International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit in Longline Fisheries for 2013 and 2014, 36496-36505 [2013-14337]

Download as PDF 36496 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 130104012–3012–01] RIN 0648–BC88 International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit in Longline Fisheries for 2013 and 2014 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act) to establish a catch limit of 3,763 metric tons (mt) of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) for vessels in the U.S. pelagic longline fisheries operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) for each of the calendar years 2013 and 2014. The limit would not apply to vessels in the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Once the limit of 3,763 mt is reached in 2013 or 2014, retaining, transshipping, or landing bigeye tuna caught in the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention), which comprises the majority of the WCPO, would be prohibited for the remainder of the calendar year, with certain exceptions. This action is necessary for the United States to satisfy its obligations under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party. DATES: Comments must be submitted in writing by July 18, 2013. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this proposed rule, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2013–0090, and the regulatory impact review (RIR) prepared for this proposed rule, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20130090, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 • Mail: Submit written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814– 4700. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, might not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name and address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) prepared under authority of the Regulatory Flexibility Act is included in the Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this proposed rule. Copies of the RIR and the Supplemental Information Report (SIR) prepared for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) purposes are available at www.regulations.gov or may be obtained from Michael D. Tosatto, NMFS PIRO (see address above). The SIR is described in more detail below in the Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this proposed rule. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rini Ghosh, NMFS PIRO, 808–944–2273. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background on the Convention A map showing the boundaries of the area of application of the Convention (Convention Area), which comprises the majority of the WCPO, can be found on the WCPFC Web site at: www.wcpfc.int/ doc/convention-area-map. The Convention focuses on the conservation and management of highly migratory species (HMS) and the management of fisheries for HMS. The objective of the Convention is to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of HMS in the WCPO. To accomplish this objective, the Convention establishes the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). The WCPFC PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 includes Members, Cooperating Nonmembers, and Participating Territories (collectively, CCMs). The United States is a Member. American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI are Participating Territories. As a Contracting Party to the Convention and a Member of the WCPFC, the United States is obligated to implement the decisions of the WCPFC. The WCPFC Implementation Act (16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), authorizes the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department in which the United States Coast Guard is operating (currently the Department of Homeland Security), to promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the obligations of the United States under the Convention, including the decisions of the WCPFC. The WCPFC Implementation Act further provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure consistency, to the extent practicable, of fishery management programs administered under the WCPFC Implementation Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), as well as other specific laws (see 16 U.S.C. 6905(b)). The Secretary of Commerce has delegated the authority to promulgate regulations to NMFS. WCPFC Decisions Regarding Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits in Longline Fisheries At its Ninth Regular Session, in Manila, Philippines, in December 2012, the WCPFC adopted ‘‘Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean’’ (CMM 2012–01). The CMM’s stated general objective is to ensure that the stocks of bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) in the WCPO are, at a minimum, maintained at levels capable of producing their maximum sustainable yield as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors. The CMM includes specific objectives for each of the three stocks: For each, the fishing mortality rate is to be reduced to or maintained at levels no greater than the fishing mortality rate associated with maximum sustainable yield. The requirements of the CMM, identified as ‘‘interim’’ measures, are for calendar year 2013. The CMM also calls for the WCPFC to establish, at its regular annual session in December 2013, a multi-year management program for 2014–2017 for the three stocks. Given the stock status of bigeye tuna in the WCPO and the general positions of CCMs regarding their longline fisheries, E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS it is highly likely that the multi-year management program will result in a CMM with the same catch limits for longline fisheries as those included in CMM 2012–01. NMFS proposes to implement the longline provisions of CMM 2012–01 for 2014 as well as 2013, and to implement changes as necessary following the regular session of the WCPFC in December 2013. In this manner, NMFS will avoid any gaps in regulatory oversight of the fisheries that otherwise might result. Implementing this proposed rule for 2013 and 2014 also would serve to provide advance notice to the public that the catch limit would continue, pending implementation of any new measure adopted by the WCPFC, allowing fishers to adjust their fishing practices accordingly. Once the WCPFC adopts a new CMM, NMFS will take the steps necessary to implement that CMM. CMM 2012–01 is the successor to CMM 2011–01, adopted in March 2012 (most provisions of which were applicable in 2012), and to CMM 2008– 01, adopted in December 2008 (most provisions of which were applicable in 2009–2011). These and other CMMs adopted by the WCPFC are available at www.wcpfc.int/conservation-andmanagement-measures. Among other provisions, CMM 2012– 01 requires that CCMs limit catches of bigeye tuna by their longline vessels to specified levels in 2013. The catch limit for the United States longline fisheries is 3,763 mt. This is the same as the catch limit for the United States established in CMMs 2008–01 and 2011–01 that NMFS implemented for 2009–2012 (final rule published 74 FR 63999 (2009 rule) and interim final rule published 77 FR 51709 (2012 rule)). As in the 2009 rule and the 2012 rule, this proposed rule would establish a limit on retained catches (as a proxy for catches) of bigeye tuna. Under CMM 2012–01 and its Attachment F, the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI are not subject to longline bigeye tuna catch limits. Proposed Action This proposed rule would implement the longline bigeye tuna catch limit of CMM 2012–01 for the United States. The proposed limit and associated restrictions would apply to U.S. longline fisheries in the WCPO other than those of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. Establishment of the Limit For the purpose of this proposed rule, the longline fisheries of the three U.S. Participating Territories would be distinguished from the other longline VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 fisheries of the United States (all of which are U.S.-flagged vessels) based on a combination of three factors: (1) Where the bigeye tuna are landed; (2) the types of Federal longline fishing permits registered to the fishing vessel; and (3) whether the fishing vessel is included in an arrangement under authorization of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Pub. L. 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). Hereafter, this law is referred to as the ‘‘Section 113 authorization’’; the original law, enacted for 2011 and 2012, is referred to as ‘‘prior Section 113(a)’’; and, arrangements authorized under either of these laws are referred to as ‘‘Section 113(a) arrangements.’’ The Section 113 authorization remains in effect until the earlier of December 31, 2013, or such time as the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (WPFMC) recommends, and the Secretary approves, an amendment to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Pacific Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (Pelagics FEP) that would authorize U.S. Participating Territories to use, assign, allocate, and manage catch limits of highly migratory fish stocks, or fishing effort limits, established by the WCPFC, and the amendment is implemented via regulations. The WPFMC at its 154th meeting took final action to amend the Pelagics FEP accordingly; however, the amendment has not yet been approved or implemented by NMFS. It is possible the amendment will apply in 2013 or 2014, in which case the provisions of this proposed rule that take into consideration the Section 113 authorization would cease to apply, as the amendment would effectively replace it. The Section 113 authorization may also cease to apply on its own in 2014, if the effective date is not further extended beyond December 31, 2013; therefore, the provisions of this proposed rule that take into consideration the Section 113 authorization would similarly cease to apply. Thus, this proposed rule provides notice to the public that the provisions in the rule for Section 113(a) arrangements may be applicable in 2014, if the Section 113 authorization is further continued, but the regulatory text would only implement the provisions for Section 113(a) arrangements for 2013. NMFS would take appropriate action to amend the regulatory text if Section 113(a) arrangements are applicable in 2014. PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 36497 With respect to the first factor, bigeye tuna landed by U.S. vessels in any of the three U.S. Participating Territories, with certain provisos, would be attributed to the longline fishery of that Participating Territory. The provisos are that: (1) The bigeye tuna must not be captured in the portion of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and (2) the bigeye tuna must be landed by a U.S. fishing vessel operated in compliance with one of the permits required under the regulations implementing the Pelagics FEP developed by the WPFMC or the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (West Coast HMS FMP) developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (i.e., a permit issued under 50 CFR 665.801 or 660.707). With respect to the second factor, bigeye tuna that are caught by a fishing vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit would, subject to the provisos mentioned above, be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, regardless of where that catch is landed. This distinction is made because American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permits are issued only to people that have demonstrated participation in the American Samoa pelagic fisheries, such that the catch may properly be attributed to that territory. The 2009 rule and the 2012 rule included these two above factors as well as the related provisos. The 2012 rule also included a third factor for the attribution of catch to the U.S. Participating Territories, to take into consideration the provisions of prior Section 113(a). This proposed rule takes into consideration these same provisions, which are included in the Section 113 authorization. These provisions authorize the U.S. Participating Territories of the WCPFC to use, assign, allocate, and manage catch limits or fishing effort limits agreed to by the WCPFC through arrangements with U.S. vessels with permits issued under the Pelagics FEP. They also further direct the Secretary of Commerce, for the purposes of annual reporting to the WCPFC, to attribute catches made by vessels operating under Section 113(a) arrangements to the U.S. Participating Territories. The provisions also establish specific eligibility criteria for these arrangements. The 2012 rule established additional requirements and conditions for catches to be attributed to the U.S. Participating Territories. This proposed rule includes these same eligibility criteria, requirements, and conditions, which are described in more detail below. E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 36498 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules The longline fisheries of the United States and its territories operating in the WCPO are managed as discrete fisheries, with separate compilations of catch and effort statistics and separate management measures for each fishery. In order to allow for the orderly administration of these fisheries and a consistent manner of attributing catches to the fisheries of the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements, NMFS would wait to attribute catches under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements until the date the catch limit would be reached can be forecasted with a fairly high degree of probability. Thereafter, NMFS would attribute catches to the fisheries of the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements starting seven days before the date the U.S. catch limit is forecasted to be reached. This procedure would allow NMFS to properly administer and enforce the specific management requirements for each fishery throughout the year, consistent with the approved Pelagics FEP. As in 2012, NMFS would prepare forecasts during 2013 and 2014 of the date that the bigeye tuna catch limit would be reached and periodically make these forecasts available to the public, such as by posting on a Web site. All the forecasts prepared up until the time that catch attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories under Section 113(a) arrangements actually begins would assume that there would be no such catch attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories. Those forecasts would be subject to change as new information becomes available. Because of these potential changes, it is necessary to identify a particular forecast for the purpose of determining when catch attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements would begin. For this purpose, NMFS would use the first forecast that indicates the catch limit would be reached within 28 days of the date of preparation of that forecast. The projected catch limit date in this forecast would be called, for the purpose of this proposed rule, the preSection 113(a) attribution forecast date. As soon as NMFS determines the preSection 113(a) attribution forecast date, NMFS would evaluate all Section 113(a) arrangements that it has received to date, based on the eligibility criteria specified below, and calculate a new forecast date for the catch limit, this time not counting as part of the tally any U.S. catches to be attributed to the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements. In order to VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 allow NMFS a reasonable amount of time to complete this process, NMFS would begin attributing catches to the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date and the new forecast date for the catch limit would be calculated based on this attribution start date. At that time, NMFS would also make publicly available a new forecast date on a Web site—the postSection 113(a) attribution forecast date—and would update that forecast date as appropriate throughout 2013 and 2014 (if Section 113(a) arrangements are applicable in 2014). There would be no official due date for the receipt by NMFS of potentially eligible Section 113(a) arrangements. However, NMFS would need 14 days to process arrangements that it receives, so for an arrangement received after the date that NMFS determines the preSection 113(a) attribution forecast date, attribution to the appropriate U.S. Participating Territory would start 14 days after NMFS has received the arrangement or seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date, whichever date is later. NMFS considered starting catch attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements only after the 3,763 mt catch limit is reached, in order to be consistent with past administration of the longline fisheries in the WCPO. However, given the time needed to process Section 113(a) arrangements and the time needed to put into effect the prohibitions once the 3,763 mt catch limit is reached, waiting until the catch limit is reached to begin attribution under arrangements with the U.S. Participating Territories would likely cause public confusion and result in unnecessary costs in the fishery if there is an eligible Section 113(a) arrangement. For example, should attribution begin only after the catch limit is reached and the prohibitions go into effect, a vessel owner providing NMFS with a copy of an eligible arrangement a few days before the catch limit is reached would be subject to the prohibitions for a number of days while the arrangement is reviewed, even though the prohibitions would be later found not to apply to the vessel. Beginning attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories a short period before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date would help minimize confusion and costs associated with such a situation. It would also have the advantage of avoiding, in certain circumstances, the administrative and PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 other costs associated with putting the prohibitions into effect. The proposed rule would also include certain requirements that must be met in order for NMFS to attribute bigeye tuna caught by a particular vessel included in a Section 113(a) arrangement to the longline fishery of a U.S. Participating Territory. First, with the exception of existing arrangements received by NMFS prior to the effective date of the proposed rule, NMFS would need to receive from the vessel owner or designated representative a copy of the arrangement at least 14 days prior to the date the bigeye tuna were caught. In addition, the arrangement would need to satisfy specific criteria, discussed in detail in the section below. Any bigeye tuna attributed to the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI as specified in the proposed rule would not be counted against the U.S. limit. All other bigeye tuna captured by longline gear in the Convention Area by U.S. longline vessels and retained would be counted against the U.S. limit of 3,763 mt. Eligible Arrangements Under the proposed rule, an arrangement would not be eligible for the attribution of bigeye tuna to the U.S. Participating Territories under the terms of the Section 113 authorization, unless each of the following five criteria were met: (1) The arrangement would need to include vessels registered for use with valid permits issued under the Pelagics FEP; (2) the arrangement could not impose requirements regarding where the vessels fish or land their catch; (3) the arrangement would need to be signed by all the owners of the vessels included in the arrangement, or by their designated representative(s); (4) the arrangement would need to be signed by an authorized official of the U.S. Participating Territory(ies) or his or her designated representative(s); and (5) the arrangement would need to be funded by deposits to the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund in support of fisheries development projects identified in a territory’s Marine Conservation Plan adopted pursuant to section 204 of the MSA. If NMFS determined that an arrangement did not meet the criteria for eligibility, NMFS would notify the parties to the arrangement or their designated representative(s) of its determination within 14 days of receiving a copy of the arrangement. Announcement of the Limit Being Reached Under the proposed rule, should NMFS determine that the limit is E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS expected to be reached before the end of 2013 or 2014, NMFS would publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce specific fishing restrictions that would be effective from the date the limit is expected to be reached until the end of the 2013 or 2014 calendar year. NMFS would publish the notice of the restrictions at least seven calendar days before the effective date to provide vessel operators with advance notice. Periodic forecasts of the date the limit is expected to be reached would be made available to the public, such as by posting on a Web site, to help vessel operators plan for the possibility of the limit being reached. Restrictions After the Limit Is Reached (1) Retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna: Starting on the effective date of the restrictions and extending through December 31 of that calendar year, it would be prohibited to use a U.S. fishing vessel to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna captured in the Convention Area by longline gear, except as follows: First, any bigeye tuna already on board a fishing vessel upon the effective date of the restrictions could be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed, provided that they were landed within 14 days after the restrictions become effective. A vessel that had declared to NMFS pursuant to 50 CFR 665.803(a) that the current trip type is shallowsetting would not be subject to this 14day landing restriction, so these vessels would be able to land fish more than 14 days after the restrictions become effective. Second, bigeye tuna captured by longline gear could be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a fishing vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit, or if they were landed in American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI, with the following provisos: The bigeye tuna must not have been caught in the portion of the U.S. EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago and must have been landed by a U.S. fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under 50 CFR 660.707 or 665.801. Third, bigeye tuna captured by longline gear could be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a vessel that is included in an eligible Section 113(a) arrangement, as specified above, and the bigeye tuna were subject to attribution to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI in accordance with the terms of the arrangement, and to the extent VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 consistent with the requirements and procedures set forth in the proposed rule, with the following proviso: NMFS would need to have received from the vessel owner or designated representative a copy of the arrangement at least 14 days prior to the activity (i.e., the retention on board, transshipment, or landing). The advance notification provision would not apply to existing arrangements received by NMFS prior to the effective date of the proposed rule. (2) Transshipment of bigeye tuna to certain vessels: Starting on the effective date of the restrictions and extending through December 31 of that calendar year, it would be prohibited to transship bigeye tuna caught in the Convention Area by longline gear to any vessel other than a U.S. fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under 50 CFR 660.707 or 665.801. (3) Fishing inside and outside the Convention Area: To help ensure compliance with the restrictions related to bigeye tuna caught by longline gear in the Convention Area, the proposed rule would establish two additional, related prohibitions that would be in effect starting on the effective date of the restrictions and extending through December 31 of that calendar year. First, it would be prohibited to fish with longline gear both inside and outside the Convention Area during the same fishing trip, with the exception of a fishing trip that is in progress at the time the announced restrictions go into effect. In that exceptional case, the vessel would still be required to land any bigeye tuna taken in the Convention Area within 14 days of the effective date of the restrictions, as described above. Second, if a vessel is used to fish using longline gear outside the Convention Area and enters the Convention Area at any time during the same fishing trip, the longline gear on the fishing vessel would be required to be stowed in a manner so as not to be readily available for fishing while the vessel is in the Convention Area. These two prohibitions would not apply to the following vessels: (1) Vessels on declared shallow-setting trips pursuant to 50 CFR 665.803(a); and (2) vessels operating for the purposes of this rule as part of the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI (including vessels registered for use under valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permits and vessels landing their bigeye tuna catch in one of the three U.S. Participating Territories, so long as these vessels conduct fishing activities in accordance with the provisos described above; and vessels included in an eligible Section 113(a) arrangement, as specified above, PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 36499 provided that their catches of bigeye tuna are subject to attribution to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI at the time of the activity). Classification The Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the WCPFC Implementation Act and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. National Environmental Policy Act For implementation of the 2009 rule, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Supplemental EA (hereafter, 2009 EA and 2009 SEA, respectively). For implementation of the 2012 rule, NMFS prepared a Supplemental EA (hereafter, 2012 EA). NMFS has prepared a Supplemental Information Report (SIR) to examine whether additional NEPA analysis is needed to assess the impacts of the proposed rule on the human environment. The SIR includes the following sections: (1) The criteria for supplementing NEPA analysis; (2) summary of existing NEPA documents; (3) evaluation of the proposed action; (4) evaluation of new information available since preparation of the existing NEPA analysis; (5) analysis of the need for additional NEPA analysis; and (6) conclusions. In the SIR, NMFS concludes that no supplemental NEPA analysis is required to implement by regulation the 3,763 mt bigeye tuna catch limit for U.S. longline fisheries for 2013 and 2014 for the following reasons: (1) The proposed action is substantially the same as the 2009 rule and the 2012 rule; (2) the potential impacts from the proposed action on the human environment were addressed in the 2009 EA, 2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA; (3) the resources potentially affected by the proposed action were adequately described and evaluated in the 2009 EA, 2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA; and (4) there is no new significant information or circumstances affecting the action area that were not taken into consideration in the 2009 EA, 2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA. Executive Order 12866 This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Regulatory Flexibility Act An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 36500 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS proposed rule would have on affected small entities, if adopted. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble and in other sections of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble. The analysis follows: Estimated Number of Small Entities Affected The proposed rule would apply to owners and operators of U.S. vessels fishing with longline gear in the Convention Area, except those that are part of the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. The total number of affected entities is approximated by the number of Hawaii Longline Limited Access Permits (issued under 50 CFR 665.13) that are assigned to vessels (permitted vessels). Under the limited access program, no more than 164 permits may be issued. During 2006–2012 the number of permitted vessels ranged from 130 to 145 (these figures and some other estimates in the remainder of this IRFA differ slightly from previously published estimates because of subsequent updates to the data and/or methods that were used for the estimates). The current number of permitted vessels (as of May 2013) is 129. Traditionally, most of the Hawaii fleet’s fishing effort has been in the Convention Area, with the remainder of the effort to the east of the Convention Area, as described below. Owners and operators of U.S. longline vessels based on the U.S. west coast also could be affected by this proposed rule. However, based on the complete lack of fishing by that fleet in the Convention Area since 2005, it is expected that very few, if any, U.S. west coast vessels would be affected. Most of the Hawaii longline fleet targets bigeye tuna using deep sets, and during certain parts of the year, portions of the fleet target swordfish using shallow sets. In the years 2005 through 2012, the estimated numbers of Hawaii longline vessels that actually fished ranged from 124 to 129. Of the vessels that fished, the number of vessels that engaged in deep-setting in the years 2005 through 2012 ranged from 122 to 129, and the number of vessels that engaged in shallow-setting ranged from 18 to 35. The number of vessels that engaged in both deep-setting and shallow-setting ranged from 17 to 35. The number of vessels that engaged exclusively in shallow-setting ranged from zero to two. As an indication of the size of businesses in the fishery, average annual ex-vessel revenue for the fleet during 2005–2010 was about $71 VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 million (in 2012 dollars). Virtually all of those revenues are believed to come from shallow-set and deep-set longlining. Based on an average of 127 active vessels during that period, the mean annual per-vessel revenue was about $0.6 million (in 2012 dollars). NMFS has determined that most or all vessels in the affected fisheries are likely to be small entities based on the average annual per-vessel revenue and the Small Business Administration’s definition of a small fish harvester (i.e., gross annual receipts of less than $4.0 million). Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements The proposed rule would not establish any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements. The new compliance requirement would be for affected vessel owners and operators to cease retaining, landing, and transshipping bigeye tuna caught with longline gear in the Convention Area if and when the catch limit is reached in 2013 or 2014, for the remainder of the calendar year, with the exceptions and provisos described in other sections of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble. (Although the restrictions that would come into effect in the event the catch limit is reached would not prohibit longline fishing, per se, they are sometimes referred to in this analysis as constituting a ‘‘fishery closure.’’) Fulfillment of this requirement is not expected to require any professional skills that the vessel owners and operators do not already possess. The costs of complying with this requirement are described below to the extent possible. Complying with the proposed rule could cause foregone fishing opportunities and result in associated economic losses in the event that the bigeye tuna catch limit is reached in 2013 or 2014 and the restrictions on retaining, landing, and transshipping bigeye tuna are imposed for portions of either or both of those years. These costs cannot be projected with any quantitative certainty. For the purpose of projecting baseline conditions under no action, this analysis relies primarily on fishery performance from 2005 through 2008. The years prior to 2005 are excluded because the regulatory environment underwent major changes (the swordfish-directed shallow-set longline fishery was closed in 2001 and reopened in 2004 with limits on fishing effort and turtle interactions). The years 2009–2012 are excluded because bigeye tuna catch limits similar to the limits proposed here were in place. The proposed limit, by prescription, is 10 PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 percent less than catches in 2004 (here and in the remainder of this IRFA, ‘‘catches’’ means fish that are caught and retained on board). The proposed annual limit of 3,763 mt is less than the amount caught in any of the years 2005– 2008, and it is 20 percent less than the annual average amount caught in that period. Thus, if catches in 2013 and 2014 are similar to those in 2005–2008, there would be a fairly high likelihood of the proposed limit being reached in both years. If the bigeye tuna limit is reached before the end of 2013 or 2014 and the Convention Area bigeye fishery is consequently closed for the remainder of the calendar year, it can be expected that affected vessels would shift to the next most profitable fishing opportunity (which might be not fishing at all). Revenues from that ‘‘next best’’ alternative activity reflect the opportunity costs associated with longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area. The economic cost of the proposed rule would not be the nominal direct losses in revenues that would result from not being able to fish for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area, but rather the difference in benefits derived from that activity and those derived from the next best activity. The economic cost of the proposed rule on affected entities is examined here by first estimating the direct losses in revenues that would result from not being able to fish for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area as a result of the catch limit being reached. Those losses represent the upper bound of the economic cost of the proposed rule on affected entities. Potential next-best alternative activities that affected entities could undertake are then identified in order to provide a (mostly qualitative) description of the degree to which actual costs would be lower than that upper bound. Upper bounds on potential economic costs can be estimated by examining the projected value of longline landings from the Convention Area that would not be made as a result of reaching the limit. For this purpose, it is assumed that, absent this proposed rule, fishing patterns in 2013 and 2014 would be about the same as those in 2005–2008. In the IRFA for the 2009 rule, two noaction scenarios were considered—one in which future catches would be equal to the average during 2005–2008, and a second in which the increasing trend in the fleet’s catches in 2005–2008 would continue in future years. The second scenario is not considered in this analysis because if catches in 2011—a year in which a bigeye tuna catch limit was in place but was not reached—are E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules considered, there was no clear upward trend (in 2009 and 2010, the limit was reached and the restrictions went into effect). Based on the numbers of fish caught from vessel logbook data, and average fish weights derived from landings data, the average annual fleet catch of bigeye tuna in 2005–2008 was 4,718 mt. Thus, if catches in 2013 and 2014 would be 4,718 mt per year without a limit in place, imposition of a catch limit of 3,763 mt would be expected to result in 20 percent less bigeye tuna being caught in 2013–2014 than under no action. In the deep-set fishery, catches of marketable species other than bigeye tuna would likely be affected in a similar way (if vessels do not shift to alternative activities). Assuming for the moment that ex-vessel prices would not be affected by a fishery closure, under the proposed rule, revenues in 2013 and 2014 to entities that participate exclusively in the deepset fishery would be approximately 20 percent less than under no action. If average annual ex-vessel revenues during 2005–2008 (about $0.6 million per active vessel, in 2012 dollars) are a good indicator of future revenues under no action, per-vessel annual revenues under the proposed rule would be as much as $0.1 million less, on average, than under no action. In the shallow-set fishery, affected entities would bear limited cost in the event of the limit being reached (but most affected entities also participate in the deep-set fishery and might bear costs in that fishery, as described below). The cost would be approximately equal to the revenues lost from not being able to retain or land bigeye tuna captured while shallowsetting in the Convention Area, or the cost of shifting to shallow-setting in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), which is to the east of 150 degrees W. longitude, whichever is less. In the fourth calendar quarters of 2005–2008, almost all shallow-setting effort took place in the EPO, and 97 percent of bigeye tuna catches were made there, so the cost of a bigeye tuna fishery closure would appear to be very limited. During 2005– 2008, the shallow-set fishery caught an average of 54 mt of bigeye tuna per year from the Convention Area. If the proposed bigeye tuna catch limit is reached even as early as July 31 in 2013 or 2014, the Convention Area shallowset fishery would have caught at that point, based on 2005–2008 data, on average, 99 percent of its average annual bigeye tuna catches. Thus, imposition of the landings restriction at that point in 2013 or 2014 would result in the loss of revenues from approximately 0.5 mt (1 VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 percent of 54 mt) of bigeye tuna, which, based on recent ex-vessel prices, would be worth no more than $5,000. Thus, expecting about 27 vessels to engage in the shallow-set fishery (the annual average in 2005–2012), the average of those potentially lost annual revenues would be no more than $200 per vessel. The remainder of this analysis focuses on the potential costs of compliance in the deep-set fishery. Again, the estimates of potentially lost revenues given above are for the purpose of estimating upper bounds on potential economic losses on affected entities and do not account for revenues from alternative activities, some of which are discussed further below. It should be noted that impacts on affected entities’ profits would be less than impacts on revenues, because costs would be lower if a vessel ceases fishing after the catch limit is reached. Variable costs can be expected to be affected roughly in proportion to revenues, as both would stop accruing once a vessel stops fishing. But affected entities’ costs also include fixed costs, which are borne regardless of whether a vessel is used to fish—e.g., if it is tied up at the dock during a fishery closure. Thus, profits would likely be adversely impacted proportionately more than revenues. As stated previously, actual compliance costs for a given entity might be less than the upper bounds described above because ceasing fishing would not necessarily be the most profitable opportunity in the event of the catch limit being reached. Two alternative opportunities that are expected to be attractive to affected entities include: (1) Deep-set longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area in a manner such that the vessel is considered part of the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI; and (2) deep-set longline fishing for bigeye tuna and other species in the EPO. These two opportunities are discussed in detail below. Three additional opportunities, which were examined in economic analyses prepared for the 2009 rule are: (3) Shallow-set longline fishing for swordfish (for deep-setting vessels that would not otherwise do so), (4) deep-set longline fishing in the Convention Area for species other than bigeye tuna, and (5) working in cooperation with vessels operating as part of the longline fisheries of the Participating Territories—specifically, receiving transshipments at sea from them and delivering the fish to the Hawaii market. Vessel repair and maintenance is another possibility. A study by NMFS of the effects of the WCPO bigeye tuna PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 36501 longline fishery closure in 2010 (Richmond, L., D. Kotowicz, J. Hospital and S. Allen, 2012, Adaptations in a Fishing Community: Monitoring Socioeconomic Impacts of Hawai‘i’s 2010 Bigeye Tuna Closure, PIFSC Internal Report IR–12–019, Honolulu, United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center) did not identify any alternative activities that vessels engaged in during the closure other than deep-setting for bigeye tuna in the EPO, vessel maintenance and repairs, and granting lengthy vacations to employees. Thus, alternative opportunities (3), (4) and (5) are probably relatively unattractive relative to the first two, and they are not discussed here in any further detail. Before examining in detail the two potential alternative opportunities that would appear to be the most attractive to affected entities, it is important to note that under the proposed rule, once the limit is reached and the WCPO bigeye tuna fishery is closed, it would be prohibited to fish with longline gear both inside and outside the Convention Area during the same trip (with the exception of a fishing trip that is in progress when the limit is reached and the restrictions go into effect). For example, after the restrictions go into effect, during a given fishing trip, a vessel could be used for longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the EPO or for longline fishing for species other than bigeye tuna in the Convention Area, but not both. This reduced operational flexibility would bring costs, since it would constrain the potential profits from alternative opportunities collectively. Those costs cannot be quantified. With respect to alternative opportunity (1), deep-setting for bigeye tuna in a manner such that the vessel is considered part of the longline fishery of one of the three U.S. Participating Territories, there would be three such ways to do so: (a) landing the bigeye tuna in one of the three Participating Territories; (b) having an American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit; or (c) entering into an arrangement with one or more of the three Participating Territories under the Section 113 authorization, such that the vessel is considered part of the Participating Territory’s longline fishery. In the first two circumstances, the vessel would be considered part of the longline fishery of the Participating Territory only if the bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the U.S. EEZ around the Hawaiian Islands and they are landed E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 36502 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules by a U.S. vessel operated in compliance with a permit issued under the Pelagics FEP or the West Coast HMS FMP. With respect to alternative opportunity (1)(a), landing the bigeye tuna in one of the Participating Territories, there are three potentially important constraints. First, whether the fish are landed by the vessel that caught the fish or by a vessel to which the fish were transshipped, the costs of a vessel transiting from the traditional fishing grounds in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Archipelago to one of the Participating Territories would be substantial. Second, none of these three locales has large local consumer markets to absorb substantial additional landings of fresh sashimi-grade bigeye tuna. Third, transporting the bigeye tuna from these locales to larger markets, such as in Hawaii, the U.S. west coast, or Japan, would bring substantial additional costs and risks. These cost constraints suggest that this opportunity has limited potential to mitigate the economic impacts of the proposed rule on affected small entities. Opportunity (1)(b), having an American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit, would be available only to the subset of the Hawaii longline fleet that has both Hawaii and American Samoa longline permits (‘‘dual permit vessels’’). Vessels that do not currently have both permits could obtain them if they meet the eligibility requirements and pay the required costs. For example, the number of dual permit vessels increased from 12 in 2009, when the first WCPO bigeye tuna catch limit was established, to 20 in 2011, where it remained in 2012. The previously cited NMFS study of the 2010 fishery closure (Richmond et al. 2012) found that bigeye tuna landings of dual permit vessels increased substantially after the start of the closure on November 22, 2010, indicating that this was an attractive opportunity for dual permit vessels, and suggesting that those entities might have benefitted from the catch limit and the closure. Opportunity (1)(c), entering into a Section 113(a) arrangement with a U.S. Participating Territory, would be available to all affected entities in 2013; it is not known whether it would be available in 2014. This is the same opportunity that was available in 2011 and 2012 when prior Section 113(a) was in effect. In those two years, the vessels of the members of the Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) were included in a Section 113(a) arrangement with American Samoa, and as a result, the catch limit was not reached in either year, and no longline vessels were subject to the restrictions that would VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 have gone into effect had the limit been reached. This option would likely not come without cost—at least one of the three Participating Territories would have to agree to the arrangement. As an indication of the possible cost, the terms of the arrangement between American Samoa and the members of the HLA that applied in 2011 and 2012 included payments totaling $250,000 from the HLA to the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund, equal to $2,000 per vessel in the arrangement (it is not known how the total cost was allocated among the members of the HLA, so it is possible that the owners of particular vessels paid substantially more than or less than $2,000). With respect to alternative opportunity (2), deep-set fishing for bigeye tuna in the EPO, this would be an option for affected entities only if it is allowed under regulations implementing the decisions of the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Currently there is a bigeye tuna catch limit of 500 mt for 2013 that applies to U.S. longline vessels greater than 24 meters (m) in length. It is presently not known whether the limit will be reached in 2013. Annual longline bigeye tuna catch limits have been in place for the EPO in most years since 2004, but since 2009, when the limit was 500 mt and applicable only to vessels longer than 24 m in length, the limits have not been reached. The IATTC is scheduled to consider needed management measures for 2014 and beyond for the tropical tuna stocks at its annual meeting in June 2013, but it is not known whether it will maintain or modify its current bigeye tuna longline catch limit provisions, which are in effect through 2013. Historical fishing patterns can provide an indication of the likelihood of affected entities making use of the opportunity of deep-setting in the EPO in the event of a closure in the WCPO. The proportion of the U.S. fishery’s annual bigeye tuna catches that were captured in the EPO from 2005 through 2008 ranged from 2 percent to 22 percent, and averaged 11 percent. In 2005–2007, that proportion, which ranged from 2 percent to 11 percent, may have been constrained by the bigeye tuna catch limits established by NMFS to implement the decisions of the IATTC. Prior to 2009, most of the U.S. annual bigeye tuna catch by longline vessels in the EPO typically was made in the second and third quarters of the year: in 2005–2008 the percentages caught in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters were 14, 33, 50, and 3 percent, respectively. These two historical PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 patterns—that relatively little of the bigeye tuna catch in the longline fishery was typically taken in the EPO (11 percent in 2005–2008, on average) and that most EPO bigeye tuna catches were made in the second and third quarters, with relatively few catches in the fourth quarter, when the proposed catch limit would most likely be reached, suggest that there could be substantial costs for at least some affected entities to shift to deep-set fishing in the EPO in the event of a closure in the WCPO. On the other hand, fishing patterns in 2009–2012, when annual bigeye tuna catch limits were in effect in the WCPO, suggest that a substantial shift in deep-set fishing effort to the EPO could occur. In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, the proportions of the fishery’s annual bigeye tuna catches that were captured in the EPO were about 16, 27, 22, and 19 percent, respectively. And during that three-year period, on average, the proportions caught in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters were 7, 14, 41, and 37 percent, respectively. Thus, a substantial amount of fishing occurred in the EPO in the fourth quarters of 2009–2012, when WCPO catch limits were in place (the limits were reached in 2009 and 2010). However, the NMFS study of the 2010 closure (Richmond et al. 2012) found that some businesses— particularly those with smaller vessels— were less inclined than others to fish in the EPO during the closure because of the relatively long distances that would need to be travelled in the relatively rough winter ocean conditions. The study identified a number of factors that likely made fishing in the EPO less lucrative than fishing in the WCPO during that part of the year, including fuel costs and the need to limit trip length in order to maintain fish quality and because of limited fuel storage capacity. In addition to affecting the volume of landings of bigeye tuna and other species, the proposed catch limit could affect fish prices, particularly during a fishery closure. Both increases and decreases appear possible. After the limit is reached and landings from the WCPO are prohibited, ex-vessel prices of bigeye tuna (e.g., that are caught in the EPO or by vessels in the longline fisheries of the three U.S. Participating Territories), as well as of other species landed by the fleet, could increase as a result of the constricted supply. This would mitigate economic losses for vessels that are able to continue fishing and landing bigeye tuna during the closure. For example, the NMFS study of the 2010 closure (Richmond et al. 2012) found that ex-vessel prices during E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules the closure in December were 50 percent greater than the average during the previous five Decembers (it is emphasized that because it was an observational study, neither this nor other observations of what occurred during the closure can be affirmatively linked as effects of the fishery closure). Conversely, a WCPO bigeye tuna fishery closure could cause a decrease in exvessel prices of bigeye tuna and other products landed by affected entities if the interruption in the local supply prompts the Hawaii market to shift to alternative (e.g., imported) sources of bigeye tuna. Such a shift could be temporary—that is, limited to 2013 and/ or 2014, or it could lead to a more permanent change in the market (e.g., as a result of wholesale and retail buyers wanting to mitigate the uncertainty in the continuity of supply from the Hawaii longline fisheries). In the latter case, if locally caught bigeye tuna fetches lower prices because of stiffer competition with imported bigeye tuna, then ex-vessel prices of local product could be depressed indefinitely. The NMFS study of the 2010 closure (Richmond et al. 2012) found that a common concern in the Hawaii fishing community prior to the closure in November 2010 was retailers having to rely more heavily on imported tuna, causing imports to gain a greater market share in local markets. The study found this not to have been borne out, at least not in 2010, when the evidence gathered in the study suggested that few buyers adapted to the closure by increasing their reliance on imports, and no reports or indications were found of a dramatic increase in the use of imported bigeye tuna during the closure. The study concluded, however, that the 2010 closure caused buyers to give increased consideration to imports as part of their business model, and it was predicted that tuna imports could increase during any future closure. To the extent that exvessel prices would be reduced by this action, revenues earned by affected entities would be affected accordingly, and these impacts could occur both before and after the limit is reached, and as described above, possibly after 2014. The potential economic effects identified above would vary among individual business entities, but it is not possible to predict the range of variation. Furthermore, the impacts on a particular entity would depend both on that entity’s response to the proposed rule and to the behavior of other vessels in the fleet, both before and after the catch limit is reached. For example, the greater the number of vessels that take advantage—before the limit is reached— VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 of opportunity (1), fishing as part of one of the Participating Territory’s fisheries, the lower the likelihood that the limit would be reached. The fleet’s behavior in 2011 and 2012 is illustrative. In both those years, most vessels in the Hawaii fleet were included in a Section 113(a) arrangement with American Samoa, and as a consequence, the catch limit was not reached in either year. Thus, none of the vessels in the fleet, including those not included in the Section 113(a) arrangement, were prohibited from fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area at any time during those two years. The fleet’s experience in 2010 (before opportunities under prior Section 113(a) were available) provides another example of how economic impacts could be distributed among different entities. In 2010 the limit was reached and the WCPO bigeye tuna fishery was closed on November 22. As described above, dual permit vessels were able to continue fishing (outside the U.S. EEZ around the Hawaiian Archipelago) and benefit from the relatively high ex-vessel prices that bigeye tuna fetched during the closure. In summary, NMFS has estimated upper bounds on the potential economic impacts of the proposed rule on affected entities, but the actual impacts to most entities are likely to be substantially less than those upper bounds, and for some entities the impacts could be neutral or positive. Disproportionate Impacts As indicated above, most or all affected entities are believed to be small entities, in which case small entities would not be disproportionately affected relative to large entities. However, as described above, there could be disproportionate impacts according to vessel size. The 500 mt EPO bigeye catch limit for 2013 applies only to vessels greater than 24 m in length, so in the event that the WCPO bigeye tuna fishery is closed and the 500 mt limit is reached in the EPO, only vessels 24 m or less in length would be able to take advantage of the alternative opportunity of deep-setting for bigeye tuna in the EPO. On the other hand, smaller vessels can be expected to find it more difficult, risky, and/or costly to fish in the EPO during the relatively rough winter months than larger vessels. If there are any large entities among the affected entities, and if the vessels of the large entities are larger than those of small entities, then it is possible that small entities could be disproportionately affected relative to large entities. All the affected entities are longline fishing businesses, so there would be no disproportionate economic PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 36503 impacts based on fishing gear. No disproportionate economic impacts based on home port would be expected. Duplicating, Overlapping, and Conflicting Federal Regulations NMFS has not identified any Federal rules that duplicate, overlap or conflict with the proposed rule. Alternatives to the Proposed Rule NMFS has not identified any significant alternatives to the proposed rule, other than the no-action alternative. Taking no action could result in lesser adverse economic impacts than the proposed action for many affected entities (but as described above, for some affected entities, the proposed rule could be more economically beneficial than no-action), but NMFS has determined that the noaction alternative would fail to accomplish the objectives of the WCPFC Implementation Act, including satisfying the international obligations of the United States as a Contracting Party to the Convention. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300 Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. Dated: June 11, 2013. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, performing the functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 300 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq. 2. Section 300.224 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 300.224 Longline fishing restrictions. (a) Establishment of bigeye tuna catch limit. There is a limit of 3,763 metric tons of bigeye tuna that may be captured in the Convention Area by longline gear and retained on board by fishing vessels of the United States during each of the calendar years 2013 and 2014. (b) Exception for bigeye tuna landed in territories. Bigeye tuna landed in American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will be attributed to the longline fishery of the territory in which it is E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 36504 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules landed and will not be counted against the limit established under paragraph (a) of this section, provided that: (1) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and (2) The bigeye tuna were landed by a fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under § 660.707 or § 665.801 of this title. (c) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels with American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permits. Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit issued under § 665.801(c) of this title will be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa and will not be counted against the limit established under paragraph (a) of this section, provided that: (1) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and (2) The bigeye tuna were landed by a fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under § 660.707 or § 665.801 of this title. (d) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels included in Section 113(a) arrangements. Bigeye tuna caught in 2013 by a vessel that is included in an arrangement under the authorization of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), will be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the terms of the arrangement to the extent they are consistent with this section and applicable law, and will not be counted against the limit, provided that: (1) NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement from the vessel owner or a designated representative at least 14 days prior to the date the bigeye tuna was caught, except that this requirement shall not apply to any arrangement provided to NMFS prior to the effective date of this paragraph; (2) The bigeye tuna was caught on or after the ‘‘start date’’ specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section; and (3) NMFS has determined that the arrangement satisfies the requirements of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), in VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 accordance with the criteria specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this section. (e) Announcement of catch limit being reached and fishing prohibitions. NMFS will monitor retained catches of bigeye tuna with respect to the limit established under paragraph (a) of this section using data submitted in logbooks and other available information. After NMFS determines that the limit is expected to be reached by a specific future date, and at least seven calendar days in advance of that specific future date, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that specific prohibitions will be in effect starting on that specific future date and ending December 31 of that calendar year. (f) Prohibitions after catch limit is reached. Once an announcement is made pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section, the following restrictions will apply during the period specified in the announcement: (1) A fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna captured by longline gear in the Convention Area, except as follows: (i) Any bigeye tuna already on board a fishing vessel upon the effective date of the prohibitions may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed, to the extent authorized by applicable laws and regulations, provided that they are landed within 14 days after the prohibitions become effective. The 14day landing requirement does not apply to a vessel that has declared to NMFS, pursuant to § 665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type is shallow-setting. (ii) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed if they are landed in American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, provided that: (A) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; (B) Such retention, transshipment, and/or landing is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and (C) The bigeye tuna are landed by a fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under § 660.707 or § 665.801 of this title. (iii) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed if they are caught by a vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit issued under § 665.801(c) of this title, provided that: (A) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (B) Such retention, transshipment, and/or landing is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and (C) The bigeye tuna are landed by a fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under § 660.707 or § 665.801 of this title. (iv) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed in 2013 if they were caught by a vessel that is included in an arrangement under the authorization of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), if the arrangement provides for the bigeye tuna when caught to be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, provided that: (A) NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement at least 14 days prior to the activity (i.e., the retention on board, transshipment, or landing), unless NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement prior to the effective date of this section; (B) The ‘‘start date’’ specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section has occurred or passed; and (C) NMFS has determined that the arrangement satisfies the requirements of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Pub. L. 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), in accordance with the criteria specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this section. (2) Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear in the Convention Area may not be transshipped to a fishing vessel unless that fishing vessel is operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under § 660.707 or § 665.801 of this title. (3) A fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using longline gear both inside and outside the Convention Area during the same fishing trip, with the exception of a fishing trip during which the prohibitions were put into effect as announced under paragraph (e) of this section, in which case the bigeye tuna on board the vessel may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed, to the extent authorized by applicable laws and regulations, provided that they are landed within 14 days after the prohibitions become effective. This prohibition does not apply to a vessel E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 117 / Tuesday, June 18, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS that catches bigeye tuna that is to be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in accordance with paragraphs (b), (c), or (d) of this section, or to a vessel for which a declaration has been made to NMFS, pursuant to § 665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type is shallow-setting. (4) If a fishing vessel of the United States, other than a vessel that catches bigeye tuna that is to be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in accordance with paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section, or a vessel for which a declaration has been made to NMFS, pursuant to § 665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type is shallow-setting, is used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using longline gear outside the Convention Area and the vessel enters the Convention Area at any time during the same fishing trip, the longline gear on the fishing vessel must, while it is in the Convention Area, be stowed in a manner so as not to be readily available for fishing; specifically, the hooks, branch or dropper lines, and floats used to buoy the mainline must be stowed and not available for immediate use, and any power-operated mainline hauler on deck must be covered in such a manner that it is not readily available for use. (g) Procedures and conditions for Section 113(a) arrangements. This paragraph establishes procedures to be followed and conditions that must be met in 2013 with respect to arrangements authorized under Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). These VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:16 Jun 17, 2013 Jkt 229001 procedures and conditions apply to paragraphs (d), (f)(1)(iv), (f)(3), and (f)(4) of this section. (1) For the purpose of this section, the ‘‘pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date’’ is the date the catch limit established under paragraph (a) of this section is forecast by NMFS to be reached in the calendar year, assuming that no catches would be attributed to the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under arrangements authorized under Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). Since forecasts are subject to change as new information becomes available, NMFS will use for this purpose the first forecast it prepares that indicates that the date of the limit being reached is less than 28 days after the date the forecast is prepared. (2) For the purpose of this section, the ‘‘start date’’ for attribution of catches to the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for a particular arrangement is: (i) Seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date, for arrangements copies of which are received by NMFS no later than the date NMFS determines the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date; and (ii) Seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date or 14 days after the date that NMFS receives a copy of the arrangement, whichever is later, for arrangements copies of which are received by NMFS after the date NMFS determines the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date. (3) NMFS will determine whether an arrangement satisfies the requirements PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 36505 of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112–55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Pub. L. 113–6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), for the attribution of bigeye tuna to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands according to the following criteria: (i) Vessels included under the arrangement must be registered for use with valid permits issued under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pacific Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region; (ii) The arrangement must not impose any requirements regarding where the vessels included in the arrangement must fish or land their catch; (iii) The arrangement must be signed by the owners of all the vessels included in the arrangement or their designated representative(s); (iv) The arrangement must be signed by an authorized official of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or his or her designated representative(s); and (v) The arrangement must be funded by deposits to the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund in support of fisheries development projects identified in the Marine Conservation Plan of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands adopted pursuant to section 204 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. (4) NMFS will notify the parties to the arrangement or their designated representative(s) within 14 days of receiving a copy of the arrangement, if the arrangement does not meet the criteria specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this section. [FR Doc. 2013–14337 Filed 6–17–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18JNP1.SGM 18JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 117 (Tuesday, June 18, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 36496-36505]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-14337]



[[Page 36496]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 130104012-3012-01]
RIN 0648-BC88


International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries 
for Highly Migratory Species; Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit in Longline 
Fisheries for 2013 and 2014

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations under authority of the Western and 
Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC 
Implementation Act) to establish a catch limit of 3,763 metric tons 
(mt) of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) for vessels in the U.S. pelagic 
longline fisheries operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean 
(WCPO) for each of the calendar years 2013 and 2014. The limit would 
not apply to vessels in the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, 
or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Once the 
limit of 3,763 mt is reached in 2013 or 2014, retaining, transshipping, 
or landing bigeye tuna caught in the area of application of the 
Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish 
Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention), which 
comprises the majority of the WCPO, would be prohibited for the 
remainder of the calendar year, with certain exceptions. This action is 
necessary for the United States to satisfy its obligations under the 
Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party.

DATES: Comments must be submitted in writing by July 18, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this proposed rule, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2013-0090, and the regulatory impact review (RIR) prepared 
for this proposed rule, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0090, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 
1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814-4700.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
might not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of 
the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name and address), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) prepared under 
authority of the Regulatory Flexibility Act is included in the 
Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this 
proposed rule.
    Copies of the RIR and the Supplemental Information Report (SIR) 
prepared for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) purposes are 
available at www.regulations.gov or may be obtained from Michael D. 
Tosatto, NMFS PIRO (see address above). The SIR is described in more 
detail below in the Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this proposed rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rini Ghosh, NMFS PIRO, 808-944-2273.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background on the Convention

    A map showing the boundaries of the area of application of the 
Convention (Convention Area), which comprises the majority of the WCPO, 
can be found on the WCPFC Web site at: www.wcpfc.int/doc/convention-area-map. The Convention focuses on the conservation and management of 
highly migratory species (HMS) and the management of fisheries for HMS. 
The objective of the Convention is to ensure, through effective 
management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of HMS in 
the WCPO. To accomplish this objective, the Convention establishes the 
Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish 
Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). The WCPFC 
includes Members, Cooperating Non-members, and Participating 
Territories (collectively, CCMs). The United States is a Member. 
American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI are Participating Territories.
    As a Contracting Party to the Convention and a Member of the WCPFC, 
the United States is obligated to implement the decisions of the WCPFC. 
The WCPFC Implementation Act (16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), authorizes the 
Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and 
the Secretary of the Department in which the United States Coast Guard 
is operating (currently the Department of Homeland Security), to 
promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the 
obligations of the United States under the Convention, including the 
decisions of the WCPFC. The WCPFC Implementation Act further provides 
that the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure consistency, to the extent 
practicable, of fishery management programs administered under the 
WCPFC Implementation Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (MSA; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), as well as other 
specific laws (see 16 U.S.C. 6905(b)). The Secretary of Commerce has 
delegated the authority to promulgate regulations to NMFS.

WCPFC Decisions Regarding Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits in Longline 
Fisheries

    At its Ninth Regular Session, in Manila, Philippines, in December 
2012, the WCPFC adopted ``Conservation and Management Measure for 
Bigeye, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific 
Ocean'' (CMM 2012-01). The CMM's stated general objective is to ensure 
that the stocks of bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and 
skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) in the WCPO are, at a minimum, 
maintained at levels capable of producing their maximum sustainable 
yield as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors. The 
CMM includes specific objectives for each of the three stocks: For 
each, the fishing mortality rate is to be reduced to or maintained at 
levels no greater than the fishing mortality rate associated with 
maximum sustainable yield. The requirements of the CMM, identified as 
``interim'' measures, are for calendar year 2013. The CMM also calls 
for the WCPFC to establish, at its regular annual session in December 
2013, a multi-year management program for 2014-2017 for the three 
stocks. Given the stock status of bigeye tuna in the WCPO and the 
general positions of CCMs regarding their longline fisheries,

[[Page 36497]]

it is highly likely that the multi-year management program will result 
in a CMM with the same catch limits for longline fisheries as those 
included in CMM 2012-01. NMFS proposes to implement the longline 
provisions of CMM 2012-01 for 2014 as well as 2013, and to implement 
changes as necessary following the regular session of the WCPFC in 
December 2013. In this manner, NMFS will avoid any gaps in regulatory 
oversight of the fisheries that otherwise might result. Implementing 
this proposed rule for 2013 and 2014 also would serve to provide 
advance notice to the public that the catch limit would continue, 
pending implementation of any new measure adopted by the WCPFC, 
allowing fishers to adjust their fishing practices accordingly. Once 
the WCPFC adopts a new CMM, NMFS will take the steps necessary to 
implement that CMM.
    CMM 2012-01 is the successor to CMM 2011-01, adopted in March 2012 
(most provisions of which were applicable in 2012), and to CMM 2008-01, 
adopted in December 2008 (most provisions of which were applicable in 
2009-2011). These and other CMMs adopted by the WCPFC are available at 
www.wcpfc.int/conservation-and-management-measures.
    Among other provisions, CMM 2012-01 requires that CCMs limit 
catches of bigeye tuna by their longline vessels to specified levels in 
2013. The catch limit for the United States longline fisheries is 3,763 
mt. This is the same as the catch limit for the United States 
established in CMMs 2008-01 and 2011-01 that NMFS implemented for 2009-
2012 (final rule published 74 FR 63999 (2009 rule) and interim final 
rule published 77 FR 51709 (2012 rule)). As in the 2009 rule and the 
2012 rule, this proposed rule would establish a limit on retained 
catches (as a proxy for catches) of bigeye tuna. Under CMM 2012-01 and 
its Attachment F, the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, and 
the CNMI are not subject to longline bigeye tuna catch limits.

Proposed Action

    This proposed rule would implement the longline bigeye tuna catch 
limit of CMM 2012-01 for the United States. The proposed limit and 
associated restrictions would apply to U.S. longline fisheries in the 
WCPO other than those of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI.

Establishment of the Limit

    For the purpose of this proposed rule, the longline fisheries of 
the three U.S. Participating Territories would be distinguished from 
the other longline fisheries of the United States (all of which are 
U.S.-flagged vessels) based on a combination of three factors: (1) 
Where the bigeye tuna are landed; (2) the types of Federal longline 
fishing permits registered to the fishing vessel; and (3) whether the 
fishing vessel is included in an arrangement under authorization of 
Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the 
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued 
by Pub. L. 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of 
Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). Hereafter, this law is referred to 
as the ``Section 113 authorization''; the original law, enacted for 
2011 and 2012, is referred to as ``prior Section 113(a)''; and, 
arrangements authorized under either of these laws are referred to as 
``Section 113(a) arrangements.''
    The Section 113 authorization remains in effect until the earlier 
of December 31, 2013, or such time as the Western Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (WPFMC) recommends, and the Secretary approves, an 
amendment to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Pacific Pelagic 
Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (Pelagics FEP) that would 
authorize U.S. Participating Territories to use, assign, allocate, and 
manage catch limits of highly migratory fish stocks, or fishing effort 
limits, established by the WCPFC, and the amendment is implemented via 
regulations. The WPFMC at its 154th meeting took final action to amend 
the Pelagics FEP accordingly; however, the amendment has not yet been 
approved or implemented by NMFS. It is possible the amendment will 
apply in 2013 or 2014, in which case the provisions of this proposed 
rule that take into consideration the Section 113 authorization would 
cease to apply, as the amendment would effectively replace it. The 
Section 113 authorization may also cease to apply on its own in 2014, 
if the effective date is not further extended beyond December 31, 2013; 
therefore, the provisions of this proposed rule that take into 
consideration the Section 113 authorization would similarly cease to 
apply. Thus, this proposed rule provides notice to the public that the 
provisions in the rule for Section 113(a) arrangements may be 
applicable in 2014, if the Section 113 authorization is further 
continued, but the regulatory text would only implement the provisions 
for Section 113(a) arrangements for 2013. NMFS would take appropriate 
action to amend the regulatory text if Section 113(a) arrangements are 
applicable in 2014.
    With respect to the first factor, bigeye tuna landed by U.S. 
vessels in any of the three U.S. Participating Territories, with 
certain provisos, would be attributed to the longline fishery of that 
Participating Territory. The provisos are that: (1) The bigeye tuna 
must not be captured in the portion of the U.S. exclusive economic zone 
(EEZ) surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and (2) the bigeye tuna 
must be landed by a U.S. fishing vessel operated in compliance with one 
of the permits required under the regulations implementing the Pelagics 
FEP developed by the WPFMC or the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West 
Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (West Coast HMS FMP) 
developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (i.e., a permit 
issued under 50 CFR 665.801 or 660.707).
    With respect to the second factor, bigeye tuna that are caught by a 
fishing vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline 
Limited Access Permit would, subject to the provisos mentioned above, 
be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, regardless of 
where that catch is landed. This distinction is made because American 
Samoa Longline Limited Access Permits are issued only to people that 
have demonstrated participation in the American Samoa pelagic 
fisheries, such that the catch may properly be attributed to that 
territory. The 2009 rule and the 2012 rule included these two above 
factors as well as the related provisos.
    The 2012 rule also included a third factor for the attribution of 
catch to the U.S. Participating Territories, to take into consideration 
the provisions of prior Section 113(a). This proposed rule takes into 
consideration these same provisions, which are included in the Section 
113 authorization. These provisions authorize the U.S. Participating 
Territories of the WCPFC to use, assign, allocate, and manage catch 
limits or fishing effort limits agreed to by the WCPFC through 
arrangements with U.S. vessels with permits issued under the Pelagics 
FEP. They also further direct the Secretary of Commerce, for the 
purposes of annual reporting to the WCPFC, to attribute catches made by 
vessels operating under Section 113(a) arrangements to the U.S. 
Participating Territories. The provisions also establish specific 
eligibility criteria for these arrangements. The 2012 rule established 
additional requirements and conditions for catches to be attributed to 
the U.S. Participating Territories. This proposed rule includes these 
same eligibility criteria, requirements, and conditions, which are 
described in more detail below.

[[Page 36498]]

    The longline fisheries of the United States and its territories 
operating in the WCPO are managed as discrete fisheries, with separate 
compilations of catch and effort statistics and separate management 
measures for each fishery. In order to allow for the orderly 
administration of these fisheries and a consistent manner of 
attributing catches to the fisheries of the U.S. Participating 
Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements, NMFS would wait 
to attribute catches under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements until 
the date the catch limit would be reached can be forecasted with a 
fairly high degree of probability. Thereafter, NMFS would attribute 
catches to the fisheries of the U.S. Participating Territories under 
eligible Section 113(a) arrangements starting seven days before the 
date the U.S. catch limit is forecasted to be reached. This procedure 
would allow NMFS to properly administer and enforce the specific 
management requirements for each fishery throughout the year, 
consistent with the approved Pelagics FEP.
    As in 2012, NMFS would prepare forecasts during 2013 and 2014 of 
the date that the bigeye tuna catch limit would be reached and 
periodically make these forecasts available to the public, such as by 
posting on a Web site. All the forecasts prepared up until the time 
that catch attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories under 
Section 113(a) arrangements actually begins would assume that there 
would be no such catch attribution to the U.S. Participating 
Territories. Those forecasts would be subject to change as new 
information becomes available. Because of these potential changes, it 
is necessary to identify a particular forecast for the purpose of 
determining when catch attribution to the U.S. Participating 
Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements would begin. For 
this purpose, NMFS would use the first forecast that indicates the 
catch limit would be reached within 28 days of the date of preparation 
of that forecast. The projected catch limit date in this forecast would 
be called, for the purpose of this proposed rule, the pre-Section 
113(a) attribution forecast date. As soon as NMFS determines the pre-
Section 113(a) attribution forecast date, NMFS would evaluate all 
Section 113(a) arrangements that it has received to date, based on the 
eligibility criteria specified below, and calculate a new forecast date 
for the catch limit, this time not counting as part of the tally any 
U.S. catches to be attributed to the U.S. Participating Territories 
under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements. In order to allow NMFS a 
reasonable amount of time to complete this process, NMFS would begin 
attributing catches to the U.S. Participating Territories under 
eligible Section 113(a) arrangements seven days before the pre-Section 
113(a) attribution forecast date and the new forecast date for the 
catch limit would be calculated based on this attribution start date. 
At that time, NMFS would also make publicly available a new forecast 
date on a Web site--the post-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date--
and would update that forecast date as appropriate throughout 2013 and 
2014 (if Section 113(a) arrangements are applicable in 2014).
    There would be no official due date for the receipt by NMFS of 
potentially eligible Section 113(a) arrangements. However, NMFS would 
need 14 days to process arrangements that it receives, so for an 
arrangement received after the date that NMFS determines the pre-
Section 113(a) attribution forecast date, attribution to the 
appropriate U.S. Participating Territory would start 14 days after NMFS 
has received the arrangement or seven days before the pre-Section 
113(a) attribution forecast date, whichever date is later.
    NMFS considered starting catch attribution to the U.S. 
Participating Territories under eligible Section 113(a) arrangements 
only after the 3,763 mt catch limit is reached, in order to be 
consistent with past administration of the longline fisheries in the 
WCPO. However, given the time needed to process Section 113(a) 
arrangements and the time needed to put into effect the prohibitions 
once the 3,763 mt catch limit is reached, waiting until the catch limit 
is reached to begin attribution under arrangements with the U.S. 
Participating Territories would likely cause public confusion and 
result in unnecessary costs in the fishery if there is an eligible 
Section 113(a) arrangement. For example, should attribution begin only 
after the catch limit is reached and the prohibitions go into effect, a 
vessel owner providing NMFS with a copy of an eligible arrangement a 
few days before the catch limit is reached would be subject to the 
prohibitions for a number of days while the arrangement is reviewed, 
even though the prohibitions would be later found not to apply to the 
vessel. Beginning attribution to the U.S. Participating Territories a 
short period before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast date 
would help minimize confusion and costs associated with such a 
situation. It would also have the advantage of avoiding, in certain 
circumstances, the administrative and other costs associated with 
putting the prohibitions into effect.
    The proposed rule would also include certain requirements that must 
be met in order for NMFS to attribute bigeye tuna caught by a 
particular vessel included in a Section 113(a) arrangement to the 
longline fishery of a U.S. Participating Territory. First, with the 
exception of existing arrangements received by NMFS prior to the 
effective date of the proposed rule, NMFS would need to receive from 
the vessel owner or designated representative a copy of the arrangement 
at least 14 days prior to the date the bigeye tuna were caught. In 
addition, the arrangement would need to satisfy specific criteria, 
discussed in detail in the section below.
    Any bigeye tuna attributed to the longline fisheries of American 
Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI as specified in the proposed rule would not be 
counted against the U.S. limit. All other bigeye tuna captured by 
longline gear in the Convention Area by U.S. longline vessels and 
retained would be counted against the U.S. limit of 3,763 mt.

Eligible Arrangements

    Under the proposed rule, an arrangement would not be eligible for 
the attribution of bigeye tuna to the U.S. Participating Territories 
under the terms of the Section 113 authorization, unless each of the 
following five criteria were met: (1) The arrangement would need to 
include vessels registered for use with valid permits issued under the 
Pelagics FEP; (2) the arrangement could not impose requirements 
regarding where the vessels fish or land their catch; (3) the 
arrangement would need to be signed by all the owners of the vessels 
included in the arrangement, or by their designated representative(s); 
(4) the arrangement would need to be signed by an authorized official 
of the U.S. Participating Territory(ies) or his or her designated 
representative(s); and (5) the arrangement would need to be funded by 
deposits to the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund in support 
of fisheries development projects identified in a territory's Marine 
Conservation Plan adopted pursuant to section 204 of the MSA. If NMFS 
determined that an arrangement did not meet the criteria for 
eligibility, NMFS would notify the parties to the arrangement or their 
designated representative(s) of its determination within 14 days of 
receiving a copy of the arrangement.

Announcement of the Limit Being Reached

    Under the proposed rule, should NMFS determine that the limit is

[[Page 36499]]

expected to be reached before the end of 2013 or 2014, NMFS would 
publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce specific fishing 
restrictions that would be effective from the date the limit is 
expected to be reached until the end of the 2013 or 2014 calendar year. 
NMFS would publish the notice of the restrictions at least seven 
calendar days before the effective date to provide vessel operators 
with advance notice. Periodic forecasts of the date the limit is 
expected to be reached would be made available to the public, such as 
by posting on a Web site, to help vessel operators plan for the 
possibility of the limit being reached.

Restrictions After the Limit Is Reached

    (1) Retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna: Starting on 
the effective date of the restrictions and extending through December 
31 of that calendar year, it would be prohibited to use a U.S. fishing 
vessel to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna captured in 
the Convention Area by longline gear, except as follows:
    First, any bigeye tuna already on board a fishing vessel upon the 
effective date of the restrictions could be retained on board, 
transshipped, and/or landed, provided that they were landed within 14 
days after the restrictions become effective. A vessel that had 
declared to NMFS pursuant to 50 CFR 665.803(a) that the current trip 
type is shallow-setting would not be subject to this 14-day landing 
restriction, so these vessels would be able to land fish more than 14 
days after the restrictions become effective.
    Second, bigeye tuna captured by longline gear could be retained on 
board, transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a fishing 
vessel registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited 
Access Permit, or if they were landed in American Samoa, Guam, or the 
CNMI, with the following provisos: The bigeye tuna must not have been 
caught in the portion of the U.S. EEZ surrounding the Hawaiian 
Archipelago and must have been landed by a U.S. fishing vessel operated 
in compliance with a valid permit issued under 50 CFR 660.707 or 
665.801.
    Third, bigeye tuna captured by longline gear could be retained on 
board, transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a vessel that 
is included in an eligible Section 113(a) arrangement, as specified 
above, and the bigeye tuna were subject to attribution to the longline 
fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI in accordance with the 
terms of the arrangement, and to the extent consistent with the 
requirements and procedures set forth in the proposed rule, with the 
following proviso: NMFS would need to have received from the vessel 
owner or designated representative a copy of the arrangement at least 
14 days prior to the activity (i.e., the retention on board, 
transshipment, or landing). The advance notification provision would 
not apply to existing arrangements received by NMFS prior to the 
effective date of the proposed rule.
    (2) Transshipment of bigeye tuna to certain vessels: Starting on 
the effective date of the restrictions and extending through December 
31 of that calendar year, it would be prohibited to transship bigeye 
tuna caught in the Convention Area by longline gear to any vessel other 
than a U.S. fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit 
issued under 50 CFR 660.707 or 665.801.
    (3) Fishing inside and outside the Convention Area: To help ensure 
compliance with the restrictions related to bigeye tuna caught by 
longline gear in the Convention Area, the proposed rule would establish 
two additional, related prohibitions that would be in effect starting 
on the effective date of the restrictions and extending through 
December 31 of that calendar year. First, it would be prohibited to 
fish with longline gear both inside and outside the Convention Area 
during the same fishing trip, with the exception of a fishing trip that 
is in progress at the time the announced restrictions go into effect. 
In that exceptional case, the vessel would still be required to land 
any bigeye tuna taken in the Convention Area within 14 days of the 
effective date of the restrictions, as described above. Second, if a 
vessel is used to fish using longline gear outside the Convention Area 
and enters the Convention Area at any time during the same fishing 
trip, the longline gear on the fishing vessel would be required to be 
stowed in a manner so as not to be readily available for fishing while 
the vessel is in the Convention Area. These two prohibitions would not 
apply to the following vessels: (1) Vessels on declared shallow-setting 
trips pursuant to 50 CFR 665.803(a); and (2) vessels operating for the 
purposes of this rule as part of the longline fisheries of American 
Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI (including vessels registered for use under 
valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access Permits and vessels 
landing their bigeye tuna catch in one of the three U.S. Participating 
Territories, so long as these vessels conduct fishing activities in 
accordance with the provisos described above; and vessels included in 
an eligible Section 113(a) arrangement, as specified above, provided 
that their catches of bigeye tuna are subject to attribution to the 
longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI at the time of 
the activity).

Classification

    The Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, has determined 
that this proposed rule is consistent with the WCPFC Implementation Act 
and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after 
public comment.

National Environmental Policy Act

    For implementation of the 2009 rule, NMFS prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) and a Supplemental EA (hereafter, 2009 EA and 2009 SEA, 
respectively). For implementation of the 2012 rule, NMFS prepared a 
Supplemental EA (hereafter, 2012 EA). NMFS has prepared a Supplemental 
Information Report (SIR) to examine whether additional NEPA analysis is 
needed to assess the impacts of the proposed rule on the human 
environment. The SIR includes the following sections: (1) The criteria 
for supplementing NEPA analysis; (2) summary of existing NEPA 
documents; (3) evaluation of the proposed action; (4) evaluation of new 
information available since preparation of the existing NEPA analysis; 
(5) analysis of the need for additional NEPA analysis; and (6) 
conclusions. In the SIR, NMFS concludes that no supplemental NEPA 
analysis is required to implement by regulation the 3,763 mt bigeye 
tuna catch limit for U.S. longline fisheries for 2013 and 2014 for the 
following reasons: (1) The proposed action is substantially the same as 
the 2009 rule and the 2012 rule; (2) the potential impacts from the 
proposed action on the human environment were addressed in the 2009 EA, 
2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA; (3) the resources potentially affected by the 
proposed action were adequately described and evaluated in the 2009 EA, 
2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA; and (4) there is no new significant information 
or circumstances affecting the action area that were not taken into 
consideration in the 2009 EA, 2009 SEA, and 2012 SEA.

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA 
describes the economic impact this

[[Page 36500]]

proposed rule would have on affected small entities, if adopted. A 
description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal 
basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the 
preamble and in other sections of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of the preamble. The analysis follows:

Estimated Number of Small Entities Affected

    The proposed rule would apply to owners and operators of U.S. 
vessels fishing with longline gear in the Convention Area, except those 
that are part of the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, and 
the CNMI. The total number of affected entities is approximated by the 
number of Hawaii Longline Limited Access Permits (issued under 50 CFR 
665.13) that are assigned to vessels (permitted vessels). Under the 
limited access program, no more than 164 permits may be issued. During 
2006-2012 the number of permitted vessels ranged from 130 to 145 (these 
figures and some other estimates in the remainder of this IRFA differ 
slightly from previously published estimates because of subsequent 
updates to the data and/or methods that were used for the estimates). 
The current number of permitted vessels (as of May 2013) is 129. 
Traditionally, most of the Hawaii fleet's fishing effort has been in 
the Convention Area, with the remainder of the effort to the east of 
the Convention Area, as described below. Owners and operators of U.S. 
longline vessels based on the U.S. west coast also could be affected by 
this proposed rule. However, based on the complete lack of fishing by 
that fleet in the Convention Area since 2005, it is expected that very 
few, if any, U.S. west coast vessels would be affected.
    Most of the Hawaii longline fleet targets bigeye tuna using deep 
sets, and during certain parts of the year, portions of the fleet 
target swordfish using shallow sets. In the years 2005 through 2012, 
the estimated numbers of Hawaii longline vessels that actually fished 
ranged from 124 to 129. Of the vessels that fished, the number of 
vessels that engaged in deep-setting in the years 2005 through 2012 
ranged from 122 to 129, and the number of vessels that engaged in 
shallow-setting ranged from 18 to 35. The number of vessels that 
engaged in both deep-setting and shallow-setting ranged from 17 to 35. 
The number of vessels that engaged exclusively in shallow-setting 
ranged from zero to two. As an indication of the size of businesses in 
the fishery, average annual ex-vessel revenue for the fleet during 
2005-2010 was about $71 million (in 2012 dollars). Virtually all of 
those revenues are believed to come from shallow-set and deep-set 
longlining. Based on an average of 127 active vessels during that 
period, the mean annual per-vessel revenue was about $0.6 million (in 
2012 dollars). NMFS has determined that most or all vessels in the 
affected fisheries are likely to be small entities based on the average 
annual per-vessel revenue and the Small Business Administration's 
definition of a small fish harvester (i.e., gross annual receipts of 
less than $4.0 million).

Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements

    The proposed rule would not establish any new reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements. The new compliance requirement would be for 
affected vessel owners and operators to cease retaining, landing, and 
transshipping bigeye tuna caught with longline gear in the Convention 
Area if and when the catch limit is reached in 2013 or 2014, for the 
remainder of the calendar year, with the exceptions and provisos 
described in other sections of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
of the preamble. (Although the restrictions that would come into effect 
in the event the catch limit is reached would not prohibit longline 
fishing, per se, they are sometimes referred to in this analysis as 
constituting a ``fishery closure.'') Fulfillment of this requirement is 
not expected to require any professional skills that the vessel owners 
and operators do not already possess. The costs of complying with this 
requirement are described below to the extent possible.
    Complying with the proposed rule could cause foregone fishing 
opportunities and result in associated economic losses in the event 
that the bigeye tuna catch limit is reached in 2013 or 2014 and the 
restrictions on retaining, landing, and transshipping bigeye tuna are 
imposed for portions of either or both of those years. These costs 
cannot be projected with any quantitative certainty. For the purpose of 
projecting baseline conditions under no action, this analysis relies 
primarily on fishery performance from 2005 through 2008. The years 
prior to 2005 are excluded because the regulatory environment underwent 
major changes (the swordfish-directed shallow-set longline fishery was 
closed in 2001 and reopened in 2004 with limits on fishing effort and 
turtle interactions). The years 2009-2012 are excluded because bigeye 
tuna catch limits similar to the limits proposed here were in place. 
The proposed limit, by prescription, is 10 percent less than catches in 
2004 (here and in the remainder of this IRFA, ``catches'' means fish 
that are caught and retained on board). The proposed annual limit of 
3,763 mt is less than the amount caught in any of the years 2005-2008, 
and it is 20 percent less than the annual average amount caught in that 
period. Thus, if catches in 2013 and 2014 are similar to those in 2005-
2008, there would be a fairly high likelihood of the proposed limit 
being reached in both years.
    If the bigeye tuna limit is reached before the end of 2013 or 2014 
and the Convention Area bigeye fishery is consequently closed for the 
remainder of the calendar year, it can be expected that affected 
vessels would shift to the next most profitable fishing opportunity 
(which might be not fishing at all). Revenues from that ``next best'' 
alternative activity reflect the opportunity costs associated with 
longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area. The economic 
cost of the proposed rule would not be the nominal direct losses in 
revenues that would result from not being able to fish for bigeye tuna 
in the Convention Area, but rather the difference in benefits derived 
from that activity and those derived from the next best activity. The 
economic cost of the proposed rule on affected entities is examined 
here by first estimating the direct losses in revenues that would 
result from not being able to fish for bigeye tuna in the Convention 
Area as a result of the catch limit being reached. Those losses 
represent the upper bound of the economic cost of the proposed rule on 
affected entities. Potential next-best alternative activities that 
affected entities could undertake are then identified in order to 
provide a (mostly qualitative) description of the degree to which 
actual costs would be lower than that upper bound.
    Upper bounds on potential economic costs can be estimated by 
examining the projected value of longline landings from the Convention 
Area that would not be made as a result of reaching the limit. For this 
purpose, it is assumed that, absent this proposed rule, fishing 
patterns in 2013 and 2014 would be about the same as those in 2005-
2008. In the IRFA for the 2009 rule, two no-action scenarios were 
considered--one in which future catches would be equal to the average 
during 2005-2008, and a second in which the increasing trend in the 
fleet's catches in 2005-2008 would continue in future years. The second 
scenario is not considered in this analysis because if catches in 
2011--a year in which a bigeye tuna catch limit was in place but was 
not reached--are

[[Page 36501]]

considered, there was no clear upward trend (in 2009 and 2010, the 
limit was reached and the restrictions went into effect). Based on the 
numbers of fish caught from vessel logbook data, and average fish 
weights derived from landings data, the average annual fleet catch of 
bigeye tuna in 2005-2008 was 4,718 mt. Thus, if catches in 2013 and 
2014 would be 4,718 mt per year without a limit in place, imposition of 
a catch limit of 3,763 mt would be expected to result in 20 percent 
less bigeye tuna being caught in 2013-2014 than under no action. In the 
deep-set fishery, catches of marketable species other than bigeye tuna 
would likely be affected in a similar way (if vessels do not shift to 
alternative activities). Assuming for the moment that ex-vessel prices 
would not be affected by a fishery closure, under the proposed rule, 
revenues in 2013 and 2014 to entities that participate exclusively in 
the deep-set fishery would be approximately 20 percent less than under 
no action. If average annual ex-vessel revenues during 2005-2008 (about 
$0.6 million per active vessel, in 2012 dollars) are a good indicator 
of future revenues under no action, per-vessel annual revenues under 
the proposed rule would be as much as $0.1 million less, on average, 
than under no action.
    In the shallow-set fishery, affected entities would bear limited 
cost in the event of the limit being reached (but most affected 
entities also participate in the deep-set fishery and might bear costs 
in that fishery, as described below). The cost would be approximately 
equal to the revenues lost from not being able to retain or land bigeye 
tuna captured while shallow-setting in the Convention Area, or the cost 
of shifting to shallow-setting in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), 
which is to the east of 150 degrees W. longitude, whichever is less. In 
the fourth calendar quarters of 2005-2008, almost all shallow-setting 
effort took place in the EPO, and 97 percent of bigeye tuna catches 
were made there, so the cost of a bigeye tuna fishery closure would 
appear to be very limited. During 2005-2008, the shallow-set fishery 
caught an average of 54 mt of bigeye tuna per year from the Convention 
Area. If the proposed bigeye tuna catch limit is reached even as early 
as July 31 in 2013 or 2014, the Convention Area shallow-set fishery 
would have caught at that point, based on 2005-2008 data, on average, 
99 percent of its average annual bigeye tuna catches. Thus, imposition 
of the landings restriction at that point in 2013 or 2014 would result 
in the loss of revenues from approximately 0.5 mt (1 percent of 54 mt) 
of bigeye tuna, which, based on recent ex-vessel prices, would be worth 
no more than $5,000. Thus, expecting about 27 vessels to engage in the 
shallow-set fishery (the annual average in 2005-2012), the average of 
those potentially lost annual revenues would be no more than $200 per 
vessel.
    The remainder of this analysis focuses on the potential costs of 
compliance in the deep-set fishery. Again, the estimates of potentially 
lost revenues given above are for the purpose of estimating upper 
bounds on potential economic losses on affected entities and do not 
account for revenues from alternative activities, some of which are 
discussed further below.
    It should be noted that impacts on affected entities' profits would 
be less than impacts on revenues, because costs would be lower if a 
vessel ceases fishing after the catch limit is reached. Variable costs 
can be expected to be affected roughly in proportion to revenues, as 
both would stop accruing once a vessel stops fishing. But affected 
entities' costs also include fixed costs, which are borne regardless of 
whether a vessel is used to fish--e.g., if it is tied up at the dock 
during a fishery closure. Thus, profits would likely be adversely 
impacted proportionately more than revenues.
    As stated previously, actual compliance costs for a given entity 
might be less than the upper bounds described above because ceasing 
fishing would not necessarily be the most profitable opportunity in the 
event of the catch limit being reached. Two alternative opportunities 
that are expected to be attractive to affected entities include: (1) 
Deep-set longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area in a 
manner such that the vessel is considered part of the longline fishery 
of American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI; and (2) deep-set longline fishing 
for bigeye tuna and other species in the EPO. These two opportunities 
are discussed in detail below. Three additional opportunities, which 
were examined in economic analyses prepared for the 2009 rule are: (3) 
Shallow-set longline fishing for swordfish (for deep-setting vessels 
that would not otherwise do so), (4) deep-set longline fishing in the 
Convention Area for species other than bigeye tuna, and (5) working in 
cooperation with vessels operating as part of the longline fisheries of 
the Participating Territories--specifically, receiving transshipments 
at sea from them and delivering the fish to the Hawaii market. Vessel 
repair and maintenance is another possibility. A study by NMFS of the 
effects of the WCPO bigeye tuna longline fishery closure in 2010 
(Richmond, L., D. Kotowicz, J. Hospital and S. Allen, 2012, Adaptations 
in a Fishing Community: Monitoring Socioeconomic Impacts of Hawai`i's 
2010 Bigeye Tuna Closure, PIFSC Internal Report IR-12-019, Honolulu, 
United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands 
Fisheries Science Center) did not identify any alternative activities 
that vessels engaged in during the closure other than deep-setting for 
bigeye tuna in the EPO, vessel maintenance and repairs, and granting 
lengthy vacations to employees. Thus, alternative opportunities (3), 
(4) and (5) are probably relatively unattractive relative to the first 
two, and they are not discussed here in any further detail.
    Before examining in detail the two potential alternative 
opportunities that would appear to be the most attractive to affected 
entities, it is important to note that under the proposed rule, once 
the limit is reached and the WCPO bigeye tuna fishery is closed, it 
would be prohibited to fish with longline gear both inside and outside 
the Convention Area during the same trip (with the exception of a 
fishing trip that is in progress when the limit is reached and the 
restrictions go into effect). For example, after the restrictions go 
into effect, during a given fishing trip, a vessel could be used for 
longline fishing for bigeye tuna in the EPO or for longline fishing for 
species other than bigeye tuna in the Convention Area, but not both. 
This reduced operational flexibility would bring costs, since it would 
constrain the potential profits from alternative opportunities 
collectively. Those costs cannot be quantified.
    With respect to alternative opportunity (1), deep-setting for 
bigeye tuna in a manner such that the vessel is considered part of the 
longline fishery of one of the three U.S. Participating Territories, 
there would be three such ways to do so: (a) landing the bigeye tuna in 
one of the three Participating Territories; (b) having an American 
Samoa Longline Limited Access Permit; or (c) entering into an 
arrangement with one or more of the three Participating Territories 
under the Section 113 authorization, such that the vessel is considered 
part of the Participating Territory's longline fishery. In the first 
two circumstances, the vessel would be considered part of the longline 
fishery of the Participating Territory only if the bigeye tuna were not 
caught in the portion of the U.S. EEZ around the Hawaiian Islands and 
they are landed

[[Page 36502]]

by a U.S. vessel operated in compliance with a permit issued under the 
Pelagics FEP or the West Coast HMS FMP.
    With respect to alternative opportunity (1)(a), landing the bigeye 
tuna in one of the Participating Territories, there are three 
potentially important constraints. First, whether the fish are landed 
by the vessel that caught the fish or by a vessel to which the fish 
were transshipped, the costs of a vessel transiting from the 
traditional fishing grounds in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Archipelago 
to one of the Participating Territories would be substantial. Second, 
none of these three locales has large local consumer markets to absorb 
substantial additional landings of fresh sashimi-grade bigeye tuna. 
Third, transporting the bigeye tuna from these locales to larger 
markets, such as in Hawaii, the U.S. west coast, or Japan, would bring 
substantial additional costs and risks. These cost constraints suggest 
that this opportunity has limited potential to mitigate the economic 
impacts of the proposed rule on affected small entities.
    Opportunity (1)(b), having an American Samoa Longline Limited 
Access Permit, would be available only to the subset of the Hawaii 
longline fleet that has both Hawaii and American Samoa longline permits 
(``dual permit vessels''). Vessels that do not currently have both 
permits could obtain them if they meet the eligibility requirements and 
pay the required costs. For example, the number of dual permit vessels 
increased from 12 in 2009, when the first WCPO bigeye tuna catch limit 
was established, to 20 in 2011, where it remained in 2012. The 
previously cited NMFS study of the 2010 fishery closure (Richmond et 
al. 2012) found that bigeye tuna landings of dual permit vessels 
increased substantially after the start of the closure on November 22, 
2010, indicating that this was an attractive opportunity for dual 
permit vessels, and suggesting that those entities might have 
benefitted from the catch limit and the closure.
    Opportunity (1)(c), entering into a Section 113(a) arrangement with 
a U.S. Participating Territory, would be available to all affected 
entities in 2013; it is not known whether it would be available in 
2014. This is the same opportunity that was available in 2011 and 2012 
when prior Section 113(a) was in effect. In those two years, the 
vessels of the members of the Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) were 
included in a Section 113(a) arrangement with American Samoa, and as a 
result, the catch limit was not reached in either year, and no longline 
vessels were subject to the restrictions that would have gone into 
effect had the limit been reached. This option would likely not come 
without cost--at least one of the three Participating Territories would 
have to agree to the arrangement. As an indication of the possible 
cost, the terms of the arrangement between American Samoa and the 
members of the HLA that applied in 2011 and 2012 included payments 
totaling $250,000 from the HLA to the Western Pacific Sustainable 
Fisheries Fund, equal to $2,000 per vessel in the arrangement (it is 
not known how the total cost was allocated among the members of the 
HLA, so it is possible that the owners of particular vessels paid 
substantially more than or less than $2,000).
    With respect to alternative opportunity (2), deep-set fishing for 
bigeye tuna in the EPO, this would be an option for affected entities 
only if it is allowed under regulations implementing the decisions of 
the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Currently there is 
a bigeye tuna catch limit of 500 mt for 2013 that applies to U.S. 
longline vessels greater than 24 meters (m) in length. It is presently 
not known whether the limit will be reached in 2013. Annual longline 
bigeye tuna catch limits have been in place for the EPO in most years 
since 2004, but since 2009, when the limit was 500 mt and applicable 
only to vessels longer than 24 m in length, the limits have not been 
reached. The IATTC is scheduled to consider needed management measures 
for 2014 and beyond for the tropical tuna stocks at its annual meeting 
in June 2013, but it is not known whether it will maintain or modify 
its current bigeye tuna longline catch limit provisions, which are in 
effect through 2013.
    Historical fishing patterns can provide an indication of the 
likelihood of affected entities making use of the opportunity of deep-
setting in the EPO in the event of a closure in the WCPO. The 
proportion of the U.S. fishery's annual bigeye tuna catches that were 
captured in the EPO from 2005 through 2008 ranged from 2 percent to 22 
percent, and averaged 11 percent. In 2005-2007, that proportion, which 
ranged from 2 percent to 11 percent, may have been constrained by the 
bigeye tuna catch limits established by NMFS to implement the decisions 
of the IATTC.
    Prior to 2009, most of the U.S. annual bigeye tuna catch by 
longline vessels in the EPO typically was made in the second and third 
quarters of the year: in 2005-2008 the percentages caught in the first, 
second, third, and fourth quarters were 14, 33, 50, and 3 percent, 
respectively. These two historical patterns--that relatively little of 
the bigeye tuna catch in the longline fishery was typically taken in 
the EPO (11 percent in 2005-2008, on average) and that most EPO bigeye 
tuna catches were made in the second and third quarters, with 
relatively few catches in the fourth quarter, when the proposed catch 
limit would most likely be reached, suggest that there could be 
substantial costs for at least some affected entities to shift to deep-
set fishing in the EPO in the event of a closure in the WCPO. On the 
other hand, fishing patterns in 2009-2012, when annual bigeye tuna 
catch limits were in effect in the WCPO, suggest that a substantial 
shift in deep-set fishing effort to the EPO could occur. In 2009, 2010, 
2011, and 2012, the proportions of the fishery's annual bigeye tuna 
catches that were captured in the EPO were about 16, 27, 22, and 19 
percent, respectively. And during that three-year period, on average, 
the proportions caught in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters 
were 7, 14, 41, and 37 percent, respectively. Thus, a substantial 
amount of fishing occurred in the EPO in the fourth quarters of 2009-
2012, when WCPO catch limits were in place (the limits were reached in 
2009 and 2010). However, the NMFS study of the 2010 closure (Richmond 
et al. 2012) found that some businesses--particularly those with 
smaller vessels--were less inclined than others to fish in the EPO 
during the closure because of the relatively long distances that would 
need to be travelled in the relatively rough winter ocean conditions. 
The study identified a number of factors that likely made fishing in 
the EPO less lucrative than fishing in the WCPO during that part of the 
year, including fuel costs and the need to limit trip length in order 
to maintain fish quality and because of limited fuel storage capacity.
    In addition to affecting the volume of landings of bigeye tuna and 
other species, the proposed catch limit could affect fish prices, 
particularly during a fishery closure. Both increases and decreases 
appear possible. After the limit is reached and landings from the WCPO 
are prohibited, ex-vessel prices of bigeye tuna (e.g., that are caught 
in the EPO or by vessels in the longline fisheries of the three U.S. 
Participating Territories), as well as of other species landed by the 
fleet, could increase as a result of the constricted supply. This would 
mitigate economic losses for vessels that are able to continue fishing 
and landing bigeye tuna during the closure. For example, the NMFS study 
of the 2010 closure (Richmond et al. 2012) found that ex-vessel prices 
during

[[Page 36503]]

the closure in December were 50 percent greater than the average during 
the previous five Decembers (it is emphasized that because it was an 
observational study, neither this nor other observations of what 
occurred during the closure can be affirmatively linked as effects of 
the fishery closure). Conversely, a WCPO bigeye tuna fishery closure 
could cause a decrease in ex-vessel prices of bigeye tuna and other 
products landed by affected entities if the interruption in the local 
supply prompts the Hawaii market to shift to alternative (e.g., 
imported) sources of bigeye tuna. Such a shift could be temporary--that 
is, limited to 2013 and/or 2014, or it could lead to a more permanent 
change in the market (e.g., as a result of wholesale and retail buyers 
wanting to mitigate the uncertainty in the continuity of supply from 
the Hawaii longline fisheries). In the latter case, if locally caught 
bigeye tuna fetches lower prices because of stiffer competition with 
imported bigeye tuna, then ex-vessel prices of local product could be 
depressed indefinitely. The NMFS study of the 2010 closure (Richmond et 
al. 2012) found that a common concern in the Hawaii fishing community 
prior to the closure in November 2010 was retailers having to rely more 
heavily on imported tuna, causing imports to gain a greater market 
share in local markets. The study found this not to have been borne 
out, at least not in 2010, when the evidence gathered in the study 
suggested that few buyers adapted to the closure by increasing their 
reliance on imports, and no reports or indications were found of a 
dramatic increase in the use of imported bigeye tuna during the 
closure. The study concluded, however, that the 2010 closure caused 
buyers to give increased consideration to imports as part of their 
business model, and it was predicted that tuna imports could increase 
during any future closure. To the extent that ex-vessel prices would be 
reduced by this action, revenues earned by affected entities would be 
affected accordingly, and these impacts could occur both before and 
after the limit is reached, and as described above, possibly after 
2014.
    The potential economic effects identified above would vary among 
individual business entities, but it is not possible to predict the 
range of variation. Furthermore, the impacts on a particular entity 
would depend both on that entity's response to the proposed rule and to 
the behavior of other vessels in the fleet, both before and after the 
catch limit is reached. For example, the greater the number of vessels 
that take advantage--before the limit is reached--of opportunity (1), 
fishing as part of one of the Participating Territory's fisheries, the 
lower the likelihood that the limit would be reached. The fleet's 
behavior in 2011 and 2012 is illustrative. In both those years, most 
vessels in the Hawaii fleet were included in a Section 113(a) 
arrangement with American Samoa, and as a consequence, the catch limit 
was not reached in either year. Thus, none of the vessels in the fleet, 
including those not included in the Section 113(a) arrangement, were 
prohibited from fishing for bigeye tuna in the Convention Area at any 
time during those two years. The fleet's experience in 2010 (before 
opportunities under prior Section 113(a) were available) provides 
another example of how economic impacts could be distributed among 
different entities. In 2010 the limit was reached and the WCPO bigeye 
tuna fishery was closed on November 22. As described above, dual permit 
vessels were able to continue fishing (outside the U.S. EEZ around the 
Hawaiian Archipelago) and benefit from the relatively high ex-vessel 
prices that bigeye tuna fetched during the closure.
    In summary, NMFS has estimated upper bounds on the potential 
economic impacts of the proposed rule on affected entities, but the 
actual impacts to most entities are likely to be substantially less 
than those upper bounds, and for some entities the impacts could be 
neutral or positive.

Disproportionate Impacts

    As indicated above, most or all affected entities are believed to 
be small entities, in which case small entities would not be 
disproportionately affected relative to large entities. However, as 
described above, there could be disproportionate impacts according to 
vessel size. The 500 mt EPO bigeye catch limit for 2013 applies only to 
vessels greater than 24 m in length, so in the event that the WCPO 
bigeye tuna fishery is closed and the 500 mt limit is reached in the 
EPO, only vessels 24 m or less in length would be able to take 
advantage of the alternative opportunity of deep-setting for bigeye 
tuna in the EPO. On the other hand, smaller vessels can be expected to 
find it more difficult, risky, and/or costly to fish in the EPO during 
the relatively rough winter months than larger vessels. If there are 
any large entities among the affected entities, and if the vessels of 
the large entities are larger than those of small entities, then it is 
possible that small entities could be disproportionately affected 
relative to large entities. All the affected entities are longline 
fishing businesses, so there would be no disproportionate economic 
impacts based on fishing gear. No disproportionate economic impacts 
based on home port would be expected.

Duplicating, Overlapping, and Conflicting Federal Regulations

    NMFS has not identified any Federal rules that duplicate, overlap 
or conflict with the proposed rule.

Alternatives to the Proposed Rule

    NMFS has not identified any significant alternatives to the 
proposed rule, other than the no-action alternative. Taking no action 
could result in lesser adverse economic impacts than the proposed 
action for many affected entities (but as described above, for some 
affected entities, the proposed rule could be more economically 
beneficial than no-action), but NMFS has determined that the no-action 
alternative would fail to accomplish the objectives of the WCPFC 
Implementation Act, including satisfying the international obligations 
of the United States as a Contracting Party to the Convention.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300

    Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, 
Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: June 11, 2013.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, performing the 
functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 300 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 300--INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.

0
2. Section 300.224 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  300.224  Longline fishing restrictions.

    (a) Establishment of bigeye tuna catch limit. There is a limit of 
3,763 metric tons of bigeye tuna that may be captured in the Convention 
Area by longline gear and retained on board by fishing vessels of the 
United States during each of the calendar years 2013 and 2014.
    (b) Exception for bigeye tuna landed in territories. Bigeye tuna 
landed in American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands will be attributed to the longline fishery of the 
territory in which it is

[[Page 36504]]

landed and will not be counted against the limit established under 
paragraph (a) of this section, provided that:
    (1) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ 
surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and
    (2) The bigeye tuna were landed by a fishing vessel operated in 
compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 or Sec.  
665.801 of this title.
    (c) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels with American Samoa 
Longline Limited Access Permits. Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel 
registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access 
Permit issued under Sec.  665.801(c) of this title will be attributed 
to the longline fishery of American Samoa and will not be counted 
against the limit established under paragraph (a) of this section, 
provided that:
    (1) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ 
surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and
    (2) The bigeye tuna were landed by a fishing vessel operated in 
compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 or Sec.  
665.801 of this title.
    (d) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels included in Section 
113(a) arrangements. Bigeye tuna caught in 2013 by a vessel that is 
included in an arrangement under the authorization of Section 113(a) of 
Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the Consolidated and Further 
Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued by Public Law 113-6, 125 
Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 
2013), will be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, 
Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to 
the terms of the arrangement to the extent they are consistent with 
this section and applicable law, and will not be counted against the 
limit, provided that:
    (1) NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement from the vessel 
owner or a designated representative at least 14 days prior to the date 
the bigeye tuna was caught, except that this requirement shall not 
apply to any arrangement provided to NMFS prior to the effective date 
of this paragraph;
    (2) The bigeye tuna was caught on or after the ``start date'' 
specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section; and
    (3) NMFS has determined that the arrangement satisfies the 
requirements of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et 
seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 
(continued by Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the 
Department of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), in accordance with 
the criteria specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this section.
    (e) Announcement of catch limit being reached and fishing 
prohibitions. NMFS will monitor retained catches of bigeye tuna with 
respect to the limit established under paragraph (a) of this section 
using data submitted in logbooks and other available information. After 
NMFS determines that the limit is expected to be reached by a specific 
future date, and at least seven calendar days in advance of that 
specific future date, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal 
Register announcing that specific prohibitions will be in effect 
starting on that specific future date and ending December 31 of that 
calendar year.
    (f) Prohibitions after catch limit is reached. Once an announcement 
is made pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section, the following 
restrictions will apply during the period specified in the 
announcement:
    (1) A fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to retain 
on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna captured by longline gear in 
the Convention Area, except as follows:
    (i) Any bigeye tuna already on board a fishing vessel upon the 
effective date of the prohibitions may be retained on board, 
transshipped, and/or landed, to the extent authorized by applicable 
laws and regulations, provided that they are landed within 14 days 
after the prohibitions become effective. The 14-day landing requirement 
does not apply to a vessel that has declared to NMFS, pursuant to Sec.  
665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type is shallow-
setting.
    (ii) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on 
board, transshipped, and/or landed if they are landed in American 
Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 
provided that:
    (A) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ 
surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago;
    (B) Such retention, transshipment, and/or landing is in compliance 
with applicable laws and regulations; and
    (C) The bigeye tuna are landed by a fishing vessel operated in 
compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 or Sec.  
665.801 of this title.
    (iii) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on 
board, transshipped, and/or landed if they are caught by a vessel 
registered for use under a valid American Samoa Longline Limited Access 
Permit issued under Sec.  665.801(c) of this title, provided that:
    (A) The bigeye tuna were not caught in the portion of the EEZ 
surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago;
    (B) Such retention, transshipment, and/or landing is in compliance 
with applicable laws and regulations; and
    (C) The bigeye tuna are landed by a fishing vessel operated in 
compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 or Sec.  
665.801 of this title.
    (iv) Bigeye tuna captured by longline gear may be retained on 
board, transshipped, and/or landed in 2013 if they were caught by a 
vessel that is included in an arrangement under the authorization of 
Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the 
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued 
by Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of 
Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), if the arrangement provides for the 
bigeye tuna when caught to be attributed to the longline fishery of 
American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands, provided that:
    (A) NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement at least 14 days 
prior to the activity (i.e., the retention on board, transshipment, or 
landing), unless NMFS has received a copy of the arrangement prior to 
the effective date of this section;
    (B) The ``start date'' specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this 
section has occurred or passed; and
    (C) NMFS has determined that the arrangement satisfies the 
requirements of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et 
seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 
(continued by Pub. L. 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department 
of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), in accordance with the criteria 
specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this section.
    (2) Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear in the Convention Area may 
not be transshipped to a fishing vessel unless that fishing vessel is 
operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 
or Sec.  665.801 of this title.
    (3) A fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to fish 
in the Pacific Ocean using longline gear both inside and outside the 
Convention Area during the same fishing trip, with the exception of a 
fishing trip during which the prohibitions were put into effect as 
announced under paragraph (e) of this section, in which case the bigeye 
tuna on board the vessel may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or 
landed, to the extent authorized by applicable laws and regulations, 
provided that they are landed within 14 days after the prohibitions 
become effective. This prohibition does not apply to a vessel

[[Page 36505]]

that catches bigeye tuna that is to be attributed to the longline 
fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands in accordance with paragraphs (b), (c), or (d) of this 
section, or to a vessel for which a declaration has been made to NMFS, 
pursuant to Sec.  665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type 
is shallow-setting.
    (4) If a fishing vessel of the United States, other than a vessel 
that catches bigeye tuna that is to be attributed to the longline 
fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands, in accordance with paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of 
this section, or a vessel for which a declaration has been made to 
NMFS, pursuant to Sec.  665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip 
type is shallow-setting, is used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using 
longline gear outside the Convention Area and the vessel enters the 
Convention Area at any time during the same fishing trip, the longline 
gear on the fishing vessel must, while it is in the Convention Area, be 
stowed in a manner so as not to be readily available for fishing; 
specifically, the hooks, branch or dropper lines, and floats used to 
buoy the mainline must be stowed and not available for immediate use, 
and any power-operated mainline hauler on deck must be covered in such 
a manner that it is not readily available for use.
    (g) Procedures and conditions for Section 113(a) arrangements. This 
paragraph establishes procedures to be followed and conditions that 
must be met in 2013 with respect to arrangements authorized under 
Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the 
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued 
by Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of 
Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). These procedures and conditions 
apply to paragraphs (d), (f)(1)(iv), (f)(3), and (f)(4) of this 
section.
    (1) For the purpose of this section, the ``pre-Section 113(a) 
attribution forecast date'' is the date the catch limit established 
under paragraph (a) of this section is forecast by NMFS to be reached 
in the calendar year, assuming that no catches would be attributed to 
the longline fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands under arrangements authorized under 
Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et seq., the 
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (continued 
by Public Law 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department of 
Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013). Since forecasts are subject to 
change as new information becomes available, NMFS will use for this 
purpose the first forecast it prepares that indicates that the date of 
the limit being reached is less than 28 days after the date the 
forecast is prepared.
    (2) For the purpose of this section, the ``start date'' for 
attribution of catches to the longline fisheries of American Samoa, 
Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for a 
particular arrangement is:
    (i) Seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast 
date, for arrangements copies of which are received by NMFS no later 
than the date NMFS determines the pre-Section 113(a) attribution 
forecast date; and
    (ii) Seven days before the pre-Section 113(a) attribution forecast 
date or 14 days after the date that NMFS receives a copy of the 
arrangement, whichever is later, for arrangements copies of which are 
received by NMFS after the date NMFS determines the pre-Section 113(a) 
attribution forecast date.
    (3) NMFS will determine whether an arrangement satisfies the 
requirements of Section 113(a) of Public Law 112-55, 125 Stat. 552 et 
seq., the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 
(continued by Pub. L. 113-6, 125 Stat. 603, section 110, the Department 
of Commerce Appropriations Act, 2013), for the attribution of bigeye 
tuna to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands according to the following 
criteria:
    (i) Vessels included under the arrangement must be registered for 
use with valid permits issued under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for 
Pacific Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region;
    (ii) The arrangement must not impose any requirements regarding 
where the vessels included in the arrangement must fish or land their 
catch;
    (iii) The arrangement must be signed by the owners of all the 
vessels included in the arrangement or their designated 
representative(s);
    (iv) The arrangement must be signed by an authorized official of 
American Samoa, Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands or his or her designated representative(s); and
    (v) The arrangement must be funded by deposits to the Western 
Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund in support of fisheries development 
projects identified in the Marine Conservation Plan of American Samoa, 
Guam, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands adopted 
pursuant to section 204 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act.
    (4) NMFS will notify the parties to the arrangement or their 
designated representative(s) within 14 days of receiving a copy of the 
arrangement, if the arrangement does not meet the criteria specified in 
paragraph (g)(3) of this section.
[FR Doc. 2013-14337 Filed 6-17-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P