Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program, 35084-35088 [E8-14012]

Download as PDF 35084 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 070817467–8554–02] RIN 0648–XI52 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; Closure of the Elephant Trunk Scallop Access Area to General Category Scallop Vessels National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the Elephant Trunk Scallop Access Area (ETAA) will close to general category scallop vessels until it re-opens on March 1, 2009, under current regulations. This action is based on the determination that 1,671 general category scallop trips into the ETAA are projected to be taken as of 1200 hr (noon) local time, June 18, 2008. This action is being taken to prevent the allocation of general category trips in the ETAA from being exceeded during the 2008 fishing year, in accordance with the regulations implementing Framework 18 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The closure of the ETAA to all general category scallop vessels is effective 1200 hr local time, June 18, 2008, through February 28, 2009. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Frei, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9221, fax (978) 281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing fishing activity in the Sea Scallop Access Areas are found at §§ 648.59 and 648.60. Regulations specifically governing general category scallop vessel operations in the ETAA are specified at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii). These regulations authorize vessels issued a valid general category scallop permit to fish in the ETAA under specific conditions, including a total of 1,671 trips that may be taken by general category vessels during the 2008 fishing year. The regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii) require the ETAA to be closed to general category scallop vessels once the Northeast Regional Administrator has dwashington3 on PRODPC61 with RULES DATES: VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:25 Jun 19, 2008 Jkt 214001 determined that the allowed number of trips are projected to be taken. Based on Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) trip declarations by general category scallop vessels fishing in the ETAA, and analysis of fishing effort, a projection concluded that, given current activity levels by general category scallop vessels in the area, 1,671 trips will have been taken on June 18, 2008. Therefore, in accordance with the regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii), the ETAA is closed to all general category scallop vessels as of 1200 hr local time, June 18, 2008. Any vessel that has declared into the general category ETAA fishery, complied with all trip notification and observer requirements, and crossed the VMS demarcation line on the way to the area, may complete the trip. This closure is in effect for the remainder of the 2008 scallop fishing year under current regulations. The ETAA is scheduled to re-open to scallop fishing, including trips for general category scallop vessels, on March 1, 2009, unless the schedule for scallop access areas is modified by the New England Fishery Management Council. Classification This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This action closes the ETAA to all general category scallop vessels until March 1, 2009, under current regulations. The regulations at § 648.59(e)(4)(ii) allow such action to ensure that general category scallop vessels do not take more than their allocated number of trips in the ETAA. The ETAA opened for the 2008 fishing year at 0001 hours on June 1, 2008. Data indicating the general category scallop fleet has taken all of the ETAA trips have only recently become available. To allow general category scallop vessels to continue to take trips in the ETAA during the period necessary to publish and receive comments on a proposed rule would result in vessels taking much more than the allowed number of trips in the ETAA. Excessive trips and harvest from the ETAA would result in excessive fishing effort in the ETAA, where effort controls are critical, thereby undermining conservation objectives of the FMP. Should excessive effort occur in the ETAA, future management measures would need to be more restrictive. Based on the above, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), proposed rulemaking is waived because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to allow a period for public comment. Furthermore, for the same reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 delayed effectiveness period for this action. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: June 17, 2008. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 08–1372 Filed 6–17–08; 3:06 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 680 [Docket No. 080129098–8743–02] RIN 0648–AW45 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations implementing Amendment 26 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (FMP). These regulations amend the Crab Rationalization Program. Amendment 26 amends the FMP to exempt permanently quota share issued to crew members, and the annual harvest privileges derived from that quota share, from requirements for delivery to specific processors, delivery within specific geographic regions, and participation in an arbitration system to resolve price disputes. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the FMP, and other applicable law. DATES: Effective July 21, 2008. ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 26, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/ Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action, and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for the Crab Rationalization Program may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region, P. O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802 or from the Alaska Region website at http:// www.fakr.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glenn Merrill, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The king and Tanner crab fisheries in the E:\FR\FM\20JNR1.SGM 20JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Rules and Regulations dwashington3 on PRODPC61 with RULES exclusive economic zone of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) are managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under the MSA as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–199, section 801). Amendments 18 and 19 to the FMP implemented the BSAI Crab Rationalization Program (Program). Regulations implementing Amendments 18 and 19 were published on March 2, 2005 (70 FR 10174), and are located at 50 CFR part 680. Crab Rationalization Program Overview Under the Program, NMFS issued four types of quota share (QS) to persons based on their qualifying harvest histories in the BSAI crab fisheries during a specific period of time defined under the Program. The first two types of QS were issued to holders of license limitation program (LLP) licenses endorsed for a crab fishery. Catcher/ processor LLP license holders were issued catcher/processor vessel owner (CPO) QS based on the catch history of catcher processors using an LLP license, and catcher vessel LLP license holders were issued catcher vessel owner (CVO) QS based on the catch history of catcher vessels using an LLP license. Under the Program, 97 percent of the QS was initially issued as CVO and CPO QS. The remaining 3 percent of the QS was initially issued to vessel captains and crew as ‘‘C shares,’’ based on their harvest histories as crew members onboard crab fishing vessels. Captains and crew onboard catcher/processor vessels were issued catcher/processor crew (CPC) QS; and captains and crew onboard catcher vessels were issued catcher vessel crew (CVC) QS. Each year, the QS issued to a person yields an amount of individual fishing quota (IFQ), which is a permit that provides an exclusive harvest privilege for a specific amount of raw crab pounds, in a specific crab fishery, in a given season. The size of each annual IFQ allocation is based on the amount of QS held by a person in relation to the total QS pool in a crab fishery. As an example, a person holding QS equal to one percent of the QS pool in a crab fishery would receive IFQ to harvest 1 percent of the annual total allowable catch (TAC) in that crab fishery. NMFS can issue the resulting IFQ to the QS holder directly, or to a crab harvesting cooperative comprised of multiple QS holders. Crab harvesting cooperatives have been used extensively by QS holders to allow them to receive a larger IFQ pool and coordinate deliveries and VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:25 Jun 19, 2008 Jkt 214001 price negotiations among numerous vessels. Most QS holders, including CVC and CPC QS holders, have joined cooperatives in the first two years of the Program, and are likely to continue to do so because of the economic and administrative benefits of consolidating their IFQ. The IFQ derived from CPO and CPC QS may be harvested and processed at sea and is not required to be delivered to a specific onshore processor or stationary floating crab processor, or within a specific geographic region. However, the IFQ derived from CVO QS is subject to (1) delivery requirements to a specific onshore processor or stationary floating crab processor, (2) delivery within specific geographic regions, also known as regionalization, and (3) requirements to participate in an arbitration system. The IFQ derived from CVC QS must be delivered to onshore or stationary floating crab processors, but is currently exempt from delivery requirements to specific processors, regionalization requirements, and requirements to participate in the arbitration system. However, under the existing regulations, CVC QS and the resulting IFQ will be subject to the same delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements as CVO QS/IFQ after June 30, 2008. When the Program was adopted in 2004, the Council recommended regularly scheduled reviews of the Program 18 months, three years, and five years after its implementation to assess specific issues. Beginning in February 2007, Council staff began preparation of the 18-month review. Among other issues examined during this review, Council staff provided a summary of the key issues and concerns relevant to applying delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements to CVC QS/IFQ holders. Members of the public noted that applying these requirements to CVC QS/ IFQ holders after June 30, 2008, would limit their ability to address logistical complications, not provide flexibility for CVC IFQ holders to deliver to alternative markets if desired, substantially increase the costs of operation, and not provide substantial additional stability to processors and communities. Based on these concerns, in April 2007, the Council tasked staff to prepare an analysis that would review the implications of permanently exempting CVC QS/IFQ from delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements. The Council deliberated over the issue at subsequent meetings, and in December 2007, recommended permanently exempting CVC QS/IFQ PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 35085 from all three of these Program requirements. Notice of Availability and Proposed Rule NMFS published the notice of availability for Amendment 26 on March 21, 2008 (73 FR 15118), with a public comment period that closed on May 20, 2008. NMFS received no public comments on Amendment 26. The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 26 on June 6, 2008. NMFS published the proposed rule for this action on March 31, 2008 (73 FR 16830), with a public comment period that closed on May 15, 2008. NMFS received one public comment on the proposed rule, which is summarized and responded to below. Effects of the Action The following sections briefly describe the effects of permanently exempting CVC QS/IFQ holders from delivery, regionalization, and the arbitration system requirements. Additional discussion of the rationale and effects of this action is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule (73 FR 16830) and is not repeated here. Processor delivery requirements. The Program recognizes the historic participation of processors and communities dependent on crab processing in the BSAI crab fisheries by requiring that a portion of the annual TAC be delivered to specific onshore or stationary floating crab processors. The Program established this linkage by issuing processor quota shares (PQS) to processors with historic participation in crab processing during a specific period. PQS yields individual processor quota (IPQ) on an annual basis that represents a privilege to receive a certain amount of crab harvested. Currently, 90 percent of the IFQ derived from CVO QS holders is issued as Class A IFQ. NMFS issues one pound of IPQ for each pound of Class A IFQ, creating a one-to-one correspondence between Class A IFQ and IPQ. The remaining 10 percent of the annual CVO IFQ is issued as Class B IFQ, which may be delivered to any processor and are not required to be delivered to a processor with unused IPQ. The Council also recommended that because CVC QS was generated based on deliveries to onshore or stationary floating crab processors, it also should be issued as 90 percent Class A IFQ and 10 percent Class B IFQ. To facilitate CVC QS/IFQ holders and reduce the complex process matching of Class A IFQ to specific processors with IPQ, the Program exempted CVC IFQ from issuance as Class A/B IFQ and the E:\FR\FM\20JNR1.SGM 20JNR1 dwashington3 on PRODPC61 with RULES 35086 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Rules and Regulations prohibitions on CVC IFQ leasing for the first three crab fishing years. This period expires on June 30, 2008 (see 50 CFR 680.41(e) and 50 CFR 680.42(b)(6) and (c)(5)), and was intended to provide CVC QS/IFQ holders time to adapt to the Program before phasing in these additional restrictions. Further, the Council recommended that the appropriateness of applying Class A and B IFQ restrictions should be reviewed 18 months after the implementation of the Program. The Council anticipated that applying these restrictions to CVC QS may not be necessary to achieve the goals of providing additional stability to the processing sector and communities and could impose additional costs and complexity on CVC QS/IFQ holders. The RIR/FRFA prepared for this action by Council and NMFS staff indicates that the application of Class A IFQ delivery requirements to CVC IFQ would logistically complicate use of those shares (see ADDRESSES). Public testimony received during the Council’s deliberations that led to the adoption of Amendment 26 noted concerns about the complexity of matching shares and asserted that the potential advantages to processors and communities by establishing these delivery requirements were outweighed by the additional costs that CVC QS/IFQ holders would incur. Public testimony from processors and communities with processing facilities did not dispute this assertion and supported permanently exempting CVC QS from the requirements that it be issued as Class A and B IFQ. Permanently extending the exemption of the Class A/B IFQ delivery requirements to CVC QS/IFQ holders is not anticipated to have adverse effects on other participants given the limited number of these shares relative to CVO, CPO, and CPC QS/IFQ. This thesis is further supported by the fact that CVC QS/IFQ has been exempt from the Class A IFQ delivery requirement for the first three years of the Program and no negative effects were indicated in the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action. Public testimony provided during Council review of this issue did not indicate that there would be negative effects on processors or communities as a result of a permanent exemption from Class A/B designation for CVC IFQ. Additionally, based on a review of recent harvest patterns provided in the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action, CVC IFQ delivery patterns seem similar to those of Class A IFQ. These patterns could change in the future so that CVC IFQ would be more likely to be delivered independently of Class A IFQ to other markets; however, given the relatively small percentage of the total VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:25 Jun 19, 2008 Jkt 214001 landings that are assigned to CVC IFQ onboard a vessel, NMFS does not expect delivery patterns for CVC IFQ to differ from the delivery patterns currently observed. Furthermore, even if the delivery patterns of CVC IFQ were to change in the future, NMFS believes that a shift in such a relatively small amount of IFQ likely would not have an appreciable effect on overall processor operations or deliveries to specific communities. Regionalization. In addition to processor share landing requirements, Class A IFQ and IPQ are subject to regional landing requirements. Those shares must be landed and processed in specified geographic regions. Those regions are described in the EIS prepared for the Program and the RIR/ FRFA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES). The Class A IFQ regional delivery requirements vary depending on the specific crab fishery but generally ensure that a portion of the catch is delivered within areas that have communities that are active in crab processing. For most crab fisheries, there are two regions. One region is typically considered the more remote region. The requirement to land within the more remote region provides some assurance that the small number of processors and communities historically active within that region will continue to receive catch that could otherwise be diverted to the less remote region. If CVC IFQ were subject to a Class A/ B IFQ designation, then 90 percent of the CVC IFQ would be defined as Class A IFQ and therefore subject to regionalization. Because the Program exempted CVC IFQ from a Class A/B IFQ designation through June 30, 2008, to reduce the initial complexities of matching shares and for the other reasons mentioned in the previous section, CVC IFQ also was exempted from regionalization. Given that CVC IFQ is currently exempt from regionalization, and CVC IFQ is delivered in conjunction with CVO Class A IFQ currently, NMFS believes that permanently exempting CVC IFQ from regionalization requirements will not have any noticeable effect on the overall delivery of CVC IFQ within a given region. Permanently exempting CVC IFQ from regionalization requirements could provide opportunities to CVC IFQ holders to use additional markets that would be foreclosed if those shares were subject to regionalization. Arbitration System. To aid participants in resolving price and delivery disputes that may arise among Class A IFQ and IPQ holders, the Council developed an arbitration PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 system. Regulations at 50 CFR 680.20 require that Class A IFQ and IPQ holders join private arbitration organizations. These arbitration organizations, in turn, must enter into contracts that define the procedure for resolving price disputes. The arbitration system serves several functions to resolve price and delivery disputes, including establishing a mechanism for the orderly matching of Class A IFQ with IPQ, developing a market report and non-binding price formula to inform price negotiations, and providing a binding arbitration procedure to resolve impasses in negotiations. A more complete description of the arbitration system is provided in the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action and the EIS prepared for the Program (see ADDRESSES). Because the arbitration system applies only to Class A IFQ, exempting CVC IFQ from Class A/B IFQ designation effectively exempts CVC IFQ from the arbitration system. Summary. This rule implements a permanent exemption to delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements for CVC QS/IFQ holders. As described in greater detail in the preamble to the proposed rule (73 FR 16830) and the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action, permanently extending the exemption from delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements will allow CVC QS/IFQ holders to avoid the additional costs and complexity that would result to them if these exemptions are not granted. Furthermore, providing these exemptions would not deprive processors and communities of any appreciable benefits if the delivery , regionalization, and arbitration system requirements were applied to CVC QS/ IFQ. NMFS modified the Program regulations to remove all instances that either require or refer to CVC IFQ being redesignated as Class A/B IFQ after June 30, 2008. These references occur in regulatory text at 50 CFR 680.2, 680.20, 680.21, 680.40, and 680.42. Response to Comments Comment 1: Cut all quotas by 50 percent this year and by l0 percent each year thereafter. The commenter notes that NMFS also permitted harvests in the Alaska herring fishery and asserts that the herring fishery adversely affects marine life. Response: This final rule does not address the allocation of QS or TAC under the Program and modifying QS or TAC allocation is outside the scope of this action. This action modifies the nature of CVC IFQ. NMFS notes that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game E:\FR\FM\20JNR1.SGM 20JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Rules and Regulations manages herring fisheries in State of Alaska waters. No change in the regulations has been made based on this comment. Changes from the Proposed Rule NMFS did not make any changes from the proposed rule. Classification Consistency with the MSA and Other Laws The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that Amendment 26 is necessary for the conservation and management of the BSAI crab fisheries and that it is consistent with the MSA and other applicable laws. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An Environmental Impact Statement/ Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis/Social Impact Assessment was prepared for the Program that describes the management background, the purpose and need for the Program, the management alternatives, and the environmental, social, and economic impacts (see ADDRESSES). With this final rule, NMFS is continuing to implement the Program. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) A FRFA was prepared for this rule, as required by section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Copies of the FRFA prepared for this final rule are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The FRFA incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS( responses to those comments, and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action. A summary of the FRFA follows. dwashington3 on PRODPC61 with RULES Why Action by the Agency is Being Considered and Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Rule The FRFA describes in detail the reasons why this action is being proposed, describes the objectives and legal basis for the rule, and discusses both small and non-small regulated entities to adequately characterize the fishery participants. The MSA provides the legal basis for the rule, as discussed in this preamble. The objectives of the rule are to permanently exempt CVC QS/IFQ holders from delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements allowing them to avoid the additional costs and complexity that will result to them if these exemptions are not granted. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:25 Jun 19, 2008 Jkt 214001 Number of Small Entities to Which the Final Rule Would Apply For purposes of a FRFA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has established that a business involved in fish harvesting is a small business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and if it has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $4.0 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A seafood processor is a small business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field of operation, and employs 500 or fewer persons on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide. Because the SBA does not have a size criterion for businesses that are involved in both the harvesting and processing of seafood products, NMFS has in the past applied and continues to apply SBA’s fish harvesting criterion for these businesses because catcher/ processors are first and foremost fish harvesting businesses. Therefore, a business involved in both the harvesting and processing of seafood products is a small business if it meets the $4.0 million criterion for fish harvesting operations. NMFS currently is reviewing its small entity size classification for all catcher/processors in the United States. However, until new guidance is adopted, NMFS will continue to use the annual receipts standard for catcher/processors. NMFS plans to issue new guidance in the near future. The FRFA contains a description and estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The FRFA estimates that all of the 219 individuals hold CVC QS/IFQ and would be directly regulated by the proposed action. The FRFA notes that estimates of the number of small CVC QS/IFQ holders under the Program are complicated by limited share holder information, but, conservatively, the FRFA estimates that all of the individuals holding CVC QS/IFQ would be considered small entities. Public Comments Received on the IRFA 35087 Comparison of Alternatives All the directly regulated individuals would be expected to benefit from the preferred alternative, Alternative 2 (described in this rule) relative to the status quo alternative because it relieves individuals from requirements that would increase their costs of operation. Of the two alternatives considered, status quo and this action, this action minimizes adverse economic impacts on the individuals that are directly regulated. Although the alternatives under consideration in this action would have distributional and efficiency impacts for individual participants, such as reducing some operational costs for CVC QS/IFQ holders, in no case are these impacts in the aggregate expected to be substantial. Although neither of the alternatives has substantial negative impacts on small entities, preferred Alternative 2 minimizes the potential negative impacts that could arise under Alternative 1, the status quo alternative. Differences in efficiency that could arise are likely to affect most participants in a minor way having an overall insubstantial impact. As a consequence, neither alternative is expected to have any significant economic or socioeconomic impacts. Nevertheless, Alternative 2 is preferable because it reduces costs of operations for small entities to a limited degree. Small Entity Compliance Guide NMFS has posted a small entity compliance guide on its website at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/crab/crfaq.htm to satisfy the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 requirement for a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this rule. Contact NMFS to request a hard copy of the guide (see ADDRESSES). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 680 Alaska, Fisheries. Dated: June 16, 2008. John Oliver, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 680 is amended as follows: NMFS received no public comments on the IRFA or on the economic impacts of the rule. I Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements PART 680—SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA This rule would not change existing reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as follows: I E:\FR\FM\20JNR1.SGM 20JNR1 35088 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Rules and Regulations Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109– 241; Pub. L. 109–479. 2. In § 680.2, the definitions of ‘‘Arbitration IFQ’’, and ‘‘Arbitration QS’’ are revised to read as follows: I § 680.2 Definitions. * * * * * Arbitration IFQ means: (1) Class A catcher vessel owner (CVO) IFQ held by a person who is not a holder of PQS or IPQ and who is not affiliated with any holder of PQS or IPQ, and (2) IFQ held by an FCMA cooperative. Arbitration QS means CVO QS held by a person who is not a holder of PQS or IPQ and is not affiliated with any holder of PQS or IPQ. * * * * * I 3. In § 680.20, paragraphs (a)(1), (b)(1)(i), the introductory text to paragraph (c), and paragraph (e)(7) are revised to read as follows: § 680.20 Arbitration System. dwashington3 on PRODPC61 with RULES (a) * * * (1) Arbitration System. All CVO QS, Arbitration IFQ, Class A IFQ holders, PQS and IPQ holders must enter the contracts as prescribed in this section that establish the Arbitration System. Certain parts of the Arbitration System are voluntary for some parties, as specified in this section. All contract provisions will be enforced by parties to those contracts. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (i) Holders of CVO QS, * * * * * (c) Preseason requirements for joining an Arbitration Organization. All holders of CVO QS, PQS, Arbitration IFQ, Class A IFQ affiliated with a PQS or IPQ holder, and IPQ must join and maintain a membership in an Arbitration Organization as specified in paragraph (d) of this section. All holders of QS, PQS, IFQ, or IPQ identified in the preceding sentence must join an Arbitration Organization at the following times: * * * * * (e) * * * (7) IFQ and IPQ issuance and selection of the Market Analyst, Formula Arbitrator, and Contract VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:25 Jun 19, 2008 Jkt 214001 Arbitrator(s). NMFS will not issue CVO IFQ and IPQ for a crab QS fishery until Arbitration Organizations establish by mutual agreement contracts with a Market Analyst, Formula Arbitrator, and Contract Arbitrator(s) for that fishery and notify NMFS. * * * * * I 4. In § 680.21, paragraph (a)(1)(iii)(B) is revised to read as follows: § 680.21 Crab harvesting cooperatives. * * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (B) Upon joining a crab harvesting cooperative for a CR fishery, NMFS will convert all of a QS holder’s QS holdings for that CR fishery to crab harvesting cooperative IFQ. * * * * * I 5. In § 680.40, paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (b)(2)(i)(B), (b)(2)(ii)(C), (c)(2)(v)(J), (c)(4) introductory text, (h)(2)(i), (h)(2)(ii), and (h)(6)(ii) are revised to read as follows: § 680.40 Quota Share (QS), Processor QS (PQS), Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ), and Individual Processor Quota (IPQ) issuance. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (ii) Catcher Vessel Crew (CVC) QS shall be initially issued to qualified persons defined in paragraph (b)(3) of this section based on legal landings of unprocessed crab. * * * * * (2) * * * (i) * * * (B) South QS if the legal landings that gave rise to the QS for a crab QS fishery were not landed in the North Region, and all CVO QS allocated to the WAI crab QS fishery; or * * * * * (ii) * * * (C) CVC QS; * * * * * (c) * * * (2) * * * (v) * * * (J) The percentage calculated in paragraph (c)(2)(v)(I) of this section may be adjusted according to the provisions at paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) of this section. The amount calculated in PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 paragraph (c)(2)(v)(H) of this section is multiplied by the percentage for each region. These regional QS designations do not apply to CVC QS. * * * * * (4) Regional designation of Western Aleutian Islands golden king crab. Fifty percent of the CVO QS that is issued in the WAG crab QS fishery will be initially issued with a West regional designation. The West regional designation applies to QS for delivery west of 174° W. longitude. The remaining 50 percent of the CVO QS initially issued for this fishery is not subject to regional designation (Undesignated QS). A person (p) who would receive QS based on the legal landings in only one region will receive QS with only that regional designation. A person who would receive QS with more than one regional designation for that crab QS fishery would have his or her QS holdings regionally adjusted on a pro rata basis as follows: * * * * * (h) * * * (2) * * * (i) QS shall yield Class A or Class B IFQ if: (A) Initially assigned to the CVO QS sector; or (B) Transferred to the CVO QS sector from the CPO QS sector. (ii) The Class A/B IFQ TAC is the portion of the TAC assigned as Class A/ B IFQ under paragraphs (h)(2)(i)(A) and (B) of this section. * * * * * (6) * * * (ii) CVC IFQ is not subject to regional designation. * * * * * I 6. In § 680.42, paragraph (b)(6) is revised to read as follows: § 680.42 Limitations on use of QS, PQS, IFQ, and IPQ. * * * * * (b) * * * (6) Any person harvesting crab under a Class B IFQ, CPO IFQ, CVC IFQ, or CPC IFQ permit may deliver that crab to any RCR. * * * * * [FR Doc. E8–14012 Filed 6–19–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\20JNR1.SGM 20JNR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 120 (Friday, June 20, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 35084-35088]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-14012]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 680

[Docket No. 080129098-8743-02]
RIN 0648-AW45


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations implementing Amendment 26 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner 
Crabs (FMP). These regulations amend the Crab Rationalization Program. 
Amendment 26 amends the FMP to exempt permanently quota share issued to 
crew members, and the annual harvest privileges derived from that quota 
share, from requirements for delivery to specific processors, delivery 
within specific geographic regions, and participation in an arbitration 
system to resolve price disputes. This action is intended to promote 
the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (MSA), the FMP, and other applicable law.

DATES: Effective July 21, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 26, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/
Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action, 
and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for the Crab 
Rationalization Program may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region, P. 
O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802 or from the Alaska Region website at 
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glenn Merrill, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The king and Tanner crab fisheries in the

[[Page 35085]]

exclusive economic zone of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
are managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) under the MSA as amended by the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-199, section 
801). Amendments 18 and 19 to the FMP implemented the BSAI Crab 
Rationalization Program (Program). Regulations implementing Amendments 
18 and 19 were published on March 2, 2005 (70 FR 10174), and are 
located at 50 CFR part 680.

Crab Rationalization Program Overview

    Under the Program, NMFS issued four types of quota share (QS) to 
persons based on their qualifying harvest histories in the BSAI crab 
fisheries during a specific period of time defined under the Program. 
The first two types of QS were issued to holders of license limitation 
program (LLP) licenses endorsed for a crab fishery. Catcher/processor 
LLP license holders were issued catcher/processor vessel owner (CPO) QS 
based on the catch history of catcher processors using an LLP license, 
and catcher vessel LLP license holders were issued catcher vessel owner 
(CVO) QS based on the catch history of catcher vessels using an LLP 
license. Under the Program, 97 percent of the QS was initially issued 
as CVO and CPO QS. The remaining 3 percent of the QS was initially 
issued to vessel captains and crew as ``C shares,'' based on their 
harvest histories as crew members onboard crab fishing vessels. 
Captains and crew onboard catcher/processor vessels were issued 
catcher/processor crew (CPC) QS; and captains and crew onboard catcher 
vessels were issued catcher vessel crew (CVC) QS.
    Each year, the QS issued to a person yields an amount of individual 
fishing quota (IFQ), which is a permit that provides an exclusive 
harvest privilege for a specific amount of raw crab pounds, in a 
specific crab fishery, in a given season. The size of each annual IFQ 
allocation is based on the amount of QS held by a person in relation to 
the total QS pool in a crab fishery. As an example, a person holding QS 
equal to one percent of the QS pool in a crab fishery would receive IFQ 
to harvest 1 percent of the annual total allowable catch (TAC) in that 
crab fishery. NMFS can issue the resulting IFQ to the QS holder 
directly, or to a crab harvesting cooperative comprised of multiple QS 
holders. Crab harvesting cooperatives have been used extensively by QS 
holders to allow them to receive a larger IFQ pool and coordinate 
deliveries and price negotiations among numerous vessels. Most QS 
holders, including CVC and CPC QS holders, have joined cooperatives in 
the first two years of the Program, and are likely to continue to do so 
because of the economic and administrative benefits of consolidating 
their IFQ.
    The IFQ derived from CPO and CPC QS may be harvested and processed 
at sea and is not required to be delivered to a specific onshore 
processor or stationary floating crab processor, or within a specific 
geographic region. However, the IFQ derived from CVO QS is subject to 
(1) delivery requirements to a specific onshore processor or stationary 
floating crab processor, (2) delivery within specific geographic 
regions, also known as regionalization, and (3) requirements to 
participate in an arbitration system. The IFQ derived from CVC QS must 
be delivered to onshore or stationary floating crab processors, but is 
currently exempt from delivery requirements to specific processors, 
regionalization requirements, and requirements to participate in the 
arbitration system. However, under the existing regulations, CVC QS and 
the resulting IFQ will be subject to the same delivery, 
regionalization, and arbitration system requirements as CVO QS/IFQ 
after June 30, 2008.
    When the Program was adopted in 2004, the Council recommended 
regularly scheduled reviews of the Program 18 months, three years, and 
five years after its implementation to assess specific issues. 
Beginning in February 2007, Council staff began preparation of the 18-
month review. Among other issues examined during this review, Council 
staff provided a summary of the key issues and concerns relevant to 
applying delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system requirements 
to CVC QS/IFQ holders. Members of the public noted that applying these 
requirements to CVC QS/IFQ holders after June 30, 2008, would limit 
their ability to address logistical complications, not provide 
flexibility for CVC IFQ holders to deliver to alternative markets if 
desired, substantially increase the costs of operation, and not provide 
substantial additional stability to processors and communities. Based 
on these concerns, in April 2007, the Council tasked staff to prepare 
an analysis that would review the implications of permanently exempting 
CVC QS/IFQ from delivery, regionalization, and arbitration system 
requirements. The Council deliberated over the issue at subsequent 
meetings, and in December 2007, recommended permanently exempting CVC 
QS/IFQ from all three of these Program requirements.

Notice of Availability and Proposed Rule

    NMFS published the notice of availability for Amendment 26 on March 
21, 2008 (73 FR 15118), with a public comment period that closed on May 
20, 2008. NMFS received no public comments on Amendment 26. The 
Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 26 on June 6, 2008. NMFS 
published the proposed rule for this action on March 31, 2008 (73 FR 
16830), with a public comment period that closed on May 15, 2008. NMFS 
received one public comment on the proposed rule, which is summarized 
and responded to below.

Effects of the Action

    The following sections briefly describe the effects of permanently 
exempting CVC QS/IFQ holders from delivery, regionalization, and the 
arbitration system requirements. Additional discussion of the rationale 
and effects of this action is provided in the preamble to the proposed 
rule (73 FR 16830) and is not repeated here.
    Processor delivery requirements. The Program recognizes the 
historic participation of processors and communities dependent on crab 
processing in the BSAI crab fisheries by requiring that a portion of 
the annual TAC be delivered to specific onshore or stationary floating 
crab processors. The Program established this linkage by issuing 
processor quota shares (PQS) to processors with historic participation 
in crab processing during a specific period. PQS yields individual 
processor quota (IPQ) on an annual basis that represents a privilege to 
receive a certain amount of crab harvested. Currently, 90 percent of 
the IFQ derived from CVO QS holders is issued as Class A IFQ. NMFS 
issues one pound of IPQ for each pound of Class A IFQ, creating a one-
to-one correspondence between Class A IFQ and IPQ. The remaining 10 
percent of the annual CVO IFQ is issued as Class B IFQ, which may be 
delivered to any processor and are not required to be delivered to a 
processor with unused IPQ.
    The Council also recommended that because CVC QS was generated 
based on deliveries to onshore or stationary floating crab processors, 
it also should be issued as 90 percent Class A IFQ and 10 percent Class 
B IFQ. To facilitate CVC QS/IFQ holders and reduce the complex process 
matching of Class A IFQ to specific processors with IPQ, the Program 
exempted CVC IFQ from issuance as Class A/B IFQ and the

[[Page 35086]]

prohibitions on CVC IFQ leasing for the first three crab fishing years. 
This period expires on June 30, 2008 (see 50 CFR 680.41(e) and 50 CFR 
680.42(b)(6) and (c)(5)), and was intended to provide CVC QS/IFQ 
holders time to adapt to the Program before phasing in these additional 
restrictions. Further, the Council recommended that the appropriateness 
of applying Class A and B IFQ restrictions should be reviewed 18 months 
after the implementation of the Program. The Council anticipated that 
applying these restrictions to CVC QS may not be necessary to achieve 
the goals of providing additional stability to the processing sector 
and communities and could impose additional costs and complexity on CVC 
QS/IFQ holders.
    The RIR/FRFA prepared for this action by Council and NMFS staff 
indicates that the application of Class A IFQ delivery requirements to 
CVC IFQ would logistically complicate use of those shares (see 
ADDRESSES). Public testimony received during the Council's 
deliberations that led to the adoption of Amendment 26 noted concerns 
about the complexity of matching shares and asserted that the potential 
advantages to processors and communities by establishing these delivery 
requirements were outweighed by the additional costs that CVC QS/IFQ 
holders would incur. Public testimony from processors and communities 
with processing facilities did not dispute this assertion and supported 
permanently exempting CVC QS from the requirements that it be issued as 
Class A and B IFQ.
    Permanently extending the exemption of the Class A/B IFQ delivery 
requirements to CVC QS/IFQ holders is not anticipated to have adverse 
effects on other participants given the limited number of these shares 
relative to CVO, CPO, and CPC QS/IFQ. This thesis is further supported 
by the fact that CVC QS/IFQ has been exempt from the Class A IFQ 
delivery requirement for the first three years of the Program and no 
negative effects were indicated in the RIR/FRFA prepared for this 
action. Public testimony provided during Council review of this issue 
did not indicate that there would be negative effects on processors or 
communities as a result of a permanent exemption from Class A/B 
designation for CVC IFQ.
    Additionally, based on a review of recent harvest patterns provided 
in the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action, CVC IFQ delivery patterns 
seem similar to those of Class A IFQ. These patterns could change in 
the future so that CVC IFQ would be more likely to be delivered 
independently of Class A IFQ to other markets; however, given the 
relatively small percentage of the total landings that are assigned to 
CVC IFQ onboard a vessel, NMFS does not expect delivery patterns for 
CVC IFQ to differ from the delivery patterns currently observed. 
Furthermore, even if the delivery patterns of CVC IFQ were to change in 
the future, NMFS believes that a shift in such a relatively small 
amount of IFQ likely would not have an appreciable effect on overall 
processor operations or deliveries to specific communities.
    Regionalization. In addition to processor share landing 
requirements, Class A IFQ and IPQ are subject to regional landing 
requirements. Those shares must be landed and processed in specified 
geographic regions. Those regions are described in the EIS prepared for 
the Program and the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES). 
The Class A IFQ regional delivery requirements vary depending on the 
specific crab fishery but generally ensure that a portion of the catch 
is delivered within areas that have communities that are active in crab 
processing. For most crab fisheries, there are two regions. One region 
is typically considered the more remote region. The requirement to land 
within the more remote region provides some assurance that the small 
number of processors and communities historically active within that 
region will continue to receive catch that could otherwise be diverted 
to the less remote region.
    If CVC IFQ were subject to a Class A/B IFQ designation, then 90 
percent of the CVC IFQ would be defined as Class A IFQ and therefore 
subject to regionalization. Because the Program exempted CVC IFQ from a 
Class A/B IFQ designation through June 30, 2008, to reduce the initial 
complexities of matching shares and for the other reasons mentioned in 
the previous section, CVC IFQ also was exempted from regionalization.
    Given that CVC IFQ is currently exempt from regionalization, and 
CVC IFQ is delivered in conjunction with CVO Class A IFQ currently, 
NMFS believes that permanently exempting CVC IFQ from regionalization 
requirements will not have any noticeable effect on the overall 
delivery of CVC IFQ within a given region. Permanently exempting CVC 
IFQ from regionalization requirements could provide opportunities to 
CVC IFQ holders to use additional markets that would be foreclosed if 
those shares were subject to regionalization.
    Arbitration System. To aid participants in resolving price and 
delivery disputes that may arise among Class A IFQ and IPQ holders, the 
Council developed an arbitration system. Regulations at 50 CFR 680.20 
require that Class A IFQ and IPQ holders join private arbitration 
organizations. These arbitration organizations, in turn, must enter 
into contracts that define the procedure for resolving price disputes. 
The arbitration system serves several functions to resolve price and 
delivery disputes, including establishing a mechanism for the orderly 
matching of Class A IFQ with IPQ, developing a market report and non-
binding price formula to inform price negotiations, and providing a 
binding arbitration procedure to resolve impasses in negotiations. A 
more complete description of the arbitration system is provided in the 
RIR/FRFA prepared for this action and the EIS prepared for the Program 
(see ADDRESSES). Because the arbitration system applies only to Class A 
IFQ, exempting CVC IFQ from Class A/B IFQ designation effectively 
exempts CVC IFQ from the arbitration system.
    Summary. This rule implements a permanent exemption to delivery, 
regionalization, and arbitration system requirements for CVC QS/IFQ 
holders. As described in greater detail in the preamble to the proposed 
rule (73 FR 16830) and the RIR/FRFA prepared for this action, 
permanently extending the exemption from delivery, regionalization, and 
arbitration system requirements will allow CVC QS/IFQ holders to avoid 
the additional costs and complexity that would result to them if these 
exemptions are not granted. Furthermore, providing these exemptions 
would not deprive processors and communities of any appreciable 
benefits if the delivery , regionalization, and arbitration system 
requirements were applied to CVC QS/IFQ.
    NMFS modified the Program regulations to remove all instances that 
either require or refer to CVC IFQ being redesignated as Class A/B IFQ 
after June 30, 2008. These references occur in regulatory text at 50 
CFR 680.2, 680.20, 680.21, 680.40, and 680.42.

Response to Comments

    Comment 1: Cut all quotas by 50 percent this year and by l0 percent 
each year thereafter. The commenter notes that NMFS also permitted 
harvests in the Alaska herring fishery and asserts that the herring 
fishery adversely affects marine life.
    Response: This final rule does not address the allocation of QS or 
TAC under the Program and modifying QS or TAC allocation is outside the 
scope of this action. This action modifies the nature of CVC IFQ. NMFS 
notes that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

[[Page 35087]]

manages herring fisheries in State of Alaska waters. No change in the 
regulations has been made based on this comment.

Changes from the Proposed Rule

    NMFS did not make any changes from the proposed rule.

Classification

Consistency with the MSA and Other Laws

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined 
that Amendment 26 is necessary for the conservation and management of 
the BSAI crab fisheries and that it is consistent with the MSA and 
other applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An Environmental Impact Statement/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis/Social Impact Assessment was prepared 
for the Program that describes the management background, the purpose 
and need for the Program, the management alternatives, and the 
environmental, social, and economic impacts (see ADDRESSES). With this 
final rule, NMFS is continuing to implement the Program.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA)

    A FRFA was prepared for this rule, as required by section 604 of 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Copies of the FRFA prepared for 
this final rule are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The FRFA 
incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant issues raised by 
the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS( responses to those 
comments, and a summary of the analyses completed to support the 
action. A summary of the FRFA follows.
Why Action by the Agency is Being Considered and Objectives of, and 
Legal Basis for, the Rule
    The FRFA describes in detail the reasons why this action is being 
proposed, describes the objectives and legal basis for the rule, and 
discusses both small and non-small regulated entities to adequately 
characterize the fishery participants. The MSA provides the legal basis 
for the rule, as discussed in this preamble. The objectives of the rule 
are to permanently exempt CVC QS/IFQ holders from delivery, 
regionalization, and arbitration system requirements allowing them to 
avoid the additional costs and complexity that will result to them if 
these exemptions are not granted.
Number of Small Entities to Which the Final Rule Would Apply
    For purposes of a FRFA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has 
established that a business involved in fish harvesting is a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its 
field of operation (including its affiliates), and if it has combined 
annual gross receipts not in excess of $4.0 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. A seafood processor is a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its 
field of operation, and employs 500 or fewer persons on a full-time, 
part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations 
worldwide.
    Because the SBA does not have a size criterion for businesses that 
are involved in both the harvesting and processing of seafood products, 
NMFS has in the past applied and continues to apply SBA's fish 
harvesting criterion for these businesses because catcher/processors 
are first and foremost fish harvesting businesses. Therefore, a 
business involved in both the harvesting and processing of seafood 
products is a small business if it meets the $4.0 million criterion for 
fish harvesting operations. NMFS currently is reviewing its small 
entity size classification for all catcher/processors in the United 
States. However, until new guidance is adopted, NMFS will continue to 
use the annual receipts standard for catcher/processors. NMFS plans to 
issue new guidance in the near future.
    The FRFA contains a description and estimate of the number of small 
entities to which the rule would apply. The FRFA estimates that all of 
the 219 individuals hold CVC QS/IFQ and would be directly regulated by 
the proposed action. The FRFA notes that estimates of the number of 
small CVC QS/IFQ holders under the Program are complicated by limited 
share holder information, but, conservatively, the FRFA estimates that 
all of the individuals holding CVC QS/IFQ would be considered small 
entities.
Public Comments Received on the IRFA
    NMFS received no public comments on the IRFA or on the economic 
impacts of the rule.
Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements
    This rule would not change existing reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements.
Comparison of Alternatives
    All the directly regulated individuals would be expected to benefit 
from the preferred alternative, Alternative 2 (described in this rule) 
relative to the status quo alternative because it relieves individuals 
from requirements that would increase their costs of operation. Of the 
two alternatives considered, status quo and this action, this action 
minimizes adverse economic impacts on the individuals that are directly 
regulated.
    Although the alternatives under consideration in this action would 
have distributional and efficiency impacts for individual participants, 
such as reducing some operational costs for CVC QS/IFQ holders, in no 
case are these impacts in the aggregate expected to be substantial. 
Although neither of the alternatives has substantial negative impacts 
on small entities, preferred Alternative 2 minimizes the potential 
negative impacts that could arise under Alternative 1, the status quo 
alternative. Differences in efficiency that could arise are likely to 
affect most participants in a minor way having an overall insubstantial 
impact. As a consequence, neither alternative is expected to have any 
significant economic or socioeconomic impacts. Nevertheless, 
Alternative 2 is preferable because it reduces costs of operations for 
small entities to a limited degree.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    NMFS has posted a small entity compliance guide on its website at 
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/crab/crfaq.htm to satisfy 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 
requirement for a plain language guide to assist small entities in 
complying with this rule. Contact NMFS to request a hard copy of the 
guide (see ADDRESSES).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 680

    Alaska, Fisheries.

    Dated: June 16, 2008.
John Oliver,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 680 is amended as 
follows:

PART 680--SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF 
ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as 
follows:


[[Page 35088]]


    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

0
2. In Sec.  680.2, the definitions of ``Arbitration IFQ'', and 
``Arbitration QS'' are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  680.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Arbitration IFQ means:
    (1) Class A catcher vessel owner (CVO) IFQ held by a person who is 
not a holder of PQS or IPQ and who is not affiliated with any holder of 
PQS or IPQ, and
    (2) IFQ held by an FCMA cooperative.
    Arbitration QS means CVO QS held by a person who is not a holder of 
PQS or IPQ and is not affiliated with any holder of PQS or IPQ.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  680.20, paragraphs (a)(1), (b)(1)(i), the introductory text 
to paragraph (c), and paragraph (e)(7) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  680.20  Arbitration System.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Arbitration System. All CVO QS, Arbitration IFQ, Class A IFQ 
holders, PQS and IPQ holders must enter the contracts as prescribed in 
this section that establish the Arbitration System. Certain parts of 
the Arbitration System are voluntary for some parties, as specified in 
this section. All contract provisions will be enforced by parties to 
those contracts.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Holders of CVO QS,
* * * * *
    (c) Preseason requirements for joining an Arbitration Organization. 
All holders of CVO QS, PQS, Arbitration IFQ, Class A IFQ affiliated 
with a PQS or IPQ holder, and IPQ must join and maintain a membership 
in an Arbitration Organization as specified in paragraph (d) of this 
section. All holders of QS, PQS, IFQ, or IPQ identified in the 
preceding sentence must join an Arbitration Organization at the 
following times:
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (7) IFQ and IPQ issuance and selection of the Market Analyst, 
Formula Arbitrator, and Contract Arbitrator(s). NMFS will not issue CVO 
IFQ and IPQ for a crab QS fishery until Arbitration Organizations 
establish by mutual agreement contracts with a Market Analyst, Formula 
Arbitrator, and Contract Arbitrator(s) for that fishery and notify 
NMFS.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  680.21, paragraph (a)(1)(iii)(B) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  680.21  Crab harvesting cooperatives.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (B) Upon joining a crab harvesting cooperative for a CR fishery, 
NMFS will convert all of a QS holder's QS holdings for that CR fishery 
to crab harvesting cooperative IFQ.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  680.40, paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (b)(2)(i)(B), (b)(2)(ii)(C), 
(c)(2)(v)(J), (c)(4) introductory text, (h)(2)(i), (h)(2)(ii), and 
(h)(6)(ii) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  680.40  Quota Share (QS), Processor QS (PQS), Individual Fishing 
Quota (IFQ), and Individual Processor Quota (IPQ) issuance.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Catcher Vessel Crew (CVC) QS shall be initially issued to 
qualified persons defined in paragraph (b)(3) of this section based on 
legal landings of unprocessed crab.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) South QS if the legal landings that gave rise to the QS for a 
crab QS fishery were not landed in the North Region, and all CVO QS 
allocated to the WAI crab QS fishery; or
* * * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (C) CVC QS;
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (J) The percentage calculated in paragraph (c)(2)(v)(I) of this 
section may be adjusted according to the provisions at paragraphs 
(c)(3) and (c)(4) of this section. The amount calculated in paragraph 
(c)(2)(v)(H) of this section is multiplied by the percentage for each 
region. These regional QS designations do not apply to CVC QS.
* * * * *
    (4) Regional designation of Western Aleutian Islands golden king 
crab. Fifty percent of the CVO QS that is issued in the WAG crab QS 
fishery will be initially issued with a West regional designation. The 
West regional designation applies to QS for delivery west of 174[deg] 
W. longitude. The remaining 50 percent of the CVO QS initially issued 
for this fishery is not subject to regional designation (Undesignated 
QS). A person (p) who would receive QS based on the legal landings in 
only one region will receive QS with only that regional designation. A 
person who would receive QS with more than one regional designation for 
that crab QS fishery would have his or her QS holdings regionally 
adjusted on a pro rata basis as follows:
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) QS shall yield Class A or Class B IFQ if:
    (A) Initially assigned to the CVO QS sector; or
    (B) Transferred to the CVO QS sector from the CPO QS sector.
    (ii) The Class A/B IFQ TAC is the portion of the TAC assigned as 
Class A/B IFQ under paragraphs (h)(2)(i)(A) and (B) of this section.
* * * * *
    (6) * * *
    (ii) CVC IFQ is not subject to regional designation.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  680.42, paragraph (b)(6) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  680.42  Limitations on use of QS, PQS, IFQ, and IPQ.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (6) Any person harvesting crab under a Class B IFQ, CPO IFQ, CVC 
IFQ, or CPC IFQ permit may deliver that crab to any RCR.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. E8-14012 Filed 6-19-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S