Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2012 and 2013 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 80782-80802 [2011-33169]

Download as PDF 80782 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations positive rate has remained below 1.0 percent for the last two years. The Federal Railroad Administrator (Administrator) has therefore determined that the minimum annual random drug testing rate for the period January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2012, will remain at 25 percent of covered railroad employees. In addition, because the industry-wide random alcohol testing violation rate has remained below 0.5 percent for the last two years, the Administrator has determined that the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at 10 percent of covered railroad employees for the period January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2012. Railroads remain free, as always, to conduct random testing at higher rates. DATES: This notice of determination is effective December 27, 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lamar Allen, Alcohol and Drug Program Manager, Office of Safety Enforcement, Mail Stop 25, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, (telephone (202) 493–6313); or Kathy Schnakenberg, FRA Alcohol/Drug Program Specialist, (telephone (719) 633–8955). Issued in Washington, DC, on December 20, 2011. Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator. [FR Doc. 2011–33046 Filed 12–23–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 111213751–1748–01] RIN 0648–XA758 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2012 and 2013 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2012 and 2013 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Comments must be received by January 26, 2012. ADDRESSES: Send comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA–NMFS–2011–0230, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011–0230 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail: Submit written comments to 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. Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record. Comments will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter will 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. DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and the Supplemental 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 2010 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2010, are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone (907) 271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. The 2011 SAFE report for the BSAI became available from the same sources in November 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, (907) 586–7269. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)). This proposed rule specifies 2.0 million mt for both 2012 and 2013. Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, PSC allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 12 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest specifications E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES for 2012 and 2013 after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 5 through 13, 2011 meeting, and (3) considering new information presented in the final 2011 SAFE reports prepared for the 2012 and 2013 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2012 and 2013 Harvest Specifications The Council is currently considering implementing management measures in the event that Pacific cod is split from a BSAI-wide fishery into separate OFLs, ABCs and TACs for the Bering Sea subarea and the Aleutian Island districts. This split is dependent upon the development of an age-structured model for the Aleutian Islands Pacific cod stock assessment that will be reviewed by the Plan Team and SSC in 2012 or 2013. This could impact the over fishing levels (OFL), acceptable biological catches (ABC), and total allowable catches (TAC) for Pacific cod on Table 1 for 2013. In 2011, Kamchatka flounder had OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in the harvest specifications (76 FR 11139, March 1, 2011). In the proposed 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications (75 FR 76372, December 8, 2010) NMFS requested public comment on the proposal to allocate 10.7 percent of the Kamchatka flounder TAC to the CDQ program. Comments were received from each of the six CDQ groups requesting that NMFS not allocate Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ program. Based upon these comments, NMFS determined to not allocate Kamchatka flounder to the six CDQ groups in 2011. However, in 2011, a vessel fishing on behalf of one of the CDQ groups conducted directed fishing as defined at § 679.2 for Kamchatka flounder. That activity indicates that Kamchatka flounder may constitute a directed fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands under section 305(i)(1)(B)(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which may make it necessary to make an allocation for Kamchatka flounder. Therefore, NMFS requests comment about whether the CDQ groups intend to conduct directed fishing for Kamchatka flounder in 2012 or 2013. For the final 2012 and 2013 groundfish harvest specifications for the BSAI NMFS will consider any comments received in determining whether to allocate Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ program. Specifically, if NMFS receives information that none of the CDQ groups intend to conduct directed fishing for Kamchatka flounder, then NMFS would not allocate 10.7 percent of the Kamchatka flounder TAC to the CDQ program. However, if any VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 one of the six CDQ groups intends to conduct directed fishing for Kamchatka flounder, or if NMFS does not receive information that demonstrates unanimity among the CDQ groups about the economic value of Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ groups, NMFS would allocate 10.7 percent of the TAC to the CDQ program in 2012 and 2013. If an allocation of Kamchatka flounder is made to the CDQ program in the final 2012 and 2013 groundfish harvest specifications for the BSAI, this CDQ reserve will be allocated among the CDQ groups using the same percentage allocations currently used to allocate the arrowtooth flounder complex among the CDQ groups. These percentage allocations are shown in Table 1 of a notice published in the Federal Register on August 31, 2006 (71 FR 51804). The current percentage allocations of arrowtooth flounder among the CDQ groups would be used to allocate Kamchatka flounder among the CDQ groups because the new TAC category was created by splitting Kamchatka flounder from the arrowtooth flounder complex. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications The amounts proposed for the 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications are based on the 2010 SAFE report and are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2011 meeting. At that meeting the Council will consider information contained in the final 2011 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2011 BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) meeting, the December 2011 Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), the Advisory Panel (AP) meetings, and public testimony in making its recommendations for the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications. At the October 2011 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council’s Plan Team compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2010 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2010 (see ADDRESSES). In November 2011, the Plan Team updated the 2010 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2011, such as revised stock assessments and catch data. The Plan Team compiled this information and produced the 2011 SAFE report. The Council will review the 2011 SAFE report during the PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 80783 December 2011 Council meeting. At that meeting the Council will consider information contained in the 2011 SAFE report, recommendations made by the Plan Team during its November 2011 meeting, the December 2011 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications. In previous years some of the largest changes from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent NMFS surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. These changes are recommended by the November 2011 Plan Team and are included in the final 2011 SAFE report. The final 2011 SAFE report includes the most recent information, such as 2011 catch. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from the proposed specification amounts published here. If the final 2011 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications may reflect that increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the final 2011 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the FMP requires TACs to be set to an optimum yield between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team if setting TACs equal to ABC would cause the TAC to exceed an optimum yield of 2 million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. Based upon the 2011 SAFE report, it is anticipated that both 2012 and 2013 will have large pollock biomasses, and the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. 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 a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 80784 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES scientists. Tier one represents the highest level of information quality available while tier six represents the lowest. In November 2011, the Plan Team recommended a predation-based estimate to octopus mortality as an alternative Tier 6 estimate. If the SSC and Council approve this approach, the OFL and ABC for octopus will likely be larger in 2012 than in 2011. In October 2011, the SSC adopted the proposed 2012 and 2013 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2012 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2011 (76 FR 11139). For 2012 and 2013, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing amounts. The sum of the proposed 2012 and 2013 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 2,911,610 mt, which is higher than the final 2011 ABC VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 total of 2,534,729 mt (76 FR 11139, March 1, 2011). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2012 and 2013 that are equal to proposed ABCs for sablefish, Kamchatka flounder, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2012 and 2013 that are less than the proposed ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, Atka mackerel, yellowfin sole, rock sole, Greenland turbot, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, northern rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ squids, sharks, skates, sculpins, and octopuses. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the Aleutian Islands (AI) pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. With the exceptions of sablefish, Kamchatka flounder, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish; TACs are set below ABCs. TACs are set so that the sum of the PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI optimum yield. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the 2011 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications during its December 2011 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2010 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to section 3.2.3.4.1 of the Fishery Management Plan, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range. Table 1 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 80785 ER27DE11.003</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch The regulations at section 679.20(b) require NMFS to place certain amounts of BSAI TAC in reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires the placement of 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish be allocated to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocations of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland turbot, and arrowtooth flounder be allocated to the respective CDQ reserves. Additionally, unless NMFS receives comments that the CDQ groups do not intend to conduct directed fisheries for Kamchatka flounder, NMFS will assume that a directed fishery exists, under section 305(i)(1)(B)(i) of the MSA, and allocate 10.7 percent of the TAC for Kamchatka VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 flounder to the CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod be allocated to the CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require the allocation of 10 percent of the BSAI pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA (see § 679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Sections 679.30 and 679.31 set forth regulations governing the management of the CDQ reserves. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 3 percent of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC after subtraction of the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 1999 through 2011. During this 13-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 5 percent in 1999, with a PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 13-year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 1,600 mt for the AI subarea after subtraction of the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2011. During this 9-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 10 percent in 2003, with a 9-year average of 7 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 5,000 mt of flathead sole, 10,000 mt of rock sole, 2,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt for Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt for Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel after subtraction of the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These allowances are based on NMFS’ examination of the average incidental E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.004</GPH> 80786 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that the pollock TAC apportioned to the Bering Sea subarea, after subtraction of 10 percent for the CDQ program and 3 percent for the ICA, be allocated as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and 1,600 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 AI subarea, 40 percent of the ABC is allocated to the A season and the remainder of the directed pollock fishery is allocated to the B season. Table 2 lists these proposed 2012 and 2013 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/ processor sector will be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that provides for the distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 9 through 12 list the AFA catcher/ processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. In past years, the proposed harvest specifications included text and tables describing pollock allocations to the Bering Sea subarea inshore pollock cooperatives and open access sector. These PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2012 have not been submitted to NMFS, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating 2012 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2012 AFA inshore cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2011. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to 28 percent of the DFA until 12 noon, April 1 as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The remaining 12 percent of the 40 percent annual DFA allocated to the A season may be taken outside the SCA before 12 noon, April 1 or inside the SCA after 12 noon, April 1. The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2012 and 2013 amounts by sector. E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.020</GPH> catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2011. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). 80787 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtraction of the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear (Table 3). The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may be allocated to jig gear. The amount of this allocation is determined annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2012 and 2013. This percentage is applied after the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 subtraction of the CDQ reserve and the ICA. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(3) limits the annual TAC for Area 542 to no more than 47 percent of the Area 542 ABC. Section 679.7(a)(19) prohibits retention of Atka mackerel in Area 543, and the proposed amount is set to account for discards in other fisheries. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC (including the CDQ reserve) into two equal seasonal allowances. The first seasonal allowance is made available for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 to June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance is made available from June 10 to November 1 (B season). The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) require the Amendment 80 cooperatives and CDQ groups to limit harvest to 10 percent of their Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel allocation equally divided between the A and B seasons within waters 10 nm to 20 nm of Gramp Rock and Tag Island, PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 as described on Table 12 to part 679. Vessels not fishing under the authority of an Amendment 80 cooperative quota or CDQ allocation are prohibited from conducting directed fishing for Atka mackerel inside Steller sea lion critical habitat in the Central Aleutian District. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 3 lists these 2012 and 2013 Atka mackerel season and area allowances, as well as the sector allocations. The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2012. E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.021</GPH> 80788 Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in the BSAI, after subtraction of 10.7 percent for the CDQ program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line and pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line catcher/ processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2012 and 2013, the Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 500 mt based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. The allocation of the ITAC for Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to part 679 and E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.023</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC 80789 ER27DE11.022</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 80790 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants to apply for participation in the program by VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 November 1, 2012. NMFS will post 2013 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2012. The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next seasonal allowance. PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 2012 and 2013 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). Section 679.7(a)(19) prohibits retention of Pacific cod in Area 543 and § 679.7(a)(23) prohibits directed fishing for Pacific cod with hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear in the AI subarea November 1 through December 31. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 BILLING CODE 3510–22–C erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish Gear Allocation Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require the allocation of sablefish TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the Bering Sea subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the AI subarea are 25 VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires apportionment of 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish from the nonspecified reserves to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires apportionment of 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 80791 TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries will be limited to the 2012 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries would reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries would remain E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.007</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 80792 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and in § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until after November 1, 2012, the deadline date for eligible participants to apply for participation in the program. NMFS will post 2013 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2012. Table 6 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 allocations and seasonal apportionments of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that an allocation be made to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs, after subtraction of 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.008</GPH> closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Allocation of PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and (e)(2), the 2012 and 2013 BSAI halibut mortality limits are 3,675 mt for trawl fisheries and 900 mt for the nontrawl fisheries. Sections 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and (e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes the apportionment of the non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery categories. Table 7c lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the trawl and non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to section 3.6 of the BSAI FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS agrees, that certain specified nontrawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years after consultation with the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 mortality because the IFQ program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 2011, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 29,305 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 6 mt. The 2011 jig gear fishery harvested about 505 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are less than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA and thus are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Section 679.21(f)(2), annually allocates portions of either 47,591 or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC among the AFA sectors depending upon past catch performance and upon whether or not Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector participates in an approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 80793 agreement is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2012, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000 and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery as stated in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements, allocations and reports at: http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/bycatch/ default.htm. Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2012 and 2013 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent of the 700 fish, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 92.5 percent, or 647 Chinook salmon, to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2011 and 2012 nonChinook salmon PSC limit. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) allocates 10.7 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 ER27DE11.009</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 80794 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon, as the PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 89.3 percent, or 37,506 non-Chinook salmon, to the nonCDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2011 regarding red king crab and herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes using the crab and herring 2011 and 2012 PSC limits and apportionments based on the 2010 survey data for the proposed 2012 and 2013 limits and apportionments. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2011. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1), 10.7 percent of each PSC limit specified for crab is allocated as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Based on 2010 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 31.5 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 67.4 million lb (30,572 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 197,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 7b). Based on 2010 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 379 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2012 and 2013 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1 and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. These limits derive from the C. bairdi crab abundance estimate being in excess of the 270 million animals for the Zone 1 allocation and 290 million animals for the Zone 2 allocation, but less than 400 million animals for both zones allocations. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crab if left unajusted. However, if the abundance is less than 4.5 million animals, the minimum PSC limit will be 4,350,000 animals pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii)(A) and (B). Based on the 2010 survey estimate of 7.5 billion animals, the calculated limit is 8,310,480 animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2012 and 2013 herring biomass is 197,400 mt. This amount was derived using 2010 survey data and an age-structured biomass projection model developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2012 and 2013 is 2,273 mt for all trawl gear as presented in Tables 7a and 7b. Section 679.21(e)(3)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2012 PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocation of PSC to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 7a. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and § 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC assigned to the Amendment 80 sector is then further allocated to PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as presented in Table 7d. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, an allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is not required. NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until after November 1, 2012, the deadline date for eligible participants to apply for participation in the program. NMFS will post 2013 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2012. Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors in order to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected start of fishing effort, and (6) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation of the seasonal PSC apportionments in Table 7c to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.011</GPH> 80795 VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.010</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations er27de11.013</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.012</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES 80796 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, DMRs, 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 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 available, including information contained in the annual SAFE report. NMFS proposes the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for the 2012 and 2013 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2012 and 2013 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 7a–7d). The IPHC developed these DMRs for the 2010 to 2012 BSAI fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. The IPHC will analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the mean. A discussion of the DMRs and their justification is presented in Appendix 2 in the final 2009 SAFE report dated November 2009 (see ADDRESSES). Table 8 lists the 2012 and 2013 DMRs. cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. The basis for these proposed sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 9 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 catcher/processor sideboard limits. All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/ processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the proposed sideboard limits in Table 9. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the proposed 2012 and 2013 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.014</GPH> Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs) 80797 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 10 that are caught by listed AFA catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 catcher/processors. Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 2012 or 2013 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 10 is reached. E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.015</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES 80798 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 80799 bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories according to regulations at § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Tables 11 and 12 list the proposed 2012 and 2013 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits. All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will be deducted from the proposed 2012 and 2013 sideboard limits listed in Table 11. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.016</GPH> Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for pollock will accrue against the VerDate Mar<15>2010 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.017</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES 80800 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 80801 in the Bering Sea subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under regulations at § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). BILLING CODE 3510–22–C groundfish harvest specifications and its alternatives on resources in the action area. The EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives. NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve optimum yield specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology may produce vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. 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 the 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. 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 191 small catcher vessels, fewer than 18 small catcher/processors, and six CDQ groups. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES 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 an EIS for this action (see ADDRESSES) and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the EIS. Copies of the EIS and ROD for this action are available from NMFS. The EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1 er27de11.019</GPH> 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 12 is reached. The PSC that is caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock er27de11.018</GPH> Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 12 that are caught by AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Sections 679.21(d)(8) and 80802 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 248 / Tuesday, December 27, 2011 / Rules and Regulations erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area, and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. Catcher vessels and C/Ps 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 (see Table 37 to the Economic Status of the Groundfish off Alaska, 2010, in the 2010 SAFE report, dated November 2010, available from the Council (see ADDRESSES)). 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 BSAI optimum yield, in which case TACs would have been limited to the optimum yield. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent five-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI optimum yield range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action’’ alternative, would have set TACs equal to zero. The Council adopted the TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy, as per Alternative 2, in October 2011. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s GOA Plan Team in August and September 2011, and reviewed and modified by the Council’s SSC in October 2011. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that will allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:56 Dec 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2012 and 2013 would be about 2,911,610 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative 2, meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred alternative. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent five years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the most recent five years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, (the Council’s preferred harvest strategy), because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE reports (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species to reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall this would reduce 2012 TACs by about 30 percent. This would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for BSAI groundfish species available from the GOA. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the BSAI, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities. Tables 2 and 3 from the PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 IRFA provide information on numbers of individual vessels with gross revenues less than $4 million, and with the average gross revenues for these vessels. These tables indicate that the median annual aggregate revenues for these vessels in the years from 2005 to 2009 were $310 million; annual aggregate revenues for this group of vessels ranged from $286 to $347 million. These estimates do not take account of affiliations among vessels, and thus overstate the revenues flowing to small entities. The proposed specifications extend the current 2012 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs, to 2012 and 2013. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2011, when it reviews the November meeting reports from its groundfish plan teams, and the December Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because most TACs in the proposed 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2011 TACs, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December to be large enough to have an impact on small entities. 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 these harvest specifications are discussed in the 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: December 21, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–33169 Filed 12–23–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\27DER1.SGM 27DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 248 (Tuesday, December 27, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 80782-80802]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33169]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111213751-1748-01]
RIN 0648-XA758


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2012 and 2013 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 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits 
for groundfish during the 2012 and 2013 fishing years, and to 
accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 26, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, 
Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2011-0230, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, 
first click the ``submit a comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0230 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on 
from the resulting list and click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on 
the right of that line.
     Mail: Submit written comments to 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.
    Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure 
that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. 
Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, 
or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered.
    All comments received are a part of the public record. Comments 
will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov 
without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, 
name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter will 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 (EIS), the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and the Supplemental 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 2010 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report 
for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2010, are 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 
(907) 271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. The 2011 SAFE report for the BSAI 
became available from the same sources in November 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, (907) 586-7269.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish 
fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS approved 
it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries 
also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category, the sum of which must be 
within the optimum yield range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric 
tons (mt) (see Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)). This proposed rule specifies 2.0 
million mt for both 2012 and 2013. Section 679.20(c)(1) further 
requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal 
Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and 
apportionments thereof, PSC allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) 
reserves established by Sec.  679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, 
Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, 
Amendment 80 allocations, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve 
amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest 
specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 12 of this action satisfy 
these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest 
specifications

[[Page 80783]]

for 2012 and 2013 after (1) considering comments received within the 
comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 5 through 13, 2011 meeting, and (3) considering new 
information presented in the final 2011 SAFE reports prepared for the 
2012 and 2013 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2012 and 2013 Harvest 
Specifications

    The Council is currently considering implementing management 
measures in the event that Pacific cod is split from a BSAI-wide 
fishery into separate OFLs, ABCs and TACs for the Bering Sea subarea 
and the Aleutian Island districts. This split is dependent upon the 
development of an age-structured model for the Aleutian Islands Pacific 
cod stock assessment that will be reviewed by the Plan Team and SSC in 
2012 or 2013. This could impact the over fishing levels (OFL), 
acceptable biological catches (ABC), and total allowable catches (TAC) 
for Pacific cod on Table 1 for 2013.
    In 2011, Kamchatka flounder had OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in the harvest 
specifications (76 FR 11139, March 1, 2011). In the proposed 2011 and 
2012 harvest specifications (75 FR 76372, December 8, 2010) NMFS 
requested public comment on the proposal to allocate 10.7 percent of 
the Kamchatka flounder TAC to the CDQ program. Comments were received 
from each of the six CDQ groups requesting that NMFS not allocate 
Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ program. Based upon these comments, NMFS 
determined to not allocate Kamchatka flounder to the six CDQ groups in 
2011. However, in 2011, a vessel fishing on behalf of one of the CDQ 
groups conducted directed fishing as defined at Sec.  679.2 for 
Kamchatka flounder. That activity indicates that Kamchatka flounder may 
constitute a directed fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
under section 305(i)(1)(B)(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which may 
make it necessary to make an allocation for Kamchatka flounder. 
Therefore, NMFS requests comment about whether the CDQ groups intend to 
conduct directed fishing for Kamchatka flounder in 2012 or 2013. For 
the final 2012 and 2013 groundfish harvest specifications for the BSAI 
NMFS will consider any comments received in determining whether to 
allocate Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ program. Specifically, if NMFS 
receives information that none of the CDQ groups intend to conduct 
directed fishing for Kamchatka flounder, then NMFS would not allocate 
10.7 percent of the Kamchatka flounder TAC to the CDQ program. However, 
if any one of the six CDQ groups intends to conduct directed fishing 
for Kamchatka flounder, or if NMFS does not receive information that 
demonstrates unanimity among the CDQ groups about the economic value of 
Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ groups, NMFS would allocate 10.7 percent 
of the TAC to the CDQ program in 2012 and 2013.
    If an allocation of Kamchatka flounder is made to the CDQ program 
in the final 2012 and 2013 groundfish harvest specifications for the 
BSAI, this CDQ reserve will be allocated among the CDQ groups using the 
same percentage allocations currently used to allocate the arrowtooth 
flounder complex among the CDQ groups. These percentage allocations are 
shown in Table 1 of a notice published in the Federal Register on 
August 31, 2006 (71 FR 51804). The current percentage allocations of 
arrowtooth flounder among the CDQ groups would be used to allocate 
Kamchatka flounder among the CDQ groups because the new TAC category 
was created by splitting Kamchatka flounder from the arrowtooth 
flounder complex.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    The amounts proposed for the 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications 
are based on the 2010 SAFE report and are subject to change in the 
final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the 
Council's December 2011 meeting. At that meeting the Council will 
consider information contained in the final 2011 SAFE report, 
recommendations from the November 2011 BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan 
Team) meeting, the December 2011 Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC), the Advisory Panel (AP) meetings, and public testimony in making 
its recommendations for the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications.
    At the October 2011 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council's Plan Team 
compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled 
by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2010 SAFE report for the 
BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2010 (see ADDRESSES). In 
November 2011, the Plan Team updated the 2010 SAFE report to include 
new information collected during 2011, such as revised stock 
assessments and catch data. The Plan Team compiled this information and 
produced the 2011 SAFE report. The Council will review the 2011 SAFE 
report during the December 2011 Council meeting. At that meeting the 
Council will consider information contained in the 2011 SAFE report, 
recommendations made by the Plan Team during its November 2011 meeting, 
the December 2011 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant 
written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2012 and 2013 harvest specifications.
    In previous years some of the largest changes from the proposed to 
the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent 
NMFS surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and 
spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock 
assessments. These changes are recommended by the November 2011 Plan 
Team and are included in the final 2011 SAFE report. The final 2011 
SAFE report includes the most recent information, such as 2011 catch. 
The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not 
expected to vary greatly from the proposed specification amounts 
published here.
    If the final 2011 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications may reflect that increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the final 2011 SAFE report indicates 
that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the 
final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from 
the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the FMP requires TACs to be set to an 
optimum yield between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required 
to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team if setting TACs equal to ABC would cause the TAC to exceed an 
optimum yield of 2 million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million 
mt in years with a large pollock biomass. Based upon the 2011 SAFE 
report, it is anticipated that both 2012 and 2013 will have large 
pollock biomasses, and the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt.
    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 a series of 
six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable 
information available to fishery

[[Page 80784]]

scientists. Tier one represents the highest level of information 
quality available while tier six represents the lowest.
    In November 2011, the Plan Team recommended a predation-based 
estimate to octopus mortality as an alternative Tier 6 estimate. If the 
SSC and Council approve this approach, the OFL and ABC for octopus will 
likely be larger in 2012 than in 2011.
    In October 2011, the SSC adopted the proposed 2012 and 2013 OFLs 
and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The 
Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC 
recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2012 
harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 1, 
2011 (76 FR 11139). For 2012 and 2013, the Council recommended and NMFS 
proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs 
reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing 
amounts. The sum of the proposed 2012 and 2013 ABCs for all assessed 
groundfish is 2,911,610 mt, which is higher than the final 2011 ABC 
total of 2,534,729 mt (76 FR 11139, March 1, 2011).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2012 and 2013 that are 
equal to proposed ABCs for sablefish, Kamchatka flounder, Pacific ocean 
perch, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. The Council 
recommended proposed TACs for 2012 and 2013 that are less than the 
proposed ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, Atka mackerel, yellowfin sole, 
rock sole, Greenland turbot, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, 
``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, northern rockfish, ``other 
rockfish,'' squids, sharks, skates, sculpins, and octopuses.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the Aleutian Islands (AI) 
pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or 
exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate 
incidental catch amounts. With the exceptions of sablefish, Kamchatka 
flounder, Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye 
rockfish; TACs are set below ABCs. TACs are set so that the sum of the 
overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI optimum yield.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the 2011 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications during 
its December 2011 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with 
the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2010 
SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations. Pursuant to section 3.2.3.4.1 of the Fishery Management 
Plan, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted on 
the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range. Table 1 lists the proposed 
2012 and 2013 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

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[[Page 80786]]


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Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for 
Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and 
AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    The regulations at section 679.20(b) require NMFS to place certain 
amounts of BSAI TAC in reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires the 
placement of 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, 
except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, 
and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that 20 percent of the hook-and-line and 
pot gear allocation of sablefish be allocated to the fixed gear 
sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that 7.5 
percent of the trawl gear allocations of sablefish and 10.7 percent of 
Bering Sea Greenland turbot, and arrowtooth flounder be allocated to 
the respective CDQ reserves. Additionally, unless NMFS receives 
comments that the CDQ groups do not intend to conduct directed 
fisheries for Kamchatka flounder, NMFS will assume that a directed 
fishery exists, under section 305(i)(1)(B)(i) of the MSA, and allocate 
10.7 percent of the TAC for Kamchatka flounder to the CDQ reserves. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that 10.7 percent of the TACs for 
Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, 
flathead sole, and Pacific cod be allocated to the CDQ reserves. 
Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require the allocation 
of 10 percent of the BSAI pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed 
fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is 
allocated as an ICA (see Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of 
the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations 
do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Sections 679.30 and 
679.31 set forth regulations governing the management of the CDQ 
reserves.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 3 percent of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC after 
subtraction of the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on 
NMFS' examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 1999 through 2011. During this 13-year period, the pollock 
incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 
5 percent in 1999, with a 13-year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA 
of 1,600 mt for the AI subarea after subtraction of the 10 percent CDQ 
DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS' examination of the pollock 
incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in 
target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2011. During this 
9-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 
percent in 2006 to a high of 10 percent in 2003, with a 9-year average 
of 7 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
5,000 mt of flathead sole, 10,000 mt of rock sole, 2,000 mt of 
yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 
75 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of 
Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt for Western 
Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt for Central Aleutian District 
Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea 
subarea Atka mackerel after subtraction of the 10.7 percent CDQ 
reserve. These allowances are based on NMFS' examination of the average 
incidental

[[Page 80787]]

catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2011.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified 
reserve, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing 
(see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that the pollock TAC 
apportioned to the Bering Sea subarea, after subtraction of 10 percent 
for the CDQ program and 3 percent for the ICA, be allocated as a DFA as 
follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/
processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the 
Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season 
(January 20 to June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B 
season (June 10 to November 1) (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)). The AI 
directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the 
amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 
mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and 1,600 mt for the ICA (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the AI subarea, 40 percent of the ABC 
is allocated to the A season and the remainder of the directed pollock 
fishery is allocated to the B season. Table 2 lists these proposed 2012 
and 2013 amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific 
requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, 
8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector 
will be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/
processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator 
receives a cooperative contract that provides for the distribution of 
harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a 
manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/processors not 
listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent 
of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists 
the proposed 2012 and 2013 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 9 through 
12 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting 
sideboard limits. In past years, the proposed harvest specifications 
included text and tables describing pollock allocations to the Bering 
Sea subarea inshore pollock cooperatives and open access sector. These 
allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative 
applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because 
AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2012 have not been submitted 
to NMFS, thereby preventing NMFS from calculating 2012 allocations, 
NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these 
proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2012 AFA inshore 
cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2011.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to 28 percent of the DFA until 12 noon, 
April 1 as provided in Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The remaining 12 
percent of the 40 percent annual DFA allocated to the A season may be 
taken outside the SCA before 12 noon, April 1 or inside the SCA after 
12 noon, April 1. The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be 
apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector's allocated 
percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2012 and 2013 
amounts by sector.
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Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtraction 
of the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector and non-trawl gear (Table 3). The allocation of 
the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited 
access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and in Sec.  
679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the 
Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may 
be allocated to jig gear. The amount of this allocation is determined 
annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the 
anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka 
mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea 
to jig gear in 2012 and 2013. This percentage is applied after the 
subtraction of the CDQ reserve and the ICA.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(3) limits the annual TAC for Area 542 
to no more than 47 percent of the Area 542 ABC. Section 679.7(a)(19) 
prohibits retention of Atka mackerel in Area 543, and the proposed 
amount is set to account for discards in other fisheries.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC 
(including the CDQ reserve) into two equal seasonal allowances. The 
first seasonal allowance is made available for directed fishing with 
trawl gear from January 20 to June 10 (A season), and the second 
seasonal allowance is made available from June 10 to November 1 (B 
season). The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
    Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) require the Amendment 
80 cooperatives and CDQ groups to limit harvest to 10 percent of their 
Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel allocation equally divided 
between the A and B seasons within waters 10 nm to 20 nm of Gramp Rock 
and Tag Island, as described on Table 12 to part 679. Vessels not 
fishing under the authority of an Amendment 80 cooperative quota or CDQ 
allocation are prohibited from conducting directed fishing for Atka 
mackerel inside Steller sea lion critical habitat in the Central 
Aleutian District.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Table 3 lists these 2012 and 2013 Atka mackerel season and area 
allowances, as well as the sector allocations. The 2013 allocations for 
Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2012.

[[Page 80789]]

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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.023

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in 
the BSAI, after subtraction of 10.7 percent for the CDQ program, as 
follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-
and-line and pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater 
than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line 
catcher/processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or 
equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 
percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl 
catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The ICA 
for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the 
aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and 
pot sectors. For 2012 and 2013, the Regional Administrator proposes an 
ICA of 500 mt based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
    The allocation of the ITAC for Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 
sector is established in Table 33 to part 679 and

[[Page 80790]]

Sec.  679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 
fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a 
cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is 
required. NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on 
the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to 
the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants to apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2012. NMFS will post 2013 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become 
available in December 2012.
    The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to 
disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific 
cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next 
seasonal allowance.
    The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 
2012 and 2013 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the 
sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at Sec. Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances 
of Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5). Section 679.7(a)(19) 
prohibits retention of Pacific cod in Area 543 and Sec.  679.7(a)(23) 
prohibits directed fishing for Pacific cod with hook-and-line, pot, or 
jig gear in the AI subarea November 1 through December 31.
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BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require the allocation of 
sablefish TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear 
and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the 
Bering Sea subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for 
hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the AI subarea are 25 
percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires apportionment of 20 percent of the 
hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish from the 
nonspecified reserves to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, Sec.  
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires apportionment of 7.5 percent of the trawl 
gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. The Council 
recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. 
The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear and pot gear 
sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries will be limited to 
the 2012 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted 
concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and 
halibut IFQ fisheries would reduce the potential for discards of 
halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries 
would remain

[[Page 80792]]

closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest 
specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 
lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC 
and CDQ reserve amounts.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.008

Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI 
Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that an allocation be 
made to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors for AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs, after subtraction of 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an 
ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-
trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and 
BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 
sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and in Sec.  
679.91.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until after November 1, 2012, the deadline date for eligible 
participants to apply for participation in the program. NMFS will post 
2013 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access 
allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2012.
    Table 6 lists the proposed 2012 and 2013 allocations and seasonal 
apportionments of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, 
rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

[[Page 80793]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.009

Allocation of PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.21(e)(1)(iv) and (e)(2), the 2012 and 2013 BSAI halibut mortality 
limits are 3,675 mt for trawl fisheries and 900 mt for the non-trawl 
fisheries. Sections 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and (e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 
mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of 
the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes the apportionment of the non-
trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery 
categories. Table 7c lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the trawl 
and non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to section 3.6 of the BSAI FMP, the Council recommends, 
and NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt 
from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years after consultation with 
the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ 
hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions 
for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig 
gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery 
and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ 
fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ program 
requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-
line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard 
and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 
2011, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 
29,305 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 6 mt.
    The 2011 jig gear fishery harvested about 505 mt of groundfish. 
Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are less than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA and 
thus are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, 
observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear 
fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible 
amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of 
jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and 
released.
    Section 679.21(f)(2), annually allocates portions of either 47,591 
or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC among the AFA sectors depending upon past 
catch performance and upon whether or not Chinook salmon bycatch 
incentive plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector participates in 
an approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement, then NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook salmon bycatch 
incentive plan agreement is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its 
performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2012, the Chinook salmon 
PSC limit is 60,000 and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are 
seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season 
pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season 
pollock fishery as stated in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The basis for 
these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing 
management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). 
NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan 
agreements, allocations and reports at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2012 and 2013 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent of the 700 fish, or 53 
Chinook salmon, as the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates 
the remaining 92.5 percent, or 647 Chinook salmon, to the non-CDQ 
fisheries.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2011 and 
2012 non-Chinook salmon PSC limit. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) 
allocates 10.7

[[Page 80794]]

percent, or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon, as the PSQ for the CDQ program 
and allocates the remaining 89.3 percent, or 37,506 non-Chinook salmon, 
to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2011 regarding red king crab and herring PSC limits and 
apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes using the 
crab and herring 2011 and 2012 PSC limits and apportionments based on 
the 2010 survey data for the proposed 2012 and 2013 limits and 
apportionments. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 
2011. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1), 10.7 percent of each PSC 
limit specified for crab is allocated as a PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Based on 2010 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated at 31.5 million red king crabs, and the 
effective spawning biomass is estimated at 67.4 million lb (30,572 mt). 
Based on the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 
2012 and 2013 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 
197,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance 
estimate of more than 8.4 million king crab and the effective spawning 
biomass estimate of more than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to 
up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need 
to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. 
NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the red king crab 
bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance 
within the RKCSS (Table 7b). Based on 2010 survey data, Tanner crab 
(Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 379 million animals. 
Pursuant to criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 
2012 and 2013 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 
animals in Zone 1 and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. These limits derive 
from the C. bairdi crab abundance estimate being in excess of the 270 
million animals for the Zone 1 allocation and 290 million animals for 
the Zone 2 allocation, but less than 400 million animals for both zones 
allocations. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for 
snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the 
NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit is set at 
0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crab if 
left unajusted. However, if the abundance is less than 4.5 million 
animals, the minimum PSC limit will be 4,350,000 animals pursuant to 
Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii)(A) and (B). Based on the 2010 survey estimate 
of 7.5 billion animals, the calculated limit is 8,310,480 animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2012 and 2013 herring biomass is 197,400 mt. This amount 
was derived using 2010 survey data and an age-structured biomass 
projection model developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 
Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2012 and 2013 is 2,273 mt 
for all trawl gear as presented in Tables 7a and 7b.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from 
the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2012 PSC limits assigned 
to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified 
in Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocation of PSC to CDQ PSQ, 
the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are 
listed in Table 7a. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iv) and Sec.  
679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC assigned to the 
Amendment 80 sector is then further allocated to Amendment 80 
cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as presented in Table 7d. Two 
Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2012 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, an 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is not required. 
NMFS will post 2012 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2012, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2013 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until after November 1, 2012, the deadline date for eligible 
participants to apply for participation in the program. NMFS will post 
2013 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access 
allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov when they become available in December 2012.
    Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consultation with the 
Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the 
BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors in 
order to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available 
groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) 
seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution 
of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis 
relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in 
bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected start of fishing 
effort, and (6) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on 
industry sectors.
    NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation of the seasonal PSC 
apportionments in Table 7c to maximize harvest among gear types, 
fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the 
above criteria.
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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.012

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[[Page 80797]]

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs)

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, DMRs, 
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 information 
contained in the annual SAFE report.
    NMFS proposes the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for the 
2012 and 2013 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2012 
and 2013 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 7a-7d). The IPHC 
developed these DMRs for the 2010 to 2012 BSAI fisheries using the 10-
year mean DMRs for those fisheries. The IPHC will analyze observer data 
annually and recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows 
large variation from the mean. A discussion of the DMRs and their 
justification is presented in Appendix 2 in the final 2009 SAFE report 
dated November 2009 (see ADDRESSES). Table 8 lists the 2012 and 2013 
DMRs.
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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.014

Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/
processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other 
than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from 
adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in 
the directed pollock fishery. The basis for these proposed sideboard 
limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major 
provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 
(72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 9 lists the proposed 2012 and 
2013 catcher/processor sideboard limits.
    All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/
processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be 
deducted from the proposed sideboard limits in Table 9. However, 
groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/
processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the proposed 
2012 and 2013 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors.

[[Page 80798]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.015

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to part 679 establish a 
formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA catcher/
processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 
79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 
2007).
    PSC species listed in Table 10 that are caught by listed AFA 
catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC sideboard 
limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) 
authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than 
pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 2012 or 2013 
PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 10 is reached.

[[Page 80799]]

    Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while 
fishing for pollock will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually 
specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/ 
``other species'' fishery categories according to regulations at Sec.  
679.21(e)(3)(iv).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.016

AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to 
engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to 
protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed 
pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for setting AFA 
catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The 
basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final 
rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). 
Tables 11 and 12 list the proposed 2012 and 2013 AFA catcher vessel 
sideboard limits.
    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will 
be deducted from the proposed 2012 and 2013 sideboard limits listed in 
Table 11.

[[Page 80800]]

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[[Page 80801]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.018

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 12 that are caught by 
AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the proposed 2012 and 2013 PSC sideboard 
limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Sections 679.21(d)(8) and 
679.21(e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish 
other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2012 and 
2013 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 12 is reached. The PSC that is 
caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the Bering 
Sea subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually 
specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/
``other species'' fishery categories under regulations at Sec.  
679.21(e)(3)(iv).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR27DE11.019

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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 an EIS for this action (see ADDRESSES) and made it 
available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 
13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the EIS. Copies 
of the EIS and ROD for this action are available from NMFS. The EIS 
analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish 
harvest specifications and its alternatives on resources in the action 
area. The EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the 
proposed action or its alternatives.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act analyzing the 
methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates the 
impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the 
groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As set 
forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the 
range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve 
optimum yield specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the 
methodology may produce vary from year to year, the methodology itself 
remains constant.
    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 the 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy 
in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. 
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 191 
small catcher vessels, fewer than 18 small catcher/processors, and six 
CDQ groups.

[[Page 80802]]

The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest 
groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel 
fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities 
operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area, and entities receiving 
direct allocations of groundfish. Catcher vessels and C/Ps 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 (see Table 37 to the Economic 
Status of the Groundfish off Alaska, 2010, in the 2010 SAFE report, 
dated November 2010, available from the Council (see ADDRESSES)).
    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 BSAI 
optimum yield, in which case TACs would have been limited to the 
optimum yield. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing 
rates equal to the most recent five-year average fishing rates. 
Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI 
optimum yield range. Alternative 5, the ``no action'' alternative, 
would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The Council adopted the TACs associated with the preferred harvest 
strategy, as per Alternative 2, in October 2011. OFLs and ABCs for the 
species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council's GOA 
Plan Team in August and September 2011, and reviewed and modified by 
the Council's SSC in October 2011. The Council based its TAC 
recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that will allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As 
shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2012 and 2013 
would be about 2,911,610 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the 
OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this 
instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative 2, 
meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that 
are equivalent to the preferred alternative.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent five 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the 
most recent five years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, 
(the Council's preferred harvest strategy), because it does not take 
account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. 
Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the 
SAFE reports (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species to reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, 
to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall this would reduce 2012 TACs 
by about 30 percent. This would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of 
this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size 
of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for 
BSAI groundfish species available from the GOA. While production 
declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with significant 
price increases in the BSAI, these increases would still be constrained 
by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue 
declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would 
have a detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also 
address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse 
economic impact on small entities. Tables 2 and 3 from the IRFA provide 
information on numbers of individual vessels with gross revenues less 
than $4 million, and with the average gross revenues for these vessels. 
These tables indicate that the median annual aggregate revenues for 
these vessels in the years from 2005 to 2009 were $310 million; annual 
aggregate revenues for this group of vessels ranged from $286 to $347 
million. These estimates do not take account of affiliations among 
vessels, and thus overstate the revenues flowing to small entities.
    The proposed specifications extend the current 2012 OFLs, ABCs, and 
TACs, to 2012 and 2013. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify 
these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2011, when it reviews the 
November meeting reports from its groundfish plan teams, and the 
December Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because most TACs 
in the proposed 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications are unchanged from 
the 2011 TACs, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. 
Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 
to be large enough to have an impact on small entities.
    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 these harvest specifications are discussed in the 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: December 21, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33169 Filed 12-23-11; 8:45 am]
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