Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries; Amendment 97, 35971-35987 [2014-14726]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules (k) Related Information (1) For more information about this AD, contact Susan Monroe, Aerospace Engineer, Cabin Safety and Environmental Systems Branch, ANM–150S, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA; phone: 425–917–6457; fax: 425–917–6590; email: susan.l.monroe@ faa.gov. (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H–65, Seattle, WA 98124–2207; telephone 206– 544–5000, extension 1; fax 206–766–5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425–227–1221. Issued in Renton, Washington, on June 17, 2014. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2014–14813 Filed 6–24–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 130710606–4491–01] RIN 0648–BD48 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries; Amendment 97 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 97 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). If approved, Amendment 97 would limit Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) in Western and Central Gulf of Alaska (GOA) non-pollock trawl catcher/processor (C/P) and catcher vessel (CV) fisheries. This action would establish separate annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for trawl catcher/ processors (Trawl C/P Sector), trawl catcher vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program CV Sector), and trawl catcher vessels not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Non- ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Rockfish Program CV Sector) fishing for groundfish species other than pollock. If a sector reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit, NMFS would prohibit further fishing for non-pollock groundfish by vessels in that sector. This action also would establish and clarify Chinook salmon retention and discard requirements for vessels, shoreside processors, and stationary floating processors participating in both the GOA pollock and non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries. This action is necessary to minimize the catch of Chinook salmon to the extent practicable in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. Amendment 97 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable laws. DATES: Submit comments on or before July 25, 2014. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2013–0077, 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-20130077, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered 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, 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. Electronic copies of the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (collectively, Analysis) prepared for this action are available from https:// PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35971 www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. An electronic copy of the Biological Opinion on the effects of the Alaska groundfish fisheries on Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species is available at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ protectedresources/stellers/plb/ default.htm. Written comments regarding the approved collection-ofinformation requirements referenced in this proposed rule may be submitted to NMFS at the above address and by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to 202–395–7285. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at https://www.cio.noaa.gov/ services_programs/prasubs.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Hartman, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared, and NMFS approved, the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. The Council has submitted Amendment 97 for review by the Secretary of Commerce, and a notice of availability of the FMP amendment was published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2014 (79 FR 32525), with written comments on the FMP amendment invited through August 4, 2014. All relevant written comments received by the end of the applicable comment period, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment, this proposed rule, or both, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision for Amendment 97 and addressed in the response to comments in the final decision. The following sections of the preamble describe: (1) General management of groundfish and PSC in the GOA; (2) the management areas and groundfish fisheries affected by this proposed action—the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA; (3) the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA and the three sectors active in those fisheries— the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors; (4) Chinook salmon PSC use in the nonpollock trawl fisheries; (5) the history and goals of this proposed rule— limiting Chinook salmon PSC in the E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 35972 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA; and (6) provisions of the proposed action that would establish limits on the maximum amount of Chinook salmon PSC permitted to be taken on an annual basis by the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors and requirements necessary to account for and adequately sample Chinook salmon PSC. General Management of Groundfish and PSC Limits in the GOA The FMP and its implementing regulations at § 679.20(c) require that the Council recommend and NMFS specify an overfishing level (OFL), an acceptable biological catch (ABC), and a total allowable catch (TAC) for each stock or stock complex (i.e., each species or species group) of groundfish on an annual basis. The OFL is the level above which overfishing is occurring for a species or species group. The ABC is the level of a species or species group’s annual catch that accounts for the scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL and any other scientific uncertainty. The ABC is set below the OFL. The TAC is the annual catch target for a species or species group, derived from the ABC by considering social and economic factors and management uncertainty. The TAC must be set lower than or equal to the ABC. The OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for GOA groundfish are specified through the annual harvest specification process. A detailed description of the annual harvest specification process is provided in the final 2014 and 2015 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (79 FR 12890, March 6, 2014) and is briefly summarized here. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) establishes the OFL and ABC for each species or species group. Based on the ABC established for each species or species group, the Council recommends a TAC. The TAC for some species and species groups are subject to further allocation on a seasonal basis and allocation among vessels using specific types of gear and vessel categories in the GOA (see regulations at § 679.20(a)). To ensure that OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are not exceeded, NMFS requires that vessel operators participating in groundfish fisheries in the GOA comply with a range of monitoring requirements and restrictions. NMFS uses a range of area, time, gear, and operation-specific fishery closures to maintain catch within specified TACs and associated sector and seasonal allocations. NMFS closes directed fisheries when a TAC is reached, and restricts fishing in other VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 fisheries that may incidentally take a species or species group approaching its OFL. Regulations at §§ 679.20(d)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3) describe the range of management measures that NMFS uses to maintain total catch at or below the OFL, ABC, and TAC for a species or species group. In addition to these measures to limit total catch of groundfish species, the Council and NMFS have adopted various measures intended to control the catch of species taken incidentally in groundfish fisheries. Certain species are designated as ‘‘prohibited species catch’’ (PSC) in the FMP because they are the target of other, fully utilized domestic fisheries. The FMP and regulations at § 679.21 require that catch of PSC must be avoided while fishing for groundfish, and when incidentally caught, these PSC species must be immediately returned to the sea with a minimum of injury. The PSC species include Pacific halibut, Pacific herring, Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, king crab, and Tanner crab. PSC must not be sold or kept for personal use and are required to be discarded (see regulations at § 679.21), or retained but not sold under the Prohibited Species Donation (PSD) Program (see regulations at § 679.26). In an effort to minimize waste of salmon incidentally caught and killed, NMFS established the PSD Program for the donation of incidentally caught salmon. The PSD Program reduces the amount of edible protein discarded under PSC regulatory requirements (see regulations at § 679.21). The PSD Program allows permitted participants to retain salmon for distribution to economically disadvantaged individuals through taxexempt hunger relief organizations. The Council has recommended, and NMFS has implemented, measures to (1) close groundfish fishing in areas with a high occurrence of prohibited species, or where there is a relatively high level of PSC; (2) require the use of gear specifically modified to minimize PSC; and (3) establish PSC limits in specific Alaska groundfish fisheries in the GOA. One of the prohibited species of greatest concern to the Council and NMFS is Chinook salmon. Chinook salmon is a prohibited species in the groundfish fisheries because of its value in salmon fisheries. Chinook salmon is a culturally and economically valuable species that is fully allocated and for which State and Federal managers seek to conservatively manage harvests. The Council and NMFS have established a range of management measures to constrain the impact of groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) and PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the GOA on Chinook salmon. A summary of these measures for the GOA is provided in Section 1.5 of the Analysis. Management Areas and Fisheries Affected by This Proposed Action This proposed rule would apply to Federally-permitted vessels fishing in the Central and Western Reporting Areas of the GOA (referred to in the remainder of the preamble as either the Western and Central GOA or the Central and Western GOA). The Western and Central Reporting Areas, defined at § 679.2 and shown in Figure 3 to 50 CFR part 679, consist of the Central and Western Regulatory Areas in the EEZ (Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630) and the adjacent State of Alaska (State) waters. The EEZ includes Federal waters that generally occur from 3 nautical miles (nm) to 200 nm from shore. State waters generally occur from shore to 3 nm from shore. The specific boundaries between State and Federal waters are provided on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/maps/ reporting_areas/index.pdf. This proposed rule would not apply to Federally-permitted vessels fishing in the Eastern Reporting Area of the GOA, which consists of Statistical Areas 640, 649, 650, and 659 in the EEZ and the adjacent State waters. Although all species of Pacific salmon are taken incidentally in the groundfish fisheries within the GOA, the Eastern Reporting Area is not included because it contains a large area (Statistical Area 650) closed to fishing with trawl gear, and Chinook salmon PSC in the Eastern Reporting Area accounts for less than 2 percent of total GOA Chinook salmon PSC (see Section 1.2 of the Analysis for additional detail). This proposed rule would apply Chinook salmon PSC limits to owners and operators of trawl vessels that are directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock (non-pollock trawl vessels) in the Central and Western GOA. Directed fishing is defined at § 679.2. Vessels that are directed fishing for pollock in the Central and Western GOA are subject to management under a separate Chinook salmon PSC limit defined at § 679.21(h) and would not be affected by this proposed action, with the exception of a proposed clarification to the current salmon retention requirements explained later in this preamble. This proposed action would apply to Federally-permitted trawl vessels fishing for non-pollock groundfish that are managed under TAC limits in Federal waters and under the State’s E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules parallel groundfish fisheries in State waters. Parallel groundfish fisheries are fisheries that occur in State waters where the catch of groundfish is debited from the TAC. Parallel groundfish fisheries are opened and closed by the State concurrently with adjacent Federal fisheries. Parallel fisheries are managed by the State under rules similar to those that apply in the Federal fisheries. The parallel fisheries that would be affected by this action include the GOA State parallel trawl fisheries for groundfish species, other than pollock, that occur in State waters in the Central and Western GOA. Additional detail on State parallel fisheries is provided in Section 4.5.1 of the Analysis. This proposed rule would not apply to non-pollock trawl vessels fishing in a State-managed guideline harvest level (GHL) groundfish fishery in the Western or Central GOA should such a fishery be authorized by the State. Currently, GHL non-pollock trawl fisheries are not authorized by the State in the Central or Western GOA. As general background, GHL fisheries are established and managed by the State for harvest exclusively within State waters and catch occurring in a GHL fishery is not deducted from the TAC. Additional detail on State GHL fishery management is provided in Section 4.5.1 of the Analysis. This proposed action would not apply to non-trawl fisheries (i.e., fisheries using pot, hook-and-line or jig gear). The purpose and need for this action is to address Chinook salmon PSC that is known to occur in trawl fisheries. The Council and NMFS could consider subsequent action to limit Chinook salmon PSC in non-trawl fisheries through subsequent action if such action were determined to be warranted. ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries in the Central and Western GOA The non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA include fisheries for sablefish, several rockfish species, arrowtooth flounder, Pacific cod, shallow water flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, deep-water flatfish, and other groundfish, except pollock. Many of the non-pollock trawl fisheries are multi-species fisheries, in which vessels catch and retain multiple groundfish species in a single fishing trip. Additional detail on the species and amounts harvested in the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA are provided in Sections 3.2 and 4.4 of the Analysis and in the final 2014 and 2015 harvest specifications for the GOA groundfish fisheries (79 FR 12890, March 6, 2014). VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Participants in the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries include C/Ps and CVs. In developing Amendment 97, the Council decided to group these vessels into three sectors which are described in greater detail in the following sections of this preamble: (1) The Trawl C/P Sector; (2) the Rockfish Program CV Sector; and (3) the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. Trawl C/P Sector Trawl C/Ps in the Central and Western GOA participate in a range of non-pollock groundfish fisheries. Trawl C/Ps primarily fish for rockfish (i.e., dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch) and sablefish in the Central and Western GOA, and arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, flathead sole, and rex sole in the Central GOA. Trawl C/Ps occasionally fish for arrowtooth flounder and shallow water flatfish in the Central and Western GOA. Trawl C/Ps do not fish for Pacific cod in the Central or Western GOA. Section 4.4 of the Analysis describes the harvesting activities by trawl C/Ps in greater detail. Harvests of non-pollock groundfish by trawl C/Ps in the Central and Western GOA are governed primarily by two management programs, the Amendment 80 Program and the Central GOA Rockfish Program. All of the vessels that would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed rule are subject to management under the Amendment 80 Program. Most of the vessels that would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed rule also are subject to management under the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The relevant provisions of the Amendment 80 Program and the Central GOA Rockfish Program are briefly described in the following paragraphs. In June 2006, the Council adopted Amendment 80 to the BSAI Fishery Management Plan, which was implemented by NMFS in 2008. The suite of management measures that implement Amendment 80 is commonly known as the Amendment 80 Program. The key provisions of Amendment 80 relevant for this proposed action are briefly described here; additional detail is available in the final rule implementing the Amendment 80 Program (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). The Amendment 80 Program is intended primarily to improve retention and utilization of fishery resources; encourage fishing practices with lower discard rates; and improve the opportunity for increasing the value of harvested species while lowering operational costs for groundfish fishing PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35973 in the BSAI. The Amendment 80 Program accomplishes these goals by encouraging the formation of cooperatives and the development of cooperative fishing practices among all persons who are issued Amendment 80 quota share permits. Amendment 80 cooperatives are eligible to receive cooperative quota, which represents an exclusive harvest privilege for a portion of the TAC for each Amendment 80 species annually. The allocation of an exclusive harvest privilege to a person for a specific portion of the TAC is more commonly known as a catch share. Trawl C/Ps within an Amendment 80 cooperative cannot exceed the amount of cooperative quota allocated to their Amendment 80 cooperative (see regulations at § 679.7(n)). Participants who form cooperatives in the Amendment 80 Program are able to receive a catch share in the BSAI and are not engaged in a ‘‘race for fish’’ that can occur in fisheries that are not subject to catch share management. This allows participants within an Amendment 80 cooperative to make operational choices to improve fishery returns, reduce bycatch, and reduce fish discards. However, the allocation of catch shares could allow Amendment 80 cooperative participants to expand into fisheries not managed under a catch share program. Specifically, many of the trawl C/Ps eligible under the Amendment 80 Program are also active in groundfish fisheries in the GOA that are not subject to catch share management. To address the potential expansion of fishing effort into the GOA that could result from the implementation of catch share management in the BSAI, the Amendment 80 Program limits the ability of trawl C/Ps managed under the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. These limitations are commonly known as ‘‘sideboards’’ because they constrain harvests in specific fisheries. The Amendment 80 Program established GOA groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program participants. Regulations at § 679.92 establish groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all vessels eligible for the Amendment 80 program, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, for pollock and Pacific cod in the Western and Central GOA, and Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the Western GOA. Regulations at § 679.92(b)(2) establish halibut PSC sideboard limits in the Central and Western GOA for vessels eligible under the Amendment 80 Program other than the F/V Golden Fleece. Halibut PSC E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 35974 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules sideboards establish the maximum amount of halibut PSC that may be taken while Amendment 80 trawl C/Ps are fishing for groundfish in the GOA. Halibut PSC sideboard limits are allocated by fishery complexes and seasons as described in Table 31 to part 679. In addition to these groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits, other limitations apply to trawl C/Ps eligible for the Amendment 80 Program. Regulations in Table 39 to 50 CFR part 679 allow only specific trawl C/Ps eligible under the Amendment 80 Program to conduct directed fishing for flatfish in the GOA. Regulations at § 679.92(d) prohibit one vessel in the Amendment 80 Program, the F/V Golden Fleece, from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the Central and Western GOA, effectively limiting that vessel to the flatfish fisheries in the Central and Western GOA. These specific sideboard measures were established for the F/V Golden Fleece in recognition of the unique catch patterns of the F/V Golden Fleece described in detail in the final rule implementing the Amendment 80 Program (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Because the trawl C/Ps operating in the Central and Western GOA are subject to the sideboard limits imposed by the Amendment 80 Program, the vessel operators have established voluntary cooperative relationships to ensure that sideboard limits are not exceeded. These voluntary arrangements have resulted in improved communication and coordination among trawl C/P operators in the GOA. In addition to the Amendment 80 Program, some trawl C/Ps that would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed rule are eligible to participate in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011). The Central GOA Rockfish Program was first implemented in 2007 and had a fiveyear duration ending on December 31, 2011 (71 FR 67210, November 20, 2006). Prior to the expiration of the Central GOA Rockfish Program, the Council revised and renewed the Central GOA Rockfish Program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011). Additional detail on the Central GOA Rockfish Program is provided in the final rule implementing the program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011) and relevant provisions are briefly summarized here. The Central GOA Rockfish Program, like the Amendment 80 Program, allocates catch shares. The Central GOA Rockfish Program provides catch shares to eligible trawl C/Ps for Central GOA VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and sablefish. The Central GOA Rockfish Program also limits the amount of halibut PSC that may be used by eligible trawl C/Ps. As with the Amendment 80 Program, trawl C/Ps that are active in the Central GOA Rockfish Program can receive a catch share allocation only if they participate in a cooperative. Trawl C/Ps cannot exceed their cooperative’s Central GOA Rockfish Program catch share allocations (see regulations at § 679.7(o)). In addition to this catch share allocation, trawl C/Ps that are eligible for the Central GOA Rockfish Program are subject to sideboard limits that constrain their ability to expand effort into other fisheries in the GOA that are not subject to catch share management. The Central GOA Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits on the types of groundfish fisheries, the amount of Central and Western GOA groundfish, and the amount of halibut PSC that may be harvested by trawl C/ Ps eligible for the Central GOA Rockfish Program (see regulations at § 679.82). These provisions have resulted in coordination among those participants active in the Central GOA Rockfish Program and who would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed rule. The management measures implemented under the Amendment 80 Program and the Central GOA Rockfish Program have resulted in uniform management of trawl C/P vessels in the Central and Western GOA. This uniform management has also resulted in similar harvest patterns, and coordination among fishery participants. Sections 4.4.2 and 4.4.11 of the Analysis describe the fishing dynamics within the Trawl C/P Sector in greater detail. This proposed rule would not apply to trawl C/Ps that are managed under authority of the American Fisheries Act (AFA). Regulations implementing the AFA prohibit AFA trawl C/Ps from harvesting any species of groundfish in the GOA (see regulations at § 679.7(k)(1)(ii)). Therefore, they would not be subject to the provisions of this proposed action. Rockfish Program CV Sector Trawl CVs in the Central and Western GOA participate in a range of nonpollock groundfish fisheries. Trawl CVs primarily fish for Pacific cod in the Central and Western GOA. Trawl CVs also fish for rockfish (i.e., dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch) and sablefish in the Central and Western GOA, and arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 shallow water flatfish in the Central GOA. Trawl CVs rarely fish for other flatfish species in the Central GOA. Trawl CVs do not fish for flatfish or rockfish in the Western GOA. Section 4.4.2.2 of the Analysis describes the harvesting activities by trawl CVs in greater detail. There is a distinct division in the management of trawl CVs that separates trawl CVs participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program from trawl CVs that are not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. Trawl CVs participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program are subject to catch share management; trawl CVs participating in fisheries other than the Central GOA Rockfish Program are not. These conditions create two distinct management regimes that fundamentally affect the way vessels within each sector fish for non-pollock groundfish and avoid PSC. Therefore, this proposed action recognizes trawl CVs that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program CVs) as a sector that is separate and distinct from trawl CVs that are not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Non-Rockfish Program CVs). The Central GOA Rockfish Program provides catch shares to eligible trawl CVs for Central GOA dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch, Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, and sablefish. The Central GOA Rockfish Program also limits the amount of halibut PSC that may be used by eligible trawl CVs. Rockfish Program CVs can receive a catch share allocation only if they participate in a cooperative. Rockfish Program cooperatives cannot exceed the amount of their Central GOA Rockfish Program catch share allocations (see regulations at § 679.7(o)). Rockfish Program CVs are subject to sideboard limits that constrain the ability of Rockfish Program CVs from expanding their fishing effort into other fisheries in the GOA not subject to catch share management (see regulations at § 679.82(d)). In the Central GOA, directed rockfish fishing is permitted from May 1 to December 31, with the majority of groundfish harvested in May and June. In 2012, thirty-five trawl CVs in the GOA were fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program Cooperative Quota (CQ) permit out of a total of 62 trawl CVs that were active in the Central GOA groundfish fisheries. Rockfish Program CVs can ‘‘check in’’ to fish under the authority of a Central GOA Rockfish Program CQ Permit, and ‘‘check out’’ to fish in other fisheries in the GOA (see E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS regulations at § 679.5(r)(8)). When Rockfish Program CVs are checked in, they are fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit and their harvest is limited to the cooperative’s catch share allocations. However, the catch share allocations are limiting only when trawl CVs are checked in and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit. Conversely, sideboard limitations applicable to eligible Rockfish Program CVs apply during a portion of the year to Rockfish Program CVs that are checked out of the Central GOA Rockfish Program (see regulations at § 679.82(d)). The net effect of these provisions is that when trawl CVs are ‘‘checked in’’ and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit, they are participating in a cooperative catch share management program, and when they are ‘‘checked out,’’ they no longer have an exclusive harvest privilege and must compete or ‘‘race’’ with other CVs in harvesting the fish. These conditions indicated to the Council that it would be appropriate to apply separate Chinook salmon PSC limits for trawl CV vessels when ‘‘checked in’’ and operating under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit and for trawl CV vessels not operating under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit (see the ‘‘Provisions of the Proposed Action’’ Section of this preamble for additional detail). Section 4.4.2 of the Analysis describes the fishing dynamics within the Rockfish Program CV Sector in greater detail. Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector CVs that are not eligible to participate in the Central GOA Rockfish Program or that are not ‘‘checked in’’ and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit would be in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. This sector fishes primarily for Pacific cod in the Central and Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and shallow water flatfish in the Central GOA, and rockfish in the Eastern GOA (an area not subject to the provisions of this proposed action). As noted earlier, some trawl CVs do not participate in the Rockfish Program at any time during a year, while some participate in the Central GOA Rockfish Program for part of the year, and then participate in other Central or Western GOA non-pollock fisheries that are outside of the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 participants who would be within the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector under this proposed rule participate in fisheries that are not subject to catch share management and are less likely to be able to coordinate fishing operations in comparison with participants who are subject to catch share management, such as those in the Trawl C/P and Rockfish CV Program Sectors. Section 4.4.2 of the Analysis describes the fishing dynamics within the NonRockfish Program CV Sector in greater detail. Chinook Salmon PSC in the NonPollock Trawl Fisheries Information is currently unavailable for NMFS to assess the specific proportion of individual stocks of Chinook salmon that are incidentally caught in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. Coded wire tag recoveries and genetic analysis of Chinook salmon caught in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries show that Chinook salmon stocks originate from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Current regulations do not facilitate stock of origin analysis of Chinook salmon incidentally caught in the Western or Central GOA nonpollock trawl fisheries. Section 4.7.2 of the Analysis concludes that it is not possible at this time to estimate how Chinook salmon removals by trawl fisheries impact the proportion of Chinook salmon forgone by other users or impact Chinook salmon escapement. Regulations require participants in the non-pollock trawl fisheries to avoid Chinook salmon when possible and return them to the water immediately with a minimum of injury after observer sampling. However, salmon caught incidentally in trawl nets often die as a result of trauma incurred during capture. It can be difficult for nonpollock trawl vessels to avoid Chinook salmon PSC because Chinook salmon and non-pollock groundfish occur in the same locations in the Western and Central GOA. Although non-pollock trawl fisheries incidentally take Chinook salmon, the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central GOA typically takes the majority of Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA groundfish fisheries (see Section 4.4 of the Analysis for additional detail on total Chinook salmon PSC use). In 2012, NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 93 to the FMP PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35975 (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). Amendment 93 established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA for the pollock directed fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western or Central GOA if the applicable limit is reached (see regulations at § 679.21(h)(6)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in regulation at § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (h)(2)(ii). In addition, all salmon (regardless of species) taken in the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until an observer at the processing facility that receives delivery of the catch is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon (see regulations at § 679.21(h)(4)). There are currently no specific management measures to limit Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. From 1997 through 2013 (a broad range of years encompassing reliable historic estimates and the most recent available data), the non-pollock trawl fisheries accounted for approximately 27 percent of the total trawl fishery Chinook salmon PSC in the Western and Central GOA groundfish fisheries. The pollock trawl fisheries accounted for the remainder of the Chinook salmon PSC. Chinook salmon PSC for the non-pollock trawl fisheries averaged 5,770 salmon annually from 1997 through 2013, with a maximum annual PSC of 10,877 in 2003 and a minimum annual PSC of 2,739 in 1998. Chinook salmon PSC for GOA nonpollock trawl fisheries varies by year and among the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. Table 1 provides the average, the minimum, and the maximum amount of Chinook salmon PSC for all three sectors. Table 1 provides this information since the implementation of the Central GOA Rockfish Program in 2007, the first year that all three sectors could be defined, through 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. Section 4.4 of the Analysis provides additional detail on the distribution of Chinook salmon PSC. E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 35976 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—TOTAL, AVERAGE, MAXIMUM, AND MINIMUM CHINOOK SALMON PSC IN THE TRAWL C/P, ROCKFISH CV, AND NON-ROCKFISH CV SECTORS FROM 2007 THROUGH 2013 Sector Average Maximum Minimum Trawl C/P ..................................................................................................................................... Rockfish CV ................................................................................................................................. Non-Rockfish CV ......................................................................................................................... 3,143 903 2,526 4,631 1,649 4,531 1,890 368 857 Total (All three sectors) ........................................................................................................ 5,979 9,748 3,664 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS History and Goals of This Proposed Rule In December 2010, the Council initiated two sequential amendments to address GOA Chinook salmon PSC. The first amendment addressed Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA pollock fisheries through the implementation of a PSC limit for those target fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. At the same time, a longer-term amendment package was initiated to address comprehensive Chinook salmon PSC management in GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. In June 2011, the Council took final action on the first amendment, Amendment 93 to the GOA Groundfish FMP, which established an overall PSC limit of 25,000 Chinook salmon for the Central and Western GOA pollock fisheries. The Central GOA annual PSC limit was set at 18,316 Chinook salmon, and the Western GOA PSC limit was set at 6,684 Chinook salmon. Also, the Council required full retention of all salmon taken in the pollock trawl fishery, in order to allow NMFS to implement a robust sampling protocol for Chinook salmon, and allow for genetic stock identification of Chinook salmon taken as PSC. The final rule to implement Amendment 93 became effective on August 25, 2012 (77 FR 42629). In February 2012, the Council reviewed a discussion paper on the second amendment to consider and evaluate a range of alternatives for Chinook salmon PSC limits in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries, and other alternatives for controlling and sampling Chinook salmon PSC in GOA trawl fisheries. In June 2013, the Council took final action on the Chinook salmon PSC limits for the nonpollock trawl fishery by selecting a longterm average annual PSC limit that would be divided between CVs and C/ Ps, an incentive buffer for trawl C/Ps and Non-Rockfish Program CVs, separate Chinook PSC apportionments for the Rockfish Program CV sector and the Non-Rockfish Program CV sector, and salmon retention requirements. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 In June 2013, the Council initiated review of an additional PSC measure to examine whether or not the June 2013 recommendation on Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA non-pollock trawl fishery could be modified to include an inseason reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. The Council recommended an inseason reallocation on December 2013. The measures adopted by the Council at its June and December meetings comprise Amendment 97 and are described in detail in the analysis and in the following section of this proposed rule. The goals of this proposed action are consistent with the 10 National Standards established under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The proposed action addresses the MSA National Standards and would balance a number of competing objectives for fishery conservation and management. These include National Standard 1, National Standard 8, and National Standard 9. The Council and NMFS recognize the need to balance and be consistent with both National Standard 1 and National Standard 9. National Standard 9 requires that conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, minimize bycatch. National Standard 1 requires that conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry. The ability to harvest the entire TAC for each groundfish fishery in any given year may not be the single factor, or the most important factor, in determining whether the GOA groundfish fishery achieves optimum yield. Providing the opportunity for the fleet to harvest its TAC is one aspect of achieving optimum yield in the long term. National Standard 8 requires considering the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities and minimizing adverse economic impacts on such communities. This action would provide maximum benefit to fishermen and communities that depend on Chinook salmon and groundfish PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 resources, and comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable federal law. National Standard 9 emphasizes the need to minimize bycatch in the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA to the extent practicable. The action would be practicable because it does not over constrain harvest of available TACs in the non-pollock trawl fisheries. By minimizing Chinook salmon bycatch, this action would maintain a healthy marine ecosystem for the long-term conservation and abundance of Chinook salmon. In determining whether to impose a Chinook salmon PSC limit for the nonpollock trawl fisheries, the Council and NMFS considered the importance of equity among user groups in this proposed action. In addition to providing an equitable allocation of the total GOA-wide PSC limit between the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries, the Council and NMFS also considered the needs of Chinook salmon users. The Chinook salmon resource is of value to many stakeholders, including but not limited to commercial, recreational, and subsistence user groups, and it is a resource that is currently fully utilized. By instituting a PSC limit that would prevent harvest of Chinook salmon in excess of that limit, thereby reducing Chinook salmon bycatch in years of high abundance, the Council and NMFS also are considering the needs of these other user groups in recommending this proposed action. The Council and NMFS determined that the imposition of a Chinook salmon PSC limit for the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA would achieve three broad goals, that are addressed in the Purpose and Need and in the Council’s problem statement (see Analysis Section 1.1), and discussed below. The first goal is to avoid exceeding the annual Chinook salmon threshold of 40,000 Chinook salmon that was identified in the incidental take statement accompanying the November 30, 2000, Biological Opinion on the effects of the Alaska groundfish fisheries on ESA-listed salmon of the Pacific Northwest (see E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules Chapter 5) (see ADDRESSES). Management of the GOA groundfish fisheries should prevent Chinook salmon bycatch from exceeding the incidental take statement. Establishing a limit on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC that may be taken on an annual basis in the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA would accomplish that goal. This proposed action would, on average, limit the annual Chinook salmon PSC in the nonpollock trawl fisheries to 7,500 salmon each year. This would provide great assurance that the total Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA from all sources would not exceed 40,000 salmon on an annual basis. The second goal is to minimize Chinook salmon bycatch to the extent practicable, consistent with the MSA and National Standard 9. Under Amendment 93 to the FMP, NMFS implemented regulations to limit the annual Chinook salmon PSC in the Central and Western GOA pollock fishery to 25,000 Chinook salmon (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). Limits on Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries would complement those regulations, and further the second goal of conservation of Chinook salmon resources that occur in the GOA regardless of the stock of origin. The implementation of Chinook salmon PSC limits for non-pollock trawl fisheries would prevent unusually high levels of PSC of Chinook salmon from occurring in the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the future, such as occurred in 2003 and 2010 (see Section 4.4 of the Analysis for additional information on annual Chinook salmon PSC use in the nonpollock trawl fisheries). Consistent with National Standard 9, Chinook salmon PSC limits that would be implemented by this program include incentives that in some years, may reduce Chinook salmon PSC to levels below the proposed limits, thereby minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable. The third broad goal is to establish monitoring measures that would aid NMFS in proper accounting of Chinook salmon PSC and improve sampling of Chinook salmon so that stock of origin of Chinook salmon PSC could be determined. This would be accomplished by revising retention requirements for all salmon PSC, regardless of species, to enable accurate reporting, ensure adequate accounting of Chinook salmon PSC, and obtain information that could help define the stock of origin of Chinook salmon bycatch, thereby improving the understanding of the potential impact of Chinook salmon PSC on Chinook salmon resources and fisheries. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Provisions of the Proposed Action In order to achieve the goals identified by the Council, this proposed action would: (1) Establish annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors; (2) establish an ‘‘incentive buffer’’ that would allow the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to vary depending on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC taken by those sectors in the previous year; (3) establish a seasonal limit on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC that could be taken in the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 of each year; (4) allow the reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 15 of each year; and (5) establish salmon retention requirements to ensure adequate accounting of Chinook salmon PSC, and to improve the collection of biological samples that could aid in the determination of stock of origin of Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries. A description of and rationale for these proposed measures are provided in the following paragraphs. Chinook Salmon PSC Limits This proposed rule would implement a long-term average annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA. The proposed rule would implement the long-term average annual limit by establishing three separate Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. During the first year of implementation, this proposed rule would establish an annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon for the Trawl C/P Sector, 1,200 Chinook salmon for the Rockfish Program CV Sector, and 2,700 Chinook salmon for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. The total Chinook salmon PSC limit in the first year of implementation for all three sectors would be 7,500 Chinook salmon. Under the proposed action, if a sector reaches, or is projected to reach, its Chinook salmon PSC limit, NMFS would close directed fishing for all non-pollock trawl fisheries for vessels in that sector for the remainder of the calendar year. Each sector would be subject to its own annual Chinook salmon PSC limit, and NMFS would manage each sector separately. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35977 The Council recommended the proposed long-term average annual limit after considering a range of PSC limits to minimize Chinook salmon bycatch to the extent practicable while preserving the potential for the full harvest of nonpollock groundfish TACs. The Council’s selection of this long-term average limit also reflects the trade-offs between Chinook salmon saved and the forgone non-pollock catch for the range of PSC limits. Section 4.4.9 of the Analysis shows that Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries averaged approximately 6,000 Chinook salmon per year between 2003 and 2011, but that actual annual PSC varies widely (a high of 10,877 in 2003 and a low of 3,060 in 2006). According to the Analysis (section 2.5), the non-pollock trawl fisheries would have been constrained in two out of nine years between 2003 and 2011 if the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 had been in place, but these closures would have resulted in 40% less Chinook salmon PSC being taken in these fisheries (see the Analysis, Table 4–69). The Council considered alternatives that would have established a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 5,000, 10,000 and 12,500 in the non-pollock trawl fishery in the Central and Western GOA. The Council and NMFS recognize that the Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 proposed in this action could constrain groundfish harvests and impose costs on non-pollock trawl fishery participants (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis). However, based on a review of past fishery performance provided in Sections 4.7 and 4.9 of the Analysis, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that a Chinook salmon PSC limit less than 7,500 would result in considerable amounts of foregone harvest in the nonpollock trawl fisheries, and relatively high costs (in terms of foregone revenue) per salmon saved. A Chinook salmon PSC limit lower than 7,500 would be expected to impose greater costs and burdens on participants in the nonpollock trawl fisheries in future years by constraining fishing to a greater degree than the PSC limit proposed in this action. Using the 2003 to 2011 period, the non-pollock trawl fisheries would have been constrained in six of these years under a 5,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit. Given the considerable costs per salmon saved at PSC limits less than 7,500 and the uncertainty over the added benefits to individual Chinook stocks with such limits, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that a Chinook salmon PSC limit lower than 7,500 would burden fishery participants to a greater extent than the proposed E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 35978 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules limit, and is not considered practicable for minimizing Chinook salmon bycatch because it would be unnecessarily constraining to the non-pollock fisheries. The Analysis at section 2.5 also shows that non-pollock trawl fisheries would have been constrained in only one year between 2003 and 2011 with an average annual PSC limit equal to or greater than 10,000 Chinook salmon. While a PSC limit of 10,000 Chinook salmon would have resulted in approximately 17 percent less Chinook salmon PSC using the 2003 to 2011 time period, the Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that a 17 percent savings of Chinook salmon PSC (approximately 1,000 Chinook salmon) was inadequate savings of Chinook salmon considering the importance of salmon to target fisheries and conservation needs and would not minimize Chinook salmon bycatch to the extent practicable. After selecting the long-term average annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500, the Council recommended that the average annual PSC limit be implemented by establishing separate Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/P, the Rockfish Program CV, and the Non-Rockfish Program CV sectors. The Council and NMFS recommend allocating Chinook salmon PSC to the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors in recognition of the specific groundfish fisheries, and patterns of Chinook salmon PSC use by these sectors as described in the ‘‘Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries in the Central and Western GOA’’ and ‘‘Chinook Salmon PSC in the Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries’’ sections of this preamble and detailed in Section 4.4 of the Analysis. As explained earlier in this preamble and in the Analysis, each of these three sectors participates in different groundfish fisheries, and is subject to different management measures that allow these three sectors to respond differently to the Chinook salmon PSC limits being proposed in this action. The following description provides the rationale for the specific Chinook salmon PSC limits selected and the potential effects based on a review of historic and recent trends of groundfish harvests and Chinook salmon PSC use. In determining the specific Chinook salmon PSC limit that each sector would receive, the Council recommended that the average annual PSC limit be apportioned between the catcher processor fleet (i.e., the Trawl C/P Sector) and the catcher vessel fleet (i.e., the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector combined) based on each fleet’s five- VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 year historic average percentage of Chinook salmon bycatch. From 2007 to 2011, the catcher processor fleet’s average use of Chinook salmon represented 48% of the total average use of Chinook salmon bycatch in the nonpollock trawl fisheries. During this same period, the catcher vessel fleet’s average use of Chinook salmon represented 52 percent of the total average use of Chinook salmon bycatch in the nonpollock trawl fisheries. Applying these percentages to the PSC limit of 7,500, the Council recommended a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon for the catcher processor fleet (i.e. the Trawl C/P Sector) and a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,900 Chinook salmon for the catcher vessel fleet (i.e. the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector combined). The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that the five-year historic average best captures the time period that is most reflective of the current management regime in the non-pollock trawl fisheries of the Western and Central GOA. The period encompasses the time in which the Central GOA Rockfish Program and Amendment 80 were implemented. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that the 3,600 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P Sector is appropriate because the sector’s groundfish harvests are tightly constrained by sideboard measures, informal cooperative arrangements that exist within the Trawl C/P Sector can provide the necessary communication for avoiding Chinook salmon PSC, and regulations applicable to trawl C/Ps operating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program allow those trawl C/Ps to better coordinate activities and take actions to reduce Chinook salmon PSC. Collectively, these conditions are expected to minimize the sector’s Chinook salmon PSC to the extent practicable while providing an opportunity to harvest groundfish in the GOA. The proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 salmon is approximately 14 percent greater than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has been used in Trawl C/P Sector (3,105 salmon) from 2007 (the first year that the Central GOA Rockfish Program) through 2011 (the most recent year for which complete data was available at the time the Council took final action on Amendment 97). Based on a review provided in Section 4.4 of the Analysis, the proposed 3,600 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have been constraining in one out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 period analyzed. The 3,600 Chinook PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 salmon PSC limit also would be slightly higher than the sector’s average Chinook salmon PSC use (3,143 salmon) from 2007, the first year that all three sectors could be defined, through 2013, the most recent year for which data are available (see Table 1 of this preamble). The Council and NMFS anticipate that, given the existing management structure of the Trawl C/P Sector and the ability of the Trawl C/P Sector to coordinate fishing activities in the GOA, the Trawl C/P Sector is likely to be able to harvest non-pollock groundfish in the Central and Western GOA in most years without being constrained by the Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 salmon. After recommending a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,900 for the catcher vessel fleet (i.e., the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the NonRockfish Program CV Sector combined), the Council then determined that this PSC limit should be further apportioned and recommended that 1,200 Chinook salmon be apportioned to the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the remainder (2,700 Chinook salmon) be apportioned to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. The Council recognized that vessels within the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector could have unpredictable high PSC events during the spring, prior to the May opening of the Central GOA Rockfish Program, which could preclude or severely curtail the Central GOA Rockfish Program’s season, thereby eliminating an opportunity to prosecute a valuable fishery in which the prospects for effective PSC avoidance are promising. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that a separate Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV Sector is appropriate because a separate allocation would preserve important and valuable fishing opportunities in the Rockfish Program. In determining the Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV Sector, the Council considered the sector’s annual average Chinook salmon PSC from 2007 through 2011 of approximately 800 Chinook salmon per year, as well as annual Chinook salmon PSC, which exceeded 1,200 Chinook salmon in one year (2008) during this period. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 for the Rockfish Program CV Sector is appropriate because (1) it should provide the greatest assurance that the Central GOA Rockfish Program quota can be fully harvested given the sector’s average annual use, (2) the sector is managed through cooperatives that have additional tools available to aid in mitigating Chinook salmon PSC E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules encounters, and (3) the one year in which the sector’s PSC use exceeded the proposed limit, cooperative fishing under the Central GOA Rockfish Program was new and management priorities emphasized halibut avoidance. The Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 salmon is approximately 29 percent greater than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has been used in Rockfish Program CV Sector (847 salmon) during a representative five-year period analyzed by the Council and NMFS from 2007 through 2011. Based on a review provided in Sections 4.7 and 4.9 of the Analysis, the 1,200 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have been constraining in one out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 period analyzed. The 1,200 Chinook salmon PSC limit is also greater than the sector’s average Chinook salmon PSC use (903 salmon) from 2007 through 2013 (see Table 1 of this preamble). The Council and NMFS anticipate that given the existing management structure of the Rockfish Program CV Sector, the sector is likely to be able to harvest groundfish fisheries in the Central and Western GOA in most years without being constrained by the Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 salmon. The Council also determined, and NMFS agrees, that the apportionment to the sector is appropriate because although the allocation is larger than the sector’s average annual use, the sector has an incentive to minimize its use of Chinook salmon PSC. This proposed action also includes a provision that would allow NMFS to reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 15 of each year as described later in this preamble. This provision would ensure that unused amounts of the Chinook salmon PSC limit allocated to the Rockfish Program CV Sector would be made available to catcher vessels that may still be fishing in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector towards the end of the fishing year. On average, 87 percent of the CVs that are active in the Rockfish Program CV Sector participate in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector for fall non-pollock trawl fisheries. Therefore, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that participants in the Rockfish Program CV Sector would have ample incentive to minimize Chinook salmon PSC within that sector in order to maximize the amount of Chinook salmon PSC available to prosecute important fall fisheries, such as fall Pacific cod and flatfish fisheries. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 The Rockfish Program CV Sector Chinook salmon PSC limit would apply to trawl catcher vessels that are checked in and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit (see regulations at § 679.5(r)(8)). Trawl catcher vessels that are not checked in and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit would be in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. Under the proposed action, a trawl CV vessel could operate in both the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector during the course of a fishing year, but would only be in one or the other sector at any given time during a fishing year depending on whether the vessel was checked in and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit. The proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV Sector would not be further allocated among the specific cooperatives within the sector. The Council did not recommend that the 1,200 Chinook salmon PSC limit be further apportioned among fishery cooperatives in the Rockfish Program CV Sector because allocating the Chinook salmon PSC limit among cooperatives would result in relatively small allocations among the cooperatives that could unnecessarily constrain non-pollock harvests by the cooperatives. Chinook salmon PSC varies from year to year and that variability could limit the ability of a cooperative to predict and undertake fishing operations in a way that could ensure the cooperative would maintain catch below its Chinook salmon PSC limit. A cooperative-specific Chinook salmon PSC limit would be expected to increase the administrative burden and costs to establish cooperative-specific allocations, particularly if cooperativespecific Chinook salmon PSC limits could be traded among cooperatives. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that inter-cooperative arrangements that exist among the Rockfish Program CV Sector would be able to provide coordination and communication among participants, reduce the risk that a specific cooperative would be constrained within the overall Rockfish Program CV Sector, and would not impose the additional burdens and costs associated with cooperative-specific Chinook salmon PSC limits. Sections 4.7.1 and 4.9 of the Analysis provide additional detail on the allocation of the Chinook salmon PSC limit to the Rockfish Program CV Sector. The Council and NMFS recommend the 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector to PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35979 accommodate groundfish harvests in most years. Unlike the Trawl C/P and Rockfish Program CV Sectors, the NonRockfish Program CV Sector is not circumscribed by sideboard regulations, governed by informal cooperative arrangements, or managed under a catch share program that allows the sector to optimize the use of its Chinook salmon PSC as it participates in non-pollock trawl fisheries. The Council considered these factors when establishing the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit. The proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,700 salmon is approximately 8 percent greater than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has been used in Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector (2,489 salmon) during a representative five-year period analyzed by the Council and NMFS from 2007 through 2011. Based on a review provided in Sections 4.7 and 4.9 of the Analysis, the 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have been constraining in two out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 period analyzed. The proposed 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit is also slightly greater than the sector’s average Chinook salmon PSC use (2,562 salmon) from 2007 through 2013 (see Table 1 of this preamble). This proposed action also includes a provision that would allow NMFS to reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 15 of each year as described later in this preamble. This provision would be likely to provide additional Chinook salmon PSC to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector in most years (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis for additional detail). As previously discussed, the Council considered establishing Chinook salmon PSC limits that would have provided a single Chinook salmon PSC limit for all non-pollock trawl fisheries, as well as a single Chinook salmon PSC limit for trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The Council considered alternatives for Chinook salmon PSC limits for each of the three sectors that would, on average, result in Chinook salmon PSC limits ranging from 5,000 salmon to 12,500 salmon annually in the Central and Western GOA. The Council considered a range of methods for defining and allocating the Chinook PSC between the three sectors using average Chinook salmon PSC use by each sector over five-year and ten-year periods. Finally, the Council considered alternatives to allocate separate Central GOA and Western GOA Chinook salmon PSC limits for each sector. E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 35980 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules The Council considered but did not select alternatives that would have assigned a single Chinook salmon PSC limit to all fisheries because such an allocation would not recognize the distinct operational differences, and differing patterns of Chinook salmon PSC use, among the three sectors active in the GOA (see Section 4.7 of the Analysis for additional detail). The Council determined that such an allocation method would have reduced the incentives for a specific sector to maintain Chinook salmon PSC use within its historic limits. This could result in one sector engaging in fishing patterns that lead to relatively high Chinook salmon PSC which in turn could result in the closure of nonpollock fisheries to all vessels, including those vessels that have relatively low Chinook salmon PSC rates. Such a result would have adverse effects on fishing operations disproportionate to their actual Chinook salmon PSC use. Additionally, the Council did not select alternatives that would have assigned a single Chinook salmon PSC limit to the trawl CV and trawl C/P vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The Council determined that such an allocation did not appear to be consistent with the operations of trawl C/P vessels and the stated desire by representatives of trawl C/P vessels to establish a single Chinook salmon PSC limit applicable to all trawl C/Ps. As previously discussed, the Council considered but did not select Chinook salmon PSC limits that that would have established Chinook salmon PSC limits greater than 7,500 salmon (10,000 and 12,500 salmon) in the non-pollock trawl fisheries of the Central and Western GOA. The Council reviewed these limits and determined that although they would establish Chinook salmon PSC limits and constrain total Chinook salmon PSC, they would not have minimized bycatch of Chinook salmon to the extent practicable. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that Chinook salmon PSC limits higher than 7,500 would result in a greater potential for increased use of Chinook salmon PSC. The Council and NMFS consider the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 to appropriately balance the goals of minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable while providing harvest opportunities among the sectors. The Council and NMFS reached these conclusions based on a review of the historic and recent trends in Chinook salmon PSC use, the ability of the Trawl C/P and Rockfish Program CV Sectors to use their existing management structure VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 and cooperative arrangements to further minimize bycatch, and incentive provisions contained within this proposed action would provide additional harvest flexibility to the Trawl C/P and to a greater extent, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. Finally, the Council also considered but did not select alternatives to allocate separate Central GOA and Western GOA Chinook salmon PSC limits for each sector. As noted in Section 4.7 of the Analysis, allocating Chinook salmon PSC separately to the Western and Central GOA, or by sector within the Central and Western GOA, would have been likely to create small allocations that would have been limiting to the non-pollock trawl fishery in more years given the highly variable nature of Chinook salmon PSC rates and use between the Central and Western GOA. The Council determined that these small, and likely restrictive allocations would have constrained fishing operations, without necessarily resulting in practicable minimization of Chinook salmon bycatch. These small restrictions also would be challenging for NMFS to adequately monitor and administer to ensure that these relatively small Chinook salmon PSC limits could not be exceeded. Incentive Buffer This proposed rule would allow the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to vary depending on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC taken by those sectors in the previous year. This proposed provision is termed an ‘‘incentive buffer’’ because it would provide an incentive for participants in the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to minimize PSC below their allocations, 3,600 and 2,700 Chinook salmon respectively, each year in order to receive additional Chinook salmon PSC in the following year. It is important to note that the proposed incentive buffer would not result in the total available Chinook salmon PSC limit in the non-pollock trawl fisheries to exceed 7,500 salmon over the long term annual average. Under the proposed incentive buffer, a sector that uses less than or equal to its proportional share of 6,500 Chinook salmon in one year would be able to access its base PSC limit plus its proportional share of 1,000 additional Chinook salmon in the following year. To illustrate, the proposed base Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P Sector is 3,600 (48 percent of the average annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500) and this limit would be available to the Trawl C/P Sector during PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the first year of Amendment 97 if approved. If, during the first year, the Trawl C/P Sector was able to maintain its use of Chinook salmon PSC to no more than 3,120 salmon (48 percent of 6,500 Chinook salmon), the incentive buffer would apply to the sector in the following year. In the following year, the Trawl C/P Sector would receive a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 4,080 Chinook salmon, which represents the sum of the sector’s base PSC limit (3,600) and its proportional share (48 percent) of 1,000 (480). If, during the first year, the Trawl C/P Sector’s Chinook salmon use exceeds 3,120 Chinook salmon, then the incentive buffer would not apply to the sector and its Chinook salmon PSC limit in the following year would be set at its base PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon. Similarly, the proposed base PSC limit for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector is 2,700 (36 percent of the proposed Chinook salmon limit of 7,500) and this limit would be available to the NonRockfish Program CV Sector during the first year of Amendment 97 if approved. If, during the first year, the NonRockfish Program CV Sector was able to maintain its use of Chinook salmon PSC to no more than 2,340 salmon (36 percent of 6,500 Chinook salmon), the incentive buffer would apply to the sector in the following year. In the following year, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector would receive a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,060 salmon, which represents the sum of the sector’s base PSC limit (2,700) and its proportional share (36 percent) of 1,000 (360). If, during the first year, the NonRockfish Program CV Sector’s Chinook salmon use exceeds 2,340 Chinook salmon, then the incentive buffer would not apply to the sector and its Chinook salmon PSC limit in the following year would be set at its base PSC limit of 2,700 salmon. The Council believes and NMFS agrees that this mechanism would act as an incentive for these sectors to keep Chinook salmon bycatch well below each sector’s base PSC limit in most years, in order to provide each sector with a slightly higher Chinook salmon PSC limit that may be needed in an unusual year of Chinook salmon migration patterns or unanticipated higher abundance that may make it difficult to avoid Chinook salmon PSC. The specific buffers selected would provide approximately 12 percent more Chinook salmon PSC for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors in a year if the Chinook salmon use for that sector was maintained at an amount approximately 12 percent below the E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules Chinook salmon PSC limits initially established for those sectors. The amount of the proposed incentive buffer is intended to provide some additional flexibility, but not so large an increase in a sector’s Chinook salmon PSC limit from year-to-year as to result in highly variable or substantial increases in Chinook salmon PSC. This proposed action would not apply an incentive buffer to the Rockfish Program CV Sector. As noted in the previous section of this preamble, the Chinook Salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV Sector is thought to be sufficient to support the Rockfish Program CV Sector in most years. In addition, any unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector would be reallocated to the NonRockfish Program CV Sector in the fall of each year as described later in this preamble. Establishing an incentive buffer for the Rockfish Program CV Sector and allowing a reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC would be administratively burdensome and was determined by the Council and NMFS as unnecessary to provide flexibility to the Rockfish Program CV Sector (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis for additional detail). ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Seasonal Allocation of the Chinook Salmon PSC Limit for Trawl Catcher/ Processors This proposed rule would establish a seasonal limit on the maximum amount of Chinook salmon PSC that could be used by the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 of each year. Each year, the Trawl C/P Sector would be limited to using no more than 66 percent of its annual Chinook salmon PSC limit prior to June 1. If NMFS determined that the Trawl C/ P Sector’s seasonal Chinook PSC limit would not be exceeded, no action would be necessary. If, prior to June 1, NMFS determines that the Trawl C/P Sector would catch the seasonal allocation of the sector’s Chinook salmon PSC limit prior to June 1, NMFS would prohibit directed fishing for non-pollock fisheries by the Trawl C/P Sector until June 1. NMFS would determine the amount of the sector’s annual limit that remains available for use and directed fishing for non-pollock fisheries would be open for the Trawl C/P Sector on June 1, provided there is adequate Chinook salmon PSC to allow the Trawl C/P Sector to fish and not exceed its annual Chinook salmon PSC limit. No additional notice to re-open the groundfish fishery for non-pollock trawl C/Ps would be necessary, because proposed regulations at § 679.21(i)(3)(ii) state the date (June 1), that defines the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 end and start of the Trawl C/P Sector’s seasonal Chinook PSC limits. NMFS, as part of the implementation of this action, would establish Chinook salmon PSC accounts for the nonpollock trawl groundfish fishery in the NMFS regional catch accounting system (CAS). NMFS also would develop publically-available reports about the catch of Chinook in the non-pollock groundfish fishery (at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov), including annual PSC limits, current catch, and remaining limits. These reports, which would be an extension of existing NMFS reports about current and historic groundfish and PSC catch in the GOA, would include a Chinook PSC category for the non-pollock Trawl C/P Sector as defined at § 679.21(i)(2)(ii). The agency would add the residual January 1 to June 1 Chinook salmon PSC limit to the June 1 to December 31 Chinook salmon PSC limit. This information would be publically available from the nonpollock Chinook PSC limit report. Because the seasonal limit would be set at 66 percent of the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit, the specific amount could vary depending on whether or not the Trawl C/P Sector receives an incentive buffer for a year. During the first year of implementation, the Trawl C/P Sector would be allocated a seasonal Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,376 Chinook salmon for use prior to June 1 (i.e., 66 percent of the 3,600 Chinook salmon PSC annual limit). During the second year, the seasonal Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 would be set at 2,376 Chinook salmon if the Trawl C/ P Sector did not receive the incentive buffer, or would be set at 2,693 Chinook salmon (i.e., 66 percent of the 4,080 Chinook salmon PSC annual limit) if the sector received the incentive buffer. This proposed action would establish a seasonal allocation to the Trawl C/P Sector to reduce the potential for a disproportionate amount of the Chinook salmon PSC limit being used early in the year which could result in nonpollock harvest restrictions to Trawl C/ P Sector participants later in the year. Section 4.7.1 of the Analysis contains data showing that the Trawl C/P Sector typically uses approximately 70 percent of its Chinook salmon PSC before June 1. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that the proposed 66 percent allocation prior to June 1 is an appropriate limitation to allow the Trawl C/P Sector to prosecute nonpollock trawl fisheries consistent with historic use of Chinook salmon PSC, while also ensuring that some portion of the PSC is available to support other non-pollock trawl fisheries, specifically PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35981 the rockfish fisheries that typically are harvested after June 1. Many of the vessels in the Trawl C/P Sector participate in Central GOA Rockfish Program fisheries that open on May 1 of each year. However, trawl C/Ps fishing in the Central GOA Rockfish Program typically start to fish after June 1. The Council and NMFS propose June 1 as the end date of the seasonal allocation to ensure that sufficient Chinook salmon PSC will be left for the Trawl C/P Sector to participate in the Central GOA Rockfish Program, as well as to support other non-pollock trawl fisheries occurring later in the year. The Council and NMFS also considered recommendations provided to the Council from participants in the Trawl C/P Sector that a seasonal limit of Chinook salmon PSC would help ensure that participants in the Trawl C/P Sector monitor catch early in the year to ensure adequate Chinook salmon PSC remains later in the year. The Council considered but did not select a PSC limit for the trawl C/Ps of 50 percent of the annual limit, choosing the higher percentage based on supportive testimony of the trawl C/P representatives for applying 66 percent of the annual PSC limit. Additionally, the proposed seasonal apportionment would exceed the Trawl C/P Sector’s annual average use of Chinook salmon PSC prior to June 1 by the Trawl C/P Sector from 2008 to 2012 of 2,057 Chinook salmon. NMFS determined that the annual average of 2,376 Chinook salmon or 66 percent of the annual PSC limit, represents a compromise between providing the long-term average catch for the Trawl C/P Sector of 71% or 2,564 fish. The Council and NMFS considered but did not select alternatives that would have established seasonal allocations to the Rockfish Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. These alternatives were not selected because Section 4.7.1 of the Analysis indicates that the Rockfish Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors typically have a more even distribution of Chinook salmon PSC use throughout the year. Therefore, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that it would not be necessary to constrain Chinook salmon PSC early in the year to ensure adequate Chinook salmon PSC remains later in the year. Reallocation of Unused Chinook Salmon PSC From the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector As noted earlier in this preamble, it is likely that the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 35982 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules Program CV Sector would not constrain the sector’s non-pollock harvests in most years. In contrast, the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,700 for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector would have constrained the sector’s non-pollock harvests during three of the seven years between 2007 and 2013 (see Table 1 and Section 4.7.1 in the Analysis) had the proposed PSC limit been in place. This proposed action would provide the opportunity for reallocations of unused Chinook salmon PSC to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector at two periods during the year. Under this proposed action, NMFS would reallocate all but 150 of the salmon that remain of the unused Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the NonRockfish Program CV Sector on October 1. Depending on the amount reallocated, the additional Chinook salmon could allow Non-Rockfish Program CVs to continue fishing for an extended period of time if the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector would have otherwise been constrained by its Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,700 Chinook salmon. The Council selected this alternative to provide additional Chinook salmon PSC to address unanticipated events of high PSC encounters, for which the NonRockfish Program CVs would generally be unable to mitigate before reaching their PSC limit. The Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector does not operate under authority of the Rockfish Program and is not as likely to be able to voluntarily control or organize fleet behavior to adjust fishing patterns for avoiding Chinook salmon PSC. The Council selected October 1 for reallocating Chinook salmon PSC to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector because of the timing and the value of the Pacific cod fall season fishery to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. In some years, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector has high Chinook salmon PSC prior to May 1, which would reduce the amount of Chinook salmon PSC limit available from September through November, when most CVs have checked out of the Rockfish Program CR fishery. Also, the Council determined that by establishing a fixed annual date to reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC, participants in the Rockfish Program CV Sector would have certainty regarding the timing of each reallocation, and would be able to focus on more important coordination of cooperative measures such as avoidance of Chinook salmon PSC. The Council and NMFS recommended retaining a balance of 150 Chinook salmon for the Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 after VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 considering the catch of Chinook salmon by Rockfish Program CVs after October 1. Based on the first seven years of the Central GOA Rockfish Program (2007 through 2013), 150 Chinook salmon would have been sufficient to support the sector’s activity from October 1 through November 15, the last date that fishing is permitted under the Central GOA Rockfish Program (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis for additional information). Although 150 Chinook salmon may be more than the sector would need in most years, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that changing trends in Chinook salmon PSC use or groundfish fishing patterns could increase the demand for Chinook salmon PSC in this sector. Additionally, while the number of Rockfish Program CVs operating after October 1 is usually small, managing that fishery with less than 150 Chinook salmon PSC could close the sector. NMFS determined that the agency may be unable to open the directed fisheries for the Rockfish Program CV Sector if the postreallocation Chinook salmon PSC for the Sector is set at less than 150 fish, particularly if the number of participating Rockfish Program CVs is uncertain or anticipated to increase beyond historical numbers. This proposed rule would provide a final reallocation of any unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on November 15. The Central GOA Rockfish Program closes by regulation on November 15. This final reallocation could provide some additional harvest opportunity to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector, depending on the amount reallocated, from November 15 through the end of the year (December 31). Reallocations to the non-Rockfish Program CV Sector, would not change (add to or subtract from) the incentive buffers proposed at § 679.21(i)(3)(i)(A) and (i)(3)(i)(C). Section 4.9 of the Analysis provides additional detail on the reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC. Salmon Retention and the Prohibited Species Donation Program This proposed rule would establish salmon retention requirements for the non-pollock trawl sectors, and would establish and modify existing salmon retention requirements for shoreside processors and stationary floating processors (SFPs) receiving non-pollock and pollock deliveries. To implement these proposed provisions, trawl CVs and tender vessels, shoreside processors or SFPs, and trawl C/Ps would each be subject to different salmon retention requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 This proposed action would require the operators of all CVs (i.e., the Rockfish Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors) and tender vessels to retain all salmon caught in the nonpollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA until those salmon are offloaded to a shoreside processor or SFP. This proposed action would also require shoreside processors and SFPs receiving non-pollock deliveries to retain all salmon until the number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the eLandings groundfish landing report. The combination of these two retention requirements will enable accurate reporting of salmon in eLandings at the processor. Salmon accounting at a processor may assist the industry in tracking and cooperatively managing its Chinook salmon PSC. At this time, observers are not available to collect data from salmon delivered with non-pollock groundfish to shoreside processors or SFPs. However, scientific data from salmon delivered with nonpollock groundfish to processors may be collected opportunistically for further study to assist with scientific research on the origin of salmon in the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. This proposed action would require the operators of vessels in the Trawl C/ P Sector to retain all salmon until an observer has had the opportunity to collect scientific data or biological samples, and the number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the eLandings At-sea production report. This proposed requirement emphasizes the responsibility for an operator of a C/ P to accommodate observer sampling tasks prior to discard. Data collected from observers onboard C/Ps would be used for stock of origin determinations (see Section 3.3.3 of the Analysis for additional detail on stock of origin sampling). The salmon retention requirements in this proposed rule are intended to enable the collection of salmon genetic data in the non-pollock trawl fisheries and facilitate reporting of salmon bycatch at the processor. The proposed retention requirements for salmon in the non-pollock trawl fisheries would not modify the observer duties or the method by which NMFS calculates fleet-wide Chinook salmon PSC estimates. NMFS would continue to calculate Chinook salmon PSC numbers, and would manage PSC limits for Chinook salmon, using the existing system of extrapolating catch rates from observed vessels to the unobserved portion of the non-pollock trawl fleet (see Section 5.2.2 of the Analysis for E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules additional detail on determining Chinook salmon PSC use). This proposed action would also amend regulations at § 679.21(h)(4) and (h)(5) governing salmon retention and discards for vessels directed fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and Central GOA, and tender vessels, and processors taking deliveries from these vessels. The proposed changes are intended to clarify responsibilities and to avoid confusion, and to be consistent with the organization of salmon retention and discard regulations for the non-pollock trawl fisheries. The requirements for CVs and tender vessels in the pollock fishery are unchanged from the current retention requirements. Many of the CVs that participate in the non-pollock trawl fisheries also participate in the GOA directed pollock fishery. Current regulations at § 679.21(h)(4) combine requirements for vessel operators and processing operations. These combined requirements have caused some confusion for vessel operators delivering groundfish with regard to the responsibilities that apply to them versus the responsibilities that apply to shoreside processors and SFPs. Vessel operators are required only to deliver all salmon to a processor, however processors must accommodate provisions for observer sampling at the processing facility. Because NMFS has been informed by industry that these regulations are confusing, the proposed action would separate the responsibilities for vessel operators and processors in the pollock trawl fisheries to provide greater clarity. The proposed rule also would separate the requirement for a processor to retain salmon until an observer has the opportunity to count the number of salmon, from the requirement to retain salmon until the shoreside processor or SFP has recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish landing report. The proposed organization of the retention requirements would apply to vessels directed fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and Central GOA, and the tender vessels and processors taking deliveries from these vessels. Salmon retained under this proposed action could not be kept for sale or personal use, and must be discarded or donated to the PSD program. Once salmon are counted and sampled at the processing plant, they may be donated to the PSD program, or they must be discarded. A list of participants in the salmon PSD program in the GOA is available from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ram/psd.htm. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Currently, the PSD program is available to participants in pollock and nonpollock groundfish fisheries. This proposed rule continues to provide the opportunity for non-pollock and pollock trawl fisheries to participate in the PSD program. See Section 2.3 of the Analysis for additional detail on the PSD program. Implementation The Council recommended that NMFS implement the proposed PSC limits by the start of the 2015 nonpollock trawl fishery (January 20, 2015). NMFS advised the Council that any new annual PSC accounting should be in place prior to January 20, 2015, for NMFS to apply annual catch accounting of Chinook salmon PSC to all sectors impacted by this action. NMFS will publish the annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for the NonRockfish Program CV Sector, and Trawl C/P Sector in the proposed groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA after determining the amounts of Chinook salmon PSC used and whether the incentive buffer applies. If the incentive buffer thresholds for the Non-Rockfish Program CV or Trawl C/P Sectors at § 679.21(i)(3)(i)(A) and (i)(3)(i)(C) have been exceeded prior to publishing the proposed groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA, NMFS would propose the Chinook salmon PSC limits that will be available to each sector for the following year. If the incentive buffer thresholds have not been exceeded prior to publishing the proposed groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA, NMFS would propose Chinook salmon PSC limits of 3,600 or 4,080 for the Trawl C/ P Sector, and 2,700 or 3,060 for the NonRockfish Program CV Sector and would establish the PSC limit for each sector in the final specifications. Classification Pursuant to sections 304(b) and 305(d) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 97, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after the public comment period. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. An Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for this action, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA for this proposed rule describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35983 A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained earlier in this preamble and are not repeated here. A summary of the IRFA follows. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The entities directly regulated by this proposed action are those federally permitted or licensed entities that participate in harvesting groundfish from the Federal or State-managed parallel non-pollock trawl fisheries of the Western and Central GOA. Fishing vessels are considered small entities if their total annual gross receipts, from all their activities combined, are less than $19.0 million. The analysis identified 70 CVs and C/Ps in 2011 that would be directly regulated by this action, 18 of which are small entities (all CVs). All C/ Ps are either large entities or are affiliated with at least one of the following fishing cooperatives, all of which are defined as large entities: the AFA C/P cooperative for Bering Sea pollock, a Rockfish Program C/P cooperative in the GOA, an Amendment 80 cooperative, or a Bering Sea crab cooperative. Although this action would modify regulations that directly regulate CVs and processors that participate in harvesting and processing groundfish from the Federal or State-managed parallel pollock trawl fisheries of the Western and Central GOA, the actions proposed are minor clarifications of existing regulatory requirements, and do not impose new or additional requirements that have not previously been analyzed and considered in the FRFA prepared for measures that implemented those requirements (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). Shoreside processors or SFPs receiving groundfish caught by GOA trawl vessels would be required to retain salmon until the manager has recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish landing report (§ 679.21(h)(4)(ii)(B) and § 679.21(i)(5)(iii)). Based on the number of FPPs listed in the GOA and the BSAI (the best available data for groundfish processors receiving deliveries from these fisheries), as many as 100 processors receiving landings from either pollock or non-pollock groundfish trips could be regulated by this proposed regulation. Of these 100 processors, only 64 are estimated to be small entities. The estimate of the number of small entities is based on published data on employment and affiliations of each company and the address of the processing plant listed in each FPP. The address, indicating if the processing plant is located in a E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 35984 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules community adjacent to the GOA, is used as a proxy for those processors that could receive deliveries of groundfish from GOA trawl fisheries. A seafood processor is considered to be a small entity if it has less than 500 employees; and that criteria was applied to the processors holding an FFP. This proposed amendment would have no effect or minimal effect on small processing entities, because it is clarifying existing reporting regulations for proper completion of the eLandings groundfish landing report. An IRFA requires a description of any significant alternatives to the proposed action(s) that accomplish the stated objectives, are consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. The preferred alternative chosen by the Council and proposed by NMFS has several elements: (1) Annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors; (2) an incentive buffer that would allow the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to vary depending on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC taken in those fisheries in the previous year; (3) a seasonal limit on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC that could be taken in the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 of each year; (4) the reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the NonRockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 15 of each year; and (5) retention requirements to enable accurate reporting, ensure adequate catch accounting of Chinook salmon PSC, and to improve the collection of biological samples that could aid in the determination of stock of origin of Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries. During consideration of this action, the Council evaluated a number of alternatives to the preferred alternative, including: (1) No action; (2) a variety of different allocations of Chinook salmon PSC limits among the three sectors that were more and less restrictive than the alternative proposed in the this action; (3) PSC limits split between the Western and Central GOA; (4) no incentive buffer; (5) no reallocation between the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the NonRockfish Program CV Sector; and (6) no change in retention and discard requirements for all sectors in the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. None of these alternatives met both the objectives of the action, and had a smaller impact on small entities. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 The no action alternative would not have limited the Chinook salmon PSC for the non-pollock trawl fisheries, which would have failed to meet the principal objective of the proposed action. The GOA-wide limits of 10,000 and 12,500 would likewise have failed to significantly control Chinook salmon PSC, and therefore failed to balance the benefits of the action to the targeted Chinook salmon fisheries with the needs of non-pollock trawlers. The limit of 5,000 Chinook salmon would have imposed a greater burden on small entities by resulting in constraints on non-pollock trawl fishing beyond the preferred alternative. The Council recommended the preferred alternative because lower Chinook salmon PSC limits were unnecessarily constraining to the non-pollock trawl fisheries while larger Chinook salmon PSC limits did not provide the incentive to minimize Chinook salmon PSC to the extent practicable. An alternative that would have assigned 51 percent of the total Chinook salmon PSC limit to trawl C/Ps and 49 percent to the trawl CVs was based on the 10-year historical use of PSC from these to operational types. This alternative was not selected because it did not reflect fishing conditions representative of the more recent 5-year historical period that included implementation of the Central GOA Rockfish Program, and the Amendment 80 Program. The alternative for lower Chinook salmon PSC limits to trawl CVs from applying the 10-year historical period of Chinook PSC (mostly small entities that operate in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector) would have caused a greater burden on directly regulated small entities than the preferred alternative. Dividing the Chinook salmon PSC limits between the Western GOA and Central GOA was rejected because this allocation method could result in small annual Chinook PSC limits that would be more likely to constrain fishing operations, and adversely affect directly regulated small entities more than the preferred alternative. The Council and NMFS also considered not implementing an incentive buffer for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. The preferred alternative would provide an incentive buffer to directly regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector that would allow for the incentive buffer to apply to this sector’s PSC limit in the following year. Without the incentive buffer, these operations would not be able to benefit from a higher PSC limit in the following year, which would result in greater PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 potential for adverse impacts on directly regulated small entities than the preferred alternative. In addition to the no action alternative, the Council considered two alternatives for reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector for use in the NonRockfish Program CV sector. These alternatives include (1) reallocation of all of the unused Chinook salmon PSC limit except for a range of 104 through 208 salmon by October 1; and (2) reallocating all unused Chinook salmon PSC limit remaining for the Rockfish Program CV Sector when the Central GOA Rockfish Program closes by regulation on November 15. The preferred alternative is a combination of reallocation alternatives that would allow a reallocation of all but 150 of the Chinook salmon PSC limit from the Rockfish Program CV Sector by October 1, and the remaining Rockfish Program CV Chinook salmon PSC limit by November 15. Alternatives that did not permit a reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC would not allow unused amounts of the PSC limit to be made available to the directly regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector after October 1. Alternatives for reallocating Chinook salmon PSC considered by the Council and NMFS, other than the preferred alternative lacked the flexibility for all of the available PSC limit to be reallocated, or in sufficient amounts to prosecute the Central GOA Rockfish Program fisheries. Without the capability for reallocating Chinook salmon PSC as provided in this proposed rule, directly regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector may be subject to more frequent fishery closures. The proposed action includes establishment of and modifications to salmon retention and discard requirements for pollock and nonpollock trawl vessels that would improve the quality of data collected on Chinook salmon PSC. The proposed salmon retention and discard requirements for trawl vessels would not be expected to adversely affect the small entities regulated by this action because they clarify existing regulatory requirements. No new recordkeeping and reporting requirements have been identified for this action. No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed action and existing Federal rules has been identified. E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules Tribal Consultation Executive Order (E.O.) 13175 of November 6, 2000 (25 U.S.C. 450 note), the Executive Memorandum of April 29, 1994 (25 U.S.C. 450 note), and the American Indian and Alaska Native Policy of the U.S. Department of Commerce (March 30, 1995) outline the responsibilities of NMFS in matters affecting tribal interests. Section 161 of Public Law 108–199 (188 Stat. 452), as amended by section 518 of Public Law 109–447 (118 Stat. 3267), extends the consultation requirements of E.O. 13175 to Alaska Native corporations. NMFS is obligated to consult and coordinate with federally recognized tribal governments and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional and village corporations on a government-togovernment basis pursuant to E.O. 13175, which establishes several requirements for NMFS, including (1) to provide regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments and Alaska Native corporations in the development of Federal regulatory practices that significantly or uniquely affect their communities, (2) to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates on Indian tribal governments, and (3) to streamline the applications process for and increase the availability of waivers to Indian tribal governments. This Executive Order requires Federal agencies to have an effective process to involve and consult with representatives of Indian tribal governments in developing regulatory policies and prohibits regulations that impose substantial, direct compliance costs on Indian tribal communities. Due to the expedited time frame of this action, NMFS will mail letters to all Alaska tribal governments, Alaska Native corporations, and related organizations when the Notice of Availability for Amendment 97 is published in the Federal Register to notify them of the opportunity to comment or request a consultation on this action. Section 5(b)(2)(B) of E.O. 13175 requires NMFS to prepare a tribal summary impact statement as part of the final rule. This statement must contain (1) a description of the extent of the agency’s prior consultation with tribal officials, (2) a summary of the nature of their concerns, (3) the agency’s position supporting the need to issue the regulation, and (4) a statement of the extent to which the concerns of tribal officials have been met. If the Secretary of Commerce approves this proposed action, a tribal impact summary statement that summarizes and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 responds to issues raised on the proposed action—and describes the extent to which the concerns of tribal officials have been met—will be included in the final rule. Collection-of-Information Requirements This proposed rule contains references to collection-of-information requirements that have been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The collections are listed below by OMB control number. OMB 0648–0316 The Alaska PSC Program is mentioned in this proposed rule; however, the public reporting burden for this collection-of-information is not directly affected by this proposed rule. OMB 0648–0515 The Alaska Interagency Electronic Report System is mentioned in this proposed rule; however, the public reporting burden for this collection-ofinformation is not directly affected by this proposed rule. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to NMFS at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202–395–7285. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at https://www.cio.noaa.gov/ services_programs/prasubs.html. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: June 18, 2014. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; and Pub. L. 108–447. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35985 2. In § 679.7, revise paragraph (b)(8) to read as follows: ■ § 679.7 Prohibitions. * * * * * (b) * * * (8) Prohibitions specific to salmon discard in the Western and Central Reporting Areas of the GOA directed fisheries for groundfish. Fail to comply with any requirements of §§ 679.21(h) and 679.21(i). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 679.21, ■ a. Revise paragraphs (b)(2)(ii), (h) heading, and (h)(1), (4), and (5); and ■ b. Add paragraph (i) to read as follows: § 679.21 Prohibited species bycatch management. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (ii) After allowing for sampling by an observer, if an observer is aboard, sort its catch immediately after retrieval of the gear and, except for salmon prohibited species catch in the BS pollock fisheries and GOA groundfish fisheries under paragraphs (c), (h), or (i) of this section, or any prohibited species catch as provided (in permits issued) under the PSD program at § 679.26, return all prohibited species, or parts thereof, to the sea immediately, with a minimum of injury, regardless of its condition. * * * * * (h) GOA Chinook Salmon PSC Management for pollock fisheries—(1) Applicability. Regulations in this paragraph apply to vessels directed fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA and processors receiving deliveries from these vessels. * * * * * (4) Salmon retention. (i) The operator of a vessel, including but not limited to a catcher vessel or tender, must retain all salmon until offload to a processing facility that takes the delivery. (ii) The owner and the manager of a shoreside processor or SFP receiving pollock deliveries must retain all salmon until: (A) The manager of a shoreside processor or SFP has accurately recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish landing report; and (B) If an observer is present, the observer is provided the opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon. (5) Salmon discard. Except for salmon under the PSD program at § 679.26, all E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 35986 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules salmon must be discarded after the requirements at paragraph (h)(4)(ii) of this section have been met. * * * * * (i) GOA Chinook Salmon PSC Management for non-pollock trawl fisheries—(1) Applicability. Regulations in this paragraph apply to vessels directed fishing for groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA and processors receiving deliveries of groundfish, other than pollock, from catcher vessels. (2) Non-pollock trawl sectors. The sectors identified in paragraph (i) of this section are: (i) Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector. For the purpose of accounting for the Chinook salmon PSC limit at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) of this section, the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector is any catcher vessel fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western or Central reporting areas of the GOA and operating under the authority of a Central GOA Rockfish Program CQ permit assigned to the catcher vessel sector; (ii) Trawl catcher/processor Sector. For the purpose of accounting for the Chinook salmon PSC limits at paragraphs (i)(3)(i)(A) and (i)(3)(ii) of this section, the Trawl catcher/processor Sector is any catcher processor vessel fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western or Central GOA reporting areas and processing that groundfish at sea; and (iii) Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector. For the purpose of accounting for the Chinook salmon PSC limit at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(C) of this section, the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector is any catcher vessel fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western or Central reporting areas of the GOA and not operating under the authority of a Central GOA Rockfish Program CQ permit assigned to the catcher vessel sector. (3) GOA non-pollock trawl Chinook salmon PSC limits. (i) NMFS establishes annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Central and Western reporting areas of the GOA for the sectors defined in paragraph (i)(2) of this section as follows: The total Chinook salmon PSC limit in each calendar year is . . . For the following sectors defined at § 679.21(i)(2) . . . 3,600 (B) Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector ............................................................. 1,200 (C) Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector ..................................................... ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (A) Trawl catcher/processor sector ........................................................................... Unless, the use of the Chinook salmon PSC limit for that sector in a calendar year does not exceed . . . 2,700 (ii) For the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2)(ii): (A) NMFS establishes a seasonal limit within the sector’s annual Chinook salmon PSC limit that is available to the sector prior to June 1. If the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2)(ii) has an annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon, then the sector’s seasonal limit prior to June 1 is 2,376 Chinook salmon. If the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2)(ii) has an annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 4,080 Chinook salmon, then the sector’s seasonal limit prior to June 1 is 2,693 Chinook salmon. (B) The amount of Chinook salmon PSC available to the Trawl catcher/ processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2) on June 1 through the remainder of the calendar year will be the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit specified for the Trawl catcher/ processor Sector minus the number of Chinook salmon used by that sector prior to June 1. (4) Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC. (i) If, on October 1 of each year, the Regional Administrator determines that more than 150 Chinook salmon are available in the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC limit VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) of this section, the Regional Administrator will reallocate all Chinook salmon PSC available to the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector except for 150 Chinook salmon to the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook salmon PSC limit specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(C) of this section. (ii) On November 15 of each year, the Regional Administrator will reallocate all of the remaining Chinook salmon available in the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC limit specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) of this section to the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC limit specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(C) of this section. (5) Salmon retention. (i) The operator of a catcher vessel or tender must retain all salmon until offload to a processing facility that takes the delivery. (ii) The owner and manager of a shoreside processor or SFP receiving non-pollock fishery deliveries must retain all salmon until the number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the eLandings groundfish landing report. (iii) The operator of a catcher/ processor must retain all salmon until an observer is provided the opportunity to collect scientific data or biological PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 If so, in the following calendar year, the Chinook salmon PSC limit for that sector will be . . . 3,120 4,080 N/A 2,340 3,060 samples, and the number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the eLandings At-sea production report. (6) Salmon discard. Except for salmon under the PSD program defined at § 679.26, all salmon must be discarded after the requirements at paragraph (i)(5)(ii) or (iii) of this section have been met. (7) Chinook salmon PSC closures in non-pollock trawl gear fisheries. If, during the fishing year, the Regional Administrator determines that: (i) Vessels in a sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2) will catch the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i) of this section for that sector, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register closing directed fishing for all groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA for that sector; or (ii) Vessels in the Trawl catcher/ processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2) will catch the seasonal Chinook salmon PSC limit specified under paragraph (i)(3)(ii)(A) of this section prior to June 1, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register closing directed fishing for groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA for E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 122 / Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS all vessels in the Trawl catcher/ processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2) until June 1. Directed fishing for groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:17 Jun 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 the GOA for vessels in the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at § 679.21(i)(2) will reopen on June 1 with the Chinook salmon PSC limit determined under paragraph (i)(3)(ii)(B) of this section unless NMFS determines PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 35987 that the amount of Chinook salmon PSC available to the sector is insufficient to allow the sector to fish and not exceed its annual Chinook salmon PSC limit. [FR Doc. 2014–14726 Filed 6–24–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\25JNP1.SGM 25JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 122 (Wednesday, June 25, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35971-35987]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-14726]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 130710606-4491-01]
RIN 0648-BD48


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook 
Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Non-Pollock Trawl 
Fisheries; Amendment 97

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 97 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). If 
approved, Amendment 97 would limit Chinook salmon prohibited species 
catch (PSC) in Western and Central Gulf of Alaska (GOA) non-pollock 
trawl catcher/processor (C/P) and catcher vessel (CV) fisheries. This 
action would establish separate annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for 
trawl catcher/processors (Trawl C/P Sector), trawl catcher vessels 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program CV 
Sector), and trawl catcher vessels not participating in the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program (Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector) fishing for 
groundfish species other than pollock. If a sector reaches its Chinook 
salmon PSC limit, NMFS would prohibit further fishing for non-pollock 
groundfish by vessels in that sector. This action also would establish 
and clarify Chinook salmon retention and discard requirements for 
vessels, shoreside processors, and stationary floating processors 
participating in both the GOA pollock and non-pollock groundfish trawl 
fisheries. This action is necessary to minimize the catch of Chinook 
salmon to the extent practicable in the GOA non-pollock trawl 
fisheries. Amendment 97 is intended to promote the goals and objectives 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act), the FMP, and other applicable laws.

DATES: Submit comments on or before July 25, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2013-0077, 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-2013-0077, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered 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, 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.
    Electronic copies of the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact 
Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (collectively, Analysis) 
prepared for this action are available from https://www.regulations.gov 
or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. An electronic copy of the Biological Opinion 
on the effects of the Alaska groundfish fisheries on Endangered Species 
Act (ESA)-listed species is available at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/stellers/plb/default.htm. 
Written comments regarding the approved collection-of-information 
requirements referenced in this proposed rule may be submitted to NMFS 
at the above address and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or 
fax to 202-395-7285. All currently approved NOAA collections of 
information may be viewed at https://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Hartman, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the 
U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the FMP. The North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared, and NMFS 
approved, the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 
Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 
50 CFR parts 600 and 679.
    The Council has submitted Amendment 97 for review by the Secretary 
of Commerce, and a notice of availability of the FMP amendment was 
published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2014 (79 FR 32525), with 
written comments on the FMP amendment invited through August 4, 2014. 
All relevant written comments received by the end of the applicable 
comment period, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment, 
this proposed rule, or both, will be considered in the approval/
disapproval decision for Amendment 97 and addressed in the response to 
comments in the final decision.
    The following sections of the preamble describe: (1) General 
management of groundfish and PSC in the GOA; (2) the management areas 
and groundfish fisheries affected by this proposed action--the non-
pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA; (3) the non-
pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA and the three 
sectors active in those fisheries--the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, 
and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors; (4) Chinook salmon PSC use in the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries; (5) the history and goals of this proposed 
rule--limiting Chinook salmon PSC in the

[[Page 35972]]

non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA; and (6) 
provisions of the proposed action that would establish limits on the 
maximum amount of Chinook salmon PSC permitted to be taken on an annual 
basis by the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program 
CV Sectors and requirements necessary to account for and adequately 
sample Chinook salmon PSC.

General Management of Groundfish and PSC Limits in the GOA

    The FMP and its implementing regulations at Sec.  679.20(c) require 
that the Council recommend and NMFS specify an overfishing level (OFL), 
an acceptable biological catch (ABC), and a total allowable catch (TAC) 
for each stock or stock complex (i.e., each species or species group) 
of groundfish on an annual basis. The OFL is the level above which 
overfishing is occurring for a species or species group. The ABC is the 
level of a species or species group's annual catch that accounts for 
the scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL and any other 
scientific uncertainty. The ABC is set below the OFL. The TAC is the 
annual catch target for a species or species group, derived from the 
ABC by considering social and economic factors and management 
uncertainty. The TAC must be set lower than or equal to the ABC.
    The OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for GOA groundfish are specified through 
the annual harvest specification process. A detailed description of the 
annual harvest specification process is provided in the final 2014 and 
2015 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (79 FR 12890, 
March 6, 2014) and is briefly summarized here. The Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC) establishes the OFL and ABC for each 
species or species group. Based on the ABC established for each species 
or species group, the Council recommends a TAC. The TAC for some 
species and species groups are subject to further allocation on a 
seasonal basis and allocation among vessels using specific types of 
gear and vessel categories in the GOA (see regulations at Sec.  
679.20(a)).
    To ensure that OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are not exceeded, NMFS requires 
that vessel operators participating in groundfish fisheries in the GOA 
comply with a range of monitoring requirements and restrictions. NMFS 
uses a range of area, time, gear, and operation-specific fishery 
closures to maintain catch within specified TACs and associated sector 
and seasonal allocations. NMFS closes directed fisheries when a TAC is 
reached, and restricts fishing in other fisheries that may incidentally 
take a species or species group approaching its OFL. Regulations at 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(d)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3) describe the range of 
management measures that NMFS uses to maintain total catch at or below 
the OFL, ABC, and TAC for a species or species group.
    In addition to these measures to limit total catch of groundfish 
species, the Council and NMFS have adopted various measures intended to 
control the catch of species taken incidentally in groundfish 
fisheries. Certain species are designated as ``prohibited species 
catch'' (PSC) in the FMP because they are the target of other, fully 
utilized domestic fisheries. The FMP and regulations at Sec.  679.21 
require that catch of PSC must be avoided while fishing for groundfish, 
and when incidentally caught, these PSC species must be immediately 
returned to the sea with a minimum of injury. The PSC species include 
Pacific halibut, Pacific herring, Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, king 
crab, and Tanner crab.
    PSC must not be sold or kept for personal use and are required to 
be discarded (see regulations at Sec.  679.21), or retained but not 
sold under the Prohibited Species Donation (PSD) Program (see 
regulations at Sec.  679.26). In an effort to minimize waste of salmon 
incidentally caught and killed, NMFS established the PSD Program for 
the donation of incidentally caught salmon. The PSD Program reduces the 
amount of edible protein discarded under PSC regulatory requirements 
(see regulations at Sec.  679.21). The PSD Program allows permitted 
participants to retain salmon for distribution to economically 
disadvantaged individuals through tax-exempt hunger relief 
organizations.
    The Council has recommended, and NMFS has implemented, measures to 
(1) close groundfish fishing in areas with a high occurrence of 
prohibited species, or where there is a relatively high level of PSC; 
(2) require the use of gear specifically modified to minimize PSC; and 
(3) establish PSC limits in specific Alaska groundfish fisheries in the 
GOA.
    One of the prohibited species of greatest concern to the Council 
and NMFS is Chinook salmon. Chinook salmon is a prohibited species in 
the groundfish fisheries because of its value in salmon fisheries. 
Chinook salmon is a culturally and economically valuable species that 
is fully allocated and for which State and Federal managers seek to 
conservatively manage harvests. The Council and NMFS have established a 
range of management measures to constrain the impact of groundfish 
fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) and 
the GOA on Chinook salmon. A summary of these measures for the GOA is 
provided in Section 1.5 of the Analysis.

Management Areas and Fisheries Affected by This Proposed Action

    This proposed rule would apply to Federally-permitted vessels 
fishing in the Central and Western Reporting Areas of the GOA (referred 
to in the remainder of the preamble as either the Western and Central 
GOA or the Central and Western GOA). The Western and Central Reporting 
Areas, defined at Sec.  679.2 and shown in Figure 3 to 50 CFR part 679, 
consist of the Central and Western Regulatory Areas in the EEZ 
(Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630) and the adjacent State of Alaska 
(State) waters. The EEZ includes Federal waters that generally occur 
from 3 nautical miles (nm) to 200 nm from shore. State waters generally 
occur from shore to 3 nm from shore. The specific boundaries between 
State and Federal waters are provided on the NMFS Alaska Region Web 
site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/maps/reporting_areas/index.pdf.
    This proposed rule would not apply to Federally-permitted vessels 
fishing in the Eastern Reporting Area of the GOA, which consists of 
Statistical Areas 640, 649, 650, and 659 in the EEZ and the adjacent 
State waters. Although all species of Pacific salmon are taken 
incidentally in the groundfish fisheries within the GOA, the Eastern 
Reporting Area is not included because it contains a large area 
(Statistical Area 650) closed to fishing with trawl gear, and Chinook 
salmon PSC in the Eastern Reporting Area accounts for less than 2 
percent of total GOA Chinook salmon PSC (see Section 1.2 of the 
Analysis for additional detail).
    This proposed rule would apply Chinook salmon PSC limits to owners 
and operators of trawl vessels that are directed fishing for groundfish 
species other than pollock (non-pollock trawl vessels) in the Central 
and Western GOA. Directed fishing is defined at Sec.  679.2. Vessels 
that are directed fishing for pollock in the Central and Western GOA 
are subject to management under a separate Chinook salmon PSC limit 
defined at Sec.  679.21(h) and would not be affected by this proposed 
action, with the exception of a proposed clarification to the current 
salmon retention requirements explained later in this preamble.
    This proposed action would apply to Federally-permitted trawl 
vessels fishing for non-pollock groundfish that are managed under TAC 
limits in Federal waters and under the State's

[[Page 35973]]

parallel groundfish fisheries in State waters. Parallel groundfish 
fisheries are fisheries that occur in State waters where the catch of 
groundfish is debited from the TAC. Parallel groundfish fisheries are 
opened and closed by the State concurrently with adjacent Federal 
fisheries. Parallel fisheries are managed by the State under rules 
similar to those that apply in the Federal fisheries. The parallel 
fisheries that would be affected by this action include the GOA State 
parallel trawl fisheries for groundfish species, other than pollock, 
that occur in State waters in the Central and Western GOA. Additional 
detail on State parallel fisheries is provided in Section 4.5.1 of the 
Analysis.
    This proposed rule would not apply to non-pollock trawl vessels 
fishing in a State-managed guideline harvest level (GHL) groundfish 
fishery in the Western or Central GOA should such a fishery be 
authorized by the State. Currently, GHL non-pollock trawl fisheries are 
not authorized by the State in the Central or Western GOA. As general 
background, GHL fisheries are established and managed by the State for 
harvest exclusively within State waters and catch occurring in a GHL 
fishery is not deducted from the TAC. Additional detail on State GHL 
fishery management is provided in Section 4.5.1 of the Analysis.
    This proposed action would not apply to non-trawl fisheries (i.e., 
fisheries using pot, hook-and-line or jig gear). The purpose and need 
for this action is to address Chinook salmon PSC that is known to occur 
in trawl fisheries. The Council and NMFS could consider subsequent 
action to limit Chinook salmon PSC in non-trawl fisheries through 
subsequent action if such action were determined to be warranted.

Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries in the Central and Western GOA

    The non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA 
include fisheries for sablefish, several rockfish species, arrowtooth 
flounder, Pacific cod, shallow water flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, 
deep-water flatfish, and other groundfish, except pollock. Many of the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries are multi-species fisheries, in which 
vessels catch and retain multiple groundfish species in a single 
fishing trip. Additional detail on the species and amounts harvested in 
the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA are 
provided in Sections 3.2 and 4.4 of the Analysis and in the final 2014 
and 2015 harvest specifications for the GOA groundfish fisheries (79 FR 
12890, March 6, 2014).
    Participants in the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl 
fisheries include C/Ps and CVs. In developing Amendment 97, the Council 
decided to group these vessels into three sectors which are described 
in greater detail in the following sections of this preamble: (1) The 
Trawl C/P Sector; (2) the Rockfish Program CV Sector; and (3) the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector.

Trawl C/P Sector

    Trawl C/Ps in the Central and Western GOA participate in a range of 
non-pollock groundfish fisheries. Trawl C/Ps primarily fish for 
rockfish (i.e., dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean 
perch) and sablefish in the Central and Western GOA, and arrowtooth 
flounder, deep-water flatfish, flathead sole, and rex sole in the 
Central GOA. Trawl C/Ps occasionally fish for arrowtooth flounder and 
shallow water flatfish in the Central and Western GOA. Trawl C/Ps do 
not fish for Pacific cod in the Central or Western GOA. Section 4.4 of 
the Analysis describes the harvesting activities by trawl C/Ps in 
greater detail.
    Harvests of non-pollock groundfish by trawl C/Ps in the Central and 
Western GOA are governed primarily by two management programs, the 
Amendment 80 Program and the Central GOA Rockfish Program. All of the 
vessels that would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed 
rule are subject to management under the Amendment 80 Program. Most of 
the vessels that would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this 
proposed rule also are subject to management under the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program. The relevant provisions of the Amendment 80 Program 
and the Central GOA Rockfish Program are briefly described in the 
following paragraphs.
    In June 2006, the Council adopted Amendment 80 to the BSAI Fishery 
Management Plan, which was implemented by NMFS in 2008. The suite of 
management measures that implement Amendment 80 is commonly known as 
the Amendment 80 Program. The key provisions of Amendment 80 relevant 
for this proposed action are briefly described here; additional detail 
is available in the final rule implementing the Amendment 80 Program 
(72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007).
    The Amendment 80 Program is intended primarily to improve retention 
and utilization of fishery resources; encourage fishing practices with 
lower discard rates; and improve the opportunity for increasing the 
value of harvested species while lowering operational costs for 
groundfish fishing in the BSAI. The Amendment 80 Program accomplishes 
these goals by encouraging the formation of cooperatives and the 
development of cooperative fishing practices among all persons who are 
issued Amendment 80 quota share permits. Amendment 80 cooperatives are 
eligible to receive cooperative quota, which represents an exclusive 
harvest privilege for a portion of the TAC for each Amendment 80 
species annually. The allocation of an exclusive harvest privilege to a 
person for a specific portion of the TAC is more commonly known as a 
catch share. Trawl C/Ps within an Amendment 80 cooperative cannot 
exceed the amount of cooperative quota allocated to their Amendment 80 
cooperative (see regulations at Sec.  679.7(n)). Participants who form 
cooperatives in the Amendment 80 Program are able to receive a catch 
share in the BSAI and are not engaged in a ``race for fish'' that can 
occur in fisheries that are not subject to catch share management. This 
allows participants within an Amendment 80 cooperative to make 
operational choices to improve fishery returns, reduce bycatch, and 
reduce fish discards. However, the allocation of catch shares could 
allow Amendment 80 cooperative participants to expand into fisheries 
not managed under a catch share program. Specifically, many of the 
trawl C/Ps eligible under the Amendment 80 Program are also active in 
groundfish fisheries in the GOA that are not subject to catch share 
management.
    To address the potential expansion of fishing effort into the GOA 
that could result from the implementation of catch share management in 
the BSAI, the Amendment 80 Program limits the ability of trawl C/Ps 
managed under the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts 
in the GOA. These limitations are commonly known as ``sideboards'' 
because they constrain harvests in specific fisheries. The Amendment 80 
Program established GOA groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits for 
Amendment 80 Program participants.
    Regulations at Sec.  679.92 establish groundfish harvesting 
sideboard limits on all vessels eligible for the Amendment 80 program, 
other than the F/V Golden Fleece, for pollock and Pacific cod in the 
Western and Central GOA, and Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and 
northern rockfish in the Western GOA. Regulations at Sec.  679.92(b)(2) 
establish halibut PSC sideboard limits in the Central and Western GOA 
for vessels eligible under the Amendment 80 Program other than the F/V 
Golden Fleece. Halibut PSC

[[Page 35974]]

sideboards establish the maximum amount of halibut PSC that may be 
taken while Amendment 80 trawl C/Ps are fishing for groundfish in the 
GOA. Halibut PSC sideboard limits are allocated by fishery complexes 
and seasons as described in Table 31 to part 679.
    In addition to these groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits, 
other limitations apply to trawl C/Ps eligible for the Amendment 80 
Program. Regulations in Table 39 to 50 CFR part 679 allow only specific 
trawl C/Ps eligible under the Amendment 80 Program to conduct directed 
fishing for flatfish in the GOA. Regulations at Sec.  679.92(d) 
prohibit one vessel in the Amendment 80 Program, the F/V Golden Fleece, 
from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, 
dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the Central and Western GOA, 
effectively limiting that vessel to the flatfish fisheries in the 
Central and Western GOA. These specific sideboard measures were 
established for the F/V Golden Fleece in recognition of the unique 
catch patterns of the F/V Golden Fleece described in detail in the 
final rule implementing the Amendment 80 Program (72 FR 52668, 
September 14, 2007).
    Because the trawl C/Ps operating in the Central and Western GOA are 
subject to the sideboard limits imposed by the Amendment 80 Program, 
the vessel operators have established voluntary cooperative 
relationships to ensure that sideboard limits are not exceeded. These 
voluntary arrangements have resulted in improved communication and 
coordination among trawl C/P operators in the GOA.
    In addition to the Amendment 80 Program, some trawl C/Ps that would 
be within the Trawl C/P Sector under this proposed rule are eligible to 
participate in the Central GOA Rockfish Program (76 FR 81248, December 
27, 2011). The Central GOA Rockfish Program was first implemented in 
2007 and had a five-year duration ending on December 31, 2011 (71 FR 
67210, November 20, 2006). Prior to the expiration of the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program, the Council revised and renewed the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011). Additional detail on 
the Central GOA Rockfish Program is provided in the final rule 
implementing the program (76 FR 81248, December 27, 2011) and relevant 
provisions are briefly summarized here.
    The Central GOA Rockfish Program, like the Amendment 80 Program, 
allocates catch shares. The Central GOA Rockfish Program provides catch 
shares to eligible trawl C/Ps for Central GOA dusky rockfish, northern 
rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, 
and sablefish. The Central GOA Rockfish Program also limits the amount 
of halibut PSC that may be used by eligible trawl C/Ps. As with the 
Amendment 80 Program, trawl C/Ps that are active in the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program can receive a catch share allocation only if they 
participate in a cooperative. Trawl C/Ps cannot exceed their 
cooperative's Central GOA Rockfish Program catch share allocations (see 
regulations at Sec.  679.7(o)). In addition to this catch share 
allocation, trawl C/Ps that are eligible for the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program are subject to sideboard limits that constrain their ability to 
expand effort into other fisheries in the GOA that are not subject to 
catch share management. The Central GOA Rockfish Program establishes 
sideboard limits on the types of groundfish fisheries, the amount of 
Central and Western GOA groundfish, and the amount of halibut PSC that 
may be harvested by trawl C/Ps eligible for the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program (see regulations at Sec.  679.82). These provisions have 
resulted in coordination among those participants active in the Central 
GOA Rockfish Program and who would be within the Trawl C/P Sector under 
this proposed rule.
    The management measures implemented under the Amendment 80 Program 
and the Central GOA Rockfish Program have resulted in uniform 
management of trawl C/P vessels in the Central and Western GOA. This 
uniform management has also resulted in similar harvest patterns, and 
coordination among fishery participants. Sections 4.4.2 and 4.4.11 of 
the Analysis describe the fishing dynamics within the Trawl C/P Sector 
in greater detail.
    This proposed rule would not apply to trawl C/Ps that are managed 
under authority of the American Fisheries Act (AFA). Regulations 
implementing the AFA prohibit AFA trawl C/Ps from harvesting any 
species of groundfish in the GOA (see regulations at Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(ii)). Therefore, they would not be subject to the 
provisions of this proposed action.

Rockfish Program CV Sector

    Trawl CVs in the Central and Western GOA participate in a range of 
non-pollock groundfish fisheries. Trawl CVs primarily fish for Pacific 
cod in the Central and Western GOA. Trawl CVs also fish for rockfish 
(i.e., dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch) and 
sablefish in the Central and Western GOA, and arrowtooth flounder, 
flathead sole, and shallow water flatfish in the Central GOA. Trawl CVs 
rarely fish for other flatfish species in the Central GOA. Trawl CVs do 
not fish for flatfish or rockfish in the Western GOA. Section 4.4.2.2 
of the Analysis describes the harvesting activities by trawl CVs in 
greater detail.
    There is a distinct division in the management of trawl CVs that 
separates trawl CVs participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program 
from trawl CVs that are not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program. Trawl CVs participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program 
are subject to catch share management; trawl CVs participating in 
fisheries other than the Central GOA Rockfish Program are not. These 
conditions create two distinct management regimes that fundamentally 
affect the way vessels within each sector fish for non-pollock 
groundfish and avoid PSC. Therefore, this proposed action recognizes 
trawl CVs that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program 
(Rockfish Program CVs) as a sector that is separate and distinct from 
trawl CVs that are not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program (Non-Rockfish Program CVs).
    The Central GOA Rockfish Program provides catch shares to eligible 
trawl CVs for Central GOA dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, Pacific 
Ocean perch, Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, and sablefish. The Central 
GOA Rockfish Program also limits the amount of halibut PSC that may be 
used by eligible trawl CVs. Rockfish Program CVs can receive a catch 
share allocation only if they participate in a cooperative. Rockfish 
Program cooperatives cannot exceed the amount of their Central GOA 
Rockfish Program catch share allocations (see regulations at Sec.  
679.7(o)). Rockfish Program CVs are subject to sideboard limits that 
constrain the ability of Rockfish Program CVs from expanding their 
fishing effort into other fisheries in the GOA not subject to catch 
share management (see regulations at Sec.  679.82(d)).
    In the Central GOA, directed rockfish fishing is permitted from May 
1 to December 31, with the majority of groundfish harvested in May and 
June. In 2012, thirty-five trawl CVs in the GOA were fishing under the 
authority of a Rockfish Program Cooperative Quota (CQ) permit out of a 
total of 62 trawl CVs that were active in the Central GOA groundfish 
fisheries. Rockfish Program CVs can ``check in'' to fish under the 
authority of a Central GOA Rockfish Program CQ Permit, and ``check 
out'' to fish in other fisheries in the GOA (see

[[Page 35975]]

regulations at Sec.  679.5(r)(8)). When Rockfish Program CVs are 
checked in, they are fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program 
CQ Permit and their harvest is limited to the cooperative's catch share 
allocations. However, the catch share allocations are limiting only 
when trawl CVs are checked in and fishing under the authority of a 
Rockfish Program CQ Permit. Conversely, sideboard limitations 
applicable to eligible Rockfish Program CVs apply during a portion of 
the year to Rockfish Program CVs that are checked out of the Central 
GOA Rockfish Program (see regulations at Sec.  679.82(d)). The net 
effect of these provisions is that when trawl CVs are ``checked in'' 
and fishing under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit, they 
are participating in a cooperative catch share management program, and 
when they are ``checked out,'' they no longer have an exclusive harvest 
privilege and must compete or ``race'' with other CVs in harvesting the 
fish. These conditions indicated to the Council that it would be 
appropriate to apply separate Chinook salmon PSC limits for trawl CV 
vessels when ``checked in'' and operating under the authority of a 
Rockfish Program CQ Permit and for trawl CV vessels not operating under 
the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit (see the ``Provisions of 
the Proposed Action'' Section of this preamble for additional detail). 
Section 4.4.2 of the Analysis describes the fishing dynamics within the 
Rockfish Program CV Sector in greater detail.

Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector

    CVs that are not eligible to participate in the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program or that are not ``checked in'' and fishing under the 
authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit would be in the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector. This sector fishes primarily for Pacific cod in the 
Central and Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and 
shallow water flatfish in the Central GOA, and rockfish in the Eastern 
GOA (an area not subject to the provisions of this proposed action). As 
noted earlier, some trawl CVs do not participate in the Rockfish 
Program at any time during a year, while some participate in the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program for part of the year, and then participate 
in other Central or Western GOA non-pollock fisheries that are outside 
of the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The participants who would be 
within the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector under this proposed rule 
participate in fisheries that are not subject to catch share management 
and are less likely to be able to coordinate fishing operations in 
comparison with participants who are subject to catch share management, 
such as those in the Trawl C/P and Rockfish CV Program Sectors. Section 
4.4.2 of the Analysis describes the fishing dynamics within the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector in greater detail.

Chinook Salmon PSC in the Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries

    Information is currently unavailable for NMFS to assess the 
specific proportion of individual stocks of Chinook salmon that are 
incidentally caught in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. Coded wire 
tag recoveries and genetic analysis of Chinook salmon caught in the GOA 
non-pollock trawl fisheries show that Chinook salmon stocks originate 
from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Current 
regulations do not facilitate stock of origin analysis of Chinook 
salmon incidentally caught in the Western or Central GOA non-pollock 
trawl fisheries. Section 4.7.2 of the Analysis concludes that it is not 
possible at this time to estimate how Chinook salmon removals by trawl 
fisheries impact the proportion of Chinook salmon forgone by other 
users or impact Chinook salmon escapement.
    Regulations require participants in the non-pollock trawl fisheries 
to avoid Chinook salmon when possible and return them to the water 
immediately with a minimum of injury after observer sampling. However, 
salmon caught incidentally in trawl nets often die as a result of 
trauma incurred during capture. It can be difficult for non-pollock 
trawl vessels to avoid Chinook salmon PSC because Chinook salmon and 
non-pollock groundfish occur in the same locations in the Western and 
Central GOA.
    Although non-pollock trawl fisheries incidentally take Chinook 
salmon, the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central GOA 
typically takes the majority of Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA 
groundfish fisheries (see Section 4.4 of the Analysis for additional 
detail on total Chinook salmon PSC use). In 2012, NMFS issued a final 
rule to implement Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). 
Amendment 93 established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the 
Western and Central GOA for the pollock directed fishery. These limits 
require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western or 
Central GOA if the applicable limit is reached (see regulations at 
Sec.  679.21(h)(6)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the 
pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 
salmon in the Central GOA are set in regulation at Sec.  
679.21(h)(2)(i) and (h)(2)(ii). In addition, all salmon (regardless of 
species) taken in the pollock directed fishery in the Western and 
Central GOA must be retained until an observer at the processing 
facility that receives delivery of the catch is provided an opportunity 
to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or 
biological samples from the salmon (see regulations at Sec.  
679.21(h)(4)).
    There are currently no specific management measures to limit 
Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries. From 1997 
through 2013 (a broad range of years encompassing reliable historic 
estimates and the most recent available data), the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries accounted for approximately 27 percent of the total trawl 
fishery Chinook salmon PSC in the Western and Central GOA groundfish 
fisheries. The pollock trawl fisheries accounted for the remainder of 
the Chinook salmon PSC. Chinook salmon PSC for the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries averaged 5,770 salmon annually from 1997 through 2013, with a 
maximum annual PSC of 10,877 in 2003 and a minimum annual PSC of 2,739 
in 1998.
    Chinook salmon PSC for GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries varies by 
year and among the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sectors. Table 1 provides the average, the minimum, and the 
maximum amount of Chinook salmon PSC for all three sectors. Table 1 
provides this information since the implementation of the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program in 2007, the first year that all three sectors could 
be defined, through 2013, the most recent year for which data are 
available. Section 4.4 of the Analysis provides additional detail on 
the distribution of Chinook salmon PSC.

[[Page 35976]]



Table 1--Total, Average, Maximum, and Minimum Chinook Salmon PSC in the Trawl C/P, Rockfish CV, and Non-Rockfish
                                        CV Sectors From 2007 Through 2013
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                   Average         Maximum         Minimum
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trawl C/P.......................................................           3,143           4,631           1,890
Rockfish CV.....................................................             903           1,649             368
Non-Rockfish CV.................................................           2,526           4,531             857
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total (All three sectors)...................................           5,979           9,748           3,664
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 History and Goals of This Proposed Rule

    In December 2010, the Council initiated two sequential amendments 
to address GOA Chinook salmon PSC. The first amendment addressed 
Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA pollock fisheries through the 
implementation of a PSC limit for those target fisheries in the Western 
and Central GOA. At the same time, a longer-term amendment package was 
initiated to address comprehensive Chinook salmon PSC management in GOA 
non-pollock trawl fisheries.
    In June 2011, the Council took final action on the first amendment, 
Amendment 93 to the GOA Groundfish FMP, which established an overall 
PSC limit of 25,000 Chinook salmon for the Central and Western GOA 
pollock fisheries. The Central GOA annual PSC limit was set at 18,316 
Chinook salmon, and the Western GOA PSC limit was set at 6,684 Chinook 
salmon. Also, the Council required full retention of all salmon taken 
in the pollock trawl fishery, in order to allow NMFS to implement a 
robust sampling protocol for Chinook salmon, and allow for genetic 
stock identification of Chinook salmon taken as PSC. The final rule to 
implement Amendment 93 became effective on August 25, 2012 (77 FR 
42629).
    In February 2012, the Council reviewed a discussion paper on the 
second amendment to consider and evaluate a range of alternatives for 
Chinook salmon PSC limits in the GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries, and 
other alternatives for controlling and sampling Chinook salmon PSC in 
GOA trawl fisheries. In June 2013, the Council took final action on the 
Chinook salmon PSC limits for the non-pollock trawl fishery by 
selecting a long-term average annual PSC limit that would be divided 
between CVs and C/Ps, an incentive buffer for trawl C/Ps and Non-
Rockfish Program CVs, separate Chinook PSC apportionments for the 
Rockfish Program CV sector and the Non-Rockfish Program CV sector, and 
salmon retention requirements.
    In June 2013, the Council initiated review of an additional PSC 
measure to examine whether or not the June 2013 recommendation on 
Chinook salmon PSC in the GOA non-pollock trawl fishery could be 
modified to include an inseason reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC from 
the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. 
The Council recommended an inseason reallocation on December 2013. The 
measures adopted by the Council at its June and December meetings 
comprise Amendment 97 and are described in detail in the analysis and 
in the following section of this proposed rule.
    The goals of this proposed action are consistent with the 10 
National Standards established under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 
proposed action addresses the MSA National Standards and would balance 
a number of competing objectives for fishery conservation and 
management. These include National Standard 1, National Standard 8, and 
National Standard 9. The Council and NMFS recognize the need to balance 
and be consistent with both National Standard 1 and National Standard 
9. National Standard 9 requires that conservation and management 
measures shall, to the extent practicable, minimize bycatch. National 
Standard 1 requires that conservation and management measures shall 
prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum 
yield from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry. The ability to 
harvest the entire TAC for each groundfish fishery in any given year 
may not be the single factor, or the most important factor, in 
determining whether the GOA groundfish fishery achieves optimum yield. 
Providing the opportunity for the fleet to harvest its TAC is one 
aspect of achieving optimum yield in the long term. National Standard 8 
requires considering the importance of fishery resources to fishing 
communities and minimizing adverse economic impacts on such 
communities. This action would provide maximum benefit to fishermen and 
communities that depend on Chinook salmon and groundfish resources, and 
comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable federal law. 
National Standard 9 emphasizes the need to minimize bycatch in the non-
pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western GOA to the extent 
practicable. The action would be practicable because it does not over 
constrain harvest of available TACs in the non-pollock trawl fisheries. 
By minimizing Chinook salmon bycatch, this action would maintain a 
healthy marine ecosystem for the long-term conservation and abundance 
of Chinook salmon.
    In determining whether to impose a Chinook salmon PSC limit for the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries, the Council and NMFS considered the 
importance of equity among user groups in this proposed action. In 
addition to providing an equitable allocation of the total GOA-wide PSC 
limit between the Western and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries, 
the Council and NMFS also considered the needs of Chinook salmon users. 
The Chinook salmon resource is of value to many stakeholders, including 
but not limited to commercial, recreational, and subsistence user 
groups, and it is a resource that is currently fully utilized. By 
instituting a PSC limit that would prevent harvest of Chinook salmon in 
excess of that limit, thereby reducing Chinook salmon bycatch in years 
of high abundance, the Council and NMFS also are considering the needs 
of these other user groups in recommending this proposed action.
    The Council and NMFS determined that the imposition of a Chinook 
salmon PSC limit for the non-pollock trawl fisheries in the Western and 
Central GOA would achieve three broad goals, that are addressed in the 
Purpose and Need and in the Council's problem statement (see Analysis 
Section 1.1), and discussed below. The first goal is to avoid exceeding 
the annual Chinook salmon threshold of 40,000 Chinook salmon that was 
identified in the incidental take statement accompanying the November 
30, 2000, Biological Opinion on the effects of the Alaska groundfish 
fisheries on ESA-listed salmon of the Pacific Northwest (see

[[Page 35977]]

Chapter 5) (see ADDRESSES). Management of the GOA groundfish fisheries 
should prevent Chinook salmon bycatch from exceeding the incidental 
take statement. Establishing a limit on the amount of Chinook salmon 
PSC that may be taken on an annual basis in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries in the Central and Western GOA would accomplish that goal. 
This proposed action would, on average, limit the annual Chinook salmon 
PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries to 7,500 salmon each year. This 
would provide great assurance that the total Chinook salmon PSC in the 
GOA from all sources would not exceed 40,000 salmon on an annual basis. 
The second goal is to minimize Chinook salmon bycatch to the extent 
practicable, consistent with the MSA and National Standard 9. Under 
Amendment 93 to the FMP, NMFS implemented regulations to limit the 
annual Chinook salmon PSC in the Central and Western GOA pollock 
fishery to 25,000 Chinook salmon (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012). Limits 
on Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries would 
complement those regulations, and further the second goal of 
conservation of Chinook salmon resources that occur in the GOA 
regardless of the stock of origin. The implementation of Chinook salmon 
PSC limits for non-pollock trawl fisheries would prevent unusually high 
levels of PSC of Chinook salmon from occurring in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries in the future, such as occurred in 2003 and 2010 (see Section 
4.4 of the Analysis for additional information on annual Chinook salmon 
PSC use in the non-pollock trawl fisheries). Consistent with National 
Standard 9, Chinook salmon PSC limits that would be implemented by this 
program include incentives that in some years, may reduce Chinook 
salmon PSC to levels below the proposed limits, thereby minimizing 
bycatch to the extent practicable. The third broad goal is to establish 
monitoring measures that would aid NMFS in proper accounting of Chinook 
salmon PSC and improve sampling of Chinook salmon so that stock of 
origin of Chinook salmon PSC could be determined. This would be 
accomplished by revising retention requirements for all salmon PSC, 
regardless of species, to enable accurate reporting, ensure adequate 
accounting of Chinook salmon PSC, and obtain information that could 
help define the stock of origin of Chinook salmon bycatch, thereby 
improving the understanding of the potential impact of Chinook salmon 
PSC on Chinook salmon resources and fisheries.

Provisions of the Proposed Action

    In order to achieve the goals identified by the Council, this 
proposed action would: (1) Establish annual Chinook salmon PSC limits 
for the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV 
Sectors; (2) establish an ``incentive buffer'' that would allow the 
annual Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sectors to vary depending on the amount of Chinook salmon 
PSC taken by those sectors in the previous year; (3) establish a 
seasonal limit on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC that could be taken 
in the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 of each year; (4) allow the 
reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 
15 of each year; and (5) establish salmon retention requirements to 
ensure adequate accounting of Chinook salmon PSC, and to improve the 
collection of biological samples that could aid in the determination of 
stock of origin of Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries. A description of and rationale for these proposed measures 
are provided in the following paragraphs.

Chinook Salmon PSC Limits

    This proposed rule would implement a long-term average annual 
Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for non-pollock trawl 
fisheries in the Central and Western GOA. The proposed rule would 
implement the long-term average annual limit by establishing three 
separate Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program 
CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. During the first year of 
implementation, this proposed rule would establish an annual Chinook 
salmon PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon for the Trawl C/P Sector, 
1,200 Chinook salmon for the Rockfish Program CV Sector, and 2,700 
Chinook salmon for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. The total 
Chinook salmon PSC limit in the first year of implementation for all 
three sectors would be 7,500 Chinook salmon. Under the proposed action, 
if a sector reaches, or is projected to reach, its Chinook salmon PSC 
limit, NMFS would close directed fishing for all non-pollock trawl 
fisheries for vessels in that sector for the remainder of the calendar 
year. Each sector would be subject to its own annual Chinook salmon PSC 
limit, and NMFS would manage each sector separately.
    The Council recommended the proposed long-term average annual limit 
after considering a range of PSC limits to minimize Chinook salmon 
bycatch to the extent practicable while preserving the potential for 
the full harvest of non-pollock groundfish TACs. The Council's 
selection of this long-term average limit also reflects the trade-offs 
between Chinook salmon saved and the forgone non-pollock catch for the 
range of PSC limits. Section 4.4.9 of the Analysis shows that Western 
and Central GOA non-pollock trawl fisheries averaged approximately 
6,000 Chinook salmon per year between 2003 and 2011, but that actual 
annual PSC varies widely (a high of 10,877 in 2003 and a low of 3,060 
in 2006). According to the Analysis (section 2.5), the non-pollock 
trawl fisheries would have been constrained in two out of nine years 
between 2003 and 2011 if the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 
had been in place, but these closures would have resulted in 40% less 
Chinook salmon PSC being taken in these fisheries (see the Analysis, 
Table 4-69).
    The Council considered alternatives that would have established a 
Chinook salmon PSC limit of 5,000, 10,000 and 12,500 in the non-pollock 
trawl fishery in the Central and Western GOA. The Council and NMFS 
recognize that the Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 proposed in this 
action could constrain groundfish harvests and impose costs on non-
pollock trawl fishery participants (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis). 
However, based on a review of past fishery performance provided in 
Sections 4.7 and 4.9 of the Analysis, the Council determined and NMFS 
agrees that a Chinook salmon PSC limit less than 7,500 would result in 
considerable amounts of foregone harvest in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries, and relatively high costs (in terms of foregone revenue) per 
salmon saved. A Chinook salmon PSC limit lower than 7,500 would be 
expected to impose greater costs and burdens on participants in the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries in future years by constraining fishing to 
a greater degree than the PSC limit proposed in this action. Using the 
2003 to 2011 period, the non-pollock trawl fisheries would have been 
constrained in six of these years under a 5,000 Chinook salmon PSC 
limit. Given the considerable costs per salmon saved at PSC limits less 
than 7,500 and the uncertainty over the added benefits to individual 
Chinook stocks with such limits, the Council determined and NMFS agrees 
that a Chinook salmon PSC limit lower than 7,500 would burden fishery 
participants to a greater extent than the proposed

[[Page 35978]]

limit, and is not considered practicable for minimizing Chinook salmon 
bycatch because it would be unnecessarily constraining to the non-
pollock fisheries. The Analysis at section 2.5 also shows that non-
pollock trawl fisheries would have been constrained in only one year 
between 2003 and 2011 with an average annual PSC limit equal to or 
greater than 10,000 Chinook salmon. While a PSC limit of 10,000 Chinook 
salmon would have resulted in approximately 17 percent less Chinook 
salmon PSC using the 2003 to 2011 time period, the Council determined, 
and NMFS agrees, that a 17 percent savings of Chinook salmon PSC 
(approximately 1,000 Chinook salmon) was inadequate savings of Chinook 
salmon considering the importance of salmon to target fisheries and 
conservation needs and would not minimize Chinook salmon bycatch to the 
extent practicable.
    After selecting the long-term average annual Chinook salmon PSC 
limit of 7,500, the Council recommended that the average annual PSC 
limit be implemented by establishing separate Chinook salmon PSC limits 
for the Trawl C/P, the Rockfish Program CV, and the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV sectors. The Council and NMFS recommend allocating Chinook 
salmon PSC to the Trawl C/P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sectors in recognition of the specific groundfish fisheries, 
and patterns of Chinook salmon PSC use by these sectors as described in 
the ``Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries in the Central and Western GOA'' and 
``Chinook Salmon PSC in the Non-Pollock Trawl Fisheries'' sections of 
this preamble and detailed in Section 4.4 of the Analysis. As explained 
earlier in this preamble and in the Analysis, each of these three 
sectors participates in different groundfish fisheries, and is subject 
to different management measures that allow these three sectors to 
respond differently to the Chinook salmon PSC limits being proposed in 
this action. The following description provides the rationale for the 
specific Chinook salmon PSC limits selected and the potential effects 
based on a review of historic and recent trends of groundfish harvests 
and Chinook salmon PSC use. In determining the specific Chinook salmon 
PSC limit that each sector would receive, the Council recommended that 
the average annual PSC limit be apportioned between the catcher 
processor fleet (i.e., the Trawl C/P Sector) and the catcher vessel 
fleet (i.e., the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector combined) based on each fleet's five-year historic 
average percentage of Chinook salmon bycatch. From 2007 to 2011, the 
catcher processor fleet's average use of Chinook salmon represented 48% 
of the total average use of Chinook salmon bycatch in the non-pollock 
trawl fisheries. During this same period, the catcher vessel fleet's 
average use of Chinook salmon represented 52 percent of the total 
average use of Chinook salmon bycatch in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries. Applying these percentages to the PSC limit of 7,500, the 
Council recommended a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon 
for the catcher processor fleet (i.e. the Trawl C/P Sector) and a 
Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,900 Chinook salmon for the catcher vessel 
fleet (i.e. the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-Rockfish Program 
CV Sector combined). The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that the 
five-year historic average best captures the time period that is most 
reflective of the current management regime in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries of the Western and Central GOA. The period encompasses the 
time in which the Central GOA Rockfish Program and Amendment 80 were 
implemented.
    The Council determined and NMFS agrees that the 3,600 Chinook 
salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P Sector is appropriate because the 
sector's groundfish harvests are tightly constrained by sideboard 
measures, informal cooperative arrangements that exist within the Trawl 
C/P Sector can provide the necessary communication for avoiding Chinook 
salmon PSC, and regulations applicable to trawl C/Ps operating in the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program allow those trawl C/Ps to better 
coordinate activities and take actions to reduce Chinook salmon PSC. 
Collectively, these conditions are expected to minimize the sector's 
Chinook salmon PSC to the extent practicable while providing an 
opportunity to harvest groundfish in the GOA. The proposed Chinook 
salmon PSC limit of 3,600 salmon is approximately 14 percent greater 
than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has been used in 
Trawl C/P Sector (3,105 salmon) from 2007 (the first year that the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program) through 2011 (the most recent year for 
which complete data was available at the time the Council took final 
action on Amendment 97). Based on a review provided in Section 4.4 of 
the Analysis, the proposed 3,600 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have 
been constraining in one out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 
period analyzed. The 3,600 Chinook salmon PSC limit also would be 
slightly higher than the sector's average Chinook salmon PSC use (3,143 
salmon) from 2007, the first year that all three sectors could be 
defined, through 2013, the most recent year for which data are 
available (see Table 1 of this preamble). The Council and NMFS 
anticipate that, given the existing management structure of the Trawl 
C/P Sector and the ability of the Trawl C/P Sector to coordinate 
fishing activities in the GOA, the Trawl C/P Sector is likely to be 
able to harvest non-pollock groundfish in the Central and Western GOA 
in most years without being constrained by the Chinook salmon PSC limit 
of 3,600 salmon.
    After recommending a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,900 for the 
catcher vessel fleet (i.e., the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector combined), the Council then determined that 
this PSC limit should be further apportioned and recommended that 1,200 
Chinook salmon be apportioned to the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the 
remainder (2,700 Chinook salmon) be apportioned to the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector. The Council recognized that vessels within the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector could have unpredictable high PSC events 
during the spring, prior to the May opening of the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program, which could preclude or severely curtail the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program's season, thereby eliminating an opportunity to 
prosecute a valuable fishery in which the prospects for effective PSC 
avoidance are promising. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that 
a separate Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV Sector 
is appropriate because a separate allocation would preserve important 
and valuable fishing opportunities in the Rockfish Program. In 
determining the Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector, the Council considered the sector's annual average Chinook 
salmon PSC from 2007 through 2011 of approximately 800 Chinook salmon 
per year, as well as annual Chinook salmon PSC, which exceeded 1,200 
Chinook salmon in one year (2008) during this period. The Council 
determined, and NMFS agrees, that a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 
for the Rockfish Program CV Sector is appropriate because (1) it should 
provide the greatest assurance that the Central GOA Rockfish Program 
quota can be fully harvested given the sector's average annual use, (2) 
the sector is managed through cooperatives that have additional tools 
available to aid in mitigating Chinook salmon PSC

[[Page 35979]]

encounters, and (3) the one year in which the sector's PSC use exceeded 
the proposed limit, cooperative fishing under the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program was new and management priorities emphasized halibut avoidance. 
The Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 salmon is approximately 29 
percent greater than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has 
been used in Rockfish Program CV Sector (847 salmon) during a 
representative five-year period analyzed by the Council and NMFS from 
2007 through 2011. Based on a review provided in Sections 4.7 and 4.9 
of the Analysis, the 1,200 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have been 
constraining in one out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 
period analyzed. The 1,200 Chinook salmon PSC limit is also greater 
than the sector's average Chinook salmon PSC use (903 salmon) from 2007 
through 2013 (see Table 1 of this preamble). The Council and NMFS 
anticipate that given the existing management structure of the Rockfish 
Program CV Sector, the sector is likely to be able to harvest 
groundfish fisheries in the Central and Western GOA in most years 
without being constrained by the Chinook salmon PSC limit of 1,200 
salmon. The Council also determined, and NMFS agrees, that the 
apportionment to the sector is appropriate because although the 
allocation is larger than the sector's average annual use, the sector 
has an incentive to minimize its use of Chinook salmon PSC. This 
proposed action also includes a provision that would allow NMFS to 
reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 
15 of each year as described later in this preamble. This provision 
would ensure that unused amounts of the Chinook salmon PSC limit 
allocated to the Rockfish Program CV Sector would be made available to 
catcher vessels that may still be fishing in the Non-Rockfish Program 
CV Sector towards the end of the fishing year. On average, 87 percent 
of the CVs that are active in the Rockfish Program CV Sector 
participate in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector for fall non-pollock 
trawl fisheries. Therefore, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that 
participants in the Rockfish Program CV Sector would have ample 
incentive to minimize Chinook salmon PSC within that sector in order to 
maximize the amount of Chinook salmon PSC available to prosecute 
important fall fisheries, such as fall Pacific cod and flatfish 
fisheries.
    The Rockfish Program CV Sector Chinook salmon PSC limit would apply 
to trawl catcher vessels that are checked in and fishing under the 
authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit (see regulations at Sec.  
679.5(r)(8)). Trawl catcher vessels that are not checked in and fishing 
under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit would be in the 
Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector. Under the proposed action, a trawl CV 
vessel could operate in both the Rockfish Program CV Sector and the 
Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector during the course of a fishing year, but 
would only be in one or the other sector at any given time during a 
fishing year depending on whether the vessel was checked in and fishing 
under the authority of a Rockfish Program CQ Permit.
    The proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector would not be further allocated among the specific cooperatives 
within the sector. The Council did not recommend that the 1,200 Chinook 
salmon PSC limit be further apportioned among fishery cooperatives in 
the Rockfish Program CV Sector because allocating the Chinook salmon 
PSC limit among cooperatives would result in relatively small 
allocations among the cooperatives that could unnecessarily constrain 
non-pollock harvests by the cooperatives. Chinook salmon PSC varies 
from year to year and that variability could limit the ability of a 
cooperative to predict and undertake fishing operations in a way that 
could ensure the cooperative would maintain catch below its Chinook 
salmon PSC limit. A cooperative-specific Chinook salmon PSC limit would 
be expected to increase the administrative burden and costs to 
establish cooperative-specific allocations, particularly if 
cooperative-specific Chinook salmon PSC limits could be traded among 
cooperatives. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that inter-
cooperative arrangements that exist among the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector would be able to provide coordination and communication among 
participants, reduce the risk that a specific cooperative would be 
constrained within the overall Rockfish Program CV Sector, and would 
not impose the additional burdens and costs associated with 
cooperative-specific Chinook salmon PSC limits. Sections 4.7.1 and 4.9 
of the Analysis provide additional detail on the allocation of the 
Chinook salmon PSC limit to the Rockfish Program CV Sector.
    The Council and NMFS recommend the 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit 
for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector to accommodate groundfish 
harvests in most years. Unlike the Trawl C/P and Rockfish Program CV 
Sectors, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector is not circumscribed by 
sideboard regulations, governed by informal cooperative arrangements, 
or managed under a catch share program that allows the sector to 
optimize the use of its Chinook salmon PSC as it participates in non-
pollock trawl fisheries. The Council considered these factors when 
establishing the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit. The proposed 
Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,700 salmon is approximately 8 percent 
greater than the average amount of Chinook salmon PSC that has been 
used in Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector (2,489 salmon) during a 
representative five-year period analyzed by the Council and NMFS from 
2007 through 2011. Based on a review provided in Sections 4.7 and 4.9 
of the Analysis, the 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit would have been 
constraining in two out of five years during the 2007 through 2011 
period analyzed. The proposed 2,700 Chinook salmon PSC limit is also 
slightly greater than the sector's average Chinook salmon PSC use 
(2,562 salmon) from 2007 through 2013 (see Table 1 of this preamble). 
This proposed action also includes a provision that would allow NMFS to 
reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 and November 
15 of each year as described later in this preamble. This provision 
would be likely to provide additional Chinook salmon PSC to the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector in most years (see Section 4.9 of the 
Analysis for additional detail).
    As previously discussed, the Council considered establishing 
Chinook salmon PSC limits that would have provided a single Chinook 
salmon PSC limit for all non-pollock trawl fisheries, as well as a 
single Chinook salmon PSC limit for trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The Council 
considered alternatives for Chinook salmon PSC limits for each of the 
three sectors that would, on average, result in Chinook salmon PSC 
limits ranging from 5,000 salmon to 12,500 salmon annually in the 
Central and Western GOA. The Council considered a range of methods for 
defining and allocating the Chinook PSC between the three sectors using 
average Chinook salmon PSC use by each sector over five-year and ten-
year periods. Finally, the Council considered alternatives to allocate 
separate Central GOA and Western GOA Chinook salmon PSC limits for each 
sector.

[[Page 35980]]

    The Council considered but did not select alternatives that would 
have assigned a single Chinook salmon PSC limit to all fisheries 
because such an allocation would not recognize the distinct operational 
differences, and differing patterns of Chinook salmon PSC use, among 
the three sectors active in the GOA (see Section 4.7 of the Analysis 
for additional detail). The Council determined that such an allocation 
method would have reduced the incentives for a specific sector to 
maintain Chinook salmon PSC use within its historic limits. This could 
result in one sector engaging in fishing patterns that lead to 
relatively high Chinook salmon PSC which in turn could result in the 
closure of non-pollock fisheries to all vessels, including those 
vessels that have relatively low Chinook salmon PSC rates. Such a 
result would have adverse effects on fishing operations 
disproportionate to their actual Chinook salmon PSC use. Additionally, 
the Council did not select alternatives that would have assigned a 
single Chinook salmon PSC limit to the trawl CV and trawl C/P vessels 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. The Council 
determined that such an allocation did not appear to be consistent with 
the operations of trawl C/P vessels and the stated desire by 
representatives of trawl C/P vessels to establish a single Chinook 
salmon PSC limit applicable to all trawl C/Ps.
    As previously discussed, the Council considered but did not select 
Chinook salmon PSC limits that that would have established Chinook 
salmon PSC limits greater than 7,500 salmon (10,000 and 12,500 salmon) 
in the non-pollock trawl fisheries of the Central and Western GOA. The 
Council reviewed these limits and determined that although they would 
establish Chinook salmon PSC limits and constrain total Chinook salmon 
PSC, they would not have minimized bycatch of Chinook salmon to the 
extent practicable. The Council determined and NMFS agrees that Chinook 
salmon PSC limits higher than 7,500 would result in a greater potential 
for increased use of Chinook salmon PSC. The Council and NMFS consider 
the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 7,500 to appropriately balance 
the goals of minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable while 
providing harvest opportunities among the sectors. The Council and NMFS 
reached these conclusions based on a review of the historic and recent 
trends in Chinook salmon PSC use, the ability of the Trawl C/P and 
Rockfish Program CV Sectors to use their existing management structure 
and cooperative arrangements to further minimize bycatch, and incentive 
provisions contained within this proposed action would provide 
additional harvest flexibility to the Trawl C/P and to a greater 
extent, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector.
    Finally, the Council also considered but did not select 
alternatives to allocate separate Central GOA and Western GOA Chinook 
salmon PSC limits for each sector. As noted in Section 4.7 of the 
Analysis, allocating Chinook salmon PSC separately to the Western and 
Central GOA, or by sector within the Central and Western GOA, would 
have been likely to create small allocations that would have been 
limiting to the non-pollock trawl fishery in more years given the 
highly variable nature of Chinook salmon PSC rates and use between the 
Central and Western GOA. The Council determined that these small, and 
likely restrictive allocations would have constrained fishing 
operations, without necessarily resulting in practicable minimization 
of Chinook salmon bycatch. These small restrictions also would be 
challenging for NMFS to adequately monitor and administer to ensure 
that these relatively small Chinook salmon PSC limits could not be 
exceeded.

Incentive Buffer

    This proposed rule would allow the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit 
for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to vary depending 
on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC taken by those sectors in the 
previous year. This proposed provision is termed an ``incentive 
buffer'' because it would provide an incentive for participants in the 
Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to minimize PSC below 
their allocations, 3,600 and 2,700 Chinook salmon respectively, each 
year in order to receive additional Chinook salmon PSC in the following 
year. It is important to note that the proposed incentive buffer would 
not result in the total available Chinook salmon PSC limit in the non-
pollock trawl fisheries to exceed 7,500 salmon over the long term 
annual average.
    Under the proposed incentive buffer, a sector that uses less than 
or equal to its proportional share of 6,500 Chinook salmon in one year 
would be able to access its base PSC limit plus its proportional share 
of 1,000 additional Chinook salmon in the following year. To 
illustrate, the proposed base Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/
P Sector is 3,600 (48 percent of the average annual Chinook salmon PSC 
limit of 7,500) and this limit would be available to the Trawl C/P 
Sector during the first year of Amendment 97 if approved. If, during 
the first year, the Trawl C/P Sector was able to maintain its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to no more than 3,120 salmon (48 percent of 6,500 
Chinook salmon), the incentive buffer would apply to the sector in the 
following year. In the following year, the Trawl C/P Sector would 
receive a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 4,080 Chinook salmon, which 
represents the sum of the sector's base PSC limit (3,600) and its 
proportional share (48 percent) of 1,000 (480). If, during the first 
year, the Trawl C/P Sector's Chinook salmon use exceeds 3,120 Chinook 
salmon, then the incentive buffer would not apply to the sector and its 
Chinook salmon PSC limit in the following year would be set at its base 
PSC limit of 3,600 Chinook salmon. Similarly, the proposed base PSC 
limit for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector is 2,700 (36 percent of 
the proposed Chinook salmon limit of 7,500) and this limit would be 
available to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector during the first year 
of Amendment 97 if approved. If, during the first year, the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector was able to maintain its use of Chinook 
salmon PSC to no more than 2,340 salmon (36 percent of 6,500 Chinook 
salmon), the incentive buffer would apply to the sector in the 
following year. In the following year, the Non-Rockfish Program CV 
Sector would receive a Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,060 salmon, which 
represents the sum of the sector's base PSC limit (2,700) and its 
proportional share (36 percent) of 1,000 (360). If, during the first 
year, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector's Chinook salmon use exceeds 
2,340 Chinook salmon, then the incentive buffer would not apply to the 
sector and its Chinook salmon PSC limit in the following year would be 
set at its base PSC limit of 2,700 salmon.
    The Council believes and NMFS agrees that this mechanism would act 
as an incentive for these sectors to keep Chinook salmon bycatch well 
below each sector's base PSC limit in most years, in order to provide 
each sector with a slightly higher Chinook salmon PSC limit that may be 
needed in an unusual year of Chinook salmon migration patterns or 
unanticipated higher abundance that may make it difficult to avoid 
Chinook salmon PSC. The specific buffers selected would provide 
approximately 12 percent more Chinook salmon PSC for the Trawl C/P and 
Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors in a year if the Chinook salmon use for 
that sector was maintained at an amount approximately 12 percent below 
the

[[Page 35981]]

Chinook salmon PSC limits initially established for those sectors. The 
amount of the proposed incentive buffer is intended to provide some 
additional flexibility, but not so large an increase in a sector's 
Chinook salmon PSC limit from year-to-year as to result in highly 
variable or substantial increases in Chinook salmon PSC.
    This proposed action would not apply an incentive buffer to the 
Rockfish Program CV Sector. As noted in the previous section of this 
preamble, the Chinook Salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector is thought to be sufficient to support the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector in most years. In addition, any unused Chinook salmon PSC from 
the Rockfish Program CV Sector would be reallocated to the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector in the fall of each year as described later in this 
preamble. Establishing an incentive buffer for the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector and allowing a reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC would 
be administratively burdensome and was determined by the Council and 
NMFS as unnecessary to provide flexibility to the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis for additional detail).

Seasonal Allocation of the Chinook Salmon PSC Limit for Trawl Catcher/
Processors

    This proposed rule would establish a seasonal limit on the maximum 
amount of Chinook salmon PSC that could be used by the Trawl C/P Sector 
prior to June 1 of each year. Each year, the Trawl C/P Sector would be 
limited to using no more than 66 percent of its annual Chinook salmon 
PSC limit prior to June 1. If NMFS determined that the Trawl C/P 
Sector's seasonal Chinook PSC limit would not be exceeded, no action 
would be necessary. If, prior to June 1, NMFS determines that the Trawl 
C/P Sector would catch the seasonal allocation of the sector's Chinook 
salmon PSC limit prior to June 1, NMFS would prohibit directed fishing 
for non-pollock fisheries by the Trawl C/P Sector until June 1. NMFS 
would determine the amount of the sector's annual limit that remains 
available for use and directed fishing for non-pollock fisheries would 
be open for the Trawl C/P Sector on June 1, provided there is adequate 
Chinook salmon PSC to allow the Trawl C/P Sector to fish and not exceed 
its annual Chinook salmon PSC limit. No additional notice to re-open 
the groundfish fishery for non-pollock trawl C/Ps would be necessary, 
because proposed regulations at Sec.  679.21(i)(3)(ii) state the date 
(June 1), that defines the end and start of the Trawl C/P Sector's 
seasonal Chinook PSC limits.
    NMFS, as part of the implementation of this action, would establish 
Chinook salmon PSC accounts for the non-pollock trawl groundfish 
fishery in the NMFS regional catch accounting system (CAS). NMFS also 
would develop publically-available reports about the catch of Chinook 
in the non-pollock groundfish fishery (at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov), including annual PSC limits, current catch, 
and remaining limits. These reports, which would be an extension of 
existing NMFS reports about current and historic groundfish and PSC 
catch in the GOA, would include a Chinook PSC category for the non-
pollock Trawl C/P Sector as defined at Sec.  679.21(i)(2)(ii). The 
agency would add the residual January 1 to June 1 Chinook salmon PSC 
limit to the June 1 to December 31 Chinook salmon PSC limit. This 
information would be publically available from the non-pollock Chinook 
PSC limit report.
    Because the seasonal limit would be set at 66 percent of the annual 
Chinook salmon PSC limit, the specific amount could vary depending on 
whether or not the Trawl C/P Sector receives an incentive buffer for a 
year. During the first year of implementation, the Trawl C/P Sector 
would be allocated a seasonal Chinook salmon PSC limit of 2,376 Chinook 
salmon for use prior to June 1 (i.e., 66 percent of the 3,600 Chinook 
salmon PSC annual limit). During the second year, the seasonal Chinook 
salmon PSC limit for the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 would be set 
at 2,376 Chinook salmon if the Trawl C/P Sector did not receive the 
incentive buffer, or would be set at 2,693 Chinook salmon (i.e., 66 
percent of the 4,080 Chinook salmon PSC annual limit) if the sector 
received the incentive buffer.
    This proposed action would establish a seasonal allocation to the 
Trawl C/P Sector to reduce the potential for a disproportionate amount 
of the Chinook salmon PSC limit being used early in the year which 
could result in non-pollock harvest restrictions to Trawl C/P Sector 
participants later in the year. Section 4.7.1 of the Analysis contains 
data showing that the Trawl C/P Sector typically uses approximately 70 
percent of its Chinook salmon PSC before June 1. The Council determined 
and NMFS agrees that the proposed 66 percent allocation prior to June 1 
is an appropriate limitation to allow the Trawl C/P Sector to prosecute 
non-pollock trawl fisheries consistent with historic use of Chinook 
salmon PSC, while also ensuring that some portion of the PSC is 
available to support other non-pollock trawl fisheries, specifically 
the rockfish fisheries that typically are harvested after June 1. Many 
of the vessels in the Trawl C/P Sector participate in Central GOA 
Rockfish Program fisheries that open on May 1 of each year. However, 
trawl C/Ps fishing in the Central GOA Rockfish Program typically start 
to fish after June 1. The Council and NMFS propose June 1 as the end 
date of the seasonal allocation to ensure that sufficient Chinook 
salmon PSC will be left for the Trawl C/P Sector to participate in the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program, as well as to support other non-pollock 
trawl fisheries occurring later in the year. The Council and NMFS also 
considered recommendations provided to the Council from participants in 
the Trawl C/P Sector that a seasonal limit of Chinook salmon PSC would 
help ensure that participants in the Trawl C/P Sector monitor catch 
early in the year to ensure adequate Chinook salmon PSC remains later 
in the year. The Council considered but did not select a PSC limit for 
the trawl C/Ps of 50 percent of the annual limit, choosing the higher 
percentage based on supportive testimony of the trawl C/P 
representatives for applying 66 percent of the annual PSC limit. 
Additionally, the proposed seasonal apportionment would exceed the 
Trawl C/P Sector's annual average use of Chinook salmon PSC prior to 
June 1 by the Trawl C/P Sector from 2008 to 2012 of 2,057 Chinook 
salmon. NMFS determined that the annual average of 2,376 Chinook salmon 
or 66 percent of the annual PSC limit, represents a compromise between 
providing the long-term average catch for the Trawl C/P Sector of 71% 
or 2,564 fish.
    The Council and NMFS considered but did not select alternatives 
that would have established seasonal allocations to the Rockfish 
Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. These alternatives were 
not selected because Section 4.7.1 of the Analysis indicates that the 
Rockfish Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors typically have 
a more even distribution of Chinook salmon PSC use throughout the year. 
Therefore, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that it would not be 
necessary to constrain Chinook salmon PSC early in the year to ensure 
adequate Chinook salmon PSC remains later in the year.

Reallocation of Unused Chinook Salmon PSC From the Rockfish Program CV 
Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector

    As noted earlier in this preamble, it is likely that the proposed 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the Rockfish

[[Page 35982]]

Program CV Sector would not constrain the sector's non-pollock harvests 
in most years. In contrast, the proposed Chinook salmon PSC limit of 
2,700 for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector would have constrained the 
sector's non-pollock harvests during three of the seven years between 
2007 and 2013 (see Table 1 and Section 4.7.1 in the Analysis) had the 
proposed PSC limit been in place. This proposed action would provide 
the opportunity for reallocations of unused Chinook salmon PSC to the 
Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector at two periods during the year. Under 
this proposed action, NMFS would reallocate all but 150 of the salmon 
that remain of the unused Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Rockfish 
Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1. 
Depending on the amount reallocated, the additional Chinook salmon 
could allow Non-Rockfish Program CVs to continue fishing for an 
extended period of time if the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector would 
have otherwise been constrained by its Chinook salmon PSC limit of 
2,700 Chinook salmon. The Council selected this alternative to provide 
additional Chinook salmon PSC to address unanticipated events of high 
PSC encounters, for which the Non-Rockfish Program CVs would generally 
be unable to mitigate before reaching their PSC limit. The Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector does not operate under authority of the Rockfish 
Program and is not as likely to be able to voluntarily control or 
organize fleet behavior to adjust fishing patterns for avoiding Chinook 
salmon PSC.
    The Council selected October 1 for reallocating Chinook salmon PSC 
to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector because of the timing and the 
value of the Pacific cod fall season fishery to the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector. In some years, the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector 
has high Chinook salmon PSC prior to May 1, which would reduce the 
amount of Chinook salmon PSC limit available from September through 
November, when most CVs have checked out of the Rockfish Program CR 
fishery. Also, the Council determined that by establishing a fixed 
annual date to reallocate unused Chinook salmon PSC, participants in 
the Rockfish Program CV Sector would have certainty regarding the 
timing of each reallocation, and would be able to focus on more 
important coordination of cooperative measures such as avoidance of 
Chinook salmon PSC.
    The Council and NMFS recommended retaining a balance of 150 Chinook 
salmon for the Rockfish Program CV Sector on October 1 after 
considering the catch of Chinook salmon by Rockfish Program CVs after 
October 1. Based on the first seven years of the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program (2007 through 2013), 150 Chinook salmon would have been 
sufficient to support the sector's activity from October 1 through 
November 15, the last date that fishing is permitted under the Central 
GOA Rockfish Program (see Section 4.9 of the Analysis for additional 
information). Although 150 Chinook salmon may be more than the sector 
would need in most years, the Council determined and NMFS agrees that 
changing trends in Chinook salmon PSC use or groundfish fishing 
patterns could increase the demand for Chinook salmon PSC in this 
sector. Additionally, while the number of Rockfish Program CVs 
operating after October 1 is usually small, managing that fishery with 
less than 150 Chinook salmon PSC could close the sector. NMFS 
determined that the agency may be unable to open the directed fisheries 
for the Rockfish Program CV Sector if the post-reallocation Chinook 
salmon PSC for the Sector is set at less than 150 fish, particularly if 
the number of participating Rockfish Program CVs is uncertain or 
anticipated to increase beyond historical numbers.
    This proposed rule would provide a final reallocation of any unused 
Chinook salmon PSC from the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector on November 15. The Central GOA Rockfish 
Program closes by regulation on November 15. This final reallocation 
could provide some additional harvest opportunity to the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector, depending on the amount reallocated, from November 
15 through the end of the year (December 31). Reallocations to the non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector, would not change (add to or subtract from) 
the incentive buffers proposed at Sec.  679.21(i)(3)(i)(A) and 
(i)(3)(i)(C). Section 4.9 of the Analysis provides additional detail on 
the reallocation of Chinook salmon PSC.

Salmon Retention and the Prohibited Species Donation Program

    This proposed rule would establish salmon retention requirements 
for the non-pollock trawl sectors, and would establish and modify 
existing salmon retention requirements for shoreside processors and 
stationary floating processors (SFPs) receiving non-pollock and pollock 
deliveries. To implement these proposed provisions, trawl CVs and 
tender vessels, shoreside processors or SFPs, and trawl C/Ps would each 
be subject to different salmon retention requirements.
    This proposed action would require the operators of all CVs (i.e., 
the Rockfish Program CV and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors) and tender 
vessels to retain all salmon caught in the non-pollock trawl fisheries 
in the Western and Central GOA until those salmon are offloaded to a 
shoreside processor or SFP. This proposed action would also require 
shoreside processors and SFPs receiving non-pollock deliveries to 
retain all salmon until the number of salmon by species has been 
accurately recorded in the eLandings groundfish landing report. The 
combination of these two retention requirements will enable accurate 
reporting of salmon in eLandings at the processor. Salmon accounting at 
a processor may assist the industry in tracking and cooperatively 
managing its Chinook salmon PSC. At this time, observers are not 
available to collect data from salmon delivered with non-pollock 
groundfish to shoreside processors or SFPs. However, scientific data 
from salmon delivered with non-pollock groundfish to processors may be 
collected opportunistically for further study to assist with scientific 
research on the origin of salmon in the Western and Central GOA non-
pollock trawl fisheries.
    This proposed action would require the operators of vessels in the 
Trawl C/P Sector to retain all salmon until an observer has had the 
opportunity to collect scientific data or biological samples, and the 
number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the 
eLandings At-sea production report. This proposed requirement 
emphasizes the responsibility for an operator of a C/P to accommodate 
observer sampling tasks prior to discard. Data collected from observers 
onboard C/Ps would be used for stock of origin determinations (see 
Section 3.3.3 of the Analysis for additional detail on stock of origin 
sampling).
    The salmon retention requirements in this proposed rule are 
intended to enable the collection of salmon genetic data in the non-
pollock trawl fisheries and facilitate reporting of salmon bycatch at 
the processor. The proposed retention requirements for salmon in the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries would not modify the observer duties or the 
method by which NMFS calculates fleet-wide Chinook salmon PSC 
estimates. NMFS would continue to calculate Chinook salmon PSC numbers, 
and would manage PSC limits for Chinook salmon, using the existing 
system of extrapolating catch rates from observed vessels to the 
unobserved portion of the non-pollock trawl fleet (see Section 5.2.2 of 
the Analysis for

[[Page 35983]]

additional detail on determining Chinook salmon PSC use).
    This proposed action would also amend regulations at Sec.  
679.21(h)(4) and (h)(5) governing salmon retention and discards for 
vessels directed fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and 
Central GOA, and tender vessels, and processors taking deliveries from 
these vessels. The proposed changes are intended to clarify 
responsibilities and to avoid confusion, and to be consistent with the 
organization of salmon retention and discard regulations for the non-
pollock trawl fisheries. The requirements for CVs and tender vessels in 
the pollock fishery are unchanged from the current retention 
requirements. Many of the CVs that participate in the non-pollock trawl 
fisheries also participate in the GOA directed pollock fishery. Current 
regulations at Sec.  679.21(h)(4) combine requirements for vessel 
operators and processing operations. These combined requirements have 
caused some confusion for vessel operators delivering groundfish with 
regard to the responsibilities that apply to them versus the 
responsibilities that apply to shoreside processors and SFPs. Vessel 
operators are required only to deliver all salmon to a processor, 
however processors must accommodate provisions for observer sampling at 
the processing facility. Because NMFS has been informed by industry 
that these regulations are confusing, the proposed action would 
separate the responsibilities for vessel operators and processors in 
the pollock trawl fisheries to provide greater clarity.
    The proposed rule also would separate the requirement for a 
processor to retain salmon until an observer has the opportunity to 
count the number of salmon, from the requirement to retain salmon until 
the shoreside processor or SFP has recorded the number of salmon by 
species in the eLandings groundfish landing report. The proposed 
organization of the retention requirements would apply to vessels 
directed fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and Central 
GOA, and the tender vessels and processors taking deliveries from these 
vessels.
    Salmon retained under this proposed action could not be kept for 
sale or personal use, and must be discarded or donated to the PSD 
program. Once salmon are counted and sampled at the processing plant, 
they may be donated to the PSD program, or they must be discarded. A 
list of participants in the salmon PSD program in the GOA is available 
from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ram/psd.htm. Currently, the PSD program is 
available to participants in pollock and non-pollock groundfish 
fisheries. This proposed rule continues to provide the opportunity for 
non-pollock and pollock trawl fisheries to participate in the PSD 
program. See Section 2.3 of the Analysis for additional detail on the 
PSD program.

Implementation

    The Council recommended that NMFS implement the proposed PSC limits 
by the start of the 2015 non-pollock trawl fishery (January 20, 2015). 
NMFS advised the Council that any new annual PSC accounting should be 
in place prior to January 20, 2015, for NMFS to apply annual catch 
accounting of Chinook salmon PSC to all sectors impacted by this 
action.
    NMFS will publish the annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Non-
Rockfish Program CV Sector, and Trawl C/P Sector in the proposed 
groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA after determining the 
amounts of Chinook salmon PSC used and whether the incentive buffer 
applies. If the incentive buffer thresholds for the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV or Trawl C/P Sectors at Sec.  679.21(i)(3)(i)(A) and 
(i)(3)(i)(C) have been exceeded prior to publishing the proposed 
groundfish harvest specifications for the GOA, NMFS would propose the 
Chinook salmon PSC limits that will be available to each sector for the 
following year. If the incentive buffer thresholds have not been 
exceeded prior to publishing the proposed groundfish harvest 
specifications for the GOA, NMFS would propose Chinook salmon PSC 
limits of 3,600 or 4,080 for the Trawl C/P Sector, and 2,700 or 3,060 
for the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector and would establish the PSC 
limit for each sector in the final specifications.

Classification

    Pursuant to sections 304(b) and 305(d) of the MSA, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Amendment 97, other provisions of the MSA, and other 
applicable law, subject to further consideration after the public 
comment period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    An Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for 
this action, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act. The IRFA for this proposed rule describes the economic impact this 
proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description 
of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis 
for this action are contained earlier in this preamble and are not 
repeated here. A summary of the IRFA follows. A copy of the IRFA is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The entities directly regulated by this proposed action are those 
federally permitted or licensed entities that participate in harvesting 
groundfish from the Federal or State-managed parallel non-pollock trawl 
fisheries of the Western and Central GOA. Fishing vessels are 
considered small entities if their total annual gross receipts, from 
all their activities combined, are less than $19.0 million. The 
analysis identified 70 CVs and C/Ps in 2011 that would be directly 
regulated by this action, 18 of which are small entities (all CVs). All 
C/Ps are either large entities or are affiliated with at least one of 
the following fishing cooperatives, all of which are defined as large 
entities: the AFA C/P cooperative for Bering Sea pollock, a Rockfish 
Program C/P cooperative in the GOA, an Amendment 80 cooperative, or a 
Bering Sea crab cooperative.
    Although this action would modify regulations that directly 
regulate CVs and processors that participate in harvesting and 
processing groundfish from the Federal or State-managed parallel 
pollock trawl fisheries of the Western and Central GOA, the actions 
proposed are minor clarifications of existing regulatory requirements, 
and do not impose new or additional requirements that have not 
previously been analyzed and considered in the FRFA prepared for 
measures that implemented those requirements (77 FR 42629, July 20, 
2012).
    Shoreside processors or SFPs receiving groundfish caught by GOA 
trawl vessels would be required to retain salmon until the manager has 
recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish 
landing report (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)(ii)(B) and Sec.  679.21(i)(5)(iii)). 
Based on the number of FPPs listed in the GOA and the BSAI (the best 
available data for groundfish processors receiving deliveries from 
these fisheries), as many as 100 processors receiving landings from 
either pollock or non-pollock groundfish trips could be regulated by 
this proposed regulation. Of these 100 processors, only 64 are 
estimated to be small entities. The estimate of the number of small 
entities is based on published data on employment and affiliations of 
each company and the address of the processing plant listed in each 
FPP. The address, indicating if the processing plant is located in a

[[Page 35984]]

community adjacent to the GOA, is used as a proxy for those processors 
that could receive deliveries of groundfish from GOA trawl fisheries. A 
seafood processor is considered to be a small entity if it has less 
than 500 employees; and that criteria was applied to the processors 
holding an FFP. This proposed amendment would have no effect or minimal 
effect on small processing entities, because it is clarifying existing 
reporting regulations for proper completion of the eLandings groundfish 
landing report.
    An IRFA requires a description of any significant alternatives to 
the proposed action(s) that accomplish the stated objectives, are 
consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any 
significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. The 
preferred alternative chosen by the Council and proposed by NMFS has 
several elements: (1) Annual Chinook salmon PSC limits for the Trawl C/
P, Rockfish Program CV, and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors; (2) an 
incentive buffer that would allow the annual Chinook salmon PSC limit 
for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors to vary depending 
on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC taken in those fisheries in the 
previous year; (3) a seasonal limit on the amount of Chinook salmon PSC 
that could be taken in the Trawl C/P Sector prior to June 1 of each 
year; (4) the reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the 
Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector on 
October 1 and November 15 of each year; and (5) retention requirements 
to enable accurate reporting, ensure adequate catch accounting of 
Chinook salmon PSC, and to improve the collection of biological samples 
that could aid in the determination of stock of origin of Chinook 
salmon PSC in the non-pollock trawl fisheries.
    During consideration of this action, the Council evaluated a number 
of alternatives to the preferred alternative, including: (1) No action; 
(2) a variety of different allocations of Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the three sectors that were more and less restrictive than the 
alternative proposed in the this action; (3) PSC limits split between 
the Western and Central GOA; (4) no incentive buffer; (5) no 
reallocation between the Rockfish Program CV Sector to the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector; and (6) no change in retention and discard 
requirements for all sectors in the Western and Central GOA non-pollock 
trawl fisheries. None of these alternatives met both the objectives of 
the action, and had a smaller impact on small entities.
    The no action alternative would not have limited the Chinook salmon 
PSC for the non-pollock trawl fisheries, which would have failed to 
meet the principal objective of the proposed action. The GOA-wide 
limits of 10,000 and 12,500 would likewise have failed to significantly 
control Chinook salmon PSC, and therefore failed to balance the 
benefits of the action to the targeted Chinook salmon fisheries with 
the needs of non-pollock trawlers. The limit of 5,000 Chinook salmon 
would have imposed a greater burden on small entities by resulting in 
constraints on non-pollock trawl fishing beyond the preferred 
alternative. The Council recommended the preferred alternative because 
lower Chinook salmon PSC limits were unnecessarily constraining to the 
non-pollock trawl fisheries while larger Chinook salmon PSC limits did 
not provide the incentive to minimize Chinook salmon PSC to the extent 
practicable.
    An alternative that would have assigned 51 percent of the total 
Chinook salmon PSC limit to trawl C/Ps and 49 percent to the trawl CVs 
was based on the 10-year historical use of PSC from these to 
operational types. This alternative was not selected because it did not 
reflect fishing conditions representative of the more recent 5-year 
historical period that included implementation of the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program, and the Amendment 80 Program. The alternative for 
lower Chinook salmon PSC limits to trawl CVs from applying the 10-year 
historical period of Chinook PSC (mostly small entities that operate in 
the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector) would have caused a greater burden 
on directly regulated small entities than the preferred alternative. 
Dividing the Chinook salmon PSC limits between the Western GOA and 
Central GOA was rejected because this allocation method could result in 
small annual Chinook PSC limits that would be more likely to constrain 
fishing operations, and adversely affect directly regulated small 
entities more than the preferred alternative.
    The Council and NMFS also considered not implementing an incentive 
buffer for the Trawl C/P and Non-Rockfish Program CV Sectors. The 
preferred alternative would provide an incentive buffer to directly 
regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector that 
would allow for the incentive buffer to apply to this sector's PSC 
limit in the following year. Without the incentive buffer, these 
operations would not be able to benefit from a higher PSC limit in the 
following year, which would result in greater potential for adverse 
impacts on directly regulated small entities than the preferred 
alternative.
    In addition to the no action alternative, the Council considered 
two alternatives for reallocation of unused Chinook salmon PSC from the 
Rockfish Program CV Sector for use in the Non-Rockfish Program CV 
sector. These alternatives include (1) reallocation of all of the 
unused Chinook salmon PSC limit except for a range of 104 through 208 
salmon by October 1; and (2) reallocating all unused Chinook salmon PSC 
limit remaining for the Rockfish Program CV Sector when the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program closes by regulation on November 15. The preferred 
alternative is a combination of reallocation alternatives that would 
allow a reallocation of all but 150 of the Chinook salmon PSC limit 
from the Rockfish Program CV Sector by October 1, and the remaining 
Rockfish Program CV Chinook salmon PSC limit by November 15.
    Alternatives that did not permit a reallocation of Chinook salmon 
PSC would not allow unused amounts of the PSC limit to be made 
available to the directly regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish 
Program CV Sector after October 1. Alternatives for reallocating 
Chinook salmon PSC considered by the Council and NMFS, other than the 
preferred alternative lacked the flexibility for all of the available 
PSC limit to be reallocated, or in sufficient amounts to prosecute the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program fisheries. Without the capability for 
reallocating Chinook salmon PSC as provided in this proposed rule, 
directly regulated small entities in the Non-Rockfish Program CV Sector 
may be subject to more frequent fishery closures.
    The proposed action includes establishment of and modifications to 
salmon retention and discard requirements for pollock and non-pollock 
trawl vessels that would improve the quality of data collected on 
Chinook salmon PSC. The proposed salmon retention and discard 
requirements for trawl vessels would not be expected to adversely 
affect the small entities regulated by this action because they clarify 
existing regulatory requirements.
    No new recordkeeping and reporting requirements have been 
identified for this action.
    No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed action 
and existing Federal rules has been identified.

[[Page 35985]]

Tribal Consultation

    Executive Order (E.O.) 13175 of November 6, 2000 (25 U.S.C. 450 
note), the Executive Memorandum of April 29, 1994 (25 U.S.C. 450 note), 
and the American Indian and Alaska Native Policy of the U.S. Department 
of Commerce (March 30, 1995) outline the responsibilities of NMFS in 
matters affecting tribal interests. Section 161 of Public Law 108-199 
(188 Stat. 452), as amended by section 518 of Public Law 109-447 (118 
Stat. 3267), extends the consultation requirements of E.O. 13175 to 
Alaska Native corporations.
    NMFS is obligated to consult and coordinate with federally 
recognized tribal governments and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 
regional and village corporations on a government-to-government basis 
pursuant to E.O. 13175, which establishes several requirements for 
NMFS, including (1) to provide regular and meaningful consultation and 
collaboration with Indian tribal governments and Alaska Native 
corporations in the development of Federal regulatory practices that 
significantly or uniquely affect their communities, (2) to reduce the 
imposition of unfunded mandates on Indian tribal governments, and (3) 
to streamline the applications process for and increase the 
availability of waivers to Indian tribal governments. This Executive 
Order requires Federal agencies to have an effective process to involve 
and consult with representatives of Indian tribal governments in 
developing regulatory policies and prohibits regulations that impose 
substantial, direct compliance costs on Indian tribal communities.
    Due to the expedited time frame of this action, NMFS will mail 
letters to all Alaska tribal governments, Alaska Native corporations, 
and related organizations when the Notice of Availability for Amendment 
97 is published in the Federal Register to notify them of the 
opportunity to comment or request a consultation on this action.
    Section 5(b)(2)(B) of E.O. 13175 requires NMFS to prepare a tribal 
summary impact statement as part of the final rule. This statement must 
contain (1) a description of the extent of the agency's prior 
consultation with tribal officials, (2) a summary of the nature of 
their concerns, (3) the agency's position supporting the need to issue 
the regulation, and (4) a statement of the extent to which the concerns 
of tribal officials have been met. If the Secretary of Commerce 
approves this proposed action, a tribal impact summary statement that 
summarizes and responds to issues raised on the proposed action--and 
describes the extent to which the concerns of tribal officials have 
been met--will be included in the final rule.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule contains references to collection-of-information 
requirements that have been reviewed and approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). 
The collections are listed below by OMB control number.

OMB 0648-0316

    The Alaska PSC Program is mentioned in this proposed rule; however, 
the public reporting burden for this collection-of-information is not 
directly affected by this proposed rule.

OMB 0648-0515

    The Alaska Interagency Electronic Report System is mentioned in 
this proposed rule; however, the public reporting burden for this 
collection-of-information is not directly affected by this proposed 
rule.
    Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of 
information to NMFS at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285. Notwithstanding any 
other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor 
shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a 
collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, 
unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB 
control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information 
may be viewed at https://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: June 18, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 679 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  679.7, revise paragraph (b)(8) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.7  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (8) Prohibitions specific to salmon discard in the Western and 
Central Reporting Areas of the GOA directed fisheries for groundfish. 
Fail to comply with any requirements of Sec. Sec.  679.21(h) and 
679.21(i).
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  679.21,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (b)(2)(ii), (h) heading, and (h)(1), (4), and (5); 
and
0
b. Add paragraph (i) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.21  Prohibited species bycatch management.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) After allowing for sampling by an observer, if an observer is 
aboard, sort its catch immediately after retrieval of the gear and, 
except for salmon prohibited species catch in the BS pollock fisheries 
and GOA groundfish fisheries under paragraphs (c), (h), or (i) of this 
section, or any prohibited species catch as provided (in permits 
issued) under the PSD program at Sec.  679.26, return all prohibited 
species, or parts thereof, to the sea immediately, with a minimum of 
injury, regardless of its condition.
* * * * *
    (h) GOA Chinook Salmon PSC Management for pollock fisheries--(1) 
Applicability. Regulations in this paragraph apply to vessels directed 
fishing for pollock with trawl gear in the Western and Central 
reporting areas of the GOA and processors receiving deliveries from 
these vessels.
* * * * *
    (4) Salmon retention. (i) The operator of a vessel, including but 
not limited to a catcher vessel or tender, must retain all salmon until 
offload to a processing facility that takes the delivery.
    (ii) The owner and the manager of a shoreside processor or SFP 
receiving pollock deliveries must retain all salmon until:
    (A) The manager of a shoreside processor or SFP has accurately 
recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish 
landing report; and
    (B) If an observer is present, the observer is provided the 
opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific 
data or biological samples from the salmon.
    (5) Salmon discard. Except for salmon under the PSD program at 
Sec.  679.26, all

[[Page 35986]]

salmon must be discarded after the requirements at paragraph (h)(4)(ii) 
of this section have been met.
* * * * *
    (i) GOA Chinook Salmon PSC Management for non-pollock trawl 
fisheries--(1) Applicability. Regulations in this paragraph apply to 
vessels directed fishing for groundfish species, other than pollock, 
with trawl gear in the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA 
and processors receiving deliveries of groundfish, other than pollock, 
from catcher vessels.
    (2) Non-pollock trawl sectors. The sectors identified in paragraph 
(i) of this section are:
    (i) Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector. For the purpose of 
accounting for the Chinook salmon PSC limit at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) 
of this section, the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector is any 
catcher vessel fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, with trawl 
gear in the Western or Central reporting areas of the GOA and operating 
under the authority of a Central GOA Rockfish Program CQ permit 
assigned to the catcher vessel sector;
    (ii) Trawl catcher/processor Sector. For the purpose of accounting 
for the Chinook salmon PSC limits at paragraphs (i)(3)(i)(A) and 
(i)(3)(ii) of this section, the Trawl catcher/processor Sector is any 
catcher processor vessel fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, 
with trawl gear in the Western or Central GOA reporting areas and 
processing that groundfish at sea; and
    (iii) Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector. For the purpose 
of accounting for the Chinook salmon PSC limit at paragraph 
(i)(3)(i)(C) of this section, the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel 
Sector is any catcher vessel fishing for groundfish, other than 
pollock, with trawl gear in the Western or Central reporting areas of 
the GOA and not operating under the authority of a Central GOA Rockfish 
Program CQ permit assigned to the catcher vessel sector.
    (3) GOA non-pollock trawl Chinook salmon PSC limits. (i) NMFS 
establishes annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Central and Western 
reporting areas of the GOA for the sectors defined in paragraph (i)(2) 
of this section as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Unless, the use     If so, in the
                                                         The total Chinook    of the Chinook       following
                                                          salmon PSC limit   salmon PSC limit    calendar year,
       For the following sectors defined at Sec.          in each calendar   for that sector      the Chinook
                   679.21(i)(2) . . .                      year is . . .      in a calendar     salmon PSC limit
                                                                              year does not     for that sector
                                                                               exceed . . .      will be . . .
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A) Trawl catcher/processor sector.....................              3,600              3,120              4,080
��������������������������������������������������������
(B) Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector.............              1,200                   N/A
��������������������������������������������������������
(C) Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector.........              2,700              2,340              3,060
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (ii) For the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at Sec.  
679.21(i)(2)(ii):
    (A) NMFS establishes a seasonal limit within the sector's annual 
Chinook salmon PSC limit that is available to the sector prior to June 
1. If the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at Sec.  
679.21(i)(2)(ii) has an annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 3,600 
Chinook salmon, then the sector's seasonal limit prior to June 1 is 
2,376 Chinook salmon. If the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at 
Sec.  679.21(i)(2)(ii) has an annual Chinook salmon PSC limit of 4,080 
Chinook salmon, then the sector's seasonal limit prior to June 1 is 
2,693 Chinook salmon.
    (B) The amount of Chinook salmon PSC available to the Trawl 
catcher/processor Sector defined at Sec.  679.21(i)(2) on June 1 
through the remainder of the calendar year will be the annual Chinook 
salmon PSC limit specified for the Trawl catcher/processor Sector minus 
the number of Chinook salmon used by that sector prior to June 1.
    (4) Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector reallocation of Chinook 
salmon PSC. (i) If, on October 1 of each year, the Regional 
Administrator determines that more than 150 Chinook salmon are 
available in the Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC 
limit specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) of this section, the Regional 
Administrator will reallocate all Chinook salmon PSC available to the 
Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector except for 150 Chinook salmon to 
the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook salmon PSC limit 
specified at paragraph (i)(3)(i)(C) of this section.
    (ii) On November 15 of each year, the Regional Administrator will 
reallocate all of the remaining Chinook salmon available in the 
Rockfish Program catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC limit specified at 
paragraph (i)(3)(i)(B) of this section to the Non-Rockfish Program 
catcher vessel Sector Chinook PSC limit specified at paragraph 
(i)(3)(i)(C) of this section.
    (5) Salmon retention. (i) The operator of a catcher vessel or 
tender must retain all salmon until offload to a processing facility 
that takes the delivery.
    (ii) The owner and manager of a shoreside processor or SFP 
receiving non-pollock fishery deliveries must retain all salmon until 
the number of salmon by species has been accurately recorded in the 
eLandings groundfish landing report.
    (iii) The operator of a catcher/processor must retain all salmon 
until an observer is provided the opportunity to collect scientific 
data or biological samples, and the number of salmon by species has 
been accurately recorded in the eLandings At-sea production report.
    (6) Salmon discard. Except for salmon under the PSD program defined 
at Sec.  679.26, all salmon must be discarded after the requirements at 
paragraph (i)(5)(ii) or (iii) of this section have been met.
    (7) Chinook salmon PSC closures in non-pollock trawl gear 
fisheries. If, during the fishing year, the Regional Administrator 
determines that:
    (i) Vessels in a sector defined at Sec.  679.21(i)(2) will catch 
the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit specified at paragraph 
(i)(3)(i) of this section for that sector, NMFS will publish 
notification in the Federal Register closing directed fishing for all 
groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western 
and Central reporting areas of the GOA for that sector; or
    (ii) Vessels in the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at Sec.  
679.21(i)(2) will catch the seasonal Chinook salmon PSC limit specified 
under paragraph (i)(3)(ii)(A) of this section prior to June 1, NMFS 
will publish notification in the Federal Register closing directed 
fishing for groundfish species, other than pollock, with trawl gear in 
the Western and Central reporting areas of the GOA for

[[Page 35987]]

all vessels in the Trawl catcher/processor Sector defined at Sec.  
679.21(i)(2) until June 1. Directed fishing for groundfish species, 
other than pollock, with trawl gear in the Western and Central 
reporting areas of the GOA for vessels in the Trawl catcher/processor 
Sector defined at Sec.  679.21(i)(2) will reopen on June 1 with the 
Chinook salmon PSC limit determined under paragraph (i)(3)(ii)(B) of 
this section unless NMFS determines that the amount of Chinook salmon 
PSC available to the sector is insufficient to allow the sector to fish 
and not exceed its annual Chinook salmon PSC limit.

[FR Doc. 2014-14726 Filed 6-24-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P