other MRA option analyzed. Small Entity Compliance Guide This action revises Table 10 to 50 CFR part 679 which lists the MRAs for groundfish fisheries. This action requires small entities in the groundfish fisheries to comply with the amended MRA for ‘‘other species’’ in the arrowtooth flounder directed fishery. This action does not require any additional compliance from small entities. To facilitate compliance with the MRAs in Table 10, NMFS provides a link to Table 10 at the following Web site: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/rr/ tables.htm. Copies of this final rule are PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and at the following Web site: http:// www.fakr.noaa.gov. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: March 7, 2006. James W. Balsiger, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is amended as follows: I PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1540(f); 1801 et seq.; 1851 note; 3631 et seq. 2. Table 10 to part 679 is revised to read as follows: I BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 12629 ER13MR06.000</GPH> erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Aug<31>2005 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 ER13MR06.001</GPH> erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES 12630 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 12631 ER13MR06.002</GPH> erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Aug<31>2005 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 ER13MR06.003</GPH> erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES 12632 12633 [FR Doc. 06–2388 Filed 3–10–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:21 Mar 10, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\13MRR1.SGM 13MRR1 ER13MR06.004</GPH> erjones on PROD1PC61 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 48 / Monday, March 13, 2006 / Rules and Regulations

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 48 (Monday, March 13, 2006)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12626-12633]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-2388]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 051116304-6035-02; I.D. 110805A]
RIN 0648-AT92


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Total 
Allowable Catch Amount for ``Other Species'' in the Groundfish 
Fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS issues a final rule that implements Amendment 69 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). 
Amendment 69 amends the manner in which the total allowable catch (TAC) 
for the ``other species'' complex is annually determined in the Gulf of 
Alaska (GOA). The amendment allows the TAC amount for the ``other 
species'' complex to be set less than or equal to 5 percent of the sum 
of groundfish targets species in the GOA. This final rule also raises 
the maximum retainable amount (MRA) of ``other species'' in the 
directed arrowtooth flounder fishery from 0 percent to 20 percent. This 
action is necessary to reduce the potential for overfishing those 
species in the ``other species'' complex in the GOA and to reduce the 
amount of ``other species'' required to be discarded in the arrowtooth 
flounder fishery. This action is intended to promote the goals and 
objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Effective April 12, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 69, the Environmental Assessment/
Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/
RIR/IRFA), and EA/RIR/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) 
prepared for this action may be obtained from NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. 
Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802, Attn: Records Officer or from the Alaska 
Region website at www.fakr.noaa.gov. The FMP is available from 
www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/fmp/goa/goa.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, 907-481-1780 or 
tom.pearson@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive 
economic zone of the GOA are managed under the FMP. The North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. 
Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR part 679. General 
regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The Council submitted Amendment 69 for review by the Secretary of 
Commerce. A notice of availability of the amendment was published in 
the Federal Register on November 16, 2005 (70 FR 69505), with comments 
invited through January 17, 2006. The proposed rule for Amendment 69 
was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2005 (70 FR 
71450), with comments invited through January 13, 2006. No comments 
were received on the notice of availability or the proposed rule. The 
final rule is unchanged from the proposed rule. Amendment 69 was 
approved by the Secretary of Commerce on February 13, 2006.

Background

    In June 2005, the Council recommended Amendment 69 as an interim 
measure to prevent overfishing of species in the ``other species'' 
complex until a more comprehensive management plan could be developed. 
Designation and management of the ``other species'' complex have 
evolved through a series of amendments to the GOA FMP. The proposed 
rule (70 FR 71451, November 29, 2005) provides an overview of how the 
``other species'' complex management has changed by amendments to the 
FMP. The proposed rule also provides a description of the effects of 
changing the setting of TAC for ``other species'' and of changing the 
``other species'' MRA for the arrowtooth flounder fishery.

Final Regulatory Amendment

    To manage the incidental harvest of the ``other species'' complex, 
this action revises Table 10 of 50 CFR part 679 to raise the MRA for 
the ``other species'' complex from 0 percent to 20 percent in the 
arrowtooth flounder fishery in the GOA. This revision is necessary to 
properly manage the retention of ``other species'' in the arrowtooth 
flounder fishery and to potentially reduce the amount of discards of 
otherwise marketable fish in the ``other species'' complex.

[[Page 12627]]

    This action is intended to meet the conservation objectives of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act to reduce the potential for overfishing the 
species groups in the ``other species'' complex and to efficiently use 
fishery resources by reducing potential discards. This action is 
intended to be an interim step toward the Council's development of a 
more comprehensive approach for the management of ``other species.''
    In December 2005, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 69, the 
Council recommended a TAC for the ``other species'' complex in 2006 and 
2007 of 4,500 metric tons (mt). This recommendation was based on an 
estimate of 4,000 mt needed as incidental catch in the other groundfish 
and halibut fisheries and public testimony in support of a modest 
directed fishery for approximately 500 mt of ``other species.'' The 
2006 TAC for ``other species'' is 13,525 mt (70 FR 8958, February 24, 
2005). In early 2006, NMFS will publish in the Federal Register 
proposed specifications notice to solicit public comment on revising 
the 2006 and 2007 TACs for ``other species'' to 4,500 mt.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator determined that Amendment 69 is 
necessary for the conservation and management of the GOA groundfish 
fishery and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA and a FRFA which describe any adverse impacts 
this final rule would have on directly regulated small entities (see 
ADDRESSES). The IRFA analyzes two FMP alternatives to revise the manner 
in which the annual TAC for the ``other species'' in the GOA is 
established, along with the status quo or no action alternative. In 
addition, two suboptions to revise the MRAs for ``other species'' in 
the groundfish fisheries in the GOA are analyzed along with the status 
quo, or no action suboption. A summary of the FRFA for this action 
follows.
    Amendment 69 revises the manner in which the annual TAC for the 
``other species'' complex in the GOA is established and raises the MRA 
for ``other species'' from 0 percent to 20 percent in the arrowtooth 
flounder fishery. As part of its annual groundfish harvest 
specification process, the Council will recommend a TAC amount for the 
``other species'' complex at less than or equal to 5 percent of the sum 
of the directed groundfish fisheries TAC amounts. The objective of this 
action is to give the Council greater flexibility in recommending a TAC 
amount for ``other species'' to better protect individual species in 
the ``other species'' complex from overfishing and to make a 
sustainable fishery for the ``other species'' complex more likely.
    The legal basis for this action is found in the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and in the GOA groundfish FMP promulgated pursuant to that Act.
    Based on 2003 data, 782 small catcher vessels and 18 small catcher 
processors would be directly regulated by this action. Most of these 
(640 catcher vessels and 14 small catcher processors) were hook-and-
line vessels. In addition, 133 catcher vessels and 1 catcher processor 
used pot gear, and 89 small catcher vessels and 3 small catcher 
processors used trawl gear. All these vessels are considered ``small 
entities'' as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act. In 2003, each 
of these vessels had average revenues of $200,000 from the federally 
managed groundfish fisheries. Average revenues were $160,000 for each 
catcher vessel and $2,350,000 for each catcher processor.
    By setting TAC for ``other species'' at less than 5 percent of the 
sum of other groundfish TACs, potential future harvests of ``other 
species'' and gross revenues from these harvests are limited in the 
short run. In the long run, however, the biomass of ``other species'' 
would be given additional protection. Actual impacts to small entities 
would depend on the actual TAC amount recommended for ``other species'' 
by the Council and approved by NMFS. These impacts would be assessed in 
the initial regulatory flexibility analysis for the TAC specification 
action.
    Nothing in the proposed action would result in changes in reporting 
or recordkeeping requirements.
    The analysis did not reveal any Federal rules that duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with the proposed action.
    No comments were received on the IRFA or the economic impacts of 
the rule.
    The FRFA evaluated a no-action alternative, the preferred 
alternative and an alternative that would allow for only incidental 
catch of ``other species.'' Under the no-action alternative, the TAC 
for the ``other species'' complex would remain at 5 percent of the sum 
of the other groundfish TACs. The 2006 TAC for the ``other species'' 
complex is 13,525 mt (70 FR 8958, February 24, 2005). If this amount 
were harvested by targeting a single species in the ``other species'' 
complex it could drive down that species biomass and reduce its 
reproductive potential. While revenues from the fishery would be higher 
in the short run, they would be lower in the longer run. Thus, while 
this alternative may have imposed fewer short run restrictions on small 
fishing operations, it did not meet the objectives of providing 
protection to individual species within the ``other species'' complex 
in the GOA. This protection is necessary to a sustainable fishery. The 
alternative that would allow only incidental catch of ``other species'' 
did not allow a directed fishery for ``other species.'' This 
alternative would have prevented the Council's use of the best 
available information in determining the appropriate management for 
``other species.'' For example, if the best available information 
indicated that a directed fishery for ``other species'' could occur 
without harming its future sustainability, then achieving its optimum 
yield would be prevented by this alternative. The preferred 
alternative, however, would allow the Council to decide whether to 
allow for a target fishery or for only incidental catch based on the 
latest stock assessment information.
    The FRFA evaluated the preferred option to set the MRA for ``other 
species'' in the arrowtooth flounder fishery to 20 percent. The MRA for 
``other species'' would be 20 percent in all of the GOA groundfish 
fisheries with this action. Setting the MRA at 20 percent in the 
arrowtooth flounder fishery would allow fishermen to retain and sell a 
limited amount of ``other species.'' Allowing fishermen to retain and 
sell ``other species'' would reduce discards and would allow for 
revenue from ``other species'' harvest that would otherwise be 
discarded without this action. A higher MRA might result in fishermen 
topping-off their harvest up to the MRA for ``other species'' if a 
developing market increases the price of ``other species.'' The MRA for 
``other species'' at 20 percent is a compromise that addresses 
fluctuating ``other species'' incidental catch in the groundfish 
fisheries, preventing discards, and allowing for some revenue without 
encouraging topping-off behavior.
    The FRFA also considered two additional MRA options that could be 
applied to each of the TAC alternatives. One was a status quo option 
that would leave the ``other species'' MRA in the directed arrowtooth 
flounder fishery at 0 percent. This option could cause greater 
regulatory discards in the arrowtooth flounder fishery and reduce 
revenues to fishermen compared to the preferred alternative Another MRA 
option set the ``other species'' MRA in each target fishery (not just 
arrowtooth

[[Page 12628]]

flounder) equal to the overall average incidental catch of ``other 
species'' in the groundfish fisheries. Incidental catch of ``other 
species'' in other directed fisheries rarely exceeded 2 percent of the 
targeted species catch. For many target fisheries, the ``other 
species'' MRA under this option would be less than the current 20 
percent. This alternative would have increased the MRA in the 
arrowtooth flounder fishery, but not as much as the preferred 
alternative. With an ``other species'' MRA equal to the historical 
average incidental catch, fishermen who incidentally catch ``other 
species'' above the historical average would have to discard the 
excess. This may result in reduced revenues if the fishermen would 
otherwise have been able to sell the ``other species.'' Because of the 
fluctuation in incidental catch of ``other species'' among years, this 
option has a greater potential adverse impact on directly regulated 
small entities than the option implemented by this final rule.
    The TAC alternative and MRA option chosen for this action minimize 
the economic impacts on small entities. The IRFA found that the 
preferred alternative for the ``other species'' TAC has no adverse 
impact on directly regulated small entities. The preferred MRA option 
has the smallest economic impacts on small entities compared to status 
quo and the other MRA option analyzed.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    This action revises Table 10 to 50 CFR part 679 which lists the 
MRAs for groundfish fisheries. This action requires small entities in 
the groundfish fisheries to comply with the amended MRA for ``other 
species'' in the arrowtooth flounder directed fishery. This action does 
not require any additional compliance from small entities. To 
facilitate compliance with the MRAs in Table 10, NMFS provides a link 
to Table 10 at the following Web site: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/rr/
tables.htm. Copies of this final rule are available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES) and at the following Web site: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: March 7, 2006.
James W. Balsiger,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

0
For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is amended as 
follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1540(f); 1801 et seq.; 1851 
note; 3631 et seq.

0
2. Table 10 to part 679 is revised to read as follows:
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S

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[FR Doc. 06-2388 Filed 3-10-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-C