Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2011 and 2012 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 81860-81872 [2011-33448]

Download as PDF 81860 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations the selective fishery will occur in an acceptable time and area where wastage can be minimized and target stocks are primarily available. (3) Mark selective fisheries. Fisheries that select for salmon marked with a healed adipose fin clip may be established in the annual management measures as long as they are consistent with guidelines in section 6.5.3.1 of the Pacific Coast Salmon Plan. (l) * * * (2) The combined treaty Indian fishing seasons will not be longer than necessary to harvest the allowable treaty Indian catch, which is the total treaty harvest that would occur if the tribes chose to take their total entitlement of the weakest stock in the fishery management area, assuming this level of harvest did not create conservation or allocation problems for other stocks. * * * * * (4) If adjustable quotas are established for treaty Indian fishing, they may be subject to inseason adjustment because of unanticipated Chinook or coho hooking mortality occurring during the season, catches in treaty Indian fisheries inconsistent with those unanticipated under Federal regulations, or a need to redistribute quotas to ensure attainment of an overall quota. * * * * * (o) Reporting requirements. Reporting requirements for commercial fishing may be imposed to ensure timely and accurate assessment of catches in regulatory areas subject to quota management. Such reports are subject to the limitations described herein. Persons engaged in commercial fishing in a regulatory area subject to quota management and landing their catch in another regulatory area open to fishing may be required to transmit a brief report prior to leaving the first regulatory area. The regulatory areas subject to these reporting requirements, the contents of the reports, and the entities receiving the reports will be specified annually. 6. In § 660.409, revise paragraph (b)(2) introductory text to read as follows: ■ § 660.409 Inseason actions. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (b) * * * (2) Fishery managers must determine that any inseason adjustment in management measures is consistent with fishery regimes established by the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Commission, conservation objectives and ACLs, conservation of the salmon resource, any adjudicated Indian fishing rights, and the ocean allocation scheme in the fishery management plan. All VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 inseason adjustments will be based on consideration of the following factors: * * * * * ■ 7. Revise § 660.410 to read as follows: § 660.410 Conservation objectives, ACLs, and de minimis control rules. (a) Conservation objectives. Annual management measures will be consistent with conservation objectives described in Table 3–1 of the Salmon FMP or as modified through the processes described below, except where the ACL escapement level for a stock is higher than the conservation objective, in which case annual management measures will be designed to ensure that the ACL for that stock is met, or where the de minimis control rules described in paragraph (c) of this section apply. (1) Modification of conservation objectives. NMFS is authorized, through an action issued under § 660.411, to modify a conservation objective if— (i) A comprehensive technical review of the best scientific information available provides conclusive evidence that, in the view of the Council, the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and the Salmon Technical Team, justifies modification of a conservation objective or (ii) Action by a Federal court indicates that modification of a conservation objective is appropriate. (2) ESA-listed species. The annual specifications and management measures will be consistent with NMFS consultation standards or NMFS recovery plans for species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Where these standards differ from those described in FMP Table 3–1, NMFS will describe the ESA-related standards for the upcoming annual specifications and management measures in a letter to the Council prior to the first Council meeting at which the development of those annual management measures occurs. (b) Annual Catch Limits. Annual management measures will be designed to ensure escapement levels at or higher than ACLs determined through the procedures set forth in the FMP. (c) De minimis control rules. Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon have the same form of de minimis control rule described in the FMP, which allows for limited fishing impacts when abundance falls below SMSY. The control rule describes maximum allowable exploitation rates at any given level of abundance. The annual management measures may provide for lower exploitation rates as needed to address uncertainties or other year-specific PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 circumstances. The de minimis exploitation rate in a given year must also be determined in consideration of the following factors: (1) The potential for critically low natural spawner abundance, including considerations for substocks that may fall below crucial genetic thresholds; (2) Spawner abundance levels in recent years; (3) The status of co-mingled stocks; (4) Indicators of marine and freshwater environmental conditions; (5) Minimal needs for tribal fisheries; (6) Whether the stock is currently in an approaching overfished condition; (7) Whether the stock is currently overfished; (8) Other considerations as appropriate. (9) Exploitation rates, including de minimis exploitation rates, must not jeopardize the long-term capacity of the stock to produce maximum sustained yield on a continuing basis. NMFS expects that the control rule and associated criteria will result in decreasing harvest opportunity as abundance declines and little or no opportunity for harvest at abundance levels less than half of MSST. [FR Doc. 2011–33308 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 111220788–1785–02] RIN 0648–XA855 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2011 and 2012 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; closures. AGENCY: NMFS publishes revisions to the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) that are required by the final rule implementing Amendment 83 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for Pacific cod at the beginning of the 2012 fishing year consistent with the new Pacific cod SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations sector allocations implemented by Amendment 83 and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the FMP. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: The final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications and associated apportionment of reserves are effective at 0001 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2012, until the effective date of the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish, which will be published in the Federal Register. ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), 2011 Supplemental Information Report to the EIS, and the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications, as well as the Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review, and FRFA prepared for Amendment 83 to the FMP, may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http:// www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Copies of the 2011 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2011, are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ npfmc. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, (907) 586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR parts 679 and 680 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the GOA. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The final rule implementing Amendment 83 to the FMP was published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670) and is effective January 1, 2012. Amendment 83 to the FMP allocates the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) limits among various gear and operational sectors. Sector-level allocations will limit the annual amount of Pacific cod that each sector is allowed to harvest. A complete description of the purpose and background of Amendment 83 is in the proposed rule published for that action (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011), as well as in the final rule noted above. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 Amendment 83 to the Gulf of Alaska FMP Amendment 83 was adopted by the Council in December 2009 to supersede the current inshore/offshore processing allocation of Western and Central GOA Pacific cod. Under the inshore/offshore management regime, 90 percent of the Western, Central, and Eastern TAC is allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. The inshore component is composed of three types of processors: (1) Shoreside plants, (2) stationary floating processors, and (3) vessels with catcher/processor (C/P) endorsements less than 125 ft (45.7 m) in length overall (LOA) that process less than 126 mt (round weight) per week of inshore pollock and Pacific cod, combined. Catcher vessels operating inshore component use a variety of gear types, and vary widely in size. The offshore component is comprised of C/ Ps, which catch and process fish, and motherships, which take deliveries of fish from catcher vessels. The Council recognized that competition among participants in the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod fisheries has intensified in recent years. Because the TACs are not divided among gear or operation types, there is a derby-style race for fish and competition among the various gear types for shares of the Pacific cod TACs. Amendment 83 divides the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs among various gear and operation types, based primarily on historical dependency and use by each sector, while also considering the needs of fishing communities. Amendment 83 does not establish sector allocations in the Eastern GOA. Historically, the Pacific cod TAC is much smaller in the Eastern GOA management area. In recent years, only a small proportion of the annual TAC has been harvested. Fishing sector characteristics also are different, as fishing with trawl gear is prohibited in the Southeast Outside district of the Eastern GOA. The changes implemented under Amendment 83 are intended to enhance stability in the fishery by enabling operators within each sector to plan harvesting or processing activity during a fishing year, reduce competition among sectors, and preserve the historical division of catch among sectors, while providing opportunities for new entrants in these fisheries. PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81861 Revisions to the Final 2011 and 2012 Harvest Specifications for the Gulf of Alaska Based on the approval of Amendment 83 and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 679 (effective January 1, 2012), NMFS is revising the final 2011 and 2012 specifications for Pacific cod in the GOA. In the Central GOA, the annual Pacific cod TAC must be apportioned between vessels using jig gear, catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) using hookand-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/ Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear. In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC must be apportioned between vessels using jig gear, CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear. In the Eastern GOA, the 2012 Pacific cod TAC will still be apportioned seasonally between the inshore and offshore components. With this final rule, NMFS revises those sections of the text and the tables in the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011) that change as the result of the final rule implementing Amendment 83. This includes Tables 8, 15, and 18 originally published in the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for the GOA (available at the NMFS, Alaska Region Web site: http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ frules/76fr11111.pdf). This final rule uses the same table numbers that were used in the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications. This action also adds a new table, Table 26, for the new halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) apportionment between hook-and-line CVs and hook-and-line C/Ps that was established as part of Amendment 83. This final rule is necessary to ensure that appropriate allocations will be in effect for the beginning of the 2012 fishing year for those fishery participants affected by the Pacific cod sector allocations established under Amendment 83. These allocations also will be incorporated in future harvest specification for the Alaska groundfish fisheries. Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC This action revises the Pacific cod allocations in Table 8 by incorporating the sector splits established for the various gear and operational modes in the Western and Central GOA. It eliminates the inshore and offshore E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 81862 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES sector allocations, with the exception of the Eastern GOA. The Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern GOA will continue to be apportioned to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 percent) components as required by § 679.20(a)(6)(ii). The Pacific cod TAC for the Western and Central GOA is divided as follows. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 First, the jig sector receives 1.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA and 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA, as required by § 679.20(c)(7). This annual allocation is further apportioned between the A season (60 percent) and B season (40 percent) as required by § 679.20(a)(12)(i). NMFS allocates the PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 remainder of the annual Pacific cod TAC based on gear type, operation type, and vessel length overall in the Western and Central GOA seasonally as required by § 679.20(a)(i)(12)(A) and (B). Table 8 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 2012 GOA Pacific cod TACs. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Harvest Limits This action revises the final 2012 GOA non-exempt American Fisheries Act (AFA) CV groundfish harvest sideboard limits, also known as sideboards. These limits are established VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 by § 679.64. Sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA, typically by limiting access to nonpollock groundfish fisheries. AFA CVs PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81863 are subject to harvesting sideboards unless exempted from such limits through the criteria established in § 679.64(b)(2). Thus, the vessels to which sideboards do apply are known as ‘‘non-exempt AFA CVs.’’ This action revises the Pacific cod sideboards in Table 15 of the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications (76 FR E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 ER29DE11.000</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 81864 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 11111, March 1, 2011). The Pacific cod sideboards are revised by combining the Western and Central GOA inshore and offshore apportionments into a single apportionment, further divided by season. This reduces the number of nonexempt AFA CV sideboards in these two areas to four sideboards, rather than eight prior to Amendment 83. The Eastern GOA Pacific cod sideboards are not revised. These sideboard revisions are based on changes implemented under Amendment 83. The Council recommended sideboard allocations for the non-exempt AFA CVs and non-AFA crab vessels that now supersede the inshore/offshore processing sideboards VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 established under the AFA and Crab Rationalization Program. These sideboards are calculated annually as part of the harvest specification process. Non-exempt AFA CV sideboards are now calculated as area-specific sideboard accounts, rather than inshore and offshore sideboards in each respective Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. The Council recognized that in recent years the offshore sideboard allocations have not been fully harvested, while inshore allocations are typically fully caught. The intent of combining the two sideboard categories into a single sideboard for each regulatory area is to make the offshore sideboard allocation PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 available to the CVs historically associated with the inshore processing components. The new, combined sideboard amounts will continue to be apportioned seasonally. This action revises only the Pacific cod sideboards in Table 15; however, the entire suite of species and sideboards in the table are re-published in order to eliminate potential confusion that the other sideboards specified in Table 15 are no longer effective. The following Table 15 replaces Table 15 in the final 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011). BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 81865 ER29DE11.001</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits This action also revises the final 2012 GOA non-AFA crab vessel groundfish harvest limits. Such limits preclude vessels that benefit from exclusive crab VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 harvesting privileges under the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program from expanding their participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. This action revises the Pacific cod sideboards in Table 18 of the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications (76 FR 11111; March 1, PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2011). Under Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards for the inshore and offshore components in the Western and Central GOA were combined. These combined sideboards must then be allocated to sectors as required by the final rule implementing Amendment 83. E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 ER29DE11.002</GPH> 81866 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Thus, NMFS must specify revised nonAFA crab vessel sideboard limits in the Western and Central GOA. The non-AFA crab vessel Pacific cod sideboards are revised by apportioning the Pacific cod sideboards for the Western and Central GOA among gear and operational sectors, as well as seasons. This change eliminates the inshore and offshore area and seasonal apportionments, and replaces them with sector-level area and seasonal apportionments. The Eastern GOA Pacific cod sideboards are not revised, VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 and continue to be apportioned between the inshore and offshore components. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the Crab Rationalization Program (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005) and Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011). Table 18 lists the revised 2012 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. It replaces Table 18 in the final 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications (76 FR 11131–11132, March 1, 2011). All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81867 species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated License Limitation Program groundfish licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. This action revises only the Pacific cod sideboards in Table 18; however, the entire suite of species and sideboards in the table are re-published in order to eliminate potential confusion that the other groundfish sideboards specified in Table 18 are no longer effective. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 VerDate Mar<15>2010 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 ER29DE11.003</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 81868 VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 81869 ER29DE11.004</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Changes to Halibut PSC Apportionments Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments for trawl and hook-and-line gear. The trawl gear apportionment is further divided seasonally and between the deep-water and shallow-water species categories. The hook-and-line gear apportionment is divided seasonally, and also between the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and the remaining groundfish fisheries. This action revises the annual hook-and-line gear ‘‘other than DSR’’ halibut PSC limit to the ‘‘other hookand-line fisheries’’ by dividing the annual halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors. This change is intended to increase the ability of each hook-and-line sector to plan its fishing operations and harvest its respective Pacific cod allocation. Apportioning the halibut PSC limit to hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors will prevent one sector from preempting the other sector’s fishing season by taking a greater proportion of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 hook-and-line halibut PSC limit than expected. These PSC apportionments also will apply to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps operating in the Eastern GOA; however, the halibut PSC limit apportionments only are derived from Pacific cod TAC allocations to the Western and Central GOA. Annually, NMFS will calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps. This action adds Table 26 to the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications to specify new halibut PSC limits by each hook-and-line sector and by season as required by § 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B). These changes reflect the halibut PSC allocation revisions made under Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), which modified the ‘‘other than DSR’’ hook-and-line halibut PSC apportionment to the ‘‘other hook-andline fisheries’’ by dividing it between the two hook-and-line sectors. The halibut PSC limit apportioned to the trawl gear sector was not changed by Amendment 83. Comprehensive changes to GOA halibut PSC limits and PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 apportionments currently are under development and consideration by the Council. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other than DSR’’ hookand-line halibut PSC limit to the ‘‘other hook-and-line fisheries’’ between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors was included in the final rule to implement Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011) and is not repeated here. For 2012, NMFS is apportioning halibut PSC limits of 167 mt and 123 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, respectively. In addition, these annual limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. These annual limits and seasonal apportionments are shown in Table 26, which augments Table 10 in the final GOA harvest specifications (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011). Table 26 lists the 2012 annual and seasonal halibut PSC apportionments between the hook-andline sectors in the GOA. E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 ER29DE11.005</GPH> 81870 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Directed Fishing Closures Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with § 680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Table 18 are insufficient to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard directed fishing allowance at zero, with the exception of the Pacific cod pot CV sector limits in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA for all species and species groups listed in Tables 17 and 18, with the exception of Pacific cod sideboard limits established for the pot CV sector in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Small Entity Compliance Guide The following information is a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule is necessary to revise final 2012 Pacific cod harvest specifications and halibut PSC limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA so that these amounts are consistent with new fishery allocations and limitations established under Amendment 83. This action affects all fishermen who participate in the Pacific cod fishery in the GOA. The specific amounts of TAC limits and PSC amounts, and respective allocations thereof, are provided in tabular form to assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register and in VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures. Classification NMFS determined that these revisions to the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications are necessary for the conservation and management of the Alaska groundfish fisheries and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. This action is authorized under § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause to waive prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action as notice and comment is unnecessary. Through this action, NOAA seeks to revise the final 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications consistent with the final rules implementing Amendment 83 to the FMP and to ensure that the Pacific cod allocations and halibut PSC limits implemented under Amendment 83 will be effective at the beginning of the 2012 fishing year. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action is unnecessary because the revisions being made by this action merely update the 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications to reflect allocations and limitations implemented and required by Amendment 83, and which have already been subject to notice and comment. This action does not revise the final 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications in any substantive manner not previously the subject of PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81871 notice and comment during the development of Amendment 83. The Pacific cod fisheries in the Western and Central GOA are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the Pacific cod TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating the Pacific cod TACs under Amendment 83 would cause confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards. Determining which fisheries may close is impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open ones, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries and causing them to close at an accelerated pace. In fisheries subject to declining sideboards, a failure to implement the updated sideboards before initial season’s end could preclude the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboards, economic benefit could be precluded to the sideboarded sectors. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553(d). The waiver of the 30-day delay in effective date requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553(d) is necessary to ensure that the allocations and limitations required under Amendment 83 will be effective at the beginning of the 2012 fishing year and to provide the regulated community E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1 ER29DE11.006</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 81872 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations with timely, adequate, and accurate information necessary to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, to conduct orderly and efficient fisheries, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet and processors. Per the implementing requirements of Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), the Pacific cod TAC apportionments between the inshore and offshore components in the Western and Central Management Areas are superseded and replaced by apportionments among various gear and operational sectors. Absent waiver of the 30-day delay in effective date, the Pacific cod fisheries in the Western and Central Management Areas would be subject to obsolete management measures for a several weeks at the onset of the 2012, as the regulations requiring NMFS to apportion the Pacific cod TAC limits in these two areas to the inshore and offshore components (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)) no longer exist as of January 1, 2012. NMFS prepared a Final EIS for the harvest strategy implemented by the annual harvest specifications 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 Final EIS. Copies of the Final EIS and ROD for this action are available (see ADDRESSES). NMFS also prepared an EA in conjunction with Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (See ADDRESSES). Two separate final regulatory flexibility analyses (FRFAs) were prepared to evaluate the impacts on small entities resulting from (1) alternative harvest strategies employed in establishing the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications and (2) alternatives considered during the development and approval of Amendment 83. Both of these FRFAs met the statutory requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 601–612). A summary of each FRFA was published with its relevant final rule and is not repeated here. The summary of the FRFA supporting the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications was published March 1, 2011 (76 FR 11111), and the summary of the FRFA supporting Amendment 83 to the FMP was published December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., 1801 et seq., 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108–447. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 Dated: December 22, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–33448 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–AY53 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Allocations in the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 83; Correction National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Correction to final rule. AGENCY: This document contains one correction to the final rule pertaining to Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Allocations in the Gulf of Alaska published on December 1, 2011. This correction is intended to clarify a regulatory prohibition. DATES: Effective January 1, 2012. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Seanbob Kelly, (907) 586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background A final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670) that revises several sections of regulations that pertain to the management of Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska Management Area (GOA). The final rule allocates total allowable catch of Pacific cod to various gear and operational type sectors in the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod fisheries that are managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). Need for Correction The error is located in a prohibition at § 679.7 that limits access to the Pacific cod parallel fishery for federal fishery participants. This prohibition precludes federally permitted vessels that do not have a properly endorsed license limitation program license from participating in the Western or Central GOA Pacific cod parallel fishery. The error occurred in limiting the scope of the prohibition to vessels that ‘‘catch and process’’ only; thus the regulations PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 omit vessels that solely directed fish for Pacific cod and do not process. As written, the regulation is inconsistent with the Council’s recommendations under Amendment 83, the environmental analysis, regulatory impact review, final regulatory flexibility analysis, and the preambles to both the proposed and final rules. The correction will amend § 679.7(b)(6) to replace the words ‘‘catch and process’’ with ‘‘directed fish for’’. The correction will ensure that the prohibition applies to both catcher and catcher processor vessels, as intended by the Council’s recommendations and the Secretarial action under Amendment 83. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. This error must be corrected immediately to clarify the regulatory prohibition’s application. Left uncorrected, the prohibition purports to apply only to catcher processor vessels fishing for Pacific cod in the GOA, when the prohibition was clearly meant to apply to catcher vessels, too. The correction will ensure that NMFS can enforce the prohibition against both catcher and catcher processors, as intended. If the effective date for these corrections is delayed to solicit prior public comment, this technical error will not be corrected by the effective date of this final rule, thereby undermining the conservation and management objectives of the FMP. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the thirty (30) day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above. NMFS is correcting this error and is not making substantive changes to the document in rule FR Docket No. 100107012–1689–03 published on December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670). Correction Accordingly, the final rule published on December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670), to be effective January 1, 2012, is corrected as follows: § 679.7 [Corrected] On page 74687, in § 679.7(b)(6), in the third column of the page, under the paragraph heading ‘‘Parallel fisheries.’’, correct the reference to ‘‘catch and process’’ to read as ‘‘directed fish for’’. E:\FR\FM\29DER1.SGM 29DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 250 (Thursday, December 29, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 81860-81872]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33448]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111220788-1785-02]
RIN 0648-XA855


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Final 2011 and 2012 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Final rule; closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS publishes revisions to the final 2011 and 2012 harvest 
specifications and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) that are required by 
the final rule implementing Amendment 83 to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). This action is necessary to 
establish harvest limits for Pacific cod at the beginning of the 2012 
fishing year consistent with the new Pacific cod

[[Page 81861]]

sector allocations implemented by Amendment 83 and to accomplish the 
goals and objectives of the FMP. The intended effect of this action is 
to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act.

DATES: The final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications and associated 
apportionment of reserves are effective at 0001 hrs, Alaska local time 
(A.l.t.), January 1, 2012, until the effective date of the final 2012 
and 2013 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish, which will be 
published in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), 2011 Supplemental Information 
Report to the EIS, and the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) 
prepared for the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications, as well as 
the Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review, and FRFA 
prepared for Amendment 83 to the FMP, may be obtained from the NMFS 
Alaska Region Web site at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Copies 
of the 2011 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report for the 
groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2011, are available 
from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, (907) 586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR parts 679 and 
680 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the GOA. 
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the 
FMP, and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act. General regulations governing U.S. 
fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The final rule implementing Amendment 83 to the FMP was published 
in the Federal Register on December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670) and is 
effective January 1, 2012. Amendment 83 to the FMP allocates the 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) limits 
among various gear and operational sectors. Sector-level allocations 
will limit the annual amount of Pacific cod that each sector is allowed 
to harvest. A complete description of the purpose and background of 
Amendment 83 is in the proposed rule published for that action (76 FR 
44700, July 26, 2011), as well as in the final rule noted above.

Amendment 83 to the Gulf of Alaska FMP

    Amendment 83 was adopted by the Council in December 2009 to 
supersede the current inshore/offshore processing allocation of Western 
and Central GOA Pacific cod. Under the inshore/offshore management 
regime, 90 percent of the Western, Central, and Eastern TAC is 
allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore 
component and 10 percent to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing 
by the offshore component. The inshore component is composed of three 
types of processors: (1) Shoreside plants, (2) stationary floating 
processors, and (3) vessels with catcher/processor (C/P) endorsements 
less than 125 ft (45.7 m) in length overall (LOA) that process less 
than 126 mt (round weight) per week of inshore pollock and Pacific cod, 
combined. Catcher vessels operating inshore component use a variety of 
gear types, and vary widely in size. The offshore component is 
comprised of C/Ps, which catch and process fish, and motherships, which 
take deliveries of fish from catcher vessels. The Council recognized 
that competition among participants in the Western and Central GOA 
Pacific cod fisheries has intensified in recent years. Because the TACs 
are not divided among gear or operation types, there is a derby-style 
race for fish and competition among the various gear types for shares 
of the Pacific cod TACs.
    Amendment 83 divides the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs 
among various gear and operation types, based primarily on historical 
dependency and use by each sector, while also considering the needs of 
fishing communities. Amendment 83 does not establish sector allocations 
in the Eastern GOA. Historically, the Pacific cod TAC is much smaller 
in the Eastern GOA management area. In recent years, only a small 
proportion of the annual TAC has been harvested. Fishing sector 
characteristics also are different, as fishing with trawl gear is 
prohibited in the Southeast Outside district of the Eastern GOA. The 
changes implemented under Amendment 83 are intended to enhance 
stability in the fishery by enabling operators within each sector to 
plan harvesting or processing activity during a fishing year, reduce 
competition among sectors, and preserve the historical division of 
catch among sectors, while providing opportunities for new entrants in 
these fisheries.

Revisions to the Final 2011 and 2012 Harvest Specifications for the 
Gulf of Alaska

    Based on the approval of Amendment 83 and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679 (effective January 1, 2012), NMFS is 
revising the final 2011 and 2012 specifications for Pacific cod in the 
GOA. In the Central GOA, the annual Pacific cod TAC must be apportioned 
between vessels using jig gear, catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet 
length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 
50 length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) 
using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, 
and vessels using pot gear. In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC 
must be apportioned between vessels using jig gear, CVs using hook-and-
line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and 
vessels using pot gear. In the Eastern GOA, the 2012 Pacific cod TAC 
will still be apportioned seasonally between the inshore and offshore 
components.
    With this final rule, NMFS revises those sections of the text and 
the tables in the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011) that change as the 
result of the final rule implementing Amendment 83. This includes 
Tables 8, 15, and 18 originally published in the final 2011 and 2012 
harvest specifications for the GOA (available at the NMFS, Alaska 
Region Web site: http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/76fr11111.pdf). This final rule uses the same table numbers that were 
used in the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications. This action 
also adds a new table, Table 26, for the new halibut prohibited species 
catch (PSC) apportionment between hook-and-line CVs and hook-and-line 
C/Ps that was established as part of Amendment 83.
    This final rule is necessary to ensure that appropriate allocations 
will be in effect for the beginning of the 2012 fishing year for those 
fishery participants affected by the Pacific cod sector allocations 
established under Amendment 83. These allocations also will be 
incorporated in future harvest specification for the Alaska groundfish 
fisheries.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    This action revises the Pacific cod allocations in Table 8 by 
incorporating the sector splits established for the various gear and 
operational modes in the Western and Central GOA. It eliminates the 
inshore and offshore

[[Page 81862]]

sector allocations, with the exception of the Eastern GOA. The Pacific 
cod TAC in the Eastern GOA will continue to be apportioned to vessels 
catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore (90 percent) and 
offshore (10 percent) components as required by Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii).
    The Pacific cod TAC for the Western and Central GOA is divided as 
follows. First, the jig sector receives 1.5 percent of the annual 
Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA and 1.0 percent of the annual 
Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA, as required by Sec.  679.20(c)(7). 
This annual allocation is further apportioned between the A season (60 
percent) and B season (40 percent) as required by Sec.  
679.20(a)(12)(i). NMFS allocates the remainder of the annual Pacific 
cod TAC based on gear type, operation type, and vessel length overall 
in the Western and Central GOA seasonally as required by Sec.  
679.20(a)(i)(12)(A) and (B). Table 8 lists the seasonal apportionments 
and allocations of the 2012 GOA Pacific cod TACs.
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Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Harvest Limits

    This action revises the final 2012 GOA non-exempt American 
Fisheries Act (AFA) CV groundfish harvest sideboard limits, also known 
as sideboards. These limits are established by Sec.  679.64. Sideboard 
limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and 
processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those 
fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and 
processing privileges under the AFA, typically by limiting access to 
non-pollock groundfish fisheries. AFA CVs are subject to harvesting 
sideboards unless exempted from such limits through the criteria 
established in Sec.  679.64(b)(2). Thus, the vessels to which 
sideboards do apply are known as ``non-exempt AFA CVs.''
    This action revises the Pacific cod sideboards in Table 15 of the 
final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications (76 FR

[[Page 81864]]

11111, March 1, 2011). The Pacific cod sideboards are revised by 
combining the Western and Central GOA inshore and offshore 
apportionments into a single apportionment, further divided by season. 
This reduces the number of non-exempt AFA CV sideboards in these two 
areas to four sideboards, rather than eight prior to Amendment 83. The 
Eastern GOA Pacific cod sideboards are not revised.
    These sideboard revisions are based on changes implemented under 
Amendment 83. The Council recommended sideboard allocations for the 
non-exempt AFA CVs and non-AFA crab vessels that now supersede the 
inshore/offshore processing sideboards established under the AFA and 
Crab Rationalization Program. These sideboards are calculated annually 
as part of the harvest specification process. Non-exempt AFA CV 
sideboards are now calculated as area-specific sideboard accounts, 
rather than inshore and offshore sideboards in each respective Western 
and Central GOA regulatory areas. The Council recognized that in recent 
years the offshore sideboard allocations have not been fully harvested, 
while inshore allocations are typically fully caught. The intent of 
combining the two sideboard categories into a single sideboard for each 
regulatory area is to make the offshore sideboard allocation available 
to the CVs historically associated with the inshore processing 
components. The new, combined sideboard amounts will continue to be 
apportioned seasonally. This action revises only the Pacific cod 
sideboards in Table 15; however, the entire suite of species and 
sideboards in the table are re-published in order to eliminate 
potential confusion that the other sideboards specified in Table 15 are 
no longer effective.
    The following Table 15 replaces Table 15 in the final 2011 and 2012 
GOA harvest specifications (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011).
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[[Page 81865]]

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[[Page 81866]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR29DE11.002

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Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits

    This action also revises the final 2012 GOA non-AFA crab vessel 
groundfish harvest limits. Such limits preclude vessels that benefit 
from exclusive crab harvesting privileges under the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program from expanding their 
participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. This action revises the 
Pacific cod sideboards in Table 18 of the final 2011 and 2012 harvest 
specifications (76 FR 11111; March 1, 2011). Under Amendment 83 (76 FR 
74670, December 1, 2011), the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards for the 
inshore and offshore components in the Western and Central GOA were 
combined. These combined sideboards must then be allocated to sectors 
as required by the final rule implementing Amendment 83.

[[Page 81867]]

Thus, NMFS must specify revised non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limits in 
the Western and Central GOA.
    The non-AFA crab vessel Pacific cod sideboards are revised by 
apportioning the Pacific cod sideboards for the Western and Central GOA 
among gear and operational sectors, as well as seasons. This change 
eliminates the inshore and offshore area and seasonal apportionments, 
and replaces them with sector-level area and seasonal apportionments. 
The Eastern GOA Pacific cod sideboards are not revised, and continue to 
be apportioned between the inshore and offshore components.
    The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the Crab Rationalization Program (70 FR 10174, 
March 2, 2005) and Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011). Table 
18 lists the revised 2012 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA 
crab vessels. It replaces Table 18 in the final 2011 and 2012 GOA 
harvest specifications (76 FR 11131-11132, March 1, 2011). All targeted 
or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels 
or associated License Limitation Program groundfish licenses will be 
deducted from these sideboard limits. This action revises only the 
Pacific cod sideboards in Table 18; however, the entire suite of 
species and sideboards in the table are re-published in order to 
eliminate potential confusion that the other groundfish sideboards 
specified in Table 18 are no longer effective.
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[[Page 81868]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR29DE11.003


[[Page 81869]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR29DE11.004


[[Page 81870]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR29DE11.005

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

Changes to Halibut PSC Apportionments

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments for trawl and hook-and-line gear. The trawl gear 
apportionment is further divided seasonally and between the deep-water 
and shallow-water species categories. The hook-and-line gear 
apportionment is divided seasonally, and also between the demersal 
shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and the remaining groundfish fisheries. 
This action revises the annual hook-and-line gear ``other than DSR'' 
halibut PSC limit to the ``other hook-and-line fisheries'' by dividing 
the annual halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P 
sectors.
    This change is intended to increase the ability of each hook-and-
line sector to plan its fishing operations and harvest its respective 
Pacific cod allocation. Apportioning the halibut PSC limit to hook-and-
line CV and C/P sectors will prevent one sector from pre-empting the 
other sector's fishing season by taking a greater proportion of the 
hook-and-line halibut PSC limit than expected. These PSC apportionments 
also will apply to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps operating in the Eastern 
GOA; however, the halibut PSC limit apportionments only are derived 
from Pacific cod TAC allocations to the Western and Central GOA. 
Annually, NMFS will calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for 
the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps.
    This action adds Table 26 to the final 2011 and 2012 harvest 
specifications to specify new halibut PSC limits by each hook-and-line 
sector and by season as required by Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B). These 
changes reflect the halibut PSC allocation revisions made under 
Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), which modified the 
``other than DSR'' hook-and-line halibut PSC apportionment to the 
``other hook-and-line fisheries'' by dividing it between the two hook-
and-line sectors. The halibut PSC limit apportioned to the trawl gear 
sector was not changed by Amendment 83. Comprehensive changes to GOA 
halibut PSC limits and apportionments currently are under development 
and consideration by the Council.
    A comprehensive description and example of the calculations 
necessary to apportion the ``other than DSR'' hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit to the ``other hook-and-line fisheries'' between the hook-and-
line CV and C/P sectors was included in the final rule to implement 
Amendment 83 (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011) and is not repeated here. 
For 2012, NMFS is apportioning halibut PSC limits of 167 mt and 123 mt 
to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, respectively. In 
addition, these annual limits are divided into three seasonal 
apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, 
and 12 percent. These annual limits and seasonal apportionments are 
shown in Table 26, which augments Table 10 in the final GOA harvest 
specifications (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011). Table 26 lists the 2012 
annual and seasonal halibut PSC apportionments between the hook-and-
line sectors in the GOA.

[[Page 81871]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR29DE11.006

Directed Fishing Closures

    Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel 
sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with Sec.  
680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that 
the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Table 18 are insufficient 
to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard directed 
fishing allowance at zero, with the exception of the Pacific cod pot CV 
sector limits in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, 
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA 
for all species and species groups listed in Tables 17 and 18, with the 
exception of Pacific cod sideboard limits established for the pot CV 
sector in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    The following information is a plain language guide to assist small 
entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule 
is necessary to revise final 2012 Pacific cod harvest specifications 
and halibut PSC limits for the groundfish fishery of the GOA so that 
these amounts are consistent with new fishery allocations and 
limitations established under Amendment 83. This action affects all 
fishermen who participate in the Pacific cod fishery in the GOA. The 
specific amounts of TAC limits and PSC amounts, and respective 
allocations thereof, are provided in tabular form to assist the reader. 
NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register 
and in information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected 
fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures.

Classification

    NMFS determined that these revisions to the final 2011 and 2012 
harvest specifications are necessary for the conservation and 
management of the Alaska groundfish fisheries and that it is consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and 
other applicable laws.
    This action is authorized under Sec.  679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause to waive prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment on this action as notice and comment is 
unnecessary. Through this action, NOAA seeks to revise the final 2011 
and 2012 GOA harvest specifications consistent with the final rules 
implementing Amendment 83 to the FMP and to ensure that the Pacific cod 
allocations and halibut PSC limits implemented under Amendment 83 will 
be effective at the beginning of the 2012 fishing year. Prior notice 
and opportunity for public comment on this action is unnecessary 
because the revisions being made by this action merely update the 2011 
and 2012 GOA harvest specifications to reflect allocations and 
limitations implemented and required by Amendment 83, and which have 
already been subject to notice and comment.
    This action does not revise the final 2011 and 2012 GOA harvest 
specifications in any substantive manner not previously the subject of 
notice and comment during the development of Amendment 83. The Pacific 
cod fisheries in the Western and Central GOA are intensive, fast-paced 
fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch 
the Pacific cod TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in 
allocating the Pacific cod TACs under Amendment 83 would cause 
confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through 
unnecessary discards. Determining which fisheries may close is 
impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that 
cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, 
movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure 
of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up 
fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open 
ones, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries and 
causing them to close at an accelerated pace.
    In fisheries subject to declining sideboards, a failure to 
implement the updated sideboards before initial season's end could 
preclude the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded 
sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboards, economic 
benefit could be precluded to the sideboarded sectors.
    The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the 
effective date requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553(d). The waiver of the 30-day 
delay in effective date requirement of 5 U.S.C. 553(d) is necessary to 
ensure that the allocations and limitations required under Amendment 83 
will be effective at the beginning of the 2012 fishing year and to 
provide the regulated community

[[Page 81872]]

with timely, adequate, and accurate information necessary to allow the 
industry to plan for the fishing season, to conduct orderly and 
efficient fisheries, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing 
fleet and processors. Per the implementing requirements of Amendment 83 
to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), the Pacific cod TAC 
apportionments between the inshore and offshore components in the 
Western and Central Management Areas are superseded and replaced by 
apportionments among various gear and operational sectors. Absent 
waiver of the 30-day delay in effective date, the Pacific cod fisheries 
in the Western and Central Management Areas would be subject to 
obsolete management measures for a several weeks at the onset of the 
2012, as the regulations requiring NMFS to apportion the Pacific cod 
TAC limits in these two areas to the inshore and offshore components 
(Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii)) no longer exist as of January 1, 2012.
    NMFS prepared a Final EIS for the harvest strategy implemented by 
the annual harvest specifications 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 Final EIS. Copies of the Final EIS and 
ROD for this action are available (see ADDRESSES). NMFS also prepared 
an EA in conjunction with Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (See ADDRESSES).
    Two separate final regulatory flexibility analyses (FRFAs) were 
prepared to evaluate the impacts on small entities resulting from (1) 
alternative harvest strategies employed in establishing the final 2011 
and 2012 harvest specifications and (2) alternatives considered during 
the development and approval of Amendment 83. Both of these FRFAs met 
the statutory requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (5 U.S.C. 601-612). A summary of each FRFA was published with its 
relevant final rule and is not repeated here. The summary of the FRFA 
supporting the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications was published 
March 1, 2011 (76 FR 11111), and the summary of the FRFA supporting 
Amendment 83 to the FMP was published December 1, 2011 (76 FR 74670).

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., 1801 et seq., 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447.

    Dated: December 22, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33448 Filed 12-28-11; 8:45 am]
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