Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2010 and 2011 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 62533-62551 [E9-28544]

Download as PDF WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules and Alternative Proposed Disapproval of Revisions to the Visible Emissions Rule.’’ The comment period for this proposed rulemaking was originally scheduled to close on November 16, 2009; however, EPA published a subsequent notice in the Federal Register extending the comment period for this proposed rulemaking to December 16, 2009 (74 FR 57978). ADDRESSES: The hard copy docket is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, Air Planning Branch, 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303. The electronic docket is available at http:// www.regulations.gov. Refer to EPA docket number: ‘‘EPA–R04–OAR–2005– AL–0002’’. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Lynorae Benjamin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, Air Planning Branch; 61 Forsyth Street, SW.; Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Ms. Benjamin can be reached via e-mail at Benjamin.lynorae@epa.gov or phone at (404) 562–9040. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 2, 2009, EPA published the ‘‘Proposed Approval of Revisions to the Visible Emissions Rule and Alternative Proposed Disapproval of Revisions to the Visible Emissions Rule,’’ for a 45day public comment period to November 16, 2009. During this 45-day public comment period, EPA received two requests for further information related to two exhibits provided in the docket for the proposed rulemaking. Specifically, the requesters asked for the source of data for the exhibits numbered: EPA–R04–OAR–2005–AL– 0002–0045 & EPA–R04–OAR–2005–AL– 0002–0047. As a result of these requests, EPA has prepared a memorandum which provides further information regarding the two aforementioned exhibits, and has placed this memorandum in the docket for this proposed rulemaking for the consideration of other reviewers. Of further note is that EPA received 3 requests for an extension of the public comment period on the rulemaking entitled ‘‘Proposed Approval of Revisions to the Visible Emissions Rule and Alternative Proposed Disapproval of Revisions to the Visible Emissions Rule.’’ The comment period for this proposed rulemaking was originally scheduled to close on November 16, 2009; however, EPA published a subsequent notice in the Federal Register extending the comment period for this proposed rulemaking to December 16, 2009. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 Dated: November 11, 2009. J. Scott Gordon, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 4. [FR Doc. E9–28420 Filed 11–27–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 0910131362–91411–01] RIN 0648–XS43 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Proposed 2010 and 2011 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2010 and 2011 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: Comments must be received by December 30, 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– XS43, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal 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. No comments will be PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 62533 posted to http://www.regulations.gov for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. Comments will generally be posted without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) 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). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Copies of the final 2008 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), dated November 2008, are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99510–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, 907–481–1780, or Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. These proposed specifications are based in large part on the 2008 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). In December 2009, the Council will consider the 2009 SAFE report to develop its recommendations for the final 2010 and 2011 acceptable biological catch (ABC) amounts and total allowable catch (TAC) limits. Anticipated changes in the final specifications from the proposed specifications are identified in this notice for public review. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62534 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the TACs for each target species and for the ‘‘other species’’ category, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs for target species and ‘‘other species,’’ halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) amounts, and seasonal allowances of pollock and inshore/offshore Pacific cod. The proposed specifications in Tables 1 through 18 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2010 and 2011, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 284,688 mt. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2010 and 2011 specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2009 meeting, and (3) considering information presented in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES) and the final 2009 SAFE report prepared for the 2010 and 2011 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2010 and 2011 Harvest Specifications The Council is developing an amendment to the FMP to comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements associated with annual catch limits and accountability measures. That amendment may result in revisions to how total annual groundfish mortality is estimated and accounted for in the annual SAFE reports, which in turn may affect the overfishing levels (OFLs) and ABC amounts for certain groundfish species. NMFS will attempt to identify additional sources of mortality to groundfish stocks not currently reported or considered by the groundfish stock assessments in recommending OFL, ABC, and TAC for certain groundfish species. These additional sources of mortality may include recreational fishing, subsistence fishing, catch of groundfish during the NMFS trawl and hook-and-line surveys, catch taken under experimental fishing permits issued by NMFS, discarded catch of groundfish in the commercial halibut fisheries, use of groundfish as bait in the crab fisheries, or other sources of mortality not yet identified. The Council also is considering a proposal that would allocate the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod TACs among the trawl, pot, hook-and-line, and jig catcher vessel and catcher processor sectors. Sector allocations may provide stability to long-term participants in the fishery by VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 reducing competition among sectors for access to the GOA Pacific cod resource. These changes will not be in effect until 2011 at the earliest, which could affect the 2011 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs included in this action. Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications In October 2009, the Council, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the Advisory Panel (AP), reviewed current biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was initially compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and was presented in the final 2008 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2008 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an ABC for each species category. The Plan Team will update the 2008 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2009. The Plan Team will provide revised stock assessments in November 2009 in the final 2009 SAFE report. The Council will review the 2009 SAFE report in December 2009. The final 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications may be adjusted from the proposed harvest specifications based on the 2009 SAFE report. The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute ABCs and OFLs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers with tier one representing the highest level of information quality available and tier six representing the lowest level of information quality available. The SSC adopted the proposed 2010 and 2011 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. These proposed amounts are unchanged from the final 2010 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2009 (74 FR 7333). The AP and the Council recommendations for the proposed 2010 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 and 2011 OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are also based on the final 2010 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2009 (74 FR 7333). For 2010 and 2011, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs and ABCs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing amounts. The sum of the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 562,762 mt, which is higher than the final 2009 ABC total of 516,055 mt (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2010 and 2011 that are equal to proposed ABCs for pollock, deepwater flatfish, rex sole, sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, northern rockfish, pelagic shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, and skates. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2010 and 2011 that are less than the proposed ABCs for Pacific cod, flathead sole, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, other rockfish, Atka mackerel, and the ‘‘other species’’ category. The apportionment of annual pollock TAC among the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA reflects the seasonal biomass distribution and is discussed in greater detail below. The annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, as well as equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (50 CFR 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A), (B)). As in 2009, the SSC and Council recommended that the method of apportioning the sablefish ABC among management areas in 2010 and 2011 include commercial fishery and survey data. NMFS stock assessment scientists believe that unbiased commercial fishery catch-per-unit-effort data are useful for stock distribution assessments. NMFS annually evaluates the use of commercial fishery data to ensure that unbiased information is included in stock distribution models. The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments also takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area; the SEO District, together with the E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules West Yakutat District (WYK), comprise the Eastern Regulatory Area. Separate sablefish TACs are specified for each district. The Council continued to recommend that five percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TAC be apportioned to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). The AP, SSC, and Council recommended apportionment of the ABC for Pacific cod in the GOA among regulatory areas based on the three most recent NMFS summer trawl surveys. The proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod TACs are affected by the State of Alaska’s (State) fishery for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in Prince William Sound. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council recommended reducing the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod TACs from the proposed ABCs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas to account for State guideline harvest levels. Therefore, the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 318 mt; (2) Central GOA, 11,329 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 7,751 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State’s 2010 and 2011 guideline harvest levels in these areas, which are 10 percent, 25 percent, and 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and Western GOA proposed ABCs, respectively. NMFS also is proposing seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for hookand-line, pot, or jig gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (50 CFR 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). As in 2009, NMFS proposes to establish for 2010 and 2011 an A season directed fishing allowance for the Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA based on the management area TACs minus the recent average A season incidental catch of Pacific cod in each management area before June 10 (§ 679.20(d)(1)). The directed fishing allowance and incidental catch before June 10 will be managed such that total catch in the A season will be no more than 60 percent of the annual TAC. Incidental catch taken after June 10 will continue to be taken from the B season TAC. This 62535 action meets the intent of the Steller sea lion protection measures by achieving temporal dispersion of the Pacific cod removals and reducing the likelihood of catch exceeding 60 percent of the annual TAC in the A season (January 1 through June 10) (69 FR 75865, December 20, 2004). The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 284,688 mt for 2010 and 2011, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. The sum of the proposed 2010 TACs and the sum of the proposed 2011 TACs are each higher than the sum of the 2009 TACs of 242,727 mt, but are unchanged from the 2010 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish fisheries (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009). Table 1 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of groundfish. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2008 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. These proposed amounts are subject to change pending the completion of the 2009 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications during its December 2009 meeting. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT (W/C/WYK), WESTERN (W), CENTRAL (C), EASTERN (E) REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT (WYK), SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE (SEO), AND GULFWIDE (GW) DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................................... Shumagin (610) ........................................... Chirikof (620) ............................................... Kodiak (630) ................................................ WYK (640) ................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) .................................... SEO (650) ................................................... Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ...................... Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ Pacific cod 3 .................................................................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Sablefish 4 ...................................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 ................................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ....................................................... VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ABC E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 24,199 22,374 17,548 1,929 66,050 8,280 74,330 31,005 45,315 3,180 79,500 1,523 4,625 1,645 2,544 4,189 10,337 26,360 29,873 3,333 1,423 60,989 747 7,405 1,066 575 9,793 30NOP1 TAC 24,199 22,374 17,548 1,929 66,050 8,280 74,330 23,254 33,986 2,862 60,102 1,523 4,625 1,645 2,544 4,189 10,337 4,500 13,000 3,333 1,423 22,256 747 7,405 1,066 575 9,793 OFL n/a n/a n/a n/a 90,920 11,040 101,960 n/a n/a n/a 126,000 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 12,321 n/a n/a n/a n/a 74,364 n/a n/a n/a n/a 12,367 62536 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT (W/C/WYK), WESTERN (W), CENTRAL (C), EASTERN (E) REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT (WYK), SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE (SEO), AND GULFWIDE (GW) DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Rex sole ......................................................................... Other skates 17 ............................................................... Other species 18 ............................................................. W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ...................... Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. WYK ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. Total ............................................................ SEO ............................................................. W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ GW .............................................................. W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ W ................................................................. C .................................................................. E .................................................................. Total ............................................................ GW .............................................................. GW .............................................................. 988 6,506 503 830 8,827 29,843 162,591 14,757 12,082 219,273 13,342 30,021 3,622 667 47,652 3,710 8,239 1,107 2,042 3,149 15,098 1,965 2,208 0 4,173 126 842 329 1,297 120 315 463 898 357 569 604 2,767 4,297 765 3,179 219 302 4,465 362 267 860 783 1,910 4,700 632 2,065 633 3,330 78 2,041 768 2,887 2,104 6,540 988 6,506 503 830 8,827 8,000 30,000 2,500 2,500 43,000 2,000 5,000 3,622 667 11,289 3,710 8,239 1,107 2,042 3,149 15,098 1,965 2,208 0 4,173 126 842 329 1,297 120 315 463 898 357 569 604 200 1,730 765 3,179 219 302 4,465 362 267 860 783 1,910 2,000 632 2,065 633 3,330 78 2,041 768 2,887 2,104 4,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a 11,535 n/a n/a n/a n/a 258,397 n/a n/a n/a n/a 59,349 4,405 9,782 n/a n/a 3,738 17,925 n/a n/a n/a 4,979 n/a n/a n/a 1,562 n/a n/a n/a 1,197 n/a n/a n/a n/a 5,624 n/a n/a n/a n/a 5,420 580 n/a n/a n/a 2,540 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,439 n/a n/a n/a 3,849 2,806 8,720 Total ........................................................................ ................................................................. 562,762 284,688 722,134 Arrowtooth flounder ........................................................ Flathead sole ................................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ..................................................... Northern rockfish 8,9 ........................................................ Rougheye rockfish 10 ...................................................... Shortraker rockfish 11 ..................................................... Other rockfish 9,12 ........................................................... Pelagic shelf rockfish 13 ................................................. Demersal shelf rockfish 14 .............................................. Thornyhead rockfish ...................................................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Atka mackerel ................................................................ Big skate 15 ..................................................................... Longnose skate 16 .......................................................... ABC TAC OFL 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-wide). VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:10 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules 62537 2 Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 32%, 43%, and 25% in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 32%, 54%, and 14% in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 43%, 21%, and 35% in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Table 4 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 pollock seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60% to the A season and 40% to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90% for processing by the inshore component and 10% for processing by the offshore component. Table 5 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2010 and to trawl gear in 2011. Tables 2 and 3 list the proposed 2010 and 2011 sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. 9 ‘‘Slope rockfish’’ means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), and S. reedi (yellowmouth). In the Eastern GOA only, slope rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinous. 10 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 11 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 12 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means slope rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The category ‘‘other rockfish’’ in the SEO District means slope rockfish. 13 ‘‘Pelagic shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes ciliatus (dark), S. variabilis (dusky), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). 14 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 15 ‘‘Big skate’’ means Raja binoculata. 16 ‘‘Longnose skate’’ means Raja rhina. 17 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja spp. 18 ‘‘Other species’’ means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus. Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires that 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, and the ‘‘other species’’ category be set aside in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2009, NMFS apportioned all the reserves in the final harvest specifications (74 FR 7340, February 17, 2009). For 2010 and 2011, NMFS proposes to reapportion all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, and ‘‘other species.’’ Table 1 reflects the proposed apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups. Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Hookand-Line and Trawl Gear Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the trawl ban in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District and the allocation of the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC be available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. As a result, NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This recommendation results in a proposed 2010 allocation of 209 mt to trawl gear and 3,960 mt to hook-andline gear. Table 2 lists the allocations of the proposed 2010 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 3 lists the allocations of the proposed 2011 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that only a trawl sablefish TAC be established for two years so that incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the harvest specifications. However, since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final annual specifications are expected to be published before the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) season begins, typically early March, the industry and Council recommended that the sablefish TAC for the IFQ season be set on an annual basis so that the best and most recent scientific information could be considered in recommending the ABCs and TACs. Since sablefish is on bycatch status for trawl gear from January 1, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached prior to the effective date of the final harvest specifications. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2010 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO HOOK-AND-LINE AND TRAWL GEAR WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District TAC Western .................................................................................................................................................... Central ..................................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 1 ......................................................................................................................................... Southeast Outside ................................................................................................................................... VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 1,523 4,625 1,645 2,544 30NOP1 Hook-andline allocation 1,218 3,700 1,436 2,544 Trawl allocation 305 925 209 0 62538 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2010 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO HOOK-AND-LINE AND TRAWL GEAR—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District TAC Total .................................................................................................................................................. 1 Represents 10,337 Hook-andline allocation 8,898 Trawl allocation 1,439 an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2011 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District TAC Hook-andline allocation Trawl allocation Western .................................................................................................................................................... Central ..................................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ......................................................................................................................................... Southeast Outside ................................................................................................................................... 1,523 4,625 1,645 2,544 n/a n/a n/a n/a 305 925 209 0 Total .................................................................................................................................................. 10,337 n/a 1,439 1 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 2 Represents an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further divided between inshore and offshore processing components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among statistical areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2010 and 2011, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season. The average is intended to reflect the distribution of pollock as indicated by the historic performance of the fishery during the A season. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20 percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed pollock TACs in the WYK of 1,929 mt and SEO District of 8,280 mt for 2010 and 2011 are not allocated by season. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas (and for each associated seasonal allowance) to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts that are projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(6)(i), the amount of pollock available for vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount actually taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year. Table 4 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules 62539 TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ............................................................................. 5,132 (32.01%) 6,927 (43.21%) 3,972 (24.78%) B (Mar 10–May 31) ............................................................................ 5,131 (32.01%) 8,591 (53.59%) 2,308 (14.40%) C (Aug 25–Oct 1) .............................................................................. 6,968 (43.47%) 3,428 (21.38%) 5,634 (35.15%) D (Oct 1–Nov1) .................................................................................. 6,968 (43.47%) 3,428 (21.38%) 5,634 (35.15%) Annual Total ............................................................................... 24,199 22,374 17,548 Season 1 The Total 1 16,031 (100%) 16,030 (100%) 16,030 (100%) 16,030 (100%) 64,121 WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. Proposed Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC and Allocations for Processing of Pacific Cod TAC Between Inshore and Offshore Components Pacific cod fishing is divided into two seasons in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. For hookand-line, pot, and jig gear, the A season is January 1 through June 10, and the B season is September 1 through December 31 (§ 679.23(d)(3)(i)). For trawl gear, the A season is January 20 through June 10, and the B season is September 1 through November 1 (§ 679.23(d)(3)(ii)). After subtraction of an incidental catch allowance, 60 percent and 40 percent of the remaining annual TAC will be available for harvest during the A and B seasons, respectively, and will be apportioned between the inshore and offshore processing components, as provided in § 679.20(a)(6)(ii). Between the A and the B seasons, directed fishing for Pacific cod is closed, and fishermen participating in other directed fisheries must retain Pacific cod up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from or added to the subsequent B season allowance by the Regional Administrator. Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TAC apportionment in all regulatory areas between vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore and offshore components. Ninety percent of the Pacific cod TAC in each regulatory area is allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component. The remaining 10 percent of the TAC is allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 5 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 seasonal apportionments and allocations of the Pacific cod TAC amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS FOR PROCESSING BY THE INSHORE AND OFFSHORE COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Component allocation Regulatory area Season Western ..................................................... Annual ...................................................... A season (60%) ....................................... B season (40%) ....................................... Annual ...................................................... A season (60%) ....................................... B season (40%) ....................................... Annual ...................................................... 23,254 13,952 9,302 33,986 20,392 13,594 2,862 20,929 12,557 8,371 30,587 18,352 12,235 2,576 2,325 1,395 930 3,399 2,039 1,359 286 Total ......................................................... 60,102 54,092 6,010 Central ....................................................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Eastern ...................................................... Proposed Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program Section 679.81(a)(1) and (2) requires the allocation of the primary rockfish species TACs in the Central Regulatory Area, after deducting incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries, to participants in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program). Five percent (2.5 percent to VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 TAC trawl gear and 2.5 percent to fixed gear) of the remaining proposed TACs for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish in the Central Regulatory Area are allocated to the entry level rockfish fishery and 95 percent of the remaining TAC for those primary rockfish species to those vessels eligible to participate in the Rockfish Program. NMFS proposes 2010 and PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Inshore (90%) Offshore (10%) 2011 incidental catch amounts of 100 mt for northern rockfish, 100 mt for pelagic shelf rockfish, and 500 mt for Pacific ocean perch for other directed groundfish fisheries in the Central Regulatory Area. These proposed amounts are based on recent average incidental catch in the Central Regulatory Area by other groundfish fisheries. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62540 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules Section 679.83(a)(1)(i) requires that allocations to the trawl entry level fishery must be made first from the allocation of Pacific ocean perch available to the rockfish entry level fishery. If the amount of Pacific ocean perch available for allocation is less than the total allocation allowable for trawl catcher vessels in the rockfish entry level fishery, then northern rockfish and pelagic shelf rockfish must be allocated to trawl catcher vessels. Allocations of Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish to longline gear vessels must be made after the allocations to trawl gear. Table 6 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA to trawl and longline gear in the entry level rockfish fishery. Allocations of primary rockfish species TACs among participants in the Rockfish Program are not included in the proposed harvest specifications because applications for catcher/ processor and catcher vessel cooperatives are due to NMFS on March 1 of each calendar year, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating proposed 2010 allocations. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/goarat/default.htm when they become available in March 2010. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO TRAWL AND LONGLINE GEAR 1 IN THE ENTRY LEVEL ROCKFISH FISHERY [Values are rounded to the nearest mt] Proposed TAC Species Incidental catch allowance TAC minus ICA 5% TAC 2.5% TAC Entry level trawl allocation Entry level longline allocation Pacific ocean perch ................................. Northern rockfish ...................................... Pelagic shelf rockfish ............................... 8,239 2,208 3,179 500 100 100 7,739 2,108 3,079 387 105 154 193 53 77 323 0 0 64 105 154 Total .................................................. 13,626 700 12,926 646 323 323 323 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Longline gear includes jig and hook-and-line gear. Proposed Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear and permits the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2009, the Council recommended that NMFS maintain the 2009 halibut PSC limits of 2,000 mt for the trawl fisheries and 300 mt for the hook-and-line fisheries for 2010 and 2011. Ten mt of the hook-and-line limit is further allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District. The DSR fishery is defined at § 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(A). This fishery has been apportioned 10 mt in recognition of its small scale harvests. Most vessels in the DSR fishery are less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall making them exempt from observer coverage. Therefore, observer data are not available to verify actual bycatch amounts. NMFS assumes the halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery is low because of the short soak times for the gear and short duration of the fishery. Also, the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and halibut. Finally, much of the DSR TAC is not available to the commercial DSR fishery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the quota for the commercial DSR fishery after estimates of incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut) and anticipated recreational harvest VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 have been deducted from the DSR TAC. Of the 362 mt TAC for DSR in 2009, 115 mt were available for the commercial fishery, of which 76 mt were harvested. Section 679.21(d)(4) authorizes the exemption of specified non-trawl fisheries from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2010 and 2011. The Council and NMFS recommend these exemptions because (1) the pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality averaging 19 mt annually from 2001 through 2008 (and 7 mt in 2009 through 11/7/2009); (2) the halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ program requires retention of legal-sized halibut by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ; and (3) halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries is assumed to be negligible. Halibut mortality is assumed to be negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the low amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear averaging 268 mt annually from 2001 through 2008 (and 208 mt through 10/3/2009), the selective nature of jig gear, and the likelihood of high survival rates of halibut caught and released by jig gear. Section 679.21(d)(5) provides NMFS the authority to seasonally apportion the PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. The final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’s findings with respect to each of these FMP considerations. The Council’s and NMFS’s findings for 2010 and 2011 are unchanged from 2009. Table 7 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. Section 679.21(d)(5)(iii) and (iv), respectively, specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be added to or removed from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62541 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season January 20–April 1 ........... April 1–July 1 ................... July 1–September 1 ......... 27.5% 20% 30% 550 400 600 September 1–October 1 .. October 1–December 31 7.5% 15% Percent 86% 2% 12% 2,000 250 5 35 Season Amount 150 300 Total .......................... January 1–June 10 .......... June 10–September 1 ..... September 1–December 31. Amount January 1–December 31 10 290 10 1 The Pacific halibut PSC limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species category, comprised of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species category, comprised of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and ‘‘other species’’ (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 8 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 seasonal apportionments of Pacific halibut PSC trawl limits as apportioned between the deep-water and shallowwater species categories. Based on public comment and information contained in the final 2009 SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, geartype, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMIT APPORTIONED BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER SPECIES AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES CATEGORIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water1 January 20–April 1 ......................................................................... April 1–July 1 ................................................................................. July 1–September 1 ....................................................................... September 1–October 1 ................................................................ Subtotal January 20–October 1 ..................................................... October 1–December 31 2 ............................................................. 450 100 200 150 900 ............................ 100 ....................................................... 300 ....................................................... 400 ....................................................... Any remainder ..................................... 800 ....................................................... .............................................................. 550 400 600 150 1,700 300 Total ........................................................................................ ............................ .............................................................. 2,000 Total 1 Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program will receive a portion of the third season (July 1–September 1) deep-water category halibut PSC apportionment. At this time, this amount is not known but will be posted later on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when it becomes available. 2 There is no apportionment between shallow-water and deep-water trawl fishery categories during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Estimated Halibut Bycatch in Prior Years WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch is data collected by observers during 2009. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality by trawl, hook-and-line, and pot gears through November 7, 2009, is 1,797 mt, 266 mt, and 7 mt, respectively, for a total halibut mortality of 2,070 mt. Halibut bycatch restrictions seasonally constrained trawl gear fisheries during the 2009 fishing year. Table 9 displays the closure dates for fisheries that resulted from the attainment of seasonal or annual halibut PSC limits. The amount of groundfish that trawl gear might have harvested if halibut PSC limits had not restricted some 2009 GOA groundfish fisheries is unknown. TABLE 9—FISHERY CLOSURES DUE TO ATTAINMENT OF PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS Fishery category Opening date Closure date Trawl Deep-water, season 1 ................ Trawl Deep-water, season 2 ................ Trawl Shallow-water, season 4 ............ January 20, 2009 ................... April 1, 2009 ........................... September 1, 2009 ................ March 3, 2009 ........................ April 23, 2009 ......................... September 2, 2009 ................ 1 With Federal Register citation 74 FR 9964, March 9, 2009 74 FR 19459, April 29, 2009 74 FR 45378, September 2, 2009 the exception of vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62542 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules Expected Changes in Groundfish Stocks and Catch Proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, deep-water flatfish, and flathead sole are higher than those established for 2009, while the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for arrowtooth flounder, rex sole, sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish are lower than those established for 2009. For the remaining target species, the Council recommended that ABC levels remain unchanged from 2009. More information on these changes is included in the 2008 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) and will be updated with the 2009 SAFE report, which will be available for Council approval at its December 2009 meeting. In the GOA, the total proposed 2010 and 2011 TAC amounts are 284,688 mt, an increase of 17 percent from the 2009 TAC total of 242,727 mt. Table 10 compares the final 2009 TACs to the proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs. TABLE 10—COMPARISON OF FINAL 2009 AND PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are in metric tons] Species Final 2009 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Pollock ......................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ................................................................................................................................................... Sablefish ...................................................................................................................................................... Shallow water flatfish ................................................................................................................................... Deep-water flatfish ....................................................................................................................................... Rex sole ....................................................................................................................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ..................................................................................................................................... Flathead sole ............................................................................................................................................... Pacific ocean perch ..................................................................................................................................... Northern rockfish ......................................................................................................................................... Rougheye rockfish ....................................................................................................................................... Shortraker rockfish ....................................................................................................................................... Other rockfish .............................................................................................................................................. Pelagic shelf rockfish ................................................................................................................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ............................................................................................................................... Thornyhead rockfish .................................................................................................................................... Atka mackerel .............................................................................................................................................. Big skates .................................................................................................................................................... Longnose skates .......................................................................................................................................... Other skates ................................................................................................................................................ Other species ............................................................................................................................................... 49,900 41,807 11,160 22,256 9,168 8,996 43,000 11,181 15,111 4,362 1,284 898 1,730 4,781 362 1,910 2,000 3,330 2,887 2,104 4,500 74,330 60,102 10,337 22,256 9,793 8,827 43,000 11,289 15,098 4,173 1,297 898 1,730 4,465 362 1,910 2,000 3,330 2,887 2,104 4,500 Total ...................................................................................................................................................... 242,727 284,688 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Current Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition The most recent halibut stock assessment was developed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) staff in December 2008 for the 2009 commercial fishery; this assessment was considered by the IPHC at its annual January 2009 meeting. Information from ongoing passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag recoveries, as well as inconsistencies in the traditional closed-area stock assessments for some areas, has prompted the IPHC to reexamine the stock assessment framework and corresponding harvest policy. Historically, the IPHC assumed that once the halibut reached legal commercial size there was little movement between regulatory areas. More recently, PIT tag recoveries indicate greater movement between regulatory areas than previously believed. In response to this new information, IPHC staff developed a coast-wide assessment based on a single stock. Based on the updated assessment, VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 the IPHC recommends a coast-wide harvest rate of 20 percent of the exploitable biomass overall, but a lower harvest rate of 15 percent for Areas 4B, 4C, 4D, and 4E. The current estimate of coast-wide (United States and Canada) exploitable biomass for 2009 is 147,419 mt, down from 163,749 mt estimated for 2008. Virtually all the decrease is due to lower survey and commercial catch rates of legal-sized halibut. Projections based on the currently estimated age compositions suggest that the exploitable and female spawning biomass will increase over the next several years as a sequence of strong year classes recruit to the legal-sized component of the population. The female spawning biomass is estimated to be 14,288 mt for 2009, an increase of 3 percent from 2008, and approximately 35 percent of the estimated unfished spawning biomass of 398,258 mt. The halibut resource is fully utilized. Recent catches, over the last 15 years (1994 through 2008) in the commercial halibut fisheries in Alaska have averaged 33,338 mt round weight. In January 2009, the IPHC approved Alaska PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 commercial catch limits totaling 27,518 mt round weight for 2009, a 9-percent decrease from 30,349 mt in 2008. Through November 12, 2009, commercial hook-and-line harvests of halibut off Alaska totaled 21,966 mt round weight. Additional information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may be found in the IPHC’s 2008 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 2008), available on the IPHC Web site at http:// www.iphc.washington.edu. The IPHC considered the 2008 Pacific halibut assessment for 2009 at its January 2009 annual meeting when the IPHC set the 2009 commercial halibut fishery quotas. The IPHC will consider the 2009 Pacific halibut assessment for 2010 at its January 2010 annual meeting when it sets the 2010 commercial halibut fishery quotas. Other Factors The IPHC will adjust the allowable commercial catch of halibut to account for the overall halibut PSC mortality limit established for groundfish fisheries. The 2010 and 2011 groundfish E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules ‘‘pelagic trawl gear’’ in a manner intended to reduce bycatch of halibut by displacing fishing effort off the bottom of the sea floor when certain halibut bycatch levels are reached during the fishing year (§ 679.2(14)). The definition provides standards for physical conformation and performance of the trawl gear in terms of crab bycatch (§ 679.7(a)(14)). Furthermore, all hookand-line vessel operators are required to employ careful release measures when handling halibut bycatch (§ 679.7(a)(13)). These measures are intended to reduce handling mortality, thereby lowering overall halibut bycatch mortality in the groundfish fisheries, and to increase the amount of groundfish harvested under the available halibut mortality bycatch limits. NMFS and the Council will review the methods available for reducing halibut bycatch listed here to determine their effectiveness and will initiate changes, as necessary, in response to this review or to public testimony and comment. fisheries are expected to use the entire proposed annual halibut PSC limit of 2,300 mt. The allowable directed commercial catch is determined by first accounting for recreational and subsistence catch, waste, and bycatch mortality, and then providing the remainder to the directed fishery. Groundfish fishing is not expected to adversely affect the halibut stocks. Methods available for reducing halibut bycatch include (1) publication of individual vessel bycatch rates on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov, (2) modifications to gear, (3) changes in groundfish fishing seasons, (4) individual transferable quota programs, and (5) time/area closures. Reductions in groundfish TAC amounts provide no incentive for fishermen to reduce bycatch rates. Costs that would be imposed on fishermen as a result of reducing TAC amounts depend on the species and amounts of groundfish forgone. The definition of ‘‘Authorized fishing gear’’ at § 679.2 specifies requirements for biodegradable panels and tunnel openings for groundfish pots to reduce halibut bycatch. Under this definition, groundfish pots must comply with gear specification requirements (§ 679.2(15)). Compliance with these requirements reduce halibut bycatch and mortality rates in groundfish pot fisheries. As a result, pot gear exemptions from PSC limits are justified. The definitions at § 679.2 for ‘‘Authorized fishing gear,’’ defines Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, discard mortality rates (DMR), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. The DMRs are based on the best information available, including 62543 information contained in the annual SAFE report. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by the IPHC for the 2009 GOA groundfish fisheries be used for monitoring the proposed 2010 and 2011 halibut bycatch allowances (see Table 11). The IPHC developed the DMRs for the 2009 GOA groundfish fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. Longterm average DMRs were not available for some fisheries, so rates from the most recent years were used. For the ‘‘other species’’ and skate fisheries, where insufficient mortality data are available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in the Pacific cod fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default rate. The IPHC will analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the mean. A copy of the document justifying these DMRs is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES) and the DMRs are discussed in the Economic Status Report of the final 2008 SAFE report, dated November 2008. Table 11 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 DMRs. The proposed DMRs listed in Table 11 are subject to change pending the results of an updated analysis on halibut DMRs in the groundfish fisheries that IPHC staff is scheduled to present to the Council at its December 2009 meeting. TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are oercent of halibut assumed to be dead] Mortality rate (%) Target fishery Hook-and-line ..................................................... Other species ...................................................................................................... Skates ................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ........................................................................................................... Rockfish ............................................................................................................... 14 14 14 10 Trawl .................................................................. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Gear Arrowtooth flounder ............................................................................................. Atka mackerel ..................................................................................................... Deep-water flatfish .............................................................................................. Flathead sole ....................................................................................................... Non-pelagic pollock ............................................................................................. Other species ...................................................................................................... Skates ................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ........................................................................................................... Pelagic pollock .................................................................................................... Rex sole .............................................................................................................. Rockfish ............................................................................................................... Sablefish .............................................................................................................. Shallow-water flatfish .......................................................................................... 69 60 53 61 59 63 63 63 76 63 67 65 71 Pot ...................................................................... Other species ...................................................................................................... Skates ................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ........................................................................................................... 16 16 16 VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62544 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA catcher/processors and catcher vessels in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from expansion in their fisheries by those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA catcher/processors from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA catcher/processors from processing any pollock in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA catcher vessels that are less than 125 ft (38.1 m) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 GOA groundfish landings from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA catcher vessels operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iii) establishes the GOA groundfish sideboard limits based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA catcher vessels of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. Table 12 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA catcher vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 12. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/ gear A Season: January 20– March 10. Area/component Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit Shumagin (610) .................... 0.6047 5,132 3,103 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... 0.1167 0.2028 6,927 3,972 808 806 B Season: March 10–May 31 Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 5,131 8,591 2,308 3,103 1,003 468 C Season: August 25–October 1. Shumagin (610) .................... 0.6047 6,968 4,214 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... 0.1167 0.2028 3,428 5,634 400 1,143 Shumagin (610) .................... 0.6047 6,968 4,214 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... 0.1167 0.2028 3,428 5,634 400 1,143 Annual ................................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. 0.3495 0.3495 1,929 8,280 674 2,894 A Season 1: January 1–June 10. W inshore .............................. 0.1365 12,557 1,714 W offshore ............................ C inshore .............................. C offshore ............................. 0.1026 0.0689 0.0721 1,395 18,352 2,039 143 1,264 147 W inshore .............................. 0.1365 8,371 1,143 W offshore ............................ C inshore .............................. C offshore ............................. 0.1026 0.0689 0.0721 930 12,235 1,359 95 843 98 Annual ................................... E inshore ............................... E offshore ............................. 0.0079 0.0078 2,576 286 20 2 Sablefish ............................... Annual, trawl gear ................. W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 305 925 209 0 59 9 Flatfish, shallow-water .......... Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 4,500 13,000 4,756 70 763 60 Flatfish, deep-water .............. Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... 0.0000 0.0647 747 7,405 0 479 D Season: October 1–November 1. Pacific cod ............................. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS B Season 2: September 1– December 31. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules 62545 TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/ gear Area/component Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit E ............................................ 0.0128 1,641 21 Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 988 6,506 1,333 1 250 4 Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 8,000 30,000 5,000 17 840 1 Flathead sole ........................ Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0036 0.0213 0.0009 2,000 5,000 4,289 7 107 4 Pacific ocean perch .............. Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 3,710 8,239 3,149 9 616 147 Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... 0.0003 0.0277 1,965 2,208 1 61 Rougheye rockfish ................ Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 126 842 329 0 20 4 Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 120 315 463 0 7 5 Other rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... 0.0034 0.1699 357 569 1 97 Pelagic shelf rockfish ............ Annual ................................... E ............................................ W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0000 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 804 765 3,179 521 0 0 0 3 Demersal shelf rockfish ........ Annual ................................... SEO ...................................... 0.0020 362 1 Thornyhead rockfish ............. Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 267 860 783 7 24 22 Atka mackerel ....................... Annual ................................... Gulfwide ................................ 0.0309 2,000 62 Big skates ............................. Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 632 2,065 633 4 13 4 Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... E ............................................ 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 78 2,041 768 0 13 5 Other skates .......................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Gulfwide ................................ 0.0063 2,104 13 Other species ........................ Annual ................................... Gulfwide ................................ 0.0063 4,500 28 1 The 2 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA catcher vessels in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels in each PSC target VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)). Table 13 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 catcher vessel halibut PSC limits for non-exempt AFA vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62546 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [Values are in metric tons] Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Proposed 2010 and 2011 PSC limit Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit Season Season dates Target fishery 1 .......................... January 20–April 1 ......................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... 0.340 0.070 450 100 153 7 2 .......................... April 1–July 1 ................................. shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... 0.340 0.070 100 300 34 21 3 .......................... July 1–September 1 ....................... shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... 0.340 0.070 200 400 68 28 4 .......................... September 1–October 1 ................ shallow-water ................................. deep-water ..................................... 0.340 0.070 150 0 51 0 5 .......................... October 1–December 31 ............... all targets ....................................... 0.205 300 62 Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in all GOA groundfish fisheries (except the fixedgear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using a License Limitation Program (LLP) license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP is used on another vessel. Sideboard limits for non-AFA crab vessels operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 680.22(d) and (e) base the groundfish sideboard limits in the GOA on the retained catch by non-AFA crab vessels of each sideboard species from 1996 through 2000 divided by the total retained harvest of that species over the same period. Table 14 lists these proposed 2010 and 2011 groundfish sideboard limits for non- AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 14. Vessels exempt from Pacific cod sideboards are those that landed less than 45,359 kilograms of Bering Sea snow crab and more than 500 mt of groundfish (in round weight equivalents) from the GOA between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2000, and any vessel named on an LLP that was generated in whole or in part by the fishing history of a vessel meeting the criteria in § 680.22(a)(3). TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear A Season: January 20– March 10. Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Shumagin (610) ........ 0.0098 5,132 50 Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) .............. 0.0031 0.0002 6,927 3,972 21 1 B Season: March 10–May 31 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Pollock .............................................. Area/component Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Shumagin (610) ........ Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) .............. 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 5,131 8,591 2,308 50 27 0 C Season: August 25–October 1. Shumagin (610) ........ 0.0098 6,968 68 Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) .............. 0.0031 0.0002 3,428 5,634 11 1 Shumagin (610) ........ 0.0098 6,968 68 Chirikof (620) ............ Kodiak (630) .............. 0.0031 0.0002 3,428 5,634 11 1 D Season: October 1–November 1. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules 62547 TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Season/gear Area/component Annual ................................... WYK (640) ................ SEO (650) ................. 0.0000 0.0000 1,929 8,280 0 0 A Season: 1 January 1–June 10. W inshore .................. 0.0902 12,557 1,133 W offshore ................. C inshore ................... C offshore ................. W inshore .................. 0.2046 0.0383 0.2074 0.0902 1,395 18,352 2,039 8,371 285 703 423 755 W offshore ................. C inshore ................... C offshore ................. 0.2046 0.0383 0.2074 930 12,235 1,359 190 469 282 Annual ................................... E inshore ................... E offshore .................. 0.0110 0.0000 2,576 286 28 0 Sablefish ........................................... Annual, trawl gear ................. W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 325 925 209 0 0 0 Flatfish shallow-water ....................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 4,500 13,000 4,756 27 1 0 Flatfish, deep-water .......................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 747 7,405 1,641 3 0 0 Rex sole ............................................ Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 988 6,506 1,333 0 0 0 Arrowtooth flounder .......................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 8,000 30,000 5,000 3 3 0 Flathead sole .................................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 2,000 5,000 4,289 0 2 0 Pacific ocean perch .......................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 3,710 8,239 3,149 0 0 0 Northern rockfish .............................. Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ 0.0005 0.0000 1,965 2,208 1 0 Rougheye rockfish ............................ Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 126 842 329 1 4 0 Shortraker rockfish ............................ Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 120 315 463 0 0 0 Other rockfish ................................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0035 0.0033 0.0000 357 569 804 1 2 0 Pelagic shelf rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 765 3,179 521 1 0 0 Demersal shelf rockfish .................... Annual ................................... SEO ........................... 0.0000 362 0 Pacific cod ........................................ WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS B Season: 2 September 1– December 31. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62548 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs Proposed 2010 and 2011 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Species Season/gear Area/component Thornyhead rockfish ......................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 267 860 783 1 6 4 Atka mackerel ................................... Annual ................................... Gulfwide .................... 0.0000 2,000 0 Big skate ........................................... Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 632 2,065 633 25 33 0 Longnose skate ................................ Annual ................................... W ............................... C ................................ E ................................ 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 78 2,041 768 3 32 0 Other skates ..................................... Annual ................................... Gulfwide .................... 0.0176 2,104 37 Other species .................................... Annual ................................... Gulfwide .................... 0.0176 4,500 79 1 The 2 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard Limitations and Halibut Mortality Limitations Section 679.82(d)(7) establishes sideboards to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Rockfish Program to harvest fish in fisheries other than the Central GOA rockfish fisheries. The Rockfish Program provides certain economic advantages to harvesters. Harvesters could use this economic advantage to increase their participation in other fisheries, thus possibly adversely affecting the participants in other fisheries. The proposed sideboards for 2010 and 2011 limit the total amount of catch that could be taken by eligible harvesters and limit the amount of halibut mortality to historic levels. The sideboard measures are in effect only during the month of July. Traditionally, the Central GOA rockfish fisheries opened in July. The sideboards are designed to restrict fishing during the historical season for the fishery, but allow eligible rockfish harvesters to participate in fisheries before or after the historical rockfish season. The sideboard provisions are discussed in detail in the proposed rule (71 FR 33040, June 7, 2006) and the final rule (71 FR 67210, November 20, 2006, and 72 FR 37678, July 11, 2007) for the Rockfish Program. Table 15 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 Rockfish Program harvest limits in the WYK District and the Western GOA. Table 16 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 Rockfish Program halibut mortality limits for catcher/processors and catcher vessels. TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HARVEST LIMITS BY SECTOR FOR WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT AND WESTERN GOA BY THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (CP) AND CATCHER VESSEL (CV) SECTORS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] CP sector (% of TAC) Area Fishery West Yakutat District .................... Pelagic shelf rockfish ................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Pelagic shelf rockfish ................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Northern rockfish .......................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Western GOA ................................ VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 CV sector (% of TAC) Proposed 2010 and 2011 TACs 72.4 76.0 63.3 61.1 78.9 1.7 2.9 0 0 0 219 1,107 765 3,710 1,965 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Proposed 2010 and 2011 CP limit 159 841 484 2,267 1,550 Proposed 2010 and 2011 CV limit 4 32 0 0 0 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules 62549 TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT MORTALITY LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR AND CATCHER VESSEL SECTORS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Shallow-water complex halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Sector Deep-water complex halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Annual halibut mortality limit (mt) Annual shallow-water complex halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deepwater complex halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 0.54 6.32 3.99 1.08 2,000 2,000 11 126 80 22 Catcher/processor ................................................................ Catcher vessel ..................................................................... GOA Amendment 80 Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Amendment 80 program,’’ established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl catcher/ processor sector. In order to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA, the Amendment 80 program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 program participants in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 program vessels, other than the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. Sideboard limits in the GOA are proposed for pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District, for Pacific cod gulfwide, for Pacific ocean perch and pelagic shelf rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area and WYK District, and for northern rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area. The harvest of Pacific ocean perch, pelagic shelf rockfish, and northern rockfish in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA is subject to regulation under the Central GOA Rockfish Program. Amendment 80 program vessels not qualified under the Rockfish Program are excluded from directed fishing for these rockfish species in the Central GOA. Pursuant to regulations, the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, pelagic shelf rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to restrict the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 to 2004. Table 17 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 vessels will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 17. TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 VESSELS Apportionments and allocations by season Species Pollock ................................ A Season: January 20–February 25. Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Area 2010 and 2011 TAC (mt) 2010 and 2011 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) Shumagin (610) ...................... 0.003 5,132 15 Chirikof (620) .......................... Kodiak (630) ........................... 0.002 0.002 6,927 3,972 14 8 B Season: March 10–May 31 Shumagin (610) ...................... Chirikof (620) .......................... Kodiak (630) ........................... 0.003 0.002 0.002 5,131 8,591 2,308 15 17 5 C Season: August 25–September 15. Shumagin (610) ...................... 0.003 6,968 21 Chirikof (620) .......................... Kodiak (630) ........................... 0.002 0.002 3,428 5,634 7 11 Shumagin (610) ...................... 0.003 6,968 21 Chirikof (620) .......................... Kodiak (630) ........................... 0.002 0.002 3,428 9,968 7 14 Annual .................................... WYK (640) .............................. 0.002 1,929 4 A Season 1: January 1–June 10. W ............................................ 0.020 13,952 279 C ............................................. 0.044 20,392 897 W ............................................ 0.020 9,302 186 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS D Season: October 1–November 1. Pacific cod .......................... B Season 2: September 1–December 31. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:10 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 62550 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 VESSELS— Continued Apportionments and allocations by season Species Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Area 2010 and 2011 TAC (mt) 2010 and 2011 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) C ............................................. 0.044 13,594 598 Annual .................................... WYK ....................................... 0.034 2,862 97 Pacific ocean perch ........... Annual .................................... W ............................................ WYK ....................................... 0.994 0.961 3,710 1,107 3,688 1,064 Northern rockfish ................ Annual .................................... W ............................................ 1.000 1,965 1,965 Pelagic shelf rockfish ......... Annual .................................... W ............................................ 0.764 765 584 WYK ....................................... 0.896 219 196 1 The 2 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 vessels in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004 (Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679). These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Central GOA Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE from this restriction. Table 18 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 vessels. TABLE 18—PROPOSED 2010 AND 2011 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 VESSELS IN THE GOA Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit catch (ratio) 2010 and 2011 annual PSC limit (mt) 2010 and 2011 Amendment 80 vessel PSC limit (mt) Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ................. January 20–April 1 ............................. shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 0.0048 0.0115 2,000 2,000 10 23 2 ................. April 1–July 1 ...................................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 0.0189 0.1072 2,000 2,000 38 214 3 ................. July 1–September 1 ........................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 0.0146 0.0521 2,000 2,000 29 104 4 ................. September 1–October 1 ..................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 0.0074 0.0014 2,000 2,000 15 3 5 ................. October 1–December 31 .................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 0.0227 0.0371 2,000 2,000 45 74 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared a Final EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 issued the Record of Decision for the Final EIS. Copies of the Final EIS and Record of Decision for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and its alternatives on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives. NMFS also prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as required by section 603 of the PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off of Alaska. While the specification numbers may change from year to year, the harvest strategy for establishing those numbers remains the same. NMFS therefore is using the same IRFA prepared in connection with the EIS. NMFS published a notice of the availability of the IRFA and its summary in the classification section of the proposed harvest specifications for the groundfish fisheries in the GOA in the E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 228 / Monday, November 30, 2009 / Proposed Rules WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register on December 15, 2006 (71 FR 75460). The comment period on the GOA proposed harvest specifications and IRFA ended on January 16, 2007. NMFS did not receive any comments on the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule generally. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the status quo harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the Council’s harvest specification process and TACs recommended by the Council. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The directly regulated small entities include approximately 747 small catcher vessels and fewer than 20 small catcher/processors. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the GOA, and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating catcher vessels and catcher/processor vessels within the action area, and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. Catcher vessels and catcher/ processors were considered to be small entities if they had annual gross receipts of $4 million per year or less from all economic activities, including the revenue of their affiliated operations. Data from 2005 were the most recent available and were used to determine the number of small entities. VerDate Nov<24>2008 14:57 Nov 27, 2009 Jkt 220001 Estimates of first wholesale gross revenues for the GOA were used as indices of the potential impacts of the alternative harvest strategies on small entities. An index of revenues was projected to decline under the preferred alternative due to declines in ABCs for key species in the GOA. The index of revenues declined by less than 4 percent between 2007 and 2008 and by less than one percent between 2007 and 2009. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. These included Alternative 1, which would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which case harvests would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent five-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5 would have set TACs equal to zero. Alternative 5 is the ‘‘no action’’ alternative. Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were all associated with smaller levels for important fishery TACs than Alternative 2. Estimated total first wholesale gross revenues were used as an index of potential adverse impacts to small entities. As a consequence of the lower TAC levels, Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 all had smaller first wholesale revenue indices than Alternative 2. Thus, Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 had greater adverse impacts on small entities. Alternative 1 appeared to generate higher values of the gross revenue index for fishing operations in the GOA than Alternative 2. A large part of the Alternative 1 GOA revenue appeared to be due to the assumption that the full PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 62551 Alternative 1 TAC would be harvested. Much of the larger revenue was due to increases in flatfish TACs that were much greater for Alternative 1 than for Alternative 2. In recent years, halibut bycatch constraints in these fisheries have kept actual flatfish catches from reaching Alternative 1 levels. Therefore, a large part of the revenues presumed to be associated with Alternative 1 are unlikely to be realized. Also, Alternative 2 TACs are constrained by the ABCs that the Plan Teams and SSC are likely to recommend to the Council on the basis of a full consideration of biological issues. These ABCs are often less than the maximum permissible ABCs of Alternative 1. Therefore higher TACs under Alternative 1 may not be consistent with prudent biological management of the resource. For these reasons, Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 23, 2009. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E9–28544 Filed 11–27–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 228 (Monday, November 30, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 62533-62551]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-28544]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 0910131362-91411-01]
RIN 0648-XS43


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Proposed 2010 and 2011 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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 proposes 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2010 
and 2011 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 30, 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-
XS43, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal 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. No comments 
will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov for public viewing until 
after the comment period has closed. Comments will generally be posted 
without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, 
name, address, etc.) 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). You may submit attachments to 
electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF 
file formats only.
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be 
obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web 
site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Copies of the final 2008 Stock 
Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish 
resources of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), dated November 2008, are 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99510-2252, phone 907-
271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, 907-481-1780, or Obren 
Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    These proposed specifications are based in large part on the 2008 
SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). In December 2009, the Council will 
consider the 2009 SAFE report to develop its recommendations for the 
final 2010 and 2011 acceptable biological catch (ABC) amounts and total 
allowable catch (TAC) limits. Anticipated changes in the final 
specifications from the proposed specifications are identified in this 
notice for public review.

[[Page 62534]]

    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the TACs for each target 
species and for the ``other species'' category, the sum of which must 
be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric 
tons (mt). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and 
solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs for target species and 
``other species,'' halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) amounts, and 
seasonal allowances of pollock and inshore/offshore Pacific cod. The 
proposed specifications in Tables 1 through 18 of this document satisfy 
these requirements. For 2010 and 2011, the sum of the proposed TAC 
amounts is 284,688 mt. Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the 
final 2010 and 2011 specifications after (1) considering comments 
received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the 
Council at its December 2009 meeting, and (3) considering information 
presented in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES) and the final 2009 SAFE 
report prepared for the 2010 and 2011 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2010 and 2011 Harvest 
Specifications

    The Council is developing an amendment to the FMP to comply with 
Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements associated with annual catch limits 
and accountability measures. That amendment may result in revisions to 
how total annual groundfish mortality is estimated and accounted for in 
the annual SAFE reports, which in turn may affect the overfishing 
levels (OFLs) and ABC amounts for certain groundfish species. NMFS will 
attempt to identify additional sources of mortality to groundfish 
stocks not currently reported or considered by the groundfish stock 
assessments in recommending OFL, ABC, and TAC for certain groundfish 
species. These additional sources of mortality may include recreational 
fishing, subsistence fishing, catch of groundfish during the NMFS trawl 
and hook-and-line surveys, catch taken under experimental fishing 
permits issued by NMFS, discarded catch of groundfish in the commercial 
halibut fisheries, use of groundfish as bait in the crab fisheries, or 
other sources of mortality not yet identified.
    The Council also is considering a proposal that would allocate the 
Western and Central Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod TACs among the trawl, 
pot, hook-and-line, and jig catcher vessel and catcher processor 
sectors. Sector allocations may provide stability to long-term 
participants in the fishery by reducing competition among sectors for 
access to the GOA Pacific cod resource.
    These changes will not be in effect until 2011 at the earliest, 
which could affect the 2011 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs included in this 
action.

Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications

    In October 2009, the Council, the Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), and the Advisory Panel (AP), reviewed current 
biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish 
stocks in the GOA. This information was initially compiled by the GOA 
Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and was presented in the final 2008 
SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2008 (see 
ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific 
analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and other biological 
parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the 
GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries 
off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an 
ABC for each species category. The Plan Team will update the 2008 SAFE 
report to include new information collected during 2009. The Plan Team 
will provide revised stock assessments in November 2009 in the final 
2009 SAFE report. The Council will review the 2009 SAFE report in 
December 2009. The final 2010 and 2011 harvest specifications may be 
adjusted from the proposed harvest specifications based on the 2009 
SAFE report.
    The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the 
formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute ABCs and OFLs. The formulas 
applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the 
level of reliable information available to fisheries scientists. This 
information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers with 
tier one representing the highest level of information quality 
available and tier six representing the lowest level of information 
quality available.
    The SSC adopted the proposed 2010 and 2011 OFLs and ABCs 
recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. These proposed 
amounts are unchanged from the final 2010 harvest specifications 
published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2009 (74 FR 7333). 
The AP and the Council recommendations for the proposed 2010 and 2011 
OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are also based on the final 2010 harvest 
specifications published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2009 
(74 FR 7333). For 2010 and 2011, the Council recommended and NMFS 
proposes the OFLs and ABCs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect 
harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing amounts. 
The sum of the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for all assessed groundfish 
is 562,762 mt, which is higher than the final 2009 ABC total of 516,055 
mt (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2010 and 2011 that are 
equal to proposed ABCs for pollock, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, 
sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, 
northern rockfish, pelagic shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, 
demersal shelf rockfish, and skates. The Council recommended proposed 
TACs for 2010 and 2011 that are less than the proposed ABCs for Pacific 
cod, flathead sole, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, other 
rockfish, Atka mackerel, and the ``other species'' category.
    The apportionment of annual pollock TAC among the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA reflects the seasonal biomass 
distribution and is discussed in greater detail below. The annual 
pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is 
apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, as well as 
equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 
20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C 
season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 
through November 1) (50 CFR 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and 
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A), (B)).
    As in 2009, the SSC and Council recommended that the method of 
apportioning the sablefish ABC among management areas in 2010 and 2011 
include commercial fishery and survey data. NMFS stock assessment 
scientists believe that unbiased commercial fishery catch-per-unit-
effort data are useful for stock distribution assessments. NMFS 
annually evaluates the use of commercial fishery data to ensure that 
unbiased information is included in stock distribution models. The 
Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments also takes 
into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the Southeast 
Outside (SEO) District of the Eastern Regulatory Area; the SEO 
District, together with the

[[Page 62535]]

West Yakutat District (WYK), comprise the Eastern Regulatory Area. 
Separate sablefish TACs are specified for each district. The Council 
continued to recommend that five percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area TAC be apportioned to trawl gear for use as incidental 
catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (Sec.  
679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    The AP, SSC, and Council recommended apportionment of the ABC for 
Pacific cod in the GOA among regulatory areas based on the three most 
recent NMFS summer trawl surveys. The proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific 
cod TACs are affected by the State of Alaska's (State) fishery for 
Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas, as well as in Prince William Sound. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and 
Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific 
cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, 
the Council recommended reducing the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod 
TACs from the proposed ABCs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas 
to account for State guideline harvest levels. Therefore, the proposed 
2010 and 2011 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the 
following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 318 mt; (2) Central GOA, 11,329 mt; 
and (3) Western GOA, 7,751 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the 
State's 2010 and 2011 guideline harvest levels in these areas, which 
are 10 percent, 25 percent, and 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and 
Western GOA proposed ABCs, respectively.
    NMFS also is proposing seasonal apportionments of the annual 
Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl 
gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC 
is apportioned to the B season for hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear from 
September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 
through November 1 (50 CFR 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)).
    As in 2009, NMFS proposes to establish for 2010 and 2011 an A 
season directed fishing allowance for the Pacific cod fisheries in the 
GOA based on the management area TACs minus the recent average A season 
incidental catch of Pacific cod in each management area before June 10 
(Sec.  679.20(d)(1)). The directed fishing allowance and incidental 
catch before June 10 will be managed such that total catch in the A 
season will be no more than 60 percent of the annual TAC. Incidental 
catch taken after June 10 will continue to be taken from the B season 
TAC. This action meets the intent of the Steller sea lion protection 
measures by achieving temporal dispersion of the Pacific cod removals 
and reducing the likelihood of catch exceeding 60 percent of the annual 
TAC in the A season (January 1 through June 10) (69 FR 75865, December 
20, 2004).
    The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 284,688 mt 
for 2010 and 2011, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. 
The sum of the proposed 2010 TACs and the sum of the proposed 2011 TACs 
are each higher than the sum of the 2009 TACs of 242,727 mt, but are 
unchanged from the 2010 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish 
fisheries (74 FR 7333, February 17, 2009).
    Table 1 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of 
groundfish. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition 
of groundfish stocks as described in the 2008 SAFE report, and adjusted 
for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including 
maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. These proposed 
amounts are subject to change pending the completion of the 2009 SAFE 
report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2010 and 2011 
harvest specifications during its December 2009 meeting.

  Table 1--Proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/
 WYK), Western (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside
                            (SEO), and Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Species                              Area \1\                ABC          TAC          OFL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...............................  Shumagin (610)...............       24,199       24,199          n/a
                                            Chirikof (620)...............       22,374       22,374          n/a
                                            Kodiak (630).................       17,548       17,548          n/a
                                            WYK (640)....................        1,929        1,929          n/a
                                            W/C/WYK (subtotal)...........       66,050       66,050       90,920
                                            SEO (650)....................        8,280        8,280       11,040
                                            Total........................       74,330       74,330      101,960
Pacific cod \3\...........................  W............................       31,005       23,254          n/a
                                            C............................       45,315       33,986          n/a
                                            E............................        3,180        2,862          n/a
                                            Total........................       79,500       60,102      126,000
Sablefish \4\.............................  W............................        1,523        1,523          n/a
                                            C............................        4,625        4,625          n/a
                                            WYK..........................        1,645        1,645          n/a
                                            SEO..........................        2,544        2,544          n/a
                                            E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal)...        4,189        4,189          n/a
                                            Total........................       10,337       10,337       12,321
Shallow-water flatfish \5\................  W............................       26,360        4,500          n/a
                                            C............................       29,873       13,000          n/a
                                            WYK..........................        3,333        3,333          n/a
                                            SEO..........................        1,423        1,423          n/a
                                            Total........................       60,989       22,256       74,364
Deep-water flatfish \6\...................  W............................          747          747          n/a
                                            C............................        7,405        7,405          n/a
                                            WYK..........................        1,066        1,066          n/a
                                            SEO..........................          575          575          n/a
                                            Total........................        9,793        9,793       12,367

[[Page 62536]]

 
Rex sole..................................  W............................          988          988          n/a
                                            C............................        6,506        6,506          n/a
                                            WYK..........................          503          503          n/a
                                            SEO..........................          830          830          n/a
                                            Total........................        8,827        8,827       11,535
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  W............................       29,843        8,000          n/a
                                            C............................      162,591       30,000          n/a
                                            WYK..........................       14,757        2,500          n/a
                                            SEO..........................       12,082        2,500          n/a
                                            Total........................      219,273       43,000      258,397
Flathead sole.............................  W............................       13,342        2,000          n/a
                                            C............................       30,021        5,000          n/a
                                            WYK..........................        3,622        3,622          n/a
                                            SEO..........................          667          667          n/a
                                            Total........................       47,652       11,289       59,349
Pacific ocean perch \7\...................  W............................        3,710        3,710        4,405
                                            C............................        8,239        8,239        9,782
                                            WYK..........................        1,107        1,107          n/a
                                            SEO..........................        2,042        2,042          n/a
                                            E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal)...        3,149        3,149        3,738
                                            Total........................       15,098       15,098       17,925
Northern rockfish 8,9.....................  W............................        1,965        1,965          n/a
                                            C............................        2,208        2,208          n/a
                                            E............................            0            0          n/a
                                            Total........................        4,173        4,173        4,979
Rougheye rockfish \10\....................  W............................          126          126          n/a
                                            C............................          842          842          n/a
                                            E............................          329          329          n/a
                                            Total........................        1,297        1,297        1,562
Shortraker rockfish \11\..................  W............................          120          120          n/a
                                            C............................          315          315          n/a
                                            E............................          463          463          n/a
                                            Total........................          898          898        1,197
Other rockfish 9,12.......................  W............................          357          357          n/a
                                            C............................          569          569          n/a
                                            WYK..........................          604          604          n/a
                                            SEO..........................        2,767          200          n/a
                                            Total........................        4,297        1,730        5,624
Pelagic shelf rockfish \13\...............  W............................          765          765          n/a
                                            C............................        3,179        3,179          n/a
                                            WYK..........................          219          219          n/a
                                            SEO..........................          302          302          n/a
                                            Total........................        4,465        4,465        5,420
Demersal shelf rockfish \14\..............  SEO..........................          362          362          580
Thornyhead rockfish.......................  W............................          267          267          n/a
                                            C............................          860          860          n/a
                                            E............................          783          783          n/a
                                            Total........................        1,910        1,910        2,540
Atka mackerel.............................  GW...........................        4,700        2,000        6,200
Big skate \15\............................  W............................          632          632          n/a
                                            C............................        2,065        2,065          n/a
                                            E............................          633          633          n/a
                                            Total........................        3,330        3,330        4,439
Longnose skate \16\.......................  W............................           78           78          n/a
                                            C............................        2,041        2,041          n/a
                                            E............................          768          768          n/a
                                            Total........................        2,887        2,887        3,849
Other skates \17\.........................  GW...........................        2,104        2,104        2,806
Other species \18\........................  GW...........................        6,540        4,500        8,720
                                                                          --------------------------------------
    Total.................................  .............................      562,762      284,688      722,134
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-
  wide).

[[Page 62537]]

 
\2\ Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A
  season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of
  approximately 32%, 43%, and 25% in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the B season, the
  apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 32%, 54%, and 14% in Statistical
  Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative
  distribution of pollock biomass at 43%, 21%, and 35% in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively.
  Table 4 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 pollock seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast
  Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60% to the A season and 40% to the B season in the Western and
  Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90% for processing by the inshore component and
  10% for processing by the offshore component. Table 5 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific cod seasonal
  apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2010 and to trawl gear in 2011. Tables 2 and 3
  list the proposed 2010 and 2011 sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous.
\9\ ``Slope rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), and S. reedi (yellowmouth). In the Eastern GOA only, slope rockfish also includes northern
  rockfish, S. polyspinous.
\10\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\11\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\12\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means slope
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The category ``other rockfish'' in the SEO District means slope
  rockfish.
\13\ ``Pelagic shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes ciliatus (dark), S. variabilis (dusky), S. entomelas (widow), and
  S. flavidus (yellowtail).
\14\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja spp.
\18\ ``Other species'' means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus.

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires that 20 percent of each TAC for 
pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, and the ``other species'' category be 
set aside in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during 
the fishing year. In 2009, NMFS apportioned all the reserves in the 
final harvest specifications (74 FR 7340, February 17, 2009). For 2010 
and 2011, NMFS proposes to reapportion all the reserves for pollock, 
Pacific cod, flatfish, and ``other species.'' Table 1 reflects the 
proposed apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species 
groups.

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using 
Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA 
may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed 
fisheries for other target species (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). In 
recognition of the trawl ban in the SEO District of the Eastern 
Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the 
allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area 
sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District and the allocation of 
the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC be available to vessels using 
hook-and-line gear. As a result, NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent 
of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line 
gear. This recommendation results in a proposed 2010 allocation of 209 
mt to trawl gear and 3,960 mt to hook-and-line gear. Table 2 lists the 
allocations of the proposed 2010 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and 
trawl gear. Table 3 lists the allocations of the proposed 2011 
sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that only a trawl 
sablefish TAC be established for two years so that incidental catch of 
sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of 
the harvest specifications. However, since there is an annual 
assessment for sablefish and the final annual specifications are 
expected to be published before the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) 
season begins, typically early March, the industry and Council 
recommended that the sablefish TAC for the IFQ season be set on an 
annual basis so that the best and most recent scientific information 
could be considered in recommending the ABCs and TACs. Since sablefish 
is on bycatch status for trawl gear from January 1, it is not likely 
that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached prior to 
the effective date of the final harvest specifications.

 Table 2--Proposed 2010 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and
               Allocations to Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear
             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Hook-and-
          Area/District                TAC          line        Trawl
                                                 allocation   allocation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western..........................        1,523        1,218          305
Central..........................        4,625        3,700          925
West Yakutat \1\.................        1,645        1,436          209
Southeast Outside................        2,544        2,544            0
                                  --------------------------------------

[[Page 62538]]

 
    Total........................       10,337        8,898        1,439
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Represents an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern
  Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District.


 Table 3--Proposed 2011 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and
                      Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Hook-and-
          Area/District                TAC          line        Trawl
                                                 allocation   allocation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western..........................        1,523          n/a          305
Central..........................        4,625          n/a          925
West Yakutat \2\.................        1,645          n/a          209
Southeast Outside................        2,544          n/a            0
                                  --------------------------------------
    Total........................       10,337          n/a        1,439
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-
  line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1
  year.
\2\ Represents an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern
  Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further divided between inshore and offshore processing components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 
through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among statistical areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the 
four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the 
apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass 
based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2010 and 2011, 
the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and 
summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A 
season. The average is intended to reflect the distribution of pollock 
as indicated by the historic performance of the fishery during the A 
season. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal 
allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or 
subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be 
determined by the Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B). 
The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested 
seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested 
pollock above the 20 percent limit could be further distributed to the 
other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the 
subsequent season in those statistical areas (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed pollock TACs in the WYK of 1,929 mt 
and SEO District of 8,280 mt for 2010 and 2011 are not allocated by 
season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas (and for each associated 
seasonal allowance) to vessels catching pollock for processing by the 
inshore component after subtraction of amounts that are projected by 
the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the 
offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish 
species. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(i), the amount of pollock 
available for vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore 
component is that amount actually taken as incidental catch during 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the 
maximum retainable amounts allowed under Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At 
this time, these incidental catch amounts are unknown and will be 
determined during the fishing year.
    Table 4 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

[[Page 62539]]



 Table 4--Proposed 2010 and 2011 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf
      of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Shumagin (Area     Chirikof (Area
                  Season                           610)               620)        Kodiak (Area 630)   Total \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).........................     5,132 (32.01%)     6,927 (43.21%)     3,972 (24.78%)       16,031
                                                                                                          (100%)
B (Mar 10-May 31).........................     5,131 (32.01%)     8,591 (53.59%)     2,308 (14.40%)       16,030
                                                                                                          (100%)
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)..........................     6,968 (43.47%)     3,428 (21.38%)     5,634 (35.15%)       16,030
                                                                                                          (100%)
D (Oct 1-Nov1)............................     6,968 (43.47%)     3,428 (21.38%)     5,634 (35.15%)       16,030
                                                                                                          (100%)
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total..........................             24,199             22,374             17,548       64,121
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock
  TACs shown in this table.

Proposed Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC and Allocations for 
Processing of Pacific Cod TAC Between Inshore and Offshore Components

    Pacific cod fishing is divided into two seasons in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. For hook-and-line, pot, and jig 
gear, the A season is January 1 through June 10, and the B season is 
September 1 through December 31 (Sec.  679.23(d)(3)(i)). For trawl 
gear, the A season is January 20 through June 10, and the B season is 
September 1 through November 1 (Sec.  679.23(d)(3)(ii)). After 
subtraction of an incidental catch allowance, 60 percent and 40 percent 
of the remaining annual TAC will be available for harvest during the A 
and B seasons, respectively, and will be apportioned between the 
inshore and offshore processing components, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(a)(6)(ii). Between the A and the B seasons, directed fishing for 
Pacific cod is closed, and fishermen participating in other directed 
fisheries must retain Pacific cod up to the maximum retainable amounts 
allowed under Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), 
any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season 
may be subtracted from or added to the subsequent B season allowance by 
the Regional Administrator.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod 
TAC apportionment in all regulatory areas between vessels catching 
Pacific cod for processing by the inshore and offshore components. 
Ninety percent of the Pacific cod TAC in each regulatory area is 
allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore 
component. The remaining 10 percent of the TAC is allocated to vessels 
catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 5 
lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 seasonal apportionments and 
allocations of the Pacific cod TAC amounts.

 Table 5--Proposed 2010 and 2011 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts in the Gulf
                 of Alaska and Allocations for Processing by the Inshore and Offshore Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Component allocation
          Regulatory area                    Season                TAC       -----------------------------------
                                                                                Inshore (90%)    Offshore (10%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western............................  Annual...............            23,254            20,929             2,325
                                     A season (60%).......            13,952            12,557             1,395
                                     B season (40%).......             9,302             8,371               930
Central............................  Annual...............            33,986            30,587             3,399
                                     A season (60%).......            20,392            18,352             2,039
                                     B season (40%).......            13,594            12,235             1,359
Eastern............................  Annual...............             2,862             2,576               286
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                     Total................            60,102            54,092             6,010
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program

    Section 679.81(a)(1) and (2) requires the allocation of the primary 
rockfish species TACs in the Central Regulatory Area, after deducting 
incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries, to 
participants in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program). 
Five percent (2.5 percent to trawl gear and 2.5 percent to fixed gear) 
of the remaining proposed TACs for Pacific ocean perch, northern 
rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish in the Central Regulatory Area are 
allocated to the entry level rockfish fishery and 95 percent of the 
remaining TAC for those primary rockfish species to those vessels 
eligible to participate in the Rockfish Program. NMFS proposes 2010 and 
2011 incidental catch amounts of 100 mt for northern rockfish, 100 mt 
for pelagic shelf rockfish, and 500 mt for Pacific ocean perch for 
other directed groundfish fisheries in the Central Regulatory Area. 
These proposed amounts are based on recent average incidental catch in 
the Central Regulatory Area by other groundfish fisheries.

[[Page 62540]]

    Section 679.83(a)(1)(i) requires that allocations to the trawl 
entry level fishery must be made first from the allocation of Pacific 
ocean perch available to the rockfish entry level fishery. If the 
amount of Pacific ocean perch available for allocation is less than the 
total allocation allowable for trawl catcher vessels in the rockfish 
entry level fishery, then northern rockfish and pelagic shelf rockfish 
must be allocated to trawl catcher vessels. Allocations of Pacific 
ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish to longline 
gear vessels must be made after the allocations to trawl gear.
    Table 6 lists the proposed 2010 and 2011 allocations of rockfish in 
the Central GOA to trawl and longline gear in the entry level rockfish 
fishery. Allocations of primary rockfish species TACs among 
participants in the Rockfish Program are not included in the proposed 
harvest specifications because applications for catcher/processor and 
catcher vessel cooperatives are due to NMFS on March 1 of each calendar 
year, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating proposed 2010 
allocations. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web 
site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/goarat/default.htm when they become available in March 2010.

Table 6--Proposed 2010 and 2011 Allocations of Rockfish in the Central Gulf of Alaska to Trawl and Longline Gear \1\ in the Entry Level Rockfish Fishery
                                                         [Values are rounded to the nearest mt]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Incidental                                         Entry level  Entry level
                           Species                               Proposed      catch      TAC minus      5% TAC      2.5% TAC      trawl       longline
                                                                   TAC       allowance       ICA                                 allocation   allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch..........................................        8,239          500        7,739          387          193          323           64
Northern rockfish............................................        2,208          100        2,108          105           53            0          105
Pelagic shelf rockfish.......................................        3,179          100        3,079          154           77            0          154
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................................................       13,626          700       12,926          646          323          323          323
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes jig and hook-and-line gear.

Proposed Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear and permits the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2009, the 
Council recommended that NMFS maintain the 2009 halibut PSC limits of 
2,000 mt for the trawl fisheries and 300 mt for the hook-and-line 
fisheries for 2010 and 2011. Ten mt of the hook-and-line limit is 
further allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the 
SEO District. The DSR fishery is defined at Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(A). 
This fishery has been apportioned 10 mt in recognition of its small 
scale harvests. Most vessels in the DSR fishery are less than 60 ft 
(18.3 m) length overall making them exempt from observer coverage. 
Therefore, observer data are not available to verify actual bycatch 
amounts. NMFS assumes the halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery is low 
because of the short soak times for the gear and short duration of the 
fishery. Also, the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap 
occurs in the distribution of DSR and halibut. Finally, much of the DSR 
TAC is not available to the commercial DSR fishery. The Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game sets the quota for the commercial DSR 
fishery after estimates of incidental catch in all fisheries (including 
halibut) and anticipated recreational harvest have been deducted from 
the DSR TAC. Of the 362 mt TAC for DSR in 2009, 115 mt were available 
for the commercial fishery, of which 76 mt were harvested.
    Section 679.21(d)(4) authorizes the exemption of specified non-
trawl fisheries from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, NMFS, 
after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig 
gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from 
the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2010 and 2011. The Council and NMFS 
recommend these exemptions because (1) the pot gear fisheries have low 
halibut bycatch mortality averaging 19 mt annually from 2001 through 
2008 (and 7 mt in 2009 through 11/7/2009); (2) the halibut and 
sablefish IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the 
IFQ program requires retention of legal-sized halibut by vessels using 
hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder is aboard and is 
holding unused halibut IFQ; and (3) halibut mortality for the jig gear 
fisheries is assumed to be negligible. Halibut mortality is assumed to 
be negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the low amount of 
groundfish harvested by jig gear averaging 268 mt annually from 2001 
through 2008 (and 208 mt through 10/3/2009), the selective nature of 
jig gear, and the likelihood of high survival rates of halibut caught 
and released by jig gear.
    Section 679.21(d)(5) provides NMFS the authority to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry.
    The final 2009 and 2010 harvest specifications (74 FR 7333, 
February 17, 2009) summarized the Council's and NMFS's findings with 
respect to each of these FMP considerations. The Council's and NMFS's 
findings for 2010 and 2011 are unchanged from 2009. Table 7 lists the 
proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and 
apportionments. Section 679.21(d)(5)(iii) and (iv), respectively, 
specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a 
PSC limit will be added to or removed from the next respective seasonal 
apportionment within the fishing year.

[[Page 62541]]



                               Table 7--Proposed 2010 and 2011 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Trawl gear                                                              Hook-and-line gear\1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Other than DSR                                    DSR
                 Season                    Percent     Amount  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Season             Percent     Amount             Season              Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1......................      27.5%        550  January 1-June 10..........        86%        250  January 1-December 31.....         10
April 1-July 1..........................        20%        400  June 10-September 1........         2%          5
July 1-September 1......................        30%        600  September 1-December 31....        12%         35
September 1-October 1...................       7.5%        150
October 1-December 31...................        15%        300
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................                 2,000                                                290                                     10
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut PSC limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The
  hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual 
apportionments are based on each category's proportional share of the 
anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and 
optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the 
halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC 
limits are (1) a deep-water species category, comprised of sablefish, 
rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and 
(2) a shallow-water species category, comprised of pollock, Pacific 
cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and 
``other species'' (Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 8 lists the proposed 
2010 and 2011 seasonal apportionments of Pacific halibut PSC trawl 
limits as apportioned between the deep-water and shallow-water species 
categories. Based on public comment and information contained in the 
final 2009 SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make 
changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments 
of halibut PSC limits for the final 2010 and 2011 harvest 
specifications.

Table 8--Proposed 2010 and 2011 Seasonal Apportionments of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limit Apportioned Between the
                       Trawl Gear Shallow-Water Species and Deep-Water Species Categories
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Season                       Shallow-water            Deep-water\1\                Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..........................               450  100...........................               550
April 1-July 1..............................               100  300...........................               400
July 1-September 1..........................               200  400...........................               600
September 1-October 1.......................               150  Any remainder.................               150
Subtotal January 20-October 1...............               900  800...........................             1,700
October 1-December 31 \2\...................  ................  ..............................               300
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...................................  ................  ..............................             2,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program will receive a portion
  of the third season (July 1-September 1) deep-water category halibut PSC apportionment. At this time, this
  amount is not known but will be posted later on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov
  when it becomes available.
\2\ There is no apportionment between shallow-water and deep-water trawl fishery categories during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).

Estimated Halibut Bycatch in Prior Years

    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch is data 
collected by observers during 2009. The calculated halibut bycatch 
mortality by trawl, hook-and-line, and pot gears through November 7, 
2009, is 1,797 mt, 266 mt, and 7 mt, respectively, for a total halibut 
mortality of 2,070 mt. Halibut bycatch restrictions seasonally 
constrained trawl gear fisheries during the 2009 fishing year. Table 9 
displays the closure dates for fisheries that resulted from the 
attainment of seasonal or annual halibut PSC limits. The amount of 
groundfish that trawl gear might have harvested if halibut PSC limits 
had not restricted some 2009 GOA groundfish fisheries is unknown.

                    Table 9--Fishery Closures Due to Attainment of Pacific Halibut PSC Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Fishery category                 Opening date            Closure date        Federal Register citation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trawl Deep-water, season 1.........  January 20, 2009.......  March 3, 2009.........  74 FR 9964, March 9, 2009
Trawl Deep-water, season 2.........  April 1, 2009..........  April 23, 2009........  74 FR 19459, April 29,
                                                                                       2009
Trawl Shallow-water, season 4......  September 1, 2009......  September 2, 2009.....  74 FR 45378, September 2,
                                                                                       2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ With the exception of vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program.


[[Page 62542]]

Expected Changes in Groundfish Stocks and Catch

    Proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, deep-water 
flatfish, and flathead sole are higher than those established for 2009, 
while the proposed 2010 and 2011 ABCs for arrowtooth flounder, rex 
sole, sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic 
shelf rockfish are lower than those established for 2009. For the 
remaining target species, the Council recommended that ABC levels 
remain unchanged from 2009. More information on these changes is 
included in the 2008 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) and will be updated 
with the 2009 SAFE report, which will be available for Council approval 
at its December 2009 meeting.
    In the GOA, the total proposed 2010 and 2011 TAC amounts are 
284,688 mt, an increase of 17 percent from the 2009 TAC total of 
242,727 mt. Table 10 compares the final 2009 TACs to the proposed 2010 
and 2011 TACs.

   Table 10--Comparison of Final 2009 and Proposed 2010 and 2011 Total
           Allowable Catch (TAC) Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska
                       [Values are in metric tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Proposed 2010 and
              Species                Final 2009 TACs       2011 TACs
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock...........................             49,900             74,330
Pacific cod.......................             41,807             60,102
Sablefish.........................             11,160             10,337
Shallow water flatfish............             22,256             22,256
Deep-water flatfish...............              9,168              9,793
Rex sole..........................              8,996              8,827
Arrowtooth flounder...............             43,000             43,000
Flathead sole.....................             11,181             11,289
Pacific ocean perch...............             15,111             15,098
Northern rockfish.................              4,362              4,173
Rougheye rockfish.................              1,284              1,297
Shortraker rockfish...............                898                898
Other rockfish....................              1,730              1,730
Pelagic shelf rockfish............              4,781              4,465
Demersal shelf rockfish...........                362                362
Thornyhead rockfish...............              1,910              1,910
Atka mackerel.....................              2,000              2,000
Big skates........................              3,330              3,330
Longnose skates...................              2,887              2,887
Other skates......................              2,104              2,104
Other species.....................              4,500              4,500
                                   -------------------------------------
    Total.........................            242,727            284,688
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Current Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition

    The most recent halibut stock assessment was developed by the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) staff in December 2008 
for the 2009 commercial fishery; this assessment was considered by the 
IPHC at its annual January 2009 meeting. Information from ongoing 
passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag recoveries, as well as 
inconsistencies in the traditional closed-area stock assessments for 
some areas, has prompted the IPHC to reexam