Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Inseason Adjustments to Fishery Management Measures, 11381-11393 [2011-4728]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations (30) AMs; and (31) Any other measure currently included in the FMP. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 648.207, paragraph (g) is revised to read as follows: § 648.207 (RSA). Herring Research Set-Aside * * * * * (g) If a proposal is approved, but a final award is not made by NMFS, or if NMFS determines that the allocated RSA cannot be utilized by a project, NMFS shall reallocate the unallocated or unused amount of the RSA to the respective sub-ACL, in accordance with the APA, provided that the RSA can be available for harvest before the end of the fishing year for which the RSA is specified. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2011–4726 Filed 3–1–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 090428799–9802–01] RIN 0648–BA57 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Inseason Adjustments to Fishery Management Measures Electronic Access National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures; request for comments. AGENCY: This final rule makes inseason adjustments to commercial and recreational fishery management measures for several groundfish species taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. These actions, which are authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), are intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. DATES: Effective 0001 hours (local time) March 1, 2011. Comments on this final rule must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on April 1, 2011. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648–BA57, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. • Fax: 206–526–6736, Attn: Gretchen Hanshew. • Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070, Attn: Gretchen Hanshew. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to https:// www.regulations.gov 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. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew (Northwest Region, NMFS), 206–526–6147, fax: 206–526– 6736, gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: This final rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register’s Web site at https:// www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (the Council or PFMC) Web site at https:// www.pcouncil.org/. Background On December 31, 2008, NMFS published a proposed rule to implement the 2009–2010 specifications and management measures for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery (73 FR 80516). The final rule to implement the 2009– 2010 specifications and management measures for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery was published on March 6, 2009 (74 FR 9874). The final rule was subsequently amended by inseason actions on the following dates: April 27, 2009 (74 FR 19011); July 6, 2009 (74 FR 31874); October 28, 2009 (74 FR 55468); February 26, 2010 (75 FR 8820); May 4, 2010 (75 FR 23620); July 1, 2010 (75 FR 38030); July 16, 2010 (75 FR 41386); August 23, 2010 (75 FR PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 11381 51684); October 4, 2010 (75 FR 61102); and December 3, 2010 (75 FR 75417). Additional changes to the 2009–2010 specifications and management measures for petrale sole were made in two final rules on November 4, 2009 (74 FR 57117), and December 10, 2009 (74 FR 65480). NMFS also issued a final rule in response to a duly issued court order on July 8, 2010 (75 FR 39178). In addition, NMFS issued two final rules to implement Amendments 20 and 21 to the FMP on October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60868), and December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78344). The October 1, 2010, final rule, in part, re-organized the entire Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Regulations. Because of the restructuring, beginning on November 1, 2010, these specifications and management measures are found at 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G. In June 2010, the Council recommended, and NMFS is working to implement, specifications and management measures for the 2011– 2012 biennium. Given the complexity of the biennial specifications and management measures, the need for adequate National Environmental Policy Act documents and public review periods, and competing workloads, NMFS did not have enough time to implement a final rule by January 1, 2011. Unless new management measures are implemented in a separate rulemaking, groundfish specifications and management measures that are in effect at the end of the previous biennial fishing period will remain in effect until they are modified, superseded, or rescinded. On December 30, 2010, NMFS issued an emergency rule to revise some harvest specifications and management measures, including several pieces necessary to sustainably manage the entire fishery and to begin the rationalized trawl fishery (75 FR 82296). Therefore, with the exception of changes implemented in the December 30, 2010, emergency rule, the 2009– 2010 harvest specifications are in effect and the management measures that were in place at the end of the 2009–2010 biennium will remain in effect for the start of the 2011 fisheries (e.g., January– February 2010 trip limits would remain in effect for January–February 2011). NMFS raised these issues to the Council at its November 2–9, 2010, meeting in Costa Mesa, California. The Council recommended adjusting the groundfish management measures to respond to updated fishery information and other inseason management needs. The Council considered the most recent 2010 fishery information, relative to 2010 specifications, and recommended inseason modifications E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 11382 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES appropriate for 2011 to start 2011 fisheries in a manner that would keep catches below 2010 OYs, but would allow harvest opportunities for species with catches tracking below projections during the 2010 fishery. The Council also considered adjustments to early 2011 groundfish management measures to respond to the upcoming new, lower sablefish harvest level for the area north of 36° N. lat. that was implemented by NMFS on December 30, 2010 (75 FR 82296). These changes include: Reduction to cumulative limits in the limited entry fixed gear primary sablefish fishery that operates in the area north of 36° N. lat.; reduction to trip limits for sablefish in the open access fisheries; increases to trip limits for sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear daily trip limit fisheries; and decreasing the groundfish bag limit and modifying the lingcod season start date in Washington recreational fisheries. Management measures are designed to meet the FMP objective of achieving, to the extent possible, but not exceeding, OYs of target species, while fostering the rebuilding of overfished stocks by remaining within their rebuilding OYs. All of the fishery mortality early in 2011 will be taken into account during the rest of the year, and will count toward the final harvest specifications that will ultimately be implemented for 2011. Changes to the groundfish management measures implemented by this action were recommended by the Council, in consultation with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, at its November 2–10, 2010, meeting in Costa Mesa, CA. NMFS and the Council, therefore, developed management measures, to be implemented through a routine inseason adjustment, based on the most recent fishery information, to: Manage within the current OYs and the new, lower, sablefish harvest level north of 36° N. lat. Sablefish North of 36≥ N. Lat. At the Council’s November 2010 meeting, NMFS informed the Council that it intended to publish an emergency rule to lower the sablefish harvest level for the area north of 36° N. lat. beginning January 1, 2011 as an interim measure until the final harvest specifications and management measures for 2011 are implemented later in the year. The reduction in the sablefish harvest level was necessary to prevent conservation and management concerns with the issuance of trawl fishery quota pounds. Also, the interim reduction to the harvest level allows NMFS to calculate the fixed gear VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 primary sablefish fishery tier limits for 2011 at a level that will reduce concerns for overfishing. NMFS and the Council developed management measures, to be implemented through this inseason rule based on the most recent fishery information, to manage within the new, lower, sablefish harvest level north of 36° N. lat. As a result, the Council recommended changes to sablefish daily trip limits (DTLs) in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 36° N. lat. No changes to groundfish fishery harvest specifications, including acceptable biological catches (ABCs), optimum yields (OYs), and harvest guidelines (HGs) are made by this inseason action. Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary Fishery North of 36° N. Lat. As described above, based on the lower interim harvest level for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. that is in place as of January 1, 2011, NMFS is implementing the following decrease in the annual tier limits for sablefish for 2011 and beyond: From Tier 1 at 56,081–lb (25,437 kg), Tier 2 at 25,492– lb (11,562 kg), and Tier 3 at 14,567–lb (6,648 kg); to Tier 1 at 41,379 lb (18,769 kg), Tier 2 at 18,809 lb (8,532 kg), and Tier 3 at 10,748 lb (4,875 kg). Sablefish Daily Trip Limit Fishery North of 36° N. Lat. As described above, based on the reduced sablefish harvest specification for the area north of 36° N. lat., the Council considered modifications to the 2011 sablefish trip limits for the limited entry fixed gear and open access DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. at their November 2010 meeting to keep projected impacts within the new, lower harvest specification. In addition to the new sablefish harvest specification, these modifications were also considered in light of the performance of the 2010 fishery, where trip limits were increased inseason because catches during 2010 were lower than anticipated north of 36° N. lat. (75 FR 51684, August 23, 2010). Projected catch of sablefish in the 2011 limited entry fixed gear and open access DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. are anticipated to be above their new, lower, 2011 sablefish allocations. Based on the most recent fishery information, if no action is taken the trip limits that were in place in 2010 are left in place for 2011, landings of sablefish through the end of the year are projected to be: 298 mt, or 106 percent of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery allocation of 282 mt; and 536 mt, or 115 percent of the open access fishery sablefish allocation of 464 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 mt. The Council considered options for trip limit decreases in the limited entry fixed gear and open access sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. to allow these fisheries to still attain their sablefish allocations, while keeping total projected catch below the new, lower 2011 sablefish harvest levels for the area north of 36° N. lat. For the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery, the Council considered that weekly trip limits in this fishery appear to have a low impact on total landings, and that the primary control for total landings is tied to the bi-monthly cumulative trip limits. Therefore, the Council considered establishing a weekly limit at a level of no less than 25 percent of the bi-monthly cumulative trip limit so that four trips could achieve the bi-monthly limit. This would improve efficiency and could also improve safety by allowing attainment of the bi-monthly limit in fewer trips if weather is bad. The overall harvest levels of sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 36° N. lat. are anticipated to decrease with the changes to the bi-monthly trip limits that are described below. Therefore, projected impacts to co-occurring overfished species in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries are not anticipated to increase. The total projected impacts to darkblotched rockfish in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries are very low. Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing the following changes to trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery north of 36° N. lat.: An increase in the weekly limits north of 36° N. lat. from ‘‘1,750 lb per week’’ to ‘‘2,000 lb per week’’ beginning on March 1 through the end of the year; a decrease in the bimonthly cumulative trip limits from ‘‘8,500 lb per week’’ to ‘‘8,000 lb per week’’ from July 1 through October 31. See these new limits in Table 2 (North) and 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E. Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council also recommended and NMFS is implementing the following changes to the open access sablefish DTL fishery trip limits north of 36° N. lat.: Increase the weekly limit from ‘‘1 landing per week of up to 800 lb’’ to ‘‘1 landing per week of up to 950 lb’’ from March 1 through June 30; increase the weekly limit from ‘‘1 landing per week of up to 950 lb’’ to ‘‘1 landing per week of up to 1,200 lb’’ from July 1 through the end of the year; decrease the bi-monthly cumulative trip limit from ‘‘2,400 lb per 2 months’’ to ‘‘1,900 lb per 2 months’’ from March 1 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES through June 30; and decrease the bimonthly cumulative trip limit from ‘‘2,750 lb per 2 months’’ to ‘‘2,250 lb per 2 months’’ from July 1 through the end of the year. See these new limits in Table 3 (North) and 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F. Sablefish DTL Fishery South of 36≥ N. Lat. During 2010, catch of sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear and open access DTL fisheries south of 36° N. lat. was higher than anticipated. In September and December 2010, the Council recommended and NMFS implemented decreases to sablefish trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear fishery, and more substantial decreases to the open access sablefish trip limits, including a closure of the sablefish fishery for December 2010 (75 FR 61102, October 4, 2010; 75 FR 75417, December 3, 2010). The changes were anticipated to lower the projected impacts and keep projected impacts within the sablefish OY south of 36° N. lat. At their November 2010 meeting, the Council considered the fishery performance in 2010 where increased effort and fishery participation was seen, particularly in the open access fishery. The Council considered the need for designing trip limits in both the limited entry fixed gear and open access sablefish DTL fisheries for 2011 that are anticipated to keep catch below the sablefish harvest level for south of 36° N. lat. The Council also considered designing trip limits for the two commercial non-trawl sectors that would be anticipated to allow slightly more overall harvest of sablefish by the limited entry fixed gear fishery. In light of the 2010 fishery performance, a restructuring of the sablefish trip limits for the non-trawl commercial fisheries south of 36° N. lat. was designed in an effort to: Balance the higher than anticipated harvest of sablefish by the open access fishery; prevent premature closure of fisheries in 2011 and prevent exceeding the OY. West Coast Groundfish Observer data indicate that impacts to overfished species in the commercial fixed gear sablefish fisheries south of 36° N. lat. are extremely low. Therefore, decreases to trip limits to keep projected impacts below the 2011 sablefish harvest levels are not anticipated to result in changes to impacts to co-occurring overfished groundfish species. Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing a restructured and slightly higher weekly trip limit in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery cumulative limits south of 36° N. lat. of ‘‘2,100 lb per week’’ VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 beginning on March 1 through the end of the year. Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing restrictions to the open access sablefish DTL fishery trip limits south of 36° N. lat. as follows: From ‘‘400 lb per day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,500 lb, not to exceed 8,000 lb per 2 months’’ to ‘‘300 lb per day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,200 lb, not to exceed 2,400 lb per 2 months’’ from March 1 through the end of the year. Recreational Fishery Management Measures In June 2010 the Council recommended that NMFS implement several changes to Washington, Oregon, and California’s recreational fishery management measures for groundfish for the 2011 and beyond fishing seasons as part of the biennial harvest specifications and management measures process. The 2011–2012 harvest specifications and management measures have been delayed and will not be in place for the start of the 2011 recreational groundfish fisheries. As a result of this delay, the recreational fishery management measures that were implemented during 2010 will remain in place for the start of 2011, until NMFS takes action through a rulemaking to revise them. At their November 2010 meeting, the Council requested that NMFS consider implementing changes to recreational fishery management measures via NMFS’ routine inseason management authority, where possible. Regulations at 50 CFR part 660.60(c) describe what types of changes to management measures are designated ‘‘routine’’ for the West Coast groundfish fishery. Not all changes to management measures that were requested by the Council at their November 2010 meeting are implemented in this rule. However, two changes to recreational groundfish fishery management measures are made in this rule and are described below. During 2010, the Groundfish Management Team, an advisory body to the Council, conducted an analysis of recent Washington recreational fishery data and determined that very few recreational anglers were attaining the 15-fish bag limit for groundfish off the Washington coast. The analysis of 2008 and 2009 data showed that 99.9 percent of anglers were not retaining more than a 12-fish bag limit. To align the recreational groundfish bag limits with recent catches, the Council recommended reducing the recreational groundfish bag limit off Washington from 15 fish to 12 fish, beginning in PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 11383 2011. Bag limits in the recreational groundfish fisheries are designated as a routine management measure and may be changed rapidly after a single Council meeting, and this change to management measures will maintain consistency with state regulations. Therefore, NMFS is implementing a reduction in the Washington recreational groundfish bag limit from 15 fish to 12 fish, beginning on March 1, 2011. In recent years the Washington recreational fishery for lingcod in the area between Cape Alava (48°10′ N. lat.) and the Washington/Oregon border (46°16′ N. lat.) (e.g., Marine Areas 1–3) opens each year on the Saturday that falls closest to March 15. A majority of recreational fishing trips off the Washington coast occur on weekends during this time of year. Opening the fishery on a Saturday rather than on a Sunday allows an additional day of lingcod fishing when the seasons for salmon and Pacific halibut are not yet open. During the last three biennial harvest specifications and management measures cycles the season opening dates are simply updated so that the lingcod season opening dates in this area fall on the Saturday that falls closest to March 15. For 2010, the season opening date was March 13 and this is the date that continues to be in the Washington recreational fishery regulations for this area for 2011. Based on a Council recommendation to maintain the Washington recreational lingcod fishing opportunities, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requested that NMFS update the lingcod season start dates for 2011 so that they fall on the Saturday closest to March 15. For 2011, this date is March 12. Changes to recreational fishery seasons are designated as a routine management measure and maybe changed rapidly after a single Council meeting. Therefore, NMFS is implementing a change in the season start date in the Washington recreational fishery for lingcod in Marine Areas 1– 3 from March 13 to March 12, beginning on March 1, 2011. Classification This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures based on the best available information and is taken pursuant to the regulations implementing the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. These actions are taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES 11384 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations These inseason adjustments are taken under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and are in accordance with 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G, the regulations implementing the FMP. These actions are based on the most recent data available. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, (see ADDRESSES) during business hours. For the following reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on the revisions to biennial groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that this final rule may become effective as quickly as possible. The recently available data upon which these recommendations were based was provided to the Council, and the Council made its recommendations, at its November 2–10, 2010, meeting in Costa Mesa, CA. The Council recommended that these changes be implemented by January 1, 2011 or as quickly as possible thereafter. There was not sufficient time after that meeting to draft this document and undergo proposed and final rulemaking before these actions need to be in effect. For the actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would prevent the Agency from managing fisheries using the best available science to approach, without exceeding, the OYs for federally managed species in accordance with the FMP and applicable laws. The adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California and recreational fisheries off Washington. Changes to sablefish trip limits for the remainder of the biennial period in the limited entry fixed gear and open access sablefish DTL fisheries and to sablefish cumulative limits in the primary fishery are needed to prevent the 2011 sablefish harvest specifications from being exceeded, coastwide. Changes to trip limits also reduce complexity of the cumulative limit structure and provide year round fishing opportunity. These changes must be implemented in a timely manner by March 1, 2011 because failure to implement trip limit restrictions by March 1, 2011 would risk VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 continued higher than anticipated catch of sablefish in the fishery south of 36° N. lat. These revisions are needed to keep the harvest of groundfish species within the harvest levels in place at the beginning of 2011, while allowing fishermen access to healthy stocks. Without these measures in place, the fisheries could risk exceeding the 2011 sablefish harvest specifications if catch continues to be higher than anticipated, as it was in the open access sablefish DTL fishery south of 36° N. lat. in 2010. Without these measures in place, the fisheries could risk exceeding the 2011 sablefish primary season cumulative limits that are based on the new, lower sablefish harvest levels, which could require restrictions later in the year for fisheries that take sablefish, or risk exceeding the 2011 sablefish harvest specifications. Delaying these changes would keep management measures in place that are not based on the best available data and that could lead to exceeding OYs. Such delay would impair achievement of one of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP goals to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks. Changes to lingcod season start dates in the Washington recreational fishery opens the lingcod fishery one day earlier and will allow fishermen additional harvest opportunities for lingcod. This change is necessary to relieve a restriction by allowing lingcod harvest opportunities, while staying within OYs. These changes must be implemented in a timely manner, as quickly as possible, so that fishermen are allowed increased opportunities to harvest available healthy stocks and meet the objective of the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP to allow fisheries to approach, but not exceed, OYs. It would be contrary to the public interest to wait to implement these changes until after public notice and comment, because that would prevent fishermen from taking these fish at the time they are available, preventing additional harvest in fisheries that are important to coastal communities. Changes to the Washington recreational fishery, management measures are necessary to have consistency between state and Federal regulations. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries. PO 00000 Dated: February 25, 2011. Margo Schulze-Haugen, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 660.231 to subpart E, paragraph (b)(3)(i) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 660.231 Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (i) A vessel participating in the primary season will be constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with each of the permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary season, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph (a) of this section may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up to the cumulative limits for each of the permits registered for use with that vessel (i.e., stacked permits). If multiple limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements are registered for use with a single vessel, that vessel may land up to the total of all cumulative limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for those permits, except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Up to 3 permits may be registered for use with a single vessel during the primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess or land more than 3 primary season sablefish cumulative limits in any one year. A vessel registered for use with multiple limited entry permits is subject to per vessel limits for species other than sablefish, and to per vessel limits when participating in the daily trip limit fishery for sablefish under § 660.232, subpart E. For 2011 and beyond, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 41,379 lb (18,769 kg), Tier 2 at 18,809 lb (8,532 kg), and Tier 3 at 10,748 lb (4,875 kg). * * * * * 3. Table 2 (North) and Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, are revised to read as follows: ■ BILLING CODE 3510–22–P Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 11385 ER02MR11.009</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Mar<15>2010 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 ER02MR11.010</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES 11386 VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 11387 ER02MR11.011</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 11388 * * VerDate Mar<15>2010 * * 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 4. Table 3 (North) and Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, are revised to ■ Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 read as follows: E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 ER02MR11.012</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES * Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 11389 ER02MR11.013</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Mar<15>2010 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 ER02MR11.014</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES 11390 VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 11391 ER02MR11.015</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 5. In § 660.360 to subpart G, paragraph (c)(1) introductory text and (c)(1)(iii)(B) are revised to read as follows: ■ § 660.360 Recreational fisherymanagement measures. * * * VerDate Mar<15>2010 * * 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 (c) * * * (1) Washington. For each person engaged in recreational fishing off the coast of Washington, the groundfish bag limit is 12 groundfish per day, including rockfish and lingcod, and is open yearround (except for lingcod). In the Pacific PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 halibut fisheries, retention of groundfish is governed in part by annual management measures for Pacific halibut fisheries, which are published in the Federal Register. South of Leadbetter Point, WA to the Washington/Oregon border, when Pacific halibut are E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 ER02MR11.016</GPH> WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES 11392 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 41 / Wednesday, March 2, 2011 / Rules and Regulations onboard the vessel, no groundfish may be taken and retained, possessed or landed, except sablefish and Pacific cod. The following sublimits and closed areas apply: * * * * * (iii) * * * (B) Between 48°10′ N. lat. (Cape Alava) and 46°16′ N. lat. (Washington/ Oregon border) (Washington Marine Areas 1–3), recreational fishing for lingcod is open for 2011, from March 12 through October 16. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2011–4728 Filed 3–1–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 0910131362–0087–02] RIN 0648–XA258 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 in the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; modification of a closure. AGENCY: NMFS is opening directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) for 24 hours. This action is necessary to fully use the A season allowance of the 2011 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 28, 2011, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 1, 2011. Comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., March 17, 2011. ADDRESSES: Send comments to James W. Balsiger, Regional Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648–XA258, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal https:// www.regulations.gov. • Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. • Fax: (907) 586–7557. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Mar 01, 2011 Jkt 223001 • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK. All comments received are a part of the public record. Comment 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. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. NMFS closed directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA under § 679.20(d)(1)(iii) on January 21, 2011 (76 FR 4082, January 24, 2011). As of February 24, 2011, NMFS has determined that approximately 4,141 metric tons of pollock remain in the directed fishing allowance for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the A season allowance of the 2011 TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is reopening directed fishing pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA and, (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels in participating in this fishery. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 11393 fishing allowance will be reached after 24 hours. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 1, 2011. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the opening of the pollock fishery in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. Immediate notification is necessary to allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery, to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet and processors. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of February 24, 2011. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow pollock fishery in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA to be harvested in an expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until March 17, 2011. This action is required by § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 25, 2011. Margo Schulze-Haugen, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–4628 Filed 2–25–11; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 41 (Wednesday, March 2, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11381-11393]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4728]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 090428799-9802-01]
RIN 0648-BA57


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Inseason Adjustments to Fishery 
Management Measures

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This final rule makes inseason adjustments to commercial and 
recreational fishery management measures for several groundfish species 
taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coasts of 
Washington, Oregon, and California. These actions, which are authorized 
by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), are 
intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks 
while protecting overfished and depleted stocks.

DATES: Effective 0001 hours (local time) March 1, 2011. Comments on 
this final rule must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on 
April 1, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-BA57, by any 
one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov.
     Fax: 206-526-6736, Attn: Gretchen Hanshew.
     Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, 
Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-
0070, Attn: Gretchen Hanshew.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to https://www.regulations.gov 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew (Northwest Region, 
NMFS), 206-526-6147, fax: 206-526-6736, gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access

    This final rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the 
Federal Register's Web site at https://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/. 
Background information and documents are available at the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's (the Council or PFMC) Web site at https://www.pcouncil.org/.

Background

    On December 31, 2008, NMFS published a proposed rule to implement 
the 2009-2010 specifications and management measures for the Pacific 
Coast groundfish fishery (73 FR 80516). The final rule to implement the 
2009-2010 specifications and management measures for the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Fishery was published on March 6, 2009 (74 FR 9874). The 
final rule was subsequently amended by inseason actions on the 
following dates: April 27, 2009 (74 FR 19011); July 6, 2009 (74 FR 
31874); October 28, 2009 (74 FR 55468); February 26, 2010 (75 FR 8820); 
May 4, 2010 (75 FR 23620); July 1, 2010 (75 FR 38030); July 16, 2010 
(75 FR 41386); August 23, 2010 (75 FR 51684); October 4, 2010 (75 FR 
61102); and December 3, 2010 (75 FR 75417). Additional changes to the 
2009-2010 specifications and management measures for petrale sole were 
made in two final rules on November 4, 2009 (74 FR 57117), and December 
10, 2009 (74 FR 65480). NMFS also issued a final rule in response to a 
duly issued court order on July 8, 2010 (75 FR 39178). In addition, 
NMFS issued two final rules to implement Amendments 20 and 21 to the 
FMP on October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60868), and December 15, 2010 (75 FR 
78344). The October 1, 2010, final rule, in part, re-organized the 
entire Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Regulations. Because of the 
restructuring, beginning on November 1, 2010, these specifications and 
management measures are found at 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G.
    In June 2010, the Council recommended, and NMFS is working to 
implement, specifications and management measures for the 2011-2012 
biennium. Given the complexity of the biennial specifications and 
management measures, the need for adequate National Environmental 
Policy Act documents and public review periods, and competing 
workloads, NMFS did not have enough time to implement a final rule by 
January 1, 2011. Unless new management measures are implemented in a 
separate rulemaking, groundfish specifications and management measures 
that are in effect at the end of the previous biennial fishing period 
will remain in effect until they are modified, superseded, or 
rescinded. On December 30, 2010, NMFS issued an emergency rule to 
revise some harvest specifications and management measures, including 
several pieces necessary to sustainably manage the entire fishery and 
to begin the rationalized trawl fishery (75 FR 82296). Therefore, with 
the exception of changes implemented in the December 30, 2010, 
emergency rule, the 2009-2010 harvest specifications are in effect and 
the management measures that were in place at the end of the 2009-2010 
biennium will remain in effect for the start of the 2011 fisheries 
(e.g., January-February 2010 trip limits would remain in effect for 
January-February 2011).
    NMFS raised these issues to the Council at its November 2-9, 2010, 
meeting in Costa Mesa, California. The Council recommended adjusting 
the groundfish management measures to respond to updated fishery 
information and other inseason management needs.
    The Council considered the most recent 2010 fishery information, 
relative to 2010 specifications, and recommended inseason modifications

[[Page 11382]]

appropriate for 2011 to start 2011 fisheries in a manner that would 
keep catches below 2010 OYs, but would allow harvest opportunities for 
species with catches tracking below projections during the 2010 
fishery. The Council also considered adjustments to early 2011 
groundfish management measures to respond to the upcoming new, lower 
sablefish harvest level for the area north of 36[deg] N. lat. that was 
implemented by NMFS on December 30, 2010 (75 FR 82296). These changes 
include: Reduction to cumulative limits in the limited entry fixed gear 
primary sablefish fishery that operates in the area north of 36[deg] N. 
lat.; reduction to trip limits for sablefish in the open access 
fisheries; increases to trip limits for sablefish in the limited entry 
fixed gear daily trip limit fisheries; and decreasing the groundfish 
bag limit and modifying the lingcod season start date in Washington 
recreational fisheries.
    Management measures are designed to meet the FMP objective of 
achieving, to the extent possible, but not exceeding, OYs of target 
species, while fostering the rebuilding of overfished stocks by 
remaining within their rebuilding OYs. All of the fishery mortality 
early in 2011 will be taken into account during the rest of the year, 
and will count toward the final harvest specifications that will 
ultimately be implemented for 2011.
    Changes to the groundfish management measures implemented by this 
action were recommended by the Council, in consultation with Pacific 
Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and 
California, at its November 2-10, 2010, meeting in Costa Mesa, CA.
    NMFS and the Council, therefore, developed management measures, to 
be implemented through a routine inseason adjustment, based on the most 
recent fishery information, to: Manage within the current OYs and the 
new, lower, sablefish harvest level north of 36[deg] N. lat.

Sablefish North of 36[deg] N. Lat.

    At the Council's November 2010 meeting, NMFS informed the Council 
that it intended to publish an emergency rule to lower the sablefish 
harvest level for the area north of 36[deg] N. lat. beginning January 
1, 2011 as an interim measure until the final harvest specifications 
and management measures for 2011 are implemented later in the year. The 
reduction in the sablefish harvest level was necessary to prevent 
conservation and management concerns with the issuance of trawl fishery 
quota pounds. Also, the interim reduction to the harvest level allows 
NMFS to calculate the fixed gear primary sablefish fishery tier limits 
for 2011 at a level that will reduce concerns for overfishing. NMFS and 
the Council developed management measures, to be implemented through 
this inseason rule based on the most recent fishery information, to 
manage within the new, lower, sablefish harvest level north of 36[deg] 
N. lat. As a result, the Council recommended changes to sablefish daily 
trip limits (DTLs) in the limited entry fixed gear and open access 
fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat.
    No changes to groundfish fishery harvest specifications, including 
acceptable biological catches (ABCs), optimum yields (OYs), and harvest 
guidelines (HGs) are made by this inseason action.

Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary Fishery North of 36[deg] N. 
Lat.

    As described above, based on the lower interim harvest level for 
sablefish north of 36[deg] N. lat. that is in place as of January 1, 
2011, NMFS is implementing the following decrease in the annual tier 
limits for sablefish for 2011 and beyond: From Tier 1 at 56,081-lb 
(25,437 kg), Tier 2 at 25,492-lb (11,562 kg), and Tier 3 at 14,567-lb 
(6,648 kg); to Tier 1 at 41,379 lb (18,769 kg), Tier 2 at 18,809 lb 
(8,532 kg), and Tier 3 at 10,748 lb (4,875 kg).

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

    As described above, based on the reduced sablefish harvest 
specification for the area north of 36[deg] N. lat., the Council 
considered modifications to the 2011 sablefish trip limits for the 
limited entry fixed gear and open access DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] 
N. lat. at their November 2010 meeting to keep projected impacts within 
the new, lower harvest specification. In addition to the new sablefish 
harvest specification, these modifications were also considered in 
light of the performance of the 2010 fishery, where trip limits were 
increased inseason because catches during 2010 were lower than 
anticipated north of 36[deg] N. lat. (75 FR 51684, August 23, 2010). 
Projected catch of sablefish in the 2011 limited entry fixed gear and 
open access DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat. are anticipated to 
be above their new, lower, 2011 sablefish allocations. Based on the 
most recent fishery information, if no action is taken the trip limits 
that were in place in 2010 are left in place for 2011, landings of 
sablefish through the end of the year are projected to be: 298 mt, or 
106 percent of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery 
allocation of 282 mt; and 536 mt, or 115 percent of the open access 
fishery sablefish allocation of 464 mt. The Council considered options 
for trip limit decreases in the limited entry fixed gear and open 
access sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat. to allow these 
fisheries to still attain their sablefish allocations, while keeping 
total projected catch below the new, lower 2011 sablefish harvest 
levels for the area north of 36[deg] N. lat. For the limited entry 
fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery, the Council considered that weekly 
trip limits in this fishery appear to have a low impact on total 
landings, and that the primary control for total landings is tied to 
the bi-monthly cumulative trip limits. Therefore, the Council 
considered establishing a weekly limit at a level of no less than 25 
percent of the bi-monthly cumulative trip limit so that four trips 
could achieve the bi-monthly limit. This would improve efficiency and 
could also improve safety by allowing attainment of the bi-monthly 
limit in fewer trips if weather is bad.
    The overall harvest levels of sablefish in the limited entry fixed 
gear and open access fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat. are anticipated 
to decrease with the changes to the bi-monthly trip limits that are 
described below. Therefore, projected impacts to co-occurring 
overfished species in the limited entry fixed gear and open access 
fisheries are not anticipated to increase. The total projected impacts 
to darkblotched rockfish in the limited entry fixed gear and open 
access fisheries are very low.
    Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended 
and NMFS is implementing the following changes to trip limits in the 
limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery north of 36[deg] N. 
lat.: An increase in the weekly limits north of 36[deg] N. lat. from 
``1,750 lb per week'' to ``2,000 lb per week'' beginning on March 1 
through the end of the year; a decrease in the bi-monthly cumulative 
trip limits from ``8,500 lb per week'' to ``8,000 lb per week'' from 
July 1 through October 31. See these new limits in Table 2 (North) and 
2 (South) to part 660, subpart E.
    Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council also 
recommended and NMFS is implementing the following changes to the open 
access sablefish DTL fishery trip limits north of 36[deg] N. lat.: 
Increase the weekly limit from ``1 landing per week of up to 800 lb'' 
to ``1 landing per week of up to 950 lb'' from March 1 through June 30; 
increase the weekly limit from ``1 landing per week of up to 950 lb'' 
to ``1 landing per week of up to 1,200 lb'' from July 1 through the end 
of the year; decrease the bi-monthly cumulative trip limit from ``2,400 
lb per 2 months'' to ``1,900 lb per 2 months'' from March 1

[[Page 11383]]

through June 30; and decrease the bi-monthly cumulative trip limit from 
``2,750 lb per 2 months'' to ``2,250 lb per 2 months'' from July 1 
through the end of the year. See these new limits in Table 3 (North) 
and 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F.

Sablefish DTL Fishery South of 36[deg] N. Lat.

    During 2010, catch of sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear and 
open access DTL fisheries south of 36[deg] N. lat. was higher than 
anticipated. In September and December 2010, the Council recommended 
and NMFS implemented decreases to sablefish trip limits in the limited 
entry fixed gear fishery, and more substantial decreases to the open 
access sablefish trip limits, including a closure of the sablefish 
fishery for December 2010 (75 FR 61102, October 4, 2010; 75 FR 75417, 
December 3, 2010). The changes were anticipated to lower the projected 
impacts and keep projected impacts within the sablefish OY south of 
36[deg] N. lat. At their November 2010 meeting, the Council considered 
the fishery performance in 2010 where increased effort and fishery 
participation was seen, particularly in the open access fishery. The 
Council considered the need for designing trip limits in both the 
limited entry fixed gear and open access sablefish DTL fisheries for 
2011 that are anticipated to keep catch below the sablefish harvest 
level for south of 36[deg] N. lat. The Council also considered 
designing trip limits for the two commercial non-trawl sectors that 
would be anticipated to allow slightly more overall harvest of 
sablefish by the limited entry fixed gear fishery. In light of the 2010 
fishery performance, a restructuring of the sablefish trip limits for 
the non-trawl commercial fisheries south of 36[deg] N. lat. was 
designed in an effort to: Balance the higher than anticipated harvest 
of sablefish by the open access fishery; prevent premature closure of 
fisheries in 2011 and prevent exceeding the OY.
    West Coast Groundfish Observer data indicate that impacts to 
overfished species in the commercial fixed gear sablefish fisheries 
south of 36[deg] N. lat. are extremely low. Therefore, decreases to 
trip limits to keep projected impacts below the 2011 sablefish harvest 
levels are not anticipated to result in changes to impacts to co-
occurring overfished groundfish species.
    Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended 
and NMFS is implementing a restructured and slightly higher weekly trip 
limit in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish DTL fishery cumulative 
limits south of 36[deg] N. lat. of ``2,100 lb per week'' beginning on 
March 1 through the end of the year.
    Based on the considerations outlined above, the Council recommended 
and NMFS is implementing restrictions to the open access sablefish DTL 
fishery trip limits south of 36[deg] N. lat. as follows: From ``400 lb 
per day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,500 lb, not to exceed 8,000 
lb per 2 months'' to ``300 lb per day, or 1 landing per week of up to 
1,200 lb, not to exceed 2,400 lb per 2 months'' from March 1 through 
the end of the year.

Recreational Fishery Management Measures

    In June 2010 the Council recommended that NMFS implement several 
changes to Washington, Oregon, and California's recreational fishery 
management measures for groundfish for the 2011 and beyond fishing 
seasons as part of the biennial harvest specifications and management 
measures process. The 2011-2012 harvest specifications and management 
measures have been delayed and will not be in place for the start of 
the 2011 recreational groundfish fisheries. As a result of this delay, 
the recreational fishery management measures that were implemented 
during 2010 will remain in place for the start of 2011, until NMFS 
takes action through a rulemaking to revise them. At their November 
2010 meeting, the Council requested that NMFS consider implementing 
changes to recreational fishery management measures via NMFS' routine 
inseason management authority, where possible. Regulations at 50 CFR 
part 660.60(c) describe what types of changes to management measures 
are designated ``routine'' for the West Coast groundfish fishery. Not 
all changes to management measures that were requested by the Council 
at their November 2010 meeting are implemented in this rule. However, 
two changes to recreational groundfish fishery management measures are 
made in this rule and are described below.
    During 2010, the Groundfish Management Team, an advisory body to 
the Council, conducted an analysis of recent Washington recreational 
fishery data and determined that very few recreational anglers were 
attaining the 15-fish bag limit for groundfish off the Washington 
coast. The analysis of 2008 and 2009 data showed that 99.9 percent of 
anglers were not retaining more than a 12-fish bag limit. To align the 
recreational groundfish bag limits with recent catches, the Council 
recommended reducing the recreational groundfish bag limit off 
Washington from 15 fish to 12 fish, beginning in 2011. Bag limits in 
the recreational groundfish fisheries are designated as a routine 
management measure and may be changed rapidly after a single Council 
meeting, and this change to management measures will maintain 
consistency with state regulations. Therefore, NMFS is implementing a 
reduction in the Washington recreational groundfish bag limit from 15 
fish to 12 fish, beginning on March 1, 2011.
    In recent years the Washington recreational fishery for lingcod in 
the area between Cape Alava (48[deg]10' N. lat.) and the Washington/
Oregon border (46[deg]16' N. lat.) (e.g., Marine Areas 1-3) opens each 
year on the Saturday that falls closest to March 15. A majority of 
recreational fishing trips off the Washington coast occur on weekends 
during this time of year. Opening the fishery on a Saturday rather than 
on a Sunday allows an additional day of lingcod fishing when the 
seasons for salmon and Pacific halibut are not yet open. During the 
last three biennial harvest specifications and management measures 
cycles the season opening dates are simply updated so that the lingcod 
season opening dates in this area fall on the Saturday that falls 
closest to March 15. For 2010, the season opening date was March 13 and 
this is the date that continues to be in the Washington recreational 
fishery regulations for this area for 2011. Based on a Council 
recommendation to maintain the Washington recreational lingcod fishing 
opportunities, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requested 
that NMFS update the lingcod season start dates for 2011 so that they 
fall on the Saturday closest to March 15. For 2011, this date is March 
12. Changes to recreational fishery seasons are designated as a routine 
management measure and maybe changed rapidly after a single Council 
meeting. Therefore, NMFS is implementing a change in the season start 
date in the Washington recreational fishery for lingcod in Marine Areas 
1-3 from March 13 to March 12, beginning on March 1, 2011.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures based on the best available information and 
is taken pursuant to the regulations implementing the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish FMP.
    These actions are taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and 
are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

[[Page 11384]]

    These inseason adjustments are taken under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act), and are in accordance with 50 CFR part 660, subparts C 
through G, the regulations implementing the FMP. These actions are 
based on the most recent data available. The aggregate data upon which 
these actions are based are available for public inspection at the 
Office of the Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, (see ADDRESSES) 
during business hours.
    For the following reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior 
public notice and comment on the revisions to biennial groundfish 
management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) because notice and comment 
would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for 
the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that this final rule 
may become effective as quickly as possible.
    The recently available data upon which these recommendations were 
based was provided to the Council, and the Council made its 
recommendations, at its November 2-10, 2010, meeting in Costa Mesa, CA. 
The Council recommended that these changes be implemented by January 1, 
2011 or as quickly as possible thereafter. There was not sufficient 
time after that meeting to draft this document and undergo proposed and 
final rulemaking before these actions need to be in effect. For the 
actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording the time 
necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would 
prevent the Agency from managing fisheries using the best available 
science to approach, without exceeding, the OYs for federally managed 
species in accordance with the FMP and applicable laws. The adjustments 
to management measures in this document affect commercial fisheries off 
Washington, Oregon, and California and recreational fisheries off 
Washington.
    Changes to sablefish trip limits for the remainder of the biennial 
period in the limited entry fixed gear and open access sablefish DTL 
fisheries and to sablefish cumulative limits in the primary fishery are 
needed to prevent the 2011 sablefish harvest specifications from being 
exceeded, coastwide. Changes to trip limits also reduce complexity of 
the cumulative limit structure and provide year round fishing 
opportunity. These changes must be implemented in a timely manner by 
March 1, 2011 because failure to implement trip limit restrictions by 
March 1, 2011 would risk continued higher than anticipated catch of 
sablefish in the fishery south of 36[deg] N. lat. These revisions are 
needed to keep the harvest of groundfish species within the harvest 
levels in place at the beginning of 2011, while allowing fishermen 
access to healthy stocks. Without these measures in place, the 
fisheries could risk exceeding the 2011 sablefish harvest 
specifications if catch continues to be higher than anticipated, as it 
was in the open access sablefish DTL fishery south of 36[deg] N. lat. 
in 2010. Without these measures in place, the fisheries could risk 
exceeding the 2011 sablefish primary season cumulative limits that are 
based on the new, lower sablefish harvest levels, which could require 
restrictions later in the year for fisheries that take sablefish, or 
risk exceeding the 2011 sablefish harvest specifications. Delaying 
these changes would keep management measures in place that are not 
based on the best available data and that could lead to exceeding OYs. 
Such delay would impair achievement of one of the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish FMP goals to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished 
stocks.
    Changes to lingcod season start dates in the Washington 
recreational fishery opens the lingcod fishery one day earlier and will 
allow fishermen additional harvest opportunities for lingcod. This 
change is necessary to relieve a restriction by allowing lingcod 
harvest opportunities, while staying within OYs. These changes must be 
implemented in a timely manner, as quickly as possible, so that 
fishermen are allowed increased opportunities to harvest available 
healthy stocks and meet the objective of the Pacific Coast Groundfish 
FMP to allow fisheries to approach, but not exceed, OYs. It would be 
contrary to the public interest to wait to implement these changes 
until after public notice and comment, because that would prevent 
fishermen from taking these fish at the time they are available, 
preventing additional harvest in fisheries that are important to 
coastal communities.
    Changes to the Washington recreational fishery, management measures 
are necessary to have consistency between state and Federal 
regulations.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: February 25, 2011.
Margo Schulze-Haugen,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


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2. In Sec.  660.231 to subpart E, paragraph (b)(3)(i) is revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.231  Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) A vessel participating in the primary season will be 
constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with each of 
the permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary 
season, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph 
(a) of this section may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up 
to the cumulative limits for each of the permits registered for use 
with that vessel (i.e., stacked permits). If multiple limited entry 
permits with sablefish endorsements are registered for use with a 
single vessel, that vessel may land up to the total of all cumulative 
limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for those permits, 
except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Up to 3 
permits may be registered for use with a single vessel during the 
primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess 
or land more than 3 primary season sablefish cumulative limits in any 
one year. A vessel registered for use with multiple limited entry 
permits is subject to per vessel limits for species other than 
sablefish, and to per vessel limits when participating in the daily 
trip limit fishery for sablefish under Sec.  660.232, subpart E. For 
2011 and beyond, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 
41,379 lb (18,769 kg), Tier 2 at 18,809 lb (8,532 kg), and Tier 3 at 
10,748 lb (4,875 kg).
* * * * *

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3. Table 2 (North) and Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, are 
revised to read as follows:
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* * * * *

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4. Table 3 (North) and Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, are 
revised to read as follows:

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5. In Sec.  660.360 to subpart G, paragraph (c)(1) introductory text 
and (c)(1)(iii)(B) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.360  Recreational fishery-management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) Washington. For each person engaged in recreational fishing off 
the coast of Washington, the groundfish bag limit is 12 groundfish per 
day, including rockfish and lingcod, and is open year-round (except for 
lingcod). In the Pacific halibut fisheries, retention of groundfish is 
governed in part by annual management measures for Pacific halibut 
fisheries, which are published in the Federal Register. South of 
Leadbetter Point, WA to the Washington/Oregon border, when Pacific 
halibut are

[[Page 11393]]

onboard the vessel, no groundfish may be taken and retained, possessed 
or landed, except sablefish and Pacific cod. The following sublimits 
and closed areas apply:
* * * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (B) Between 48[deg]10' N. lat. (Cape Alava) and 46[deg]16' N. lat. 
(Washington/Oregon border) (Washington Marine Areas 1-3), recreational 
fishing for lingcod is open for 2011, from March 12 through October 16.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-4728 Filed 3-1-11; 8:45 am]
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