Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Groundfish; Limited Access Privilege Programs, 76605-76606 [E8-29927]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 17, 2008 / Proposed Rules (c) Issuance and renewal of the Letter of Authorization will be based on a determination that the total number of marine mammals taken by the activity as a whole will have no more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock of marine mammal(s). § 218.17 Renewal of Letters of Authorization. (a) A Letter of Authorization issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.16 for the activity identified in § 218.10(c) will be renewed annually upon: (1) Notification to NMFS that the activity described in the application submitted under § 218.15 will be undertaken and that there will not be a substantial modification to the described work, mitigation or monitoring undertaken during the upcoming 12 months; (2) Timely receipt of the monitoring reports required under § 218.14(b); and (3) A determination by the NMFS that the mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures required under § 218.13 and the Letter of Authorization issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.16, were undertaken and will be undertaken during the upcoming annual period of validity of a renewed Letter of Authorization. (b) If a request for a renewal of a Letter of Authorization issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.17 indicates that a substantial modification to the described work, mitigation or monitoring undertaken during the upcoming season will occur, the NMFS will provide the public a period of 30 days for review and comment on the request. Review and comment on renewals of Letters of Authorization are restricted to: (1) New cited information and data indicating that the determinations made in this document are in need of reconsideration, and (2) Proposed changes to the mitigation and monitoring requirements contained in these regulations or in the current Letter of Authorization. (c) A notice of issuance or denial of a renewal of a Letter of Authorization will be published in the Federal Register. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS § 218.18 Modifications to Letters of Authorization. (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no substantive modification (including withdrawal or suspension) to the Letter of Authorization by NMFS, issued pursuant to § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.16 and subject to the provisions of this subpart shall be made VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:09 Dec 16, 2008 Jkt 217001 until after notification and an opportunity for public comment has been provided. For purposes of this paragraph, a renewal of a Letter of Authorization under § 218.17, without modification (except for the period of validity), is not considered a substantive modification. (b) If the Assistant Administrator determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the wellbeing of the species or stocks of marine mammals specified in § 218.10(b), a Letter of Authorization issued pursuant to § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.16 may be substantively modified without prior notification and an opportunity for public comment. Notification will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days subsequent to the action. [FR Doc. E8–29761 Filed 12–16–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–AX25 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Groundfish; Limited Access Privilege Programs AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendments; request for comments. SUMMARY: Amendment 90 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Amendment 78 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska would modify the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) to allow unlimited post–delivery transfers of cooperative quota. This action is necessary to mitigate potential overages, reduce enforcement costs, and provide for more precise total allowable catch management. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson–Stevens Act, the FMPs, and other applicable laws. DATES: Comments on the amendment must be submitted on or before February 17, 2009. ADDRESSES: Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76605 Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ‘‘RIN 0648– AX25,’’ by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the FederaleRulemaking Portal website at http://www.regulations.gov. • Mail: P. O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. • Fax: (907) 586–7557. • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only. Copies of Amendments 90 and 78, the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analyses (RIR/ IRFAs) for this action, and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for the amendments may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region at the address above or from the Alaska Region website at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The proposed rule to implement Amendments 90 and 78 to the FMPs was categorically excluded from the need to prepare an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glenn Merrill, 907–586–7459, or Julie Scheurer, 907–586–7356. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson–Stevens Act requires that each regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson–Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the amendment is available for public review and comment. This notice announces that proposed Amendment 90 to the Fishery Management Plan for E:\FR\FM\17DEP1.SGM 17DEP1 76606 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 17, 2008 / Proposed Rules pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and proposed Amendment 78 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska are available for public review and comment. Amendments 90 and 78 would make minor changes to the FMPs to allow unlimited transfers of cooperative quota (CQ) in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) Amendment 80 Program and the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program) to cover harvesting overages. These two programs are commonly known as limited access privilege programs because the participants in these fisheries may receive exclusive access to fishery resources if specific conditions are met. Under the Amendment 80 Program, NMFS issued quota share (QS) to persons based on their qualifying harvest histories using specific trawl catcher/processor vessels in six BSAI non–pollock groundfish fisheries during 1998 through 2004. Under the Rockfish Program, NMFS issued QS to persons based on their qualifying harvest histories using trawl catcher vessel and trawl catcher/processors in several Central Gulf of Alaska rockfish fisheries and associated species that are harvested during those rockfish fisheries based during 1996 through 2002. Each year, the person issued QS may choose to participate in a competitive limited access fishery with all other non– cooperative participants who hold QS, or may participate in a fishery cooperative with other QS holders. The total amount of QS assigned to all members of a cooperative yields cooperative quota (CQ), an exclusive annual harvest privilege in specific fisheries. In addition, a cooperative also receives CQ that may be used for the incidental catch of a specific amount crab or halibut. Incidentally caught crab or halibut cannot be retained, processed, or sold, and are commonly called prohibited species catch (PSC). VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:09 Dec 16, 2008 Jkt 217001 The Amendment 80 Program and the Rockfish Program allow cooperatives to transfer their unused CQ among cooperatives. Transfers allow cooperatives to tailor their operations to specific harvesting conditions. All transfers must be approved by NMFS before they become effective. Under existing regulations, a cooperative in either the Amendment 80 Program or the Rockfish Program is prohibited from catching groundfish or PSC that exceeds the amount of CQ that is issued to that cooperative. This prohibits a cooperative and its members from having a negative CQ balance for a given species, and subsequently transferring CQ from another cooperative to rectify a negative CQ balance. A transfer of CQ after fish have been landed is commonly known as a post–delivery transfer. If a harvester catches more groundfish or PSC CQ than the amount of CQ that the cooperative holds, that cooperative has violated existing regulations, commonly known as an overage. Overages can occur either through deliberate actions, or more commonly through unintentional errors. Generally, smaller overages are subject to forfeiture of the overage, with larger or repeat violations subject to additional penalties at the discretion of NOAA Office for Law Enforcement. Amendments 90 and 78, if approved, would allow post–delivery transfers to cover overages of CQ. There would be no limit on the size of a post–delivery transfer nor on the number of post– delivery transfers a cooperative could undertake. However, a harvester who has assigned his vessel to a cooperative would be prohibited from beginning a new fishing trip if the CQ account for any groundfish or PSC species assigned to a cooperative was zero or negative. A cooperative would be prohibited from having a negative balance in its CQ account after the end of a calendar year. The Council recommended Amendments 90 and 78 to the FMPs to improve the fleet’s flexibility, reduce PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the potential number of violations for overages, reduce enforcement costs, and allow more complete harvest of allocations. The RIR/IRFAs prepared for this action describes in detail the costs and benefits of the proposed amendment (see ADDRESSES for availability). All of the directly regulated entities would be expected to benefit from this action relative to the status quo because the proposed amendment would allow greater flexibility and a longer time period over which to account for overages. Public comments are being solicited on proposed Amendments 90 and 78 through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on a proposed rule that would implement Amendments 90 and 78, following NMFS( evaluation of the proposed rule under the Magnuson– Stevens Act. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period on Amendments 90 and 78 to be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendments 90 and 78. All comments received by the end of the comment period on Amendments 90 and 78, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendments or the proposed rule, will be considered in the decision to approve or disapprove the amendments. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the decision on the amendments. To be considered, comments must be received, not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the close of business on the last day of the comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 11, 2008. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–29927 Filed 12–16–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\17DEP1.SGM 17DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 17, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 76605-76606]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-29927]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

RIN 0648-AX25


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Groundfish; Limited Access 
Privilege Programs

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendments; 
request for comments.

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SUMMARY: Amendment 90 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of 
the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Amendment 78 to 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska would 
modify the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) to allow unlimited post-
delivery transfers of cooperative quota. This action is necessary to 
mitigate potential overages, reduce enforcement costs, and provide for 
more precise total allowable catch management. This action is intended 
to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
FMPs, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Comments on the amendment must be submitted on or before 
February 17, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 
Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ``RIN 
0648-AX25,'' by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the FederaleRulemaking Portal website at http://
www.regulations.gov.
     Mail: P. O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     Fax: (907) 586-7557.
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9\th\ 
Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.
    All comments received are a part of the public record and will 
generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All 
personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.
    Copies of Amendments 90 and 78, the Regulatory Impact Review/
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analyses (RIR/IRFAs) for this action, 
and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for the amendments may be 
obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region at the address above or from the 
Alaska Region website at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The proposed 
rule to implement Amendments 90 and 78 to the FMPs was categorically 
excluded from the need to prepare an environmental assessment under the 
National Environmental Policy Act.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glenn Merrill, 907-586-7459, or Julie 
Scheurer, 907-586-7356.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each 
regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan 
amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act 
also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan 
amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register 
announcing that the amendment is available for public review and 
comment. This notice announces that proposed Amendment 90 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for

[[Page 76606]]

Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and 
proposed Amendment 78 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of 
the Gulf of Alaska are available for public review and comment.
    Amendments 90 and 78 would make minor changes to the FMPs to allow 
unlimited transfers of cooperative quota (CQ) in the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) Amendment 80 Program and the 
Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program) to cover 
harvesting overages. These two programs are commonly known as limited 
access privilege programs because the participants in these fisheries 
may receive exclusive access to fishery resources if specific 
conditions are met.
    Under the Amendment 80 Program, NMFS issued quota share (QS) to 
persons based on their qualifying harvest histories using specific 
trawl catcher/processor vessels in six BSAI non-pollock groundfish 
fisheries during 1998 through 2004. Under the Rockfish Program, NMFS 
issued QS to persons based on their qualifying harvest histories using 
trawl catcher vessel and trawl catcher/processors in several Central 
Gulf of Alaska rockfish fisheries and associated species that are 
harvested during those rockfish fisheries based during 1996 through 
2002. Each year, the person issued QS may choose to participate in a 
competitive limited access fishery with all other non-cooperative 
participants who hold QS, or may participate in a fishery cooperative 
with other QS holders.
    The total amount of QS assigned to all members of a cooperative 
yields cooperative quota (CQ), an exclusive annual harvest privilege in 
specific fisheries. In addition, a cooperative also receives CQ that 
may be used for the incidental catch of a specific amount crab or 
halibut. Incidentally caught crab or halibut cannot be retained, 
processed, or sold, and are commonly called prohibited species catch 
(PSC).
    The Amendment 80 Program and the Rockfish Program allow 
cooperatives to transfer their unused CQ among cooperatives. Transfers 
allow cooperatives to tailor their operations to specific harvesting 
conditions. All transfers must be approved by NMFS before they become 
effective. Under existing regulations, a cooperative in either the 
Amendment 80 Program or the Rockfish Program is prohibited from 
catching groundfish or PSC that exceeds the amount of CQ that is issued 
to that cooperative. This prohibits a cooperative and its members from 
having a negative CQ balance for a given species, and subsequently 
transferring CQ from another cooperative to rectify a negative CQ 
balance. A transfer of CQ after fish have been landed is commonly known 
as a post-delivery transfer.
    If a harvester catches more groundfish or PSC CQ than the amount of 
CQ that the cooperative holds, that cooperative has violated existing 
regulations, commonly known as an overage. Overages can occur either 
through deliberate actions, or more commonly through unintentional 
errors. Generally, smaller overages are subject to forfeiture of the 
overage, with larger or repeat violations subject to additional 
penalties at the discretion of NOAA Office for Law Enforcement.
    Amendments 90 and 78, if approved, would allow post-delivery 
transfers to cover overages of CQ. There would be no limit on the size 
of a post-delivery transfer nor on the number of post-delivery 
transfers a cooperative could undertake. However, a harvester who has 
assigned his vessel to a cooperative would be prohibited from beginning 
a new fishing trip if the CQ account for any groundfish or PSC species 
assigned to a cooperative was zero or negative. A cooperative would be 
prohibited from having a negative balance in its CQ account after the 
end of a calendar year. The Council recommended Amendments 90 and 78 to 
the FMPs to improve the fleet's flexibility, reduce the potential 
number of violations for overages, reduce enforcement costs, and allow 
more complete harvest of allocations.
    The RIR/IRFAs prepared for this action describes in detail the 
costs and benefits of the proposed amendment (see ADDRESSES for 
availability). All of the directly regulated entities would be expected 
to benefit from this action relative to the status quo because the 
proposed amendment would allow greater flexibility and a longer time 
period over which to account for overages.
    Public comments are being solicited on proposed Amendments 90 and 
78 through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to 
publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on a proposed 
rule that would implement Amendments 90 and 78, following NMFS( 
evaluation of the proposed rule under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Public 
comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the 
comment period on Amendments 90 and 78 to be considered in the 
approval/disapproval decision on Amendments 90 and 78. All comments 
received by the end of the comment period on Amendments 90 and 78, 
whether specifically directed to the FMP amendments or the proposed 
rule, will be considered in the decision to approve or disapprove the 
amendments. Comments received after that date will not be considered in 
the decision on the amendments. To be considered, comments must be 
received, not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the close of 
business on the last day of the comment period.

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

    Dated: December 11, 2008.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-29927 Filed 12-16-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S