Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments; Pacific Halibut Fisheries, 24601-24612 [06-3942]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A). The Audio Division, at the request of Charles Crawford, allots Channel 242A at Coalgate, Oklahoma, as the community’s second local commercial FM transmission service. See 70 FR 59292 (October 10, 2005). Channel 242A can be allotted to Coalgate in compliance with the Commission’s minimum distance with a site restriction of 6.9 kilometers (4.3 miles) south of Coalgate. The coordinates for Channel 242A at Coalgate are 34–35–00 North Latitude and 96–10–00 West Longitude. The Audio Division, at the request of Carrie Tutera Martin, allots Channel 259A at Silver Springs Shores, Florida, as the community’s first local aural transmission service. See 70 FR 59292 (October 10, 2005). Channel 259A can be allotted to Silver Springs Shores in compliance with the Commission’s minimum distance separation requirements with a site restriction of 5.0 kilometers (3.1 miles) northwest of Silver Springs Shores, Florida. The coordinates for Channel 259A at Silver Springs Shores are 29–08–09 North Latitude and 82–02–33 West Longitude. List of Subjects in 47 CFR part 73 Radio, Radio broadcasting. Part 73 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows: I PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 334, 336. § 73.202 [Amended] 2. Section 73.202(b), the Table of FM Allotments under Florida, is amended by adding Silver Springs Shore, Channel 259A. I 3. Section 73.202(b), the Table of FM Allotments under Oklahoma, is amended by adding Channel 242A at Coalgate. hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES I Federal Communications Commission. John A. Karousos, Assistant Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau. [FR Doc. 06–3936 Filed 4–25–06; 8:45 am] 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No.051014263–6028–03; I.D. 041906A] Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments; Pacific Halibut Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Inseason adjustments to groundfish management measures; announcement of incidental halibut retention allowance; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS announces changes to management measures in the commercial Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. NMFS also announces regulations for the retention of Pacific halibut landed incidentally in the limited entry longline primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.). This document also contains notification of a voluntary closed area off Washington for salmon trollers. These actions, which are authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. DATES: Effective 0001 hours (local time) May 1, 2006. Comments on this rule will be accepted through May 26, 2006. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by I.D. 041906A, by any of the following methods: • E-mail: GroundfishInseason8.nwr@noaa.gov. Include I.D. number 041906A in the subject line of the message. • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: D. Robert Lohn, Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, Attn: Jamie Goen, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115–0070. • Fax: 206–526–6736, Attn: Jamie Goen. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jamie Goen (Northwest Region, NMFS), phone: 206–526–6150; fax: 206–526– 6736; or e-mail: jamie.goen@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: BILLING CODE 6712–01–P VerDate Aug<31>2005 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 24601 Electronic Access This Federal Register document is available on the Government Printing Office’s website at: www.gpoaccess.gov/ fr/index.html. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council’s) website at: www.pcouncil.org. Background The Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP and its implementing regulations at Title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subpart G, regulate fishing for over 80 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. Groundfish specifications and management measures are developed by the Pacific Council, and are implemented by NMFS. The specifications and management measures for 2005–2006 were codified in the CFR (50 CFR part 660, subpart G). They were published in the Federal Register as a proposed rule on September 21, 2004 (69 FR 56550), and as a final rule on December 23, 2004 (69 FR 77012). The final rule was subsequently amended on March 18, 2005 (70 FR 13118); March 30, 2005 (70 FR 16145); April 19, 2005 (70 FR 20304); May 3, 2005 (70 FR 22808); May 4, 2005 (70 FR 23040); May 5, 2005 (70 FR 23804); May 16, 2005 (70 FR 25789); May 19, 2005 (70 FR 28852); July 5, 2005 (70 FR 38596); August 22, 2005 (70 FR 48897); August 31, 2005 (70 FR 51682); October 5, 2005 (70 FR 58066); October 20, 2005 (70 FR 61063); October 24, 2005 (70 FR 61393); November 1, 2005 (70 FR 65861); and December 5, 2005 (70 FR 723850). Longer-term changes to the 2006 specifications and management measures were published in the Federal Register as a proposed rule on December 19, 2005 (70 FR 75115) and as a final rule on February 17, 2006 (71 FR 8489). The final rule was subsequently amended on March 27, 2006 (71 FR 10545) and April 11, 2006 (71 FR 18227). The Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 U.S.C. 773–773k) (Halibut Act) and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart E, regulate fishing for Pacific Halibut in U.S. Convention waters. The Halibut Act also authorizes the Pacific Council to develop regulations governing the Pacific halibut catch in waters off of Washington, Oregon, and California that are in addition to, but not in conflict with, regulations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Accordingly, the Pacific Council has developed, and NMFS has approved, a catch sharing plan (CSP) to allocate the E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 24602 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific halibut between treaty Indian and nonIndian harvesters, and among nonIndian commercial and sport fisheries in IPHC statistical Area 2A (off Washington, Oregon, and California). The CSP, as implemented at 50 CFR part 300, provides for retention of halibut landed incidentally in the limited entry, longline primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.) in years when the Area 2A TAC is above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt). Because the Area 2A TAC is above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt) in 2006, NMFS established an allowance for incidental halibut retention in the primary sablefish fishery in 2006 (71 FR 10850, March 3, 2006). The changes to current groundfish management measures implemented by this action were recommended by the Pacific Council, in consultation with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, at its April 2–7, 2006, meeting in Sacramento, CA. At that meeting, the Pacific Council recommended: (1) implementing a limited entry trawl small footrope trip limit for chilipepper rockfish south of 40°10′ N. lat. separate from the minor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, widow, and yelloweye rockfish small footrope trawl trip limit; (2) implementing the incidental catch allowance for halibut in the limited entry fixed gear primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA; (3) establishing a voluntary area closure of the Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area (YRCA) off Washington for salmon trollers; (4) increasing the weight allowance on the line for ‘‘other flatfish’’ caught with hook and line gear in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries south of 42° N. lat.; and (5) reducing the two-month cumulative limit in the open access sablefish daily trip limit (DTL) fishery north of 36° N. lat. Pacific Coast groundfish landings will be monitored throughout the year, and further adjustments to trip limits or management measures will be made as necessary to allow achievement of, or to avoid exceeding, optimum yields (OYs). Limited Entry Trawl Trip Limits for Chilipepper Rockfish South of 40°10′ N. Lat. Chilipepper rockfish is an abundant species that has been annually under harvested for the past five years in order to protect co-occurring overfished species, primarily bocaccio. The Pacific Council discussed increasing trip limits for chilipepper rockfish both shoreward and seaward of the RCAs south of 40°10′ N. lat. In 2005, the Pacific Council had VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 considered raising the chilipepper rockfish limit for vessels using large footrope or midwater trawl gear in areas seaward of the RCAs to allow for targeted chilipepper rockfish fishing. However, because data were not available to fully analyze the impacts on co-occurring species, particularly bocaccio, a more conservative chilipepper rockfish limit was implemented for 2005–2006 than what was requested by industry members. A large footrope or midwater trawl trip limit of 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per two months was adopted for May through August 2005, and a limit of 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) per two months was adopted for September to December 2005. These same limits are currently in place for 2006. In 2005, the Pacific Council did not recommend increasing the trip limit above 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per two months. They decided to wait until West Coast Groundfish Observer Program (WCGOP) data on this southern trawl fishery were available and could be analyzed to better understand the impacts on co-occurring species. Currently, only WCGOP data through April 2005 are available. Because the higher trip limits for chilipepper rockfish did not start until May of 2005, WCGOP data on this fishery is unavailable. In addition, it is unknown at this time if WCGOP data were collected from vessels targeting chilipepper rockfish seaward of the RCAs in 2005. The Pacific Council’s Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP), representing industry members and the public, reported that the 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per two months trip limit has resulted in only a few vessels targeting chilipepper rockfish seaward of the RCAs. Because WCGOP data is unavailable for this fishery at this time, the Pacific Council recommended at its April 2006 meeting that the chilipepper rockfish trip limit for large footrope or midwater trawl gear remain the same as in 2005. To reduce discards of chilipepper rockfish in the small footrope trawl flatfish fisheries, which occurs primarily shoreward of the RCA, the Pacific Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) considered removing chilipepper rockfish from the overall 300 lb (136 kg) per month small footrope trip limit for minor shelf rockfish, chilipepper, shortbelly, widow and yelloweye rockfish both shoreward and seaward of the RCA and establishing a small footrope trip limit just for chilipepper rockfish. The GMT believed that a new chilipepper rockfish small footrope trip limit should be linked to a defined proportion of flatfish PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 on board the vessel and in the landings to accommodate incidental catch occurring in the flatfish fishery. The GMT was concerned that allowing an amount greater than 1,000 lb (454 kg) per two months (or 500 lb (227 kg) per month) that was not linked to the flatfish fishery could result in targeted chilipepper rockfish fishing, with increased catches of overfished species that co-occur with chilipepper rockfish. WCGOP data from January 2004 to April 2005 were examined to identify chilipepper rockfish/flatfish catch ratios and bycatch correlations. After discussion of the WCGOP data and consideration of public comments, the Pacific Council recommended that NMFS adopt a small increase in chilipepper rockfish to accommodate incidental catch in the flatfish fishery while not creating an incentive for targeting of chilipepper rockfish. Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended and NMFS is implementing a 500 lb (227 kg) per month small footrope trip limit for chilipepper rockfish that is separate from the minor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, widow and yelloweye rockfish limit of 300 lb (136 kg) per month from May through December. Retention of Incidental Halibut Catch in the Primary Sablefish Fishery North of Pt. Chehalis, WA The Pacific halibut CSP and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 300.63(b)(3) provide for retention of halibut landed incidentally in the limited entry, longline primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.) in years when the Area 2A TAC is above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt). The 2006 Area 2A TAC is 1,380,000 lb (626 mt). According to IPHC and Federal regulations, Pacific halibut may not be taken by gear other than hook-and-line gear. Only vessels registered for use with sablefish-endorsed limited entry permits may participate in the primary fixed gear sablefish fishery specified for halibut retention in the CSP. Vessels must also carry IPHC commercial halibut licenses in order to retain and land halibut. Incidental halibut retention in the primary sablefish fishery is only allowed for vessels operating north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.). Under Pacific halibut regulations at 50 CFR 300.63, halibut taken and retained in the primary sablefish fishery may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.). Similar to 2005, halibut caught incidentally in the primary sablefish fishery may be retained by appropriately E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations licensed longline vessels. The amount of incidental halibut retained in the primary sablefish fishery continues to be capped at 70,000 lb (31,752 kg), to ensure that the fishery is maintained as an incidental and not as a directed fishery. The objective for setting annual landing restrictions is to reach the halibut quota for this fishery at about the same time as the primary sablefish season ends, October 31, and to ensure an equitable sharing of the halibut landings among the fishers. To achieve this objective, incidental halibut retention in the sablefish fishery over the past few years has been structured as a ratio of halibut landings permitted in relation to sablefish landings. Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing the following: Beginning May 1, 2006, and continuing until the halibut quota 70,000 lb or (31,752 kg) is taken, longliners eligible to participate in the primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.) (see 50 CFR 660.372(a)) with appropriate IPHC licenses may retain incidental halibut landings up to 100 lb (45 kg) (dressed weight, head-on) of halibut for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) (dressed weight) of sablefish landed and up to two additional halibut in excess of the 100 lb (45 kg) per 1,000 lb (454 kg) ratio per landing. Halibut may not be on board a vessel that has any gear other than longline gear on board (e.g., pot or trawl gear). hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES Voluntary ‘‘C-shaped’’ Closure off Washington for Salmon Troll Fisheries Since 2003, NMFS has implemented a ‘‘C-shaped’’ YRCA off the Washington coast to protect yelloweye rockfish, an overfished species (see 50 CFR 660.390(a)). For 2006, the ‘‘C-shaped’’ YRCA is a mandatory closed area for recreational groundfish and recreational Pacific halibut fishing. In addition, the ‘‘C-shaped’’ YRCA has been designated as an area to be avoided (a voluntary closure) by commercial fixed gear groundfish fishermen at §§ 660.382(c)(1) and 660.383(c)(1). Much of the YRCA is already closed to commercial groundfish fixed gear fishermen by the non-trawl RCA, which extends from the Washington shoreline to a line connecting specific latitude and longitude coordinates that approximates the 100–fm (183–m) depth contour. To further protect yelloweye rockfish, the Pacific Council has recommended that the ‘‘C-shaped’’ YRCA in the North Coast subarea (Washington Marine Area 3) also be designated as an area to be avoided (a voluntary closure) by salmon trollers to protect yelloweye rockfish. VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries for ‘‘Other Flatfish’’ South of 42° N. Lat. For consistency with recreational regulations and to allow hook-and-line gear to more effectively fish on the bottom of the ocean for abundant flatfish species that do not usually cooccur with overfished groundfish species, the Pacific Council recommended revising the limited entry fixed gear and open access limits south of 42° N. lat. to allow vessels fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ with hook-and-line gear, with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than ‘‘Number 2’’ hooks, to use up to two one-pound weights rather than limiting them to one one-pound weight as in the trip limit tables, (Table 4 (South) and Table 5 (South)). In addition, the regulations at §§ 660.382 and 660.383 were inconsistent with the trip limit tables and are revised from reading ‘‘up to two lb of weight per line’’ to ‘‘up to two one lb weights per line’’ in order to be consistent with the inseason action recommended by the Pacific Council. Therefore, NMFS is implementing gear restrictions for limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries south of 42° N. lat. as follows: ‘‘When fishing for ‘‘other flatfish,’’ vessels using hook-andline gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than ‘‘Number 2’’ hooks, which measure 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to the RCAs.’’ Open Access Sablefish Daily Trip Limit Fishery North of 36° N. Lat. The Pacific Council discussed reducing the sablefish daily trip limit (DTL) fishery’s cumulative limit north of 36° N. lat. in anticipation of a large influx of fishing effort into the sablefish DTL fishery as a result of salmon fishery closures. The salmon fishery in 2006 is severely constrained off the coasts of Oregon and California. Fishery managers have received a number of inquiries from salmon fishers who are interested in moving into the open access sablefish DTL fishery. Only a minimal amount of hook-and-line or pot fishing gear is needed to participate in the sablefish DTL fishery, increasing the likelihood of fishers moving into this fishery. The amount of effort that may shift into the fishery as a result of lost salmon fishing opportunity, or for other reasons, is unknown and cannot be well estimated at this time. Under the current limits, a large increase in the number of open access sablefish DTL fishery participants could cause an early attainment of the open access sablefish PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 24603 allocation. If the allocation were reached, the fishery would need to be closed, possibly as early as July or August. Though the open access sablefish DTL fishery could provide fishing opportunity for displaced salmon fishers, it would likely have a large effect on fishers who have historically participated in the sablefish fishery. Reducing the open access cumulative limit for sablefish on May 1, 2006, is predicted to result in a longer season, which would most benefit fishers who have historically participated in the year-round fishery. The Pacific Council considered various reductions to the current open access sablefish DTL fishery’s weekly and 2–month limits ranging from one landing per week of up to 500 lb (227 kg), not to exceed 2,000 lb (907 kg) per two months to status quo (one landing per week of up to 1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) per two months). To sustain the open access sablefish DTL fishery until the end of year, the Pacific Council recommended that the daily and weekly trip limits for sablefish remain the same and that the cumulative limits for sablefish be reduced to 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per two months. The Pacific Council will analyze effort shifts into the open access sablefish DTL fishery at their June 11– 16, 2006, meeting when new data from the fishery are available. Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended and NMFS is implementing a reduction in the open access cumulative trip limits for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. from ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) per two months’’ to ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per two months.’’ Classification These actions are taken under the authority of 50 CFR 300.63(b)(3)and 660.370(c) and are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. These actions are authorized by the Pacific Coast groundfish FMP, the Halibut Act, and its implementing regulations, and are based on the most recent data available. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, (see ADDRESSES) during business hours. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES 24604 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The data upon which these recommendations were based was provided to the Pacific Council, and the Pacific Council made its recommendations at its April 2–7, 2006, meeting in Sacramento, CA. There was not sufficient time after that meeting to draft this notice and undergo proposed and final rulemaking before these actions need to be in effect at the start of the next cumulative limit period, May 1, 2006, as explained below. For the actions to be implemented in this notice, prior notice and opportunity for comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest because affording the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would impede the Agency’s function of managing fisheries using the best available science to approach without exceeding the OYs for federally managed species. The adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial groundfish fisheries. Changes to the limited entry trawl trip limits must be implemented in a timely manner by May 1, 2006, to reduce discard. Changes to the open access sablefish DTL fishery must be implemented in a timely manner by May 1, 2006, so that harvest of sablefish stays within the harvest levels projected for 2006 and is extended as long as possible over the year. Changes to the limited entry fixed gear primary sablefish fishery to allow the retention of Pacific halibut must be implemented by May 1, 2006, in order to provide an opportunity for participants in this fishery to catch the available quota projected to be taken based on the ratio of halibut to sablefish landings set. Changes to the limited entry fixed gear and open access gear requirements for ‘‘other flatfish’’ must be implemented as soon as possible and no later than May 1, 2006, in order to make commercial and recreational regulations consistent and to allow fishers better access to harvest of healthy stocks. Delaying any of these changes would keep management measures in place that are not based on the best available data and which could lead to early closures of the fishery if harvest of groundfish exceeds levels projected for 2006 or that deny fishermen access to available harvest. This would be contrary to the public interest because it would impair achievement of one of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP objectives of providing for year-round harvest opportunities or extending fishing opportunities as long as practicable during the fishing year. For these reasons, good cause also exists to waive the 30 day delay in VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 effectiveness requirement under 5 U.S.C. 553 (d)(3). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Administrative practice and procedure, Fisheries, Fishing, Indians. Dated: April 20, 2006. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Natinal Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: I PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES AND IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 773–773k 2. In § 660.372, paragraph (b)(3)(iv) is revised to read as follows: I § 660.372 Fixed gear sablefish fishery management. * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (iv) Incidental halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.). From May 1 through October 31, vessels authorized to participate in the primary sablefish fishery, licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.) may land up to the following cumulative limits: 100 lb (45 kg) dressed weight, head-on of halibut per 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish, plus up to two additional halibut per fishing trip in excess of this ratio. ‘‘Dressed’’ halibut in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on. Halibut taken and retained in the primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis. * * * * * I 3. In § 660.382, paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(5) are revised to read as follows: § 660.382 Limited entry fixed gear fishery management measures. * * * * * (c) * * * (2) Cowcod Conservation Areas. The latitude and longitude coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are specified at § 660.390. Fishing with limited entry fixed gear is PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 prohibited within the CCAs, except that fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted within the CCAs using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. Fishing with limited entry fixed gear for rockfish and lingcod is permitted shoreward of the 20–fm (37–m) depth contour. It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish within the CCAs, except for species authorized in this paragraph caught according to gear requirements in this paragraph, when those waters are open to fishing. Commercial fishing vessels may transit through the Western CCA with their gear stowed and groundfish on board only in a corridor through the Western CCA bounded on the north by the latitude line at 33°00.50′ N. lat., and bounded on the south by the latitude line at 32°59.50′ N. lat. (3) Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas. Fishing for groundfish with nontrawl gear (limited entry or open access longline and pot or trap, open access hook-and-line, gillnet, set net, trammel net and spear) is prohibited within the non-trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA), except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted within the non-trawl RCA off California (between 42° N. lat. south to the U.S./ Mexico border) using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish taken with non-trawl gear within the non-trawl RCA, unless otherwise authorized in this section. Limited entry fixed gear vessels may transit through the non-trawl RCA, with or without groundfish on board. These restrictions do not apply to vessels fishing for species other than groundfish with non-trawl gear, although non-trawl vessels on a fishing trip for species other than groundfish that occurs within the non-trawl RCA may not retain any groundfish taken on that trip. If a vessel fishes in the non-trawl RCA, it may not participate in any fishing on that trip that is prohibited by the restrictions that apply within the non-trawl RCA. [For example, if a vessel participates in the salmon troll fishery within the RCA, the vessel cannot on the same trip participate in the sablefish fishery outside of the RCA.] Boundaries for the non-trawl RCA throughout the year are provided in the header to Table 4 (North) and Table 4 (South) of this subpart and may be modified by NMFS inseason pursuant to § 660.370(c). Non- E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations trawl RCA boundaries are defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates and are provided at § § 660.390 through 660.394. (4) Farallon Islands. Under California law, commercial fishing for all groundfish is prohibited between the shoreline and the 10–fm (18–m) depth contour around the Farallon Islands, except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted around the Farallon Islands using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. (See Table 4 (South) of this subpart.) For a definition of the Farallon Islands, see § 660.390. (5) Cordell Banks. Commercial fishing for groundfish is prohibited in waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates at § 660.390, except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted around Cordell Banks using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. [Note: California state regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish in this area.] * * * * * I 4. In § 660.383, paragraphs (c)(2), (c)(3), (c)(5), and (c)(6) are revised to read as follows: § 660.383 Open access fishery management measures. * * * * (c) * * * (2) Cowcod Conservation Areas. The latitude and longitude coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are specified at § 660.390. Fishing with open access gear is prohibited within the CCAs, except that fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted within the CCAs using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1– hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES * VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 lb (0.45–kg) weights per line. Fishing with open access gear, except trawl gear, for rockfish and lingcod is permitted shoreward of the 20–fm (37–m) depth contour. It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish within the CCAs, except for species authorized in this paragraph caught according to gear requirements in this paragraph, when those waters are open to fishing. Commercial fishing vessels may transit through the Western CCA with their gear stowed and groundfish on board only in a corridor through the Western CCA bounded on the north by the latitude line at 33°00.50′ N. lat., and bounded on the south by the latitude line at 32°59.50′ N. lat. (3) Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas for the open access fisheries. Fishing for groundfish with non-trawl gear (limited entry or open access longline and pot or trap, open access hook-and-line, gillnet, set net, trammel net and spear) is prohibited within the non-trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA), except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted within the non-trawl RCA off California (between 42° N. lat. south to the U.S./ Mexico border) using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1– lb (0.45–kg) weights per line. It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish taken with non-trawl gear within the non-trawl RCA, unless otherwise authorized in this section. Open access non-trawl gear vessels may transit through the non-trawl RCA, with or without groundfish on board. These restrictions do not apply to vessels fishing for species other than groundfish with non-trawl gear, although non-trawl vessels on a fishing trip for species other than groundfish that occurs within the non-trawl RCA may not retain any groundfish taken on that trip. If a vessel fishes in the non-trawl RCA, it may not participate in any fishing on that trip that is prohibited by the restrictions that apply within the non-trawl RCA. Retention of groundfish caught by salmon troll gear is prohibited in the PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 24605 designated RCAs, except that salmon trollers may retain yellowtail rockfish caught both inside and outside the nontrawl RCA subject to the limits in Tables 5 (North) and 5 (South) of this subpart. Boundaries for the non-trawl RCA throughout the year are provided in the open access trip limit tables, Table 5 (North) and Table 5(South) of this subpart and may be modified by NMFS inseason pursuant to § 660.370(c). Nontrawl RCA boundaries are defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates which are specified at §§ 660.390 through 660.394. * * * * * (5) Farallon Islands. Under California law, commercial fishing for all groundfish is prohibited between the shoreline and the 10–fm (18–m) depth contour around the Farallon Islands, except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted around the Farallon Islands using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1– lb (0.45–kg) weights per line. (See Table 5 (South) of this subpart.) For a definition of the Farallon Islands, see § 660.390. (6) Cordell Banks. Commercial fishing for groundfish is prohibited in waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates at § 660.390, except that commercial fishing for ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted around Cordell Banks using no more than 12 hooks, ‘‘Number 2’’ or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1– lb (0.45–kg) weights per line. [Note: California state regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish in this area.] * * * * * 5. In part 660, subpart G, Table 3 (South), Table 4 (North and South), and Table 5 (North and South) are revised to read as follows: I BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 VerDate Aug<31>2005 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 ER26AP06.000</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES 24606 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 24607 ER26AP06.001</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Aug<31>2005 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 ER26AP06.002</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES 24608 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 24609 ER26AP06.003</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Aug<31>2005 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 ER26AP06.004</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES 24610 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 24611 ER26AP06.005</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 80 / Wednesday, April 26, 2006 / Rules and Regulations [FR Doc. 06–3942 Filed 4–25–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:58 Apr 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\26APR1.SGM 26APR1 ER26AP06.006</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC68 with RULES 24612

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 80 (Wednesday, April 26, 2006)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24601-24612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-3942]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No.051014263-6028-03; I.D. 041906A]


Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Specifications and Management 
Measures; Inseason Adjustments; Pacific Halibut Fisheries

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

ACTION:  Inseason adjustments to groundfish management measures; 
announcement of incidental halibut retention allowance; request for 
comments.

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SUMMARY:  NMFS announces changes to management measures in the 
commercial Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. NMFS also announces 
regulations for the retention of Pacific halibut landed incidentally in 
the limited entry longline primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. 
Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.). This document also contains 
notification of a voluntary closed area off Washington for salmon 
trollers. These actions, which are authorized by the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are intended to allow 
fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting 
overfished and depleted stocks.

DATES:  Effective 0001 hours (local time) May 1, 2006. Comments on this 
rule will be accepted through May 26, 2006.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by I.D. 041906A, by any 
of the following methods:
     E-mail: GroundfishInseason8.nwr@noaa.gov. Include I.D. 
number 041906A in the subject line of the message.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow 
the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: D. Robert Lohn, Administrator, Northwest Region, 
NMFS, Attn: Jamie Goen, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115-0070.
     Fax: 206-526-6736, Attn: Jamie Goen.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Jamie Goen (Northwest Region, NMFS), 
phone: 206-526-6150; fax: 206-526-6736; or e-mail: jamie.goen@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    This Federal Register document is available on the Government 
Printing Office's website at: www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
    Background information and documents are available at the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council's) website at: 
www.pcouncil.org.

Background

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP and its implementing regulations 
at Title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subpart 
G, regulate fishing for over 80 species of groundfish off the coasts of 
Washington, Oregon, and California. Groundfish specifications and 
management measures are developed by the Pacific Council, and are 
implemented by NMFS. The specifications and management measures for 
2005-2006 were codified in the CFR (50 CFR part 660, subpart G). They 
were published in the Federal Register as a proposed rule on September 
21, 2004 (69 FR 56550), and as a final rule on December 23, 2004 (69 FR 
77012). The final rule was subsequently amended on March 18, 2005 (70 
FR 13118); March 30, 2005 (70 FR 16145); April 19, 2005 (70 FR 20304); 
May 3, 2005 (70 FR 22808); May 4, 2005 (70 FR 23040); May 5, 2005 (70 
FR 23804); May 16, 2005 (70 FR 25789); May 19, 2005 (70 FR 28852); July 
5, 2005 (70 FR 38596); August 22, 2005 (70 FR 48897); August 31, 2005 
(70 FR 51682); October 5, 2005 (70 FR 58066); October 20, 2005 (70 FR 
61063); October 24, 2005 (70 FR 61393); November 1, 2005 (70 FR 65861); 
and December 5, 2005 (70 FR 723850). Longer-term changes to the 2006 
specifications and management measures were published in the Federal 
Register as a proposed rule on December 19, 2005 (70 FR 75115) and as a 
final rule on February 17, 2006 (71 FR 8489). The final rule was 
subsequently amended on March 27, 2006 (71 FR 10545) and April 11, 2006 
(71 FR 18227).
    The Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 U.S.C. 773-773k) 
(Halibut Act) and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 300, 
subpart E, regulate fishing for Pacific Halibut in U.S. Convention 
waters. The Halibut Act also authorizes the Pacific Council to develop 
regulations governing the Pacific halibut catch in waters off of 
Washington, Oregon, and California that are in addition to, but not in 
conflict with, regulations of the International Pacific Halibut 
Commission (IPHC). Accordingly, the Pacific Council has developed, and 
NMFS has approved, a catch sharing plan (CSP) to allocate the

[[Page 24602]]

total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific halibut between treaty Indian 
and non-Indian harvesters, and among non-Indian commercial and sport 
fisheries in IPHC statistical Area 2A (off Washington, Oregon, and 
California). The CSP, as implemented at 50 CFR part 300, provides for 
retention of halibut landed incidentally in the limited entry, longline 
primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. 
lat.) in years when the Area 2A TAC is above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt). 
Because the Area 2A TAC is above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt) in 2006, NMFS 
established an allowance for incidental halibut retention in the 
primary sablefish fishery in 2006 (71 FR 10850, March 3, 2006).
    The changes to current groundfish management measures implemented 
by this action were recommended by the Pacific Council, in consultation 
with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, 
Oregon, and California, at its April 2-7, 2006, meeting in Sacramento, 
CA. At that meeting, the Pacific Council recommended: (1) implementing 
a limited entry trawl small footrope trip limit for chilipepper 
rockfish south of 40[deg]10' N. lat. separate from the minor shelf 
rockfish, shortbelly, widow, and yelloweye rockfish small footrope 
trawl trip limit; (2) implementing the incidental catch allowance for 
halibut in the limited entry fixed gear primary sablefish fishery north 
of Pt. Chehalis, WA; (3) establishing a voluntary area closure of the 
Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area (YRCA) off Washington for salmon 
trollers; (4) increasing the weight allowance on the line for ``other 
flatfish'' caught with hook and line gear in the limited entry fixed 
gear and open access fisheries south of 42[deg] N. lat.; and (5) 
reducing the two-month cumulative limit in the open access sablefish 
daily trip limit (DTL) fishery north of 36[deg] N. lat. Pacific Coast 
groundfish landings will be monitored throughout the year, and further 
adjustments to trip limits or management measures will be made as 
necessary to allow achievement of, or to avoid exceeding, optimum 
yields (OYs).

Limited Entry Trawl Trip Limits for Chilipepper Rockfish South of 
40[deg]10' N. Lat.

    Chilipepper rockfish is an abundant species that has been annually 
under harvested for the past five years in order to protect co-
occurring overfished species, primarily bocaccio. The Pacific Council 
discussed increasing trip limits for chilipepper rockfish both 
shoreward and seaward of the RCAs south of 40[deg]10' N. lat. In 2005, 
the Pacific Council had considered raising the chilipepper rockfish 
limit for vessels using large footrope or midwater trawl gear in areas 
seaward of the RCAs to allow for targeted chilipepper rockfish fishing. 
However, because data were not available to fully analyze the impacts 
on co-occurring species, particularly bocaccio, a more conservative 
chilipepper rockfish limit was implemented for 2005-2006 than what was 
requested by industry members. A large footrope or midwater trawl trip 
limit of 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per two months was adopted for May 
through August 2005, and a limit of 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) per two months 
was adopted for September to December 2005. These same limits are 
currently in place for 2006. In 2005, the Pacific Council did not 
recommend increasing the trip limit above 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per two 
months. They decided to wait until West Coast Groundfish Observer 
Program (WCGOP) data on this southern trawl fishery were available and 
could be analyzed to better understand the impacts on co-occurring 
species. Currently, only WCGOP data through April 2005 are available. 
Because the higher trip limits for chilipepper rockfish did not start 
until May of 2005, WCGOP data on this fishery is unavailable. In 
addition, it is unknown at this time if WCGOP data were collected from 
vessels targeting chilipepper rockfish seaward of the RCAs in 2005. The 
Pacific Council's Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP), representing 
industry members and the public, reported that the 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) 
per two months trip limit has resulted in only a few vessels targeting 
chilipepper rockfish seaward of the RCAs. Because WCGOP data is 
unavailable for this fishery at this time, the Pacific Council 
recommended at its April 2006 meeting that the chilipepper rockfish 
trip limit for large footrope or midwater trawl gear remain the same as 
in 2005.
    To reduce discards of chilipepper rockfish in the small footrope 
trawl flatfish fisheries, which occurs primarily shoreward of the RCA, 
the Pacific Council's Groundfish Management Team (GMT) considered 
removing chilipepper rockfish from the overall 300 lb (136 kg) per 
month small footrope trip limit for minor shelf rockfish, chilipepper, 
shortbelly, widow and yelloweye rockfish both shoreward and seaward of 
the RCA and establishing a small footrope trip limit just for 
chilipepper rockfish. The GMT believed that a new chilipepper rockfish 
small footrope trip limit should be linked to a defined proportion of 
flatfish on board the vessel and in the landings to accommodate 
incidental catch occurring in the flatfish fishery. The GMT was 
concerned that allowing an amount greater than 1,000 lb (454 kg) per 
two months (or 500 lb (227 kg) per month) that was not linked to the 
flatfish fishery could result in targeted chilipepper rockfish fishing, 
with increased catches of overfished species that co-occur with 
chilipepper rockfish. WCGOP data from January 2004 to April 2005 were 
examined to identify chilipepper rockfish/flatfish catch ratios and 
bycatch correlations. After discussion of the WCGOP data and 
consideration of public comments, the Pacific Council recommended that 
NMFS adopt a small increase in chilipepper rockfish to accommodate 
incidental catch in the flatfish fishery while not creating an 
incentive for targeting of chilipepper rockfish.
    Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended and NMFS is implementing 
a 500 lb (227 kg) per month small footrope trip limit for chilipepper 
rockfish that is separate from the minor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, 
widow and yelloweye rockfish limit of 300 lb (136 kg) per month from 
May through December.

Retention of Incidental Halibut Catch in the Primary Sablefish Fishery 
North of Pt. Chehalis, WA

    The Pacific halibut CSP and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 
300.63(b)(3) provide for retention of halibut landed incidentally in 
the limited entry, longline primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. 
Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.) in years when the Area 2A TAC is 
above 900,000 lb (408.2 mt). The 2006 Area 2A TAC is 1,380,000 lb (626 
mt).
    According to IPHC and Federal regulations, Pacific halibut may not 
be taken by gear other than hook-and-line gear. Only vessels registered 
for use with sablefish-endorsed limited entry permits may participate 
in the primary fixed gear sablefish fishery specified for halibut 
retention in the CSP. Vessels must also carry IPHC commercial halibut 
licenses in order to retain and land halibut. Incidental halibut 
retention in the primary sablefish fishery is only allowed for vessels 
operating north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.). Under 
Pacific halibut regulations at 50 CFR 300.63, halibut taken and 
retained in the primary sablefish fishery may not be possessed or 
landed south of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.).
    Similar to 2005, halibut caught incidentally in the primary 
sablefish fishery may be retained by appropriately

[[Page 24603]]

licensed longline vessels. The amount of incidental halibut retained in 
the primary sablefish fishery continues to be capped at 70,000 lb 
(31,752 kg), to ensure that the fishery is maintained as an incidental 
and not as a directed fishery. The objective for setting annual landing 
restrictions is to reach the halibut quota for this fishery at about 
the same time as the primary sablefish season ends, October 31, and to 
ensure an equitable sharing of the halibut landings among the fishers. 
To achieve this objective, incidental halibut retention in the 
sablefish fishery over the past few years has been structured as a 
ratio of halibut landings permitted in relation to sablefish landings.
    Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended, and NMFS is 
implementing the following: Beginning May 1, 2006, and continuing until 
the halibut quota 70,000 lb or (31,752 kg) is taken, longliners 
eligible to participate in the primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. 
Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.) (see 50 CFR 660.372(a)) with 
appropriate IPHC licenses may retain incidental halibut landings up to 
100 lb (45 kg) (dressed weight, head-on) of halibut for every 1,000 lb 
(454 kg) (dressed weight) of sablefish landed and up to two additional 
halibut in excess of the 100 lb (45 kg) per 1,000 lb (454 kg) ratio per 
landing. Halibut may not be on board a vessel that has any gear other 
than longline gear on board (e.g., pot or trawl gear).

Voluntary ``C-shaped'' Closure off Washington for Salmon Troll 
Fisheries

    Since 2003, NMFS has implemented a ``C-shaped'' YRCA off the 
Washington coast to protect yelloweye rockfish, an overfished species 
(see 50 CFR 660.390(a)). For 2006, the ``C-shaped'' YRCA is a mandatory 
closed area for recreational groundfish and recreational Pacific 
halibut fishing. In addition, the ``C-shaped'' YRCA has been designated 
as an area to be avoided (a voluntary closure) by commercial fixed gear 
groundfish fishermen at Sec. Sec.  660.382(c)(1) and 660.383(c)(1). 
Much of the YRCA is already closed to commercial groundfish fixed gear 
fishermen by the non-trawl RCA, which extends from the Washington 
shoreline to a line connecting specific latitude and longitude 
coordinates that approximates the 100-fm (183-m) depth contour.
    To further protect yelloweye rockfish, the Pacific Council has 
recommended that the ``C-shaped'' YRCA in the North Coast subarea 
(Washington Marine Area 3) also be designated as an area to be avoided 
(a voluntary closure) by salmon trollers to protect yelloweye rockfish.

Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries for ``Other 
Flatfish'' South of 42[deg] N. Lat.

    For consistency with recreational regulations and to allow hook-
and-line gear to more effectively fish on the bottom of the ocean for 
abundant flatfish species that do not usually co-occur with overfished 
groundfish species, the Pacific Council recommended revising the 
limited entry fixed gear and open access limits south of 42[deg] N. 
lat. to allow vessels fishing for ``other flatfish'' with hook-and-line 
gear, with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than 
``Number 2'' hooks, to use up to two one-pound weights rather than 
limiting them to one one-pound weight as in the trip limit tables, 
(Table 4 (South) and Table 5 (South)). In addition, the regulations at 
Sec. Sec.  660.382 and 660.383 were inconsistent with the trip limit 
tables and are revised from reading ``up to two lb of weight per line'' 
to ``up to two one lb weights per line'' in order to be consistent with 
the inseason action recommended by the Pacific Council.
    Therefore, NMFS is implementing gear restrictions for limited entry 
fixed gear and open access fisheries south of 42[deg] N. lat. as 
follows: ``When fishing for ``other flatfish,'' vessels using hook-and-
line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger 
than ``Number 2'' hooks, which measure 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to 
shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to 
the RCAs.''

Open Access Sablefish Daily Trip Limit Fishery North of 36[deg] N. Lat.

    The Pacific Council discussed reducing the sablefish daily trip 
limit (DTL) fishery's cumulative limit north of 36[deg] N. lat. in 
anticipation of a large influx of fishing effort into the sablefish DTL 
fishery as a result of salmon fishery closures. The salmon fishery in 
2006 is severely constrained off the coasts of Oregon and California. 
Fishery managers have received a number of inquiries from salmon 
fishers who are interested in moving into the open access sablefish DTL 
fishery. Only a minimal amount of hook-and-line or pot fishing gear is 
needed to participate in the sablefish DTL fishery, increasing the 
likelihood of fishers moving into this fishery. The amount of effort 
that may shift into the fishery as a result of lost salmon fishing 
opportunity, or for other reasons, is unknown and cannot be well 
estimated at this time. Under the current limits, a large increase in 
the number of open access sablefish DTL fishery participants could 
cause an early attainment of the open access sablefish allocation. If 
the allocation were reached, the fishery would need to be closed, 
possibly as early as July or August.
    Though the open access sablefish DTL fishery could provide fishing 
opportunity for displaced salmon fishers, it would likely have a large 
effect on fishers who have historically participated in the sablefish 
fishery. Reducing the open access cumulative limit for sablefish on May 
1, 2006, is predicted to result in a longer season, which would most 
benefit fishers who have historically participated in the year-round 
fishery.
    The Pacific Council considered various reductions to the current 
open access sablefish DTL fishery's weekly and 2-month limits ranging 
from one landing per week of up to 500 lb (227 kg), not to exceed 2,000 
lb (907 kg) per two months to status quo (one landing per week of up to 
1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) per two months). 
To sustain the open access sablefish DTL fishery until the end of year, 
the Pacific Council recommended that the daily and weekly trip limits 
for sablefish remain the same and that the cumulative limits for 
sablefish be reduced to 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per two months. The Pacific 
Council will analyze effort shifts into the open access sablefish DTL 
fishery at their June 11-16, 2006, meeting when new data from the 
fishery are available.
    Therefore, the Pacific Council recommended and NMFS is implementing 
a reduction in the open access cumulative trip limits for sablefish 
north of 36[deg] N. lat. from ``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing 
per week of up to 1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) 
per two months'' to ``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week 
of up to 1,000 lb (454 kg), not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per two 
months.''

Classification

    These actions are taken under the authority of 50 CFR 
300.63(b)(3)and 660.370(c) and are exempt from review under Executive 
Order 12866.
    These actions are authorized by the Pacific Coast groundfish FMP, 
the Halibut Act, and its implementing regulations, and are based on the 
most recent data available. The aggregate data upon which these actions 
are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the 
Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, (see ADDRESSES) during business 
hours.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice 
and comment

[[Page 24604]]

would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The data 
upon which these recommendations were based was provided to the Pacific 
Council, and the Pacific Council made its recommendations at its April 
2-7, 2006, meeting in Sacramento, CA. There was not sufficient time 
after that meeting to draft this notice and undergo proposed and final 
rulemaking before these actions need to be in effect at the start of 
the next cumulative limit period, May 1, 2006, as explained below. For 
the actions to be implemented in this notice, prior notice and 
opportunity for comment would be impracticable and contrary to the 
public interest because affording the time necessary for prior notice 
and opportunity for public comment would impede the Agency's function 
of managing fisheries using the best available science to approach 
without exceeding the OYs for federally managed species. The 
adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial 
groundfish fisheries. Changes to the limited entry trawl trip limits 
must be implemented in a timely manner by May 1, 2006, to reduce 
discard. Changes to the open access sablefish DTL fishery must be 
implemented in a timely manner by May 1, 2006, so that harvest of 
sablefish stays within the harvest levels projected for 2006 and is 
extended as long as possible over the year. Changes to the limited 
entry fixed gear primary sablefish fishery to allow the retention of 
Pacific halibut must be implemented by May 1, 2006, in order to provide 
an opportunity for participants in this fishery to catch the available 
quota projected to be taken based on the ratio of halibut to sablefish 
landings set. Changes to the limited entry fixed gear and open access 
gear requirements for ``other flatfish'' must be implemented as soon as 
possible and no later than May 1, 2006, in order to make commercial and 
recreational regulations consistent and to allow fishers better access 
to harvest of healthy stocks. Delaying any of these changes would keep 
management measures in place that are not based on the best available 
data and which could lead to early closures of the fishery if harvest 
of groundfish exceeds levels projected for 2006 or that deny fishermen 
access to available harvest. This would be contrary to the public 
interest because it would impair achievement of one of the Pacific 
Coast Groundfish FMP objectives of providing for year-round harvest 
opportunities or extending fishing opportunities as long as practicable 
during the fishing year.
    For these reasons, good cause also exists to waive the 30 day delay 
in effectiveness requirement under 5 U.S.C. 553 (d)(3).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Administrative practice and procedure, Fisheries, Fishing, Indians.

    Dated: April 20, 2006.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Natinal Marine 
Fisheries Service.

0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as 
follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES AND IN THE WESTERN 
PACIFIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 773-773k

0
2. In Sec.  660.372, paragraph (b)(3)(iv) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.372  Fixed gear sablefish fishery management.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Incidental halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA 
(46[deg]53.30' N. lat.). From May 1 through October 31, vessels 
authorized to participate in the primary sablefish fishery, licensed by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in 
Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with 
longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.) may 
land up to the following cumulative limits: 100 lb (45 kg) dressed 
weight, head-on of halibut per 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of 
sablefish, plus up to two additional halibut per fishing trip in excess 
of this ratio. ``Dressed'' halibut in this area means halibut landed 
eviscerated with their heads on. Halibut taken and retained in the 
primary sablefish fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed 
north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. 
Chehalis.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.382, paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(5) are revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.382  Limited entry fixed gear fishery management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) Cowcod Conservation Areas. The latitude and longitude 
coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are 
specified at Sec.  660.390. Fishing with limited entry fixed gear is 
prohibited within the CCAs, except that fishing for ``other flatfish'' 
is permitted within the CCAs using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' 
or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to 
shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. Fishing with 
limited entry fixed gear for rockfish and lingcod is permitted 
shoreward of the 20-fm (37-m) depth contour. It is unlawful to take and 
retain, possess, or land groundfish within the CCAs, except for species 
authorized in this paragraph caught according to gear requirements in 
this paragraph, when those waters are open to fishing. Commercial 
fishing vessels may transit through the Western CCA with their gear 
stowed and groundfish on board only in a corridor through the Western 
CCA bounded on the north by the latitude line at 33[deg]00.50' N. lat., 
and bounded on the south by the latitude line at 32[deg]59.50' N. lat.
    (3) Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas. Fishing for groundfish 
with non-trawl gear (limited entry or open access longline and pot or 
trap, open access hook-and-line, gillnet, set net, trammel net and 
spear) is prohibited within the non-trawl rockfish conservation area 
(RCA), except that commercial fishing for ``other flatfish'' is 
permitted within the non-trawl RCA off California (between 42[deg] N. 
lat. south to the U.S./Mexico border) using no more than 12 hooks, 
``Number 2'' or smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) 
point to shank, and up to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. It is 
unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish taken with 
non-trawl gear within the non-trawl RCA, unless otherwise authorized in 
this section. Limited entry fixed gear vessels may transit through the 
non-trawl RCA, with or without groundfish on board. These restrictions 
do not apply to vessels fishing for species other than groundfish with 
non-trawl gear, although non-trawl vessels on a fishing trip for 
species other than groundfish that occurs within the non-trawl RCA may 
not retain any groundfish taken on that trip. If a vessel fishes in the 
non-trawl RCA, it may not participate in any fishing on that trip that 
is prohibited by the restrictions that apply within the non-trawl RCA. 
[For example, if a vessel participates in the salmon troll fishery 
within the RCA, the vessel cannot on the same trip participate in the 
sablefish fishery outside of the RCA.] Boundaries for the non-trawl RCA 
throughout the year are provided in the header to Table 4 (North) and 
Table 4 (South) of this subpart and may be modified by NMFS inseason 
pursuant to Sec.  660.370(c). Non-

[[Page 24605]]

trawl RCA boundaries are defined by specific latitude and longitude 
coordinates and are provided at Sec.  Sec.  660.390 through 660.394.
    (4) Farallon Islands. Under California law, commercial fishing for 
all groundfish is prohibited between the shoreline and the 10-fm (18-m) 
depth contour around the Farallon Islands, except that commercial 
fishing for ``other flatfish'' is permitted around the Farallon Islands 
using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or smaller, which measure no 
more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two one lb 
(0.45 kg) weights per line. (See Table 4 (South) of this subpart.) For 
a definition of the Farallon Islands, see Sec.  660.390.
    (5) Cordell Banks. Commercial fishing for groundfish is prohibited 
in waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as defined by 
specific latitude and longitude coordinates at Sec.  660.390, except 
that commercial fishing for ``other flatfish'' is permitted around 
Cordell Banks using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or smaller, 
which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up 
to two one lb (0.45 kg) weights per line. [Note: California state 
regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus 
Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish in this area.]
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  660.383, paragraphs (c)(2), (c)(3), (c)(5), and (c)(6) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.383  Open access fishery management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) Cowcod Conservation Areas. The latitude and longitude 
coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are 
specified at Sec.  660.390. Fishing with open access gear is prohibited 
within the CCAs, except that fishing for ``other flatfish'' is 
permitted within the CCAs using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or 
smaller, which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, 
and up to two 1-lb (0.45-kg) weights per line. Fishing with open access 
gear, except trawl gear, for rockfish and lingcod is permitted 
shoreward of the 20-fm (37-m) depth contour. It is unlawful to take and 
retain, possess, or land groundfish within the CCAs, except for species 
authorized in this paragraph caught according to gear requirements in 
this paragraph, when those waters are open to fishing. Commercial 
fishing vessels may transit through the Western CCA with their gear 
stowed and groundfish on board only in a corridor through the Western 
CCA bounded on the north by the latitude line at 33[deg]00.50' N. lat., 
and bounded on the south by the latitude line at 32[deg]59.50' N. lat.
    (3) Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas for the open access 
fisheries. Fishing for groundfish with non-trawl gear (limited entry or 
open access longline and pot or trap, open access hook-and-line, 
gillnet, set net, trammel net and spear) is prohibited within the non-
trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA), except that commercial fishing 
for ``other flatfish'' is permitted within the non-trawl RCA off 
California (between 42[deg] N. lat. south to the U.S./Mexico border) 
using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or smaller, which measure no 
more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1-lb (0.45-
kg) weights per line. It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or 
land groundfish taken with non-trawl gear within the non-trawl RCA, 
unless otherwise authorized in this section. Open access non-trawl gear 
vessels may transit through the non-trawl RCA, with or without 
groundfish on board. These restrictions do not apply to vessels fishing 
for species other than groundfish with non-trawl gear, although non-
trawl vessels on a fishing trip for species other than groundfish that 
occurs within the non-trawl RCA may not retain any groundfish taken on 
that trip. If a vessel fishes in the non-trawl RCA, it may not 
participate in any fishing on that trip that is prohibited by the 
restrictions that apply within the non-trawl RCA. Retention of 
groundfish caught by salmon troll gear is prohibited in the designated 
RCAs, except that salmon trollers may retain yellowtail rockfish caught 
both inside and outside the non-trawl RCA subject to the limits in 
Tables 5 (North) and 5 (South) of this subpart. Boundaries for the non-
trawl RCA throughout the year are provided in the open access trip 
limit tables, Table 5 (North) and Table 5(South) of this subpart and 
may be modified by NMFS inseason pursuant to Sec.  660.370(c). Non-
trawl RCA boundaries are defined by specific latitude and longitude 
coordinates which are specified at Sec. Sec.  660.390 through 660.394.
* * * * *
    (5) Farallon Islands. Under California law, commercial fishing for 
all groundfish is prohibited between the shoreline and the 10-fm (18-m) 
depth contour around the Farallon Islands, except that commercial 
fishing for ``other flatfish'' is permitted around the Farallon Islands 
using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or smaller, which measure no 
more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up to two 1-lb (0.45-
kg) weights per line. (See Table 5 (South) of this subpart.) For a 
definition of the Farallon Islands, see Sec.  660.390.
    (6) Cordell Banks. Commercial fishing for groundfish is prohibited 
in waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as defined by 
specific latitude and longitude coordinates at Sec.  660.390, except 
that commercial fishing for ``other flatfish'' is permitted around 
Cordell Banks using no more than 12 hooks, ``Number 2'' or smaller, 
which measure no more than 11 mm (0.44 inches) point to shank, and up 
to two 1-lb (0.45-kg) weights per line. [Note: California state 
regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus 
Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish in this area.]
* * * * *

0
5. In part 660, subpart G, Table 3 (South), Table 4 (North and South), 
and Table 5 (North and South) are revised to read as follows:
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[FR Doc. 06-3942 Filed 4-25-06; 8:45 am]
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