Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Gulf of Alaska, Seabird Avoidance Requirements Revisions for International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 4E, 2984-2990 [E9-974]

Download as PDF 2984 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules SNE/MA winter flounder may transit this area, provided all bait and hooks are removed from fishing rods and any winter flounder on board has been stored. [FR Doc. E9–846 Filed 1–15–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 080612764–8801–01] RIN 0648–AW94 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and Gulf of Alaska, Seabird Avoidance Requirements Revisions for International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 4E hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. SUMMARY: NMFS issues a proposed rule that would revise the seabird avoidance requirements for the hook–and–line groundfish and halibut fisheries in International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 4E. The proposed rule would eliminate seabird avoidance requirements for hook–and–line vessels less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) length overall in portions of Area 4E in the eastern Bering Sea. This action is necessary to revise seabird avoidance measures based on the latest scientific information and to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and associated costs. DATES: Written comments must be received by 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 0648–AW94, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking 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. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 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 the map of the seabird avoidance measures in Area 4E, and the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) for this action may be obtained from the Alaska Region NMFS address above or from the Alaska Region NMFS website at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melanie Brown, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Alaska are managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMPs). The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMPs under the authority of the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson–Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations implementing the FMPs appear at 50 CFR part 679. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. Management of the Pacific halibut fisheries in and off Alaska is governed by an international agreement between Canada and the United States. This agreement, entitled the ‘‘Convention Between the United States of America and Canada for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea’’ (Convention), was signed at Ottawa, Canada, on March 2, 1953, and was amended by the ‘‘Protocol Amending the Convention,’’ signed at Washington, D.C., March 29, 1979. The Convention is implemented in the United States by the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The directed commercial Pacific halibut fishery in Alaska is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, as is the fixed gear sablefish fishery. The IFQ Program is a limited PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 access management system. This program is codified at 50 CFR part 679. Background The purpose of this proposed action is to revise the seabird avoidance measures currently implemented for the hook–and–line groundfish and halibut fisheries based on the best available information regarding seabird occurrence and potential fishing vessel interactions. Seabird avoidance measures reduce the incidental mortality of seabirds in the hook–and– line fisheries off Alaska. Since 1997, NMFS has implemented and revised seabird avoidance measures to mitigate interactions between the federal hook– and–line fisheries and seabirds (62 FR 23176, April 29, 1997; 63 FR 11161, March 6, 1998; 69 FR 1930, January 13, 2004; and 72 FR 71601, December 18, 2007). NMFS compiled seabird sightings data from the following sources: from 1988–2004 records from seabird observers on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) research vessel M/V TIGLAX; from incidental sightings by biologists, fishermen, seamen, fisheries observers, and birdwatchers provided to the FWS; from the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC); from the Alaska Natural Heritage Program; from historical sightings documented in published literature; from satellite tagging data; and from the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database. The EA/RIR/ IRFA for this action describes this information (see ADDRESSES). This information showed that seabird species of concern are not likely to occur in portions of Area 4E where fishing vessels using hook–and–line gear may operate; and therefore, it is not likely that interactions between the fishing vessels and these seabird species of concern would occur in those portions of Area 4E. Thus, the Council recommended revisions to the seabird avoidance measures in a portion of Area 4E. These revisions would eliminate seabird avoidance measures in the portion of Area 4E where seabird species of concern are not likely to occur. The revisions would apply to vessels greater than 26 ft (7.9 m) to less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) length overall (LOA) fishing in the EEZ. Vessels less than or equal to 26 ft (7.9 m) LOA are not required to use seabird avoidance measures. Vessels greater than 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA would continue to be required to use seabird avoidance measures in all of Area 4E. Vessels this size and larger are more likely to interact with other seabirds because of the greater amount of offal discharge and greater number of hooks fished E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS compared to smaller vessels. Vessels greater than 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA are capable of efficiently deploying seabird avoidance gear, as further discussed in the Classification section. Species of concern of pelagic seabirds (particularly the Endangered Species VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 Act (ESA)–listed short–tailed albatross) are rarely observed in most of Area 4E; and therefore, are not likely to interact with hook–and–line fisheries in most of this area (Figure 1). Pelagic seabird species of concern that may interact with hook–and–line vessels have been PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2985 observed and documented in the southern portion of Area 4E west of Bristol Bay. The seabird avoidance measures would continue to be required in this area for all hook–and–line vessels greater than 26 feet (7.9 m) LOA. BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 EP16ja09.015</GPH> hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS 2986 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS Eliminating unnecessary seabird avoidance measures is intended to remove associated economic burdens on affected vessels. These revisions are the result of adaptive management using the best available information to focus regulatory requirements where they are needed. Research results and the environmental and economic considerations of the proposed action are summarized in the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action (see ADDRESSES). Proposed Regulatory Amendments In June 2008, the Council unanimously recommended revisions to the seabird avoidance measures in a portion of Area 4E. These measures would apply to operators of vessels fishing for Pacific halibut in the IFQ and Community Development Quota (CDQ) management programs in waters from 0 nm to 200 nm; for IFQ sablefish in waters from 0 nm to 200 nm; and for groundfish with hook–and–line gear in the EEZ. The proposed rule to implement the Council’s recommendations would reorganize and revise § 679.24(e)(3) and Table 20 to part 679 to clarify existing regulatory text and to eliminate unnecessary seabird avoidance gear requirements for all hook–and–line vessels less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA fishing in Area 4E, except in the southern portion of Area 4E as shown in Figure 1. Hook–and–line vessels fishing in the portion of Area 4E south of 60 degrees N latitude and west of 160 degrees W longitude would continue to be required to use seabird avoidance measures. The best available scientific information regarding seabird observations in the Area 4E indicates that ESA–listed seabirds and other seabird species of concern are not likely to occur in Area 4E, except for the southern portion where seabird avoidance measures would continue to be required. Therefore, the proposed rule would eliminate seabird avoidance measures where interactions with seabird species of concern is not likely to occur and ensure that such measures are used in waters where interactions with seabird species of concern are likely to occur. Table 19 to part 679 also would be revised to correct cross references. Under the descriptions for the seabird avoidance gear and other methods, the reference to § 679.24(e)(5) would be corrected to read § 679.24(e)(4). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson–Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson–Stevens Act, the Halibut Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866. An IRFA was prepared as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The vessels that fish for groundfish or halibut with hook–and–line gear in the waters off Alaska would be directly regulated by the proposed action. The seabird avoidance measures presently in place, and the alternatives and options considered, apply directly to the operator of a vessel deploying hook– and–line gear in the waters off Alaska. These regulations apply to the operation of a vessel and not directly to the halibut or sablefish IFQ–holder unless the holder is also the owner/operator of a vessel. Multiple IFQs may be used on a single vessel. Thus, the IRFA analysis of large and small entities is conducted at the vessel level and not the IFQ level. This analysis is complicated by the fact that the halibut fishery is managed somewhat separately from the Federal groundfish fisheries, resulting in multiple data sources being synthesized for the analysis. Thus, data from multiple sources and years have been used to estimate the numbers of large and small entities. Approximately 70 vessels ranging between 26 ft (7.9 m) and 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA, participated in the CDQ Pacific halibut fishery in Area 4E. The 70 vessels that fished in the CDQ halibut fishery in Area 4E are mostly small vessels, 66 are less than 33 ft (10.1 m) LOA. These small vessels fish in the salmon and herring fisheries in the Bristol Bay and Togiak Bay areas of Alaska. None of the 70 vessels harvest groundfish in other Federal fisheries; thus, comprehensive annual revenue data are not available for these vessels in the way that they are for vessels that participate in Federal groundfish fisheries. However, given the small size of these vessels and the small scale of the fisheries they participate in, it is not expected that any of these vessels would earn more than $4 million in annual PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2987 revenue. Thus, these 70 vessels are believed to be small entities, as defined by Small Business Administration criteria. Comprehensive annual revenue data, from all sources, are available for the 92 vessels that participated in the Federal hook–and–line groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area in 2006. In 2006, 52 hook and line catcher vessels (CVs) and 6 hook–and–line catcher processors (CPs) reported that they caught and processed less than $4 million in gross ex–vessel or gross first wholesale product value. Thus, these 58 vessels are considered small entities. In total, this analysis has identified 128 vessels that are believed to be directly regulated small entities. A review of American Fisheries Act (AFA) permit data revealed that none of the 128 vessels with gross revenue less than $4 million in 2006 are AFA–permitted vessels. Because AFA affiliations are relatively stable across years, none of these vessels are large because of AFA affiliations. The IRFA indicates that this proposed action is not likely to impose significant costs on directly regulated small entities. The action reduces the regulatory burden on hook–and–line vessels 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA or less by eliminating all seabird avoidance requirements for these vessels operating in portions of Area 4E. The reduced regulatory burden under the proposed action would tend to reduce the costs for the directly regulated vessels. Vessel operational cost of production data are not presently collected, making it impossible to quantify the net effect on operational costs that might occur under each alternative and option. Since the initial adoption of seabird avoidance regulations, research has been conducted to more precisely identify the geographical distribution and range of seabirds of concern, and on the efficacy of required seabird avoidance devices. Recent research has shown the likely locations of interaction between seabirds of concern and fishing vessels in Area 4E and has provided the information necessary to identify waters where seabird avoidance measures may not be necessary. The proposed action, which is intended to reduce the economic burden placed on small entities operating in these fisheries, is a direct result of this research. An IRFA must describe any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that accomplish the stated objectives of the proposed action, consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS 2988 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules on small entities. Including status quo, this proposed action has four alternatives and two options. Alternative 1 is the status quo, which would require the continued use of seabird avoidance measures for all hook–and–line vessels fishing for groundfish or halibut in the federal waters of Area 4E. This alternative would not provide economic relief; and therefore, does not meet the objectives of this action. Alternative 2 would exempt hook– and–line vessels 26 ft (7.9 m) to 32 ft (9.8 m) LOA from seabird avoidance measures while fishing for groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. This alternative would provide economic relief to only vessels in this size class, partially meeting the objectives of the action for the hook–and–line fleet. Alternative 3 (preferred) would exempt hook–and–line vessels 26 ft (7.9 m) to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA from seabird avoidance measures while fishing for groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. This alternative would provide more economic relief to the hook–and–line fleet than Alternatives 1 and 2. Alternative 4 would exempt all hook– and–line vessels from seabird avoidance measures while fishing for groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. This alternative would provide the most economic relief to the hook–and–line fleet compared to the other alternatives, but the economic relief in comparison to Alternative 3 is not likely a large difference. Very few vessels over 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA participate in the hook–and–line fishery in Area 4E, and the larger vessels have the capability to use seabird avoidance gear based on larger deck space, adequate superstructure, and available crew. Two options were also considered for this action. Option 1 (preferred) would require full compliance with the seabird avoidance measures inside the shaded portion of Area 4E, as shown in Figure 1, while option 2 would require only the use of a buoy bag in the shaded area. Option 1 would require more costs to deploy seabird avoidance gear that meets the streamer standards than option 2, which required a buoy bag with no standards and no supporting superstructure for streamer lines. Because the buoy bag is not likely as effective as the streamer lines, option 1 is more protective of short–tailed albatross and other seabirds that may occur in the shaded area shown in Figure 1. The preferred action is Alternative 3 with option 1, which provides more economic relief than Alternatives 1 or 2 with option 1. Alternative 3 and option 1 were selected because most of the VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 vessels participating in the hook–and– line fishery in Area 4E are less than 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA. The use of seabird avoidance gear on these vessels can be difficult because of limited deck space for the gear or the lack of superstructure to support the streamer lines. Smaller vessels also are likely to have fewer crew members available to handle the gear. Only Alternative 4 has smaller economic impacts on the directly regulated small entities than Alternative 3. Because very few large vessels participate in the Area 4E fishery, Alternative 4 is not likely to provide much more economic relief than Alternative 3. Alternative 4 was not chosen because larger vessels are more likely to have adequate deck space, superstructure, and crew available to allow for safe and effective use of seabird avoidance gear. Because of the presence of short–tailed albatross in the shaded area of Figure 1, the Council recommended option 1 for vessels fishing in this area to ensure the continued protection of short–tailed albatross from potential incidental takes by any hook–and–line vessel. Option 1 has a marginally greater potential adverse economic impact on directly regulated small entities than does option 2, but option 1 more fully achieves the objectives of the proposed action and is necessary for the protection of short–tailed albatross and other seabirds that may occur in the shaded area of Figure 1, making it more compliant with other applicable law (e.g., ESA). No Federal rules duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed action. An informal consultation with the FWS under the Endangered Species Act was concluded for this proposed action on September 15, 2008. As a result of the informal consultation, NMFS determined that fishing activities under this rule are not likely to adversely affect endangered or threatened species or their designated critical habitat. The FWS concurred with this determination. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 679 is revised to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108 447. 2. In § 679.24, redesignate paragraphs (e)(3)(i) and (e)(3)(ii) as paragraphs (e)(3)(ii) and (e)(3)(iii), respectively; add new paragraph (e)(3)(i); and revise paragraph (e)(3) introductory text to read as follows: § 679.24 Gear limitations. * * * * * (e) * * * (3) Seabird avoidance gear requirements. (See also Table 20 to this part.) (i) The operator of a vessel identified in paragraph (e)(1) of this section must comply with paragraph (e)(3)(ii) or (e)(3)(iii) of this section while fishing with hook–and–line gear for groundfish, IFQ halibut, CDQ halibut, or IFQ sablefish in Federal waters (EEZ) and for IFQ halibut, CDQ halibut, or IFQ sablefish in the State of Alaska waters, excluding fishing in (A) NMFS Reporting Area 649 (Prince William Sound); (B) State waters of Cook Inlet; (C) NMFS Reporting Area 659 (Eastern GOA Regulatory Area; Southeast Inside District), but including waters in the areas south of a straight line at 56°17.25 N. lat. between Point Harris and Port Armstrong in Chatham Strait, State statistical areas 325431 and 325401, and west of a straight line at 136°21.17 E. long. from Point Wimbledon extending south through the Inian Islands to Point Lavinia; and (D) Area 4E with a vessel less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA, but including fishing in waters south of 60°00.00 N. lat. and west of 160°00.00 W. long. * * * * * 3. Tables 19 and 20 to part 679 are revised to read as follows: Dated: January 12, 2009. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 679 as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 19 TO PART 679––SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR CODES TABLE 19 TO PART 679––SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR CODES—Continued VESSEL LOGBOOK VESSEL LOGBOOK CODE 1 2 3 4 SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR OR METHOD. Paired Streamer Lines: Used during deployment of hook–and–line gear to prevent birds from taking hooks. Two streamer lines used, one on each side of the main groundline. Each streamer line consists of three components: a length of line, streamers attached along a portion of the length and one or more float devices at the terminal end. See performance and material standards at § 679.24(e)(4)(iii). hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS 6 7 Single Streamer Line, used with Snap Gear: Used during the deployment of snap gear to prevent birds from taking hooks. The streamer line consists of three components: a length of line, streamers attached along a portion of the length and one or more float devices at the terminal end. See performance and material standards at § 679.24(e)(4)(iv). Buoy Bag Line: Used during the deployment of hook–and–line gear to prevent birds from taking hooks. A buoy bag line consists of two components: a length of line (without streamers attached) and one or more float devices at the terminal end. See performance and material standards at § 679.24(e)(4)(i). Add weights to groundline: Applying weights to the groundline for the purpose of sinking the hook– and–line gear more quickly and preventing seabirds from accessing the baited hooks. Additional Buoy Bag Line or Single Streamer Line: Using a second buoy bag line or streamer line for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of these deterrent devices at preventing seabirds from accessing baited hooks. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 Jkt 217001 Strategic Offal Discharge: Discharging fish, fish parts (i.e., offal) or spent bait for the purpose of distracting seabirds away from the main groundline while setting gear. TABLE 20 TO PART 679—SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR REQUIREMENTS FOR VESSELS, BASED ON AREA, GEAR, AND VESSEL TYPE—Continued (See § 679.24(e) for complete seabird avoidance program requirements; see § 679.24(e)(1) for applicable fisheries.) 8 Night Fishing: Setting hook–and– line gear during dark (night time hours). Line Shooter: A hydraulic device designed to deploy hook–and–line gear at a speed slightly faster than the vessel’s speed during setting. Lining Tube: A device used to deploy hook–and–line gear through an underwater–setting device. If you operate a vessel deploying hook–and–line gear and use snap gear in waters specified at § 679.24(e)(3), and your vessel is... then you must use this seabird avoidance gear in conjunction with requirements at § 679.24(e)... >26 ft to 55 ft LOA and without masts, poles, or rigging minimum of one buoy bag line >26 ft to 55 ft and with masts, poles, or rigging minimum of a single streamer line of a standard specified at § 679.24(e)(4)(iv) >55 ft LOA Additional Device Used Single Streamer Line: Used during deployment of hook–and–line gear to prevent birds from taking hooks. The streamer line consists of three components: a length of line, streamers attached along a portion of the length and one or more float devices at the terminal end. See performance and material standards at § 679.24(e)(4)(ii). Other Device used in conjunction with Single Streamer Line or Buoy Bag Line 5 SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR OR METHOD. CODE 2989 minimum of a single streamer line of a standard specified at § 679.24(e)(4)(iv) If you operate any of the following hook– and–line vessels... then... < 32 ft in the State waters of IPHC Area 4E you are exempt from seabird avoidance measures. Other (Describe) 9 0 No Deterrent Used Due to Weather. [See weather exceptions at § 679.24(e)(4)(i), (e)(4)(ii)(B), (e)(4)(iii)(B), (e)(4)(iv)(B), and (e)(4)(v).] No Deterrent Used. TABLE 20 TO PART 679—SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR REQUIREMENTS FOR VESSELS, BASED ON AREA, GEAR, AND VESSEL TYPE (See § 679.24(e) for complete seabird avoidance program requirements; see § 679.24(e)(1) for applicable fisheries.) If you operate a vessel deploying hook–and–line gear, other than snap gear, in waters specified at § 679.24(e)(3), and your vessel is... then you must use this seabird avoidance gear in conjunction with requirements at § 679.24(e)... >26 ft to 55 ft LOA and without masts, poles, or rigging minimum of a single streamer line of a standard specified at § 679.24(e)(4)(ii) >55 ft LOA in State waters of Cook Inlet minimum of one buoy bag line >26 ft to 55 ft LOA and with masts, poles, or rigging in NMFS Reporting Area 649 (Prince William Sound) minimum of paired streamer lines of a standard specified at § 679.24(e)(4)(iii) PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1 2990 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 20 TO PART 679—SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR REQUIREMENTS FOR VESSELS, BASED ON AREA, GEAR, AND VESSEL TYPE—Continued (See § 679.24(e) for complete seabird avoidance program requirements; see § 679.24(e)(1) for applicable fisheries.) (See § 679.24(e) for complete seabird avoidance program requirements; see § 679.24(e)(1) for applicable fisheries.) in NMFS Reporting Area 659 (Eastern GOA Regulatory Area, Southeast Inside District), but not including waters in the areas south of a straight line at 56°17.25 N. lat. between Point Harris and Port Armstrong in Chatham Strait, State statistical areas 325431 and 325401, and west of a straight line at 136°21.17 E. long. from Point Wimbledon extending south through the Inian Islands to Point Lavinia hsrobinson on PROD1PC76 with PROPOSALS TABLE 20 TO PART 679—SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR REQUIREMENTS FOR VESSELS, BASED ON AREA, GEAR, AND VESSEL TYPE—Continued ≤ 55 ft in IPHC Area 4E but not including waters south of 60°00.00 N. lat. and west of 160°00.00 W. long. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:46 Jan 15, 2009 [FR Doc. E9–974 Filed 1–15–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S Jkt 217001 PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\16JAP1.SGM 16JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 11 (Friday, January 16, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 2984-2990]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-974]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 080612764-8801-01]
RIN 0648-AW94


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish 
Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area and 
Gulf of Alaska, Seabird Avoidance Requirements Revisions for 
International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 4E

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues a proposed rule that would revise the seabird 
avoidance requirements for the hook-and-line groundfish and halibut 
fisheries in International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 4E. The 
proposed rule would eliminate seabird avoidance requirements for hook-
and-line vessels less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) length overall in 
portions of Area 4E in the eastern Bering Sea. This action is necessary 
to revise seabird avoidance measures based on the latest scientific 
information and to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and associated 
costs.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 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 0648-
AW94, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking 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 the map of the seabird avoidance measures in Area 4E, and 
the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) for this action may be 
obtained from the Alaska Region NMFS address above or from the Alaska 
Region NMFS website at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melanie Brown, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ) off Alaska are managed under the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 
Area and the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of 
Alaska (FMPs). The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
prepared the FMPs under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations implementing the FMPs appear at 50 CFR part 679. 
General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 
600.
    Management of the Pacific halibut fisheries in and off Alaska is 
governed by an international agreement between Canada and the United 
States. This agreement, entitled the ``Convention Between the United 
States of America and Canada for the Preservation of the Halibut 
Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea'' (Convention), 
was signed at Ottawa, Canada, on March 2, 1953, and was amended by the 
``Protocol Amending the Convention,'' signed at Washington, D.C., March 
29, 1979. The Convention is implemented in the United States by the 
Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The directed 
commercial Pacific halibut fishery in Alaska is managed under an 
individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, as is the fixed gear sablefish 
fishery. The IFQ Program is a limited access management system. This 
program is codified at 50 CFR part 679.

Background

    The purpose of this proposed action is to revise the seabird 
avoidance measures currently implemented for the hook-and-line 
groundfish and halibut fisheries based on the best available 
information regarding seabird occurrence and potential fishing vessel 
interactions. Seabird avoidance measures reduce the incidental 
mortality of seabirds in the hook-and-line fisheries off Alaska. Since 
1997, NMFS has implemented and revised seabird avoidance measures to 
mitigate interactions between the federal hook-and-line fisheries and 
seabirds (62 FR 23176, April 29, 1997; 63 FR 11161, March 6, 1998; 69 
FR 1930, January 13, 2004; and 72 FR 71601, December 18, 2007).
    NMFS compiled seabird sightings data from the following sources: 
from 1988-2004 records from seabird observers on the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service's (FWS) research vessel M/V TIGLAX; from incidental 
sightings by biologists, fishermen, seamen, fisheries observers, and 
birdwatchers provided to the FWS; from the International Pacific 
Halibut Commission (IPHC); from the Alaska Natural Heritage Program; 
from historical sightings documented in published literature; from 
satellite tagging data; and from the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird 
Database. The EA/RIR/IRFA for this action describes this information 
(see ADDRESSES). This information showed that seabird species of 
concern are not likely to occur in portions of Area 4E where fishing 
vessels using hook-and-line gear may operate; and therefore, it is not 
likely that interactions between the fishing vessels and these seabird 
species of concern would occur in those portions of Area 4E. Thus, the 
Council recommended revisions to the seabird avoidance measures in a 
portion of Area 4E. These revisions would eliminate seabird avoidance 
measures in the portion of Area 4E where seabird species of concern are 
not likely to occur. The revisions would apply to vessels greater than 
26 ft (7.9 m) to less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) length overall 
(LOA) fishing in the EEZ. Vessels less than or equal to 26 ft (7.9 m) 
LOA are not required to use seabird avoidance measures. Vessels greater 
than 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA would continue to be required to use seabird 
avoidance measures in all of Area 4E. Vessels this size and larger are 
more likely to interact with other seabirds because of the greater 
amount of offal discharge and greater number of hooks fished

[[Page 2985]]

compared to smaller vessels. Vessels greater than 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA 
are capable of efficiently deploying seabird avoidance gear, as further 
discussed in the Classification section.
    Species of concern of pelagic seabirds (particularly the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA)-listed short-tailed albatross) are rarely observed in 
most of Area 4E; and therefore, are not likely to interact with hook-
and-line fisheries in most of this area (Figure 1). Pelagic seabird 
species of concern that may interact with hook-and-line vessels have 
been observed and documented in the southern portion of Area 4E west of 
Bristol Bay. The seabird avoidance measures would continue to be 
required in this area for all hook-and-line vessels greater than 26 
feet (7.9 m) LOA.
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[[Page 2986]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16JA09.015

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[[Page 2987]]

    Eliminating unnecessary seabird avoidance measures is intended to 
remove associated economic burdens on affected vessels. These revisions 
are the result of adaptive management using the best available 
information to focus regulatory requirements where they are needed. 
Research results and the environmental and economic considerations of 
the proposed action are summarized in the EA/RIR/IRFA for this action 
(see ADDRESSES).

Proposed Regulatory Amendments

    In June 2008, the Council unanimously recommended revisions to the 
seabird avoidance measures in a portion of Area 4E. These measures 
would apply to operators of vessels fishing for Pacific halibut in the 
IFQ and Community Development Quota (CDQ) management programs in waters 
from 0 nm to 200 nm; for IFQ sablefish in waters from 0 nm to 200 nm; 
and for groundfish with hook-and-line gear in the EEZ.
    The proposed rule to implement the Council's recommendations would 
reorganize and revise Sec.  679.24(e)(3) and Table 20 to part 679 to 
clarify existing regulatory text and to eliminate unnecessary seabird 
avoidance gear requirements for all hook-and-line vessels less than or 
equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA fishing in Area 4E, except in the southern 
portion of Area 4E as shown in Figure 1. Hook-and-line vessels fishing 
in the portion of Area 4E south of 60 degrees N latitude and west of 
160 degrees W longitude would continue to be required to use seabird 
avoidance measures. The best available scientific information regarding 
seabird observations in the Area 4E indicates that ESA-listed seabirds 
and other seabird species of concern are not likely to occur in Area 
4E, except for the southern portion where seabird avoidance measures 
would continue to be required. Therefore, the proposed rule would 
eliminate seabird avoidance measures where interactions with seabird 
species of concern is not likely to occur and ensure that such measures 
are used in waters where interactions with seabird species of concern 
are likely to occur.
    Table 19 to part 679 also would be revised to correct cross 
references. Under the descriptions for the seabird avoidance gear and 
other methods, the reference to Sec.  679.24(e)(5) would be corrected 
to read Sec.  679.24(e)(4).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
the Halibut Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An IRFA was prepared as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this 
proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description 
of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this 
action are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble 
and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A summary of the analysis 
follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    The vessels that fish for groundfish or halibut with hook-and-line 
gear in the waters off Alaska would be directly regulated by the 
proposed action. The seabird avoidance measures presently in place, and 
the alternatives and options considered, apply directly to the operator 
of a vessel deploying hook-and-line gear in the waters off Alaska. 
These regulations apply to the operation of a vessel and not directly 
to the halibut or sablefish IFQ-holder unless the holder is also the 
owner/operator of a vessel. Multiple IFQs may be used on a single 
vessel. Thus, the IRFA analysis of large and small entities is 
conducted at the vessel level and not the IFQ level. This analysis is 
complicated by the fact that the halibut fishery is managed somewhat 
separately from the Federal groundfish fisheries, resulting in multiple 
data sources being synthesized for the analysis. Thus, data from 
multiple sources and years have been used to estimate the numbers of 
large and small entities.
    Approximately 70 vessels ranging between 26 ft (7.9 m) and 55 ft 
(16.8 m) LOA, participated in the CDQ Pacific halibut fishery in Area 
4E. The 70 vessels that fished in the CDQ halibut fishery in Area 4E 
are mostly small vessels, 66 are less than 33 ft (10.1 m) LOA. These 
small vessels fish in the salmon and herring fisheries in the Bristol 
Bay and Togiak Bay areas of Alaska. None of the 70 vessels harvest 
groundfish in other Federal fisheries; thus, comprehensive annual 
revenue data are not available for these vessels in the way that they 
are for vessels that participate in Federal groundfish fisheries. 
However, given the small size of these vessels and the small scale of 
the fisheries they participate in, it is not expected that any of these 
vessels would earn more than $4 million in annual revenue. Thus, these 
70 vessels are believed to be small entities, as defined by Small 
Business Administration criteria.
    Comprehensive annual revenue data, from all sources, are available 
for the 92 vessels that participated in the Federal hook-and-line 
groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management 
area in 2006. In 2006, 52 hook and line catcher vessels (CVs) and 6 
hook-and-line catcher processors (CPs) reported that they caught and 
processed less than $4 million in gross ex-vessel or gross first 
wholesale product value. Thus, these 58 vessels are considered small 
entities.
    In total, this analysis has identified 128 vessels that are 
believed to be directly regulated small entities. A review of American 
Fisheries Act (AFA) permit data revealed that none of the 128 vessels 
with gross revenue less than $4 million in 2006 are AFA-permitted 
vessels. Because AFA affiliations are relatively stable across years, 
none of these vessels are large because of AFA affiliations.
    The IRFA indicates that this proposed action is not likely to 
impose significant costs on directly regulated small entities. The 
action reduces the regulatory burden on hook-and-line vessels 55 ft 
(16.8 m) LOA or less by eliminating all seabird avoidance requirements 
for these vessels operating in portions of Area 4E. The reduced 
regulatory burden under the proposed action would tend to reduce the 
costs for the directly regulated vessels. Vessel operational cost of 
production data are not presently collected, making it impossible to 
quantify the net effect on operational costs that might occur under 
each alternative and option.
    Since the initial adoption of seabird avoidance regulations, 
research has been conducted to more precisely identify the geographical 
distribution and range of seabirds of concern, and on the efficacy of 
required seabird avoidance devices. Recent research has shown the 
likely locations of interaction between seabirds of concern and fishing 
vessels in Area 4E and has provided the information necessary to 
identify waters where seabird avoidance measures may not be necessary. 
The proposed action, which is intended to reduce the economic burden 
placed on small entities operating in these fisheries, is a direct 
result of this research.
    An IRFA must describe any significant alternatives to the proposed 
rule that accomplish the stated objectives of the proposed action, 
consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any 
significant economic impact of the proposed rule

[[Page 2988]]

on small entities. Including status quo, this proposed action has four 
alternatives and two options.
    Alternative 1 is the status quo, which would require the continued 
use of seabird avoidance measures for all hook-and-line vessels fishing 
for groundfish or halibut in the federal waters of Area 4E. This 
alternative would not provide economic relief; and therefore, does not 
meet the objectives of this action.
    Alternative 2 would exempt hook-and-line vessels 26 ft (7.9 m) to 
32 ft (9.8 m) LOA from seabird avoidance measures while fishing for 
groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. This alternative would provide 
economic relief to only vessels in this size class, partially meeting 
the objectives of the action for the hook-and-line fleet.
    Alternative 3 (preferred) would exempt hook-and-line vessels 26 ft 
(7.9 m) to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA from seabird avoidance measures while 
fishing for groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. This alternative would 
provide more economic relief to the hook-and-line fleet than 
Alternatives 1 and 2.
    Alternative 4 would exempt all hook-and-line vessels from seabird 
avoidance measures while fishing for groundfish or halibut in Area 4E. 
This alternative would provide the most economic relief to the hook-
and-line fleet compared to the other alternatives, but the economic 
relief in comparison to Alternative 3 is not likely a large difference. 
Very few vessels over 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA participate in the hook-and-
line fishery in Area 4E, and the larger vessels have the capability to 
use seabird avoidance gear based on larger deck space, adequate 
superstructure, and available crew.
    Two options were also considered for this action. Option 1 
(preferred) would require full compliance with the seabird avoidance 
measures inside the shaded portion of Area 4E, as shown in Figure 1, 
while option 2 would require only the use of a buoy bag in the shaded 
area. Option 1 would require more costs to deploy seabird avoidance 
gear that meets the streamer standards than option 2, which required a 
buoy bag with no standards and no supporting superstructure for 
streamer lines. Because the buoy bag is not likely as effective as the 
streamer lines, option 1 is more protective of short-tailed albatross 
and other seabirds that may occur in the shaded area shown in Figure 1.
    The preferred action is Alternative 3 with option 1, which provides 
more economic relief than Alternatives 1 or 2 with option 1. 
Alternative 3 and option 1 were selected because most of the vessels 
participating in the hook-and-line fishery in Area 4E are less than 55 
ft (16.8 m) LOA. The use of seabird avoidance gear on these vessels can 
be difficult because of limited deck space for the gear or the lack of 
superstructure to support the streamer lines. Smaller vessels also are 
likely to have fewer crew members available to handle the gear. Only 
Alternative 4 has smaller economic impacts on the directly regulated 
small entities than Alternative 3. Because very few large vessels 
participate in the Area 4E fishery, Alternative 4 is not likely to 
provide much more economic relief than Alternative 3. Alternative 4 was 
not chosen because larger vessels are more likely to have adequate deck 
space, superstructure, and crew available to allow for safe and 
effective use of seabird avoidance gear. Because of the presence of 
short-tailed albatross in the shaded area of Figure 1, the Council 
recommended option 1 for vessels fishing in this area to ensure the 
continued protection of short-tailed albatross from potential 
incidental takes by any hook-and-line vessel. Option 1 has a marginally 
greater potential adverse economic impact on directly regulated small 
entities than does option 2, but option 1 more fully achieves the 
objectives of the proposed action and is necessary for the protection 
of short-tailed albatross and other seabirds that may occur in the 
shaded area of Figure 1, making it more compliant with other applicable 
law (e.g., ESA).
    No Federal rules duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed 
action.
    An informal consultation with the FWS under the Endangered Species 
Act was concluded for this proposed action on September 15, 2008. As a 
result of the informal consultation, NMFS determined that fishing 
activities under this rule are not likely to adversely affect 
endangered or threatened species or their designated critical habitat. 
The FWS concurred with this determination.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: January 12, 2009.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR 
part 679 as follows:

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

    1. The authority citation for part 679 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108 447.
    2. In Sec.  679.24, redesignate paragraphs (e)(3)(i) and (e)(3)(ii) 
as paragraphs (e)(3)(ii) and (e)(3)(iii), respectively; add new 
paragraph (e)(3)(i); and revise paragraph (e)(3) introductory text to 
read as follows:


Sec.  679.24  Gear limitations.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) Seabird avoidance gear requirements. (See also Table 20 to this 
part.)
    (i) The operator of a vessel identified in paragraph (e)(1) of this 
section must comply with paragraph (e)(3)(ii) or (e)(3)(iii) of this 
section while fishing with hook-and-line gear for groundfish, IFQ 
halibut, CDQ halibut, or IFQ sablefish in Federal waters (EEZ) and for 
IFQ halibut, CDQ halibut, or IFQ sablefish in the State of Alaska 
waters, excluding fishing in
    (A) NMFS Reporting Area 649 (Prince William Sound);
    (B) State waters of Cook Inlet;
    (C) NMFS Reporting Area 659 (Eastern GOA Regulatory Area; Southeast 
Inside District), but including waters in the areas south of a straight 
line at 56[deg]17.25 N. lat. between Point Harris and Port Armstrong in 
Chatham Strait, State statistical areas 325431 and 325401, and west of 
a straight line at 136[deg]21.17 E. long. from Point Wimbledon 
extending south through the Inian Islands to Point Lavinia; and
    (D) Area 4E with a vessel less than or equal to 55 ft (16.8 m) LOA, 
but including fishing in waters south of 60[deg]00.00 N. lat. and west 
of 160[deg]00.00 W. long.
* * * * *
    3. Tables 19 and 20 to part 679 are revised to read as follows:

[[Page 2989]]



           Table 19 to Part 679--Seabird Avoidance Gear Codes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             VESSEL LOGBOOK
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              SEABIRD AVOIDANCE GEAR OR
                    CODE                               METHOD.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1                                            Paired Streamer Lines: Used
                                              during deployment of hook-
                                              and-line gear to prevent
                                              birds from taking hooks.
                                              Two streamer lines used,
                                              one on each side of the
                                              main groundline. Each
                                              streamer line consists of
                                              three components: a length
                                              of line, streamers
                                              attached along a portion
                                              of the length and one or
                                              more float devices at the
                                              terminal end. See
                                              performance and material
                                              standards at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(iii).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2                                            Single Streamer Line: Used
                                              during deployment of hook-
                                              and-line gear to prevent
                                              birds from taking hooks.
                                              The streamer line consists
                                              of three components: a
                                              length of line, streamers
                                              attached along a portion
                                              of the length and one or
                                              more float devices at the
                                              terminal end. See
                                              performance and material
                                              standards at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(ii).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
3                                            Single Streamer Line, used
                                              with Snap Gear: Used
                                              during the deployment of
                                              snap gear to prevent birds
                                              from taking hooks. The
                                              streamer line consists of
                                              three components: a length
                                              of line, streamers
                                              attached along a portion
                                              of the length and one or
                                              more float devices at the
                                              terminal end. See
                                              performance and material
                                              standards at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(iv).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
4                                            Buoy Bag Line: Used during
                                              the deployment of hook-and-
                                              line gear to prevent birds
                                              from taking hooks. A buoy
                                              bag line consists of two
                                              components: a length of
                                              line (without streamers
                                              attached) and one or more
                                              float devices at the
                                              terminal end. See
                                              performance and material
                                              standards at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(i).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other Device used in conjunction with Single Streamer Line or Buoy Bag
 Line
------------------------------------------------------------------------
5                                            Add weights to groundline:
                                              Applying weights to the
                                              groundline for the purpose
                                              of sinking the hook-and-
                                              line gear more quickly and
                                              preventing seabirds from
                                              accessing the baited
                                              hooks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
6                                            Additional Buoy Bag Line or
                                              Single Streamer Line:
                                              Using a second buoy bag
                                              line or streamer line for
                                              the purpose of enhancing
                                              the effectiveness of these
                                              deterrent devices at
                                              preventing seabirds from
                                              accessing baited hooks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
7                                            Strategic Offal Discharge:
                                              Discharging fish, fish
                                              parts (i.e., offal) or
                                              spent bait for the purpose
                                              of distracting seabirds
                                              away from the main
                                              groundline while setting
                                              gear.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Additional Device Used
------------------------------------------------------------------------
8                                            Night Fishing: Setting hook-
                                              and-line gear during dark
                                              (night time hours).
                                            ----------------------------
                                             Line Shooter: A hydraulic
                                              device designed to deploy
                                              hook-and-line gear at a
                                              speed slightly faster than
                                              the vessel's speed during
                                              setting.
                                            ----------------------------
                                             Lining Tube: A device used
                                              to deploy hook-and-line
                                              gear through an underwater-
                                              setting device.
                                            ----------------------------
                                             Other (Describe)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
9                                            No Deterrent Used Due to
                                              Weather. [See weather
                                              exceptions at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(i),
                                              (e)(4)(ii)(B),
                                              (e)(4)(iii)(B),
                                              (e)(4)(iv)(B), and
                                              (e)(4)(v).]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
0                                            No Deterrent Used.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


 Table 20 to Part 679--Seabird Avoidance Gear Requirements for Vessels,
                  based on Area, Gear, and Vessel Type
      (See Sec.   679.24(e) for complete seabird avoidance program
    requirements; see Sec.   679.24(e)(1) for applicable fisheries.)
If you operate a vessel deploying hook-and-  then you must use this
 line gear, other than snap gear, in waters   seabird avoidance gear in
 specified at Sec.   679.24(e)(3), and your   conjunction with
 vessel is...                                 requirements at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)...
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>26 ft to 55 ft LOA and without masts,       minimum of one buoy bag
 poles, or rigging                            line
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>26 ft to 55 ft LOA and with masts, poles,   minimum of a single
 or rigging                                   streamer line of a
                                              standard specified at Sec.
                                                679.24(e)(4)(ii)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>55 ft LOA                                   minimum of paired streamer
                                              lines of a standard
                                              specified at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)(4)(iii)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you operate a vessel deploying hook-and-  then you must use this
 line gear and use snap gear in waters        seabird avoidance gear in
 specified at Sec.   679.24(e)(3), and your   conjunction with
 vessel is...                                 requirements at Sec.
                                              679.24(e)...
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>26 ft to 55 ft LOA and without masts,       minimum of one buoy bag
 poles, or rigging                            line
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>26 ft to 55 ft and with masts, poles, or    minimum of a single
 rigging                                      streamer line of a
                                              standard specified at Sec.
                                                679.24(e)(4)(iv)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>55 ft LOA                                   minimum of a single
                                              streamer line of a
                                              standard specified at Sec.
                                                679.24(e)(4)(iv)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you operate any of the following hook-    then...
 and-line vessels...
------------------------------------------------------------------------
< 32 ft in the State waters of IPHC Area 4E  you are exempt from seabird
                                              avoidance measures.
--------------------------------------------
in NMFS Reporting Area 649 (Prince William   ...........................
 Sound)
--------------------------------------------
in State waters of Cook Inlet                ...........................
--------------------------------------------

[[Page 2990]]

 
in NMFS Reporting Area 659 (Eastern GOA      ...........................
 Regulatory Area, Southeast Inside
 District), but not including waters in the
 areas south of a straight line at
 56[deg]17.25 N. lat. between Point Harris
 and Port Armstrong in Chatham Strait,
 State statistical areas 325431 and 325401,
 and west of a straight line at
 136[deg]21.17 E. long. from Point
 Wimbledon extending south through the
 Inian Islands to Point Lavinia
--------------------------------------------
<= 55 ft in IPHC Area 4E but not including   ...........................
 waters south of 60[deg]00.00 N. lat. and
 west of 160[deg]00.00 W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. E9-974 Filed 1-15-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S