Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; U.S. Territorial Catch and Fishing Effort Limits, 64097-64114 [2014-25610]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations (e) Reason This AD was prompted by a report of contact between certain electrical harnesses and the hatrack rod that could cause chafing between the harnesses and surrounding structure. We are issuing this AD to prevent chafing and possible short circuit of two oxygen chemical generator containers in different wiring routes, which could result in malfunction of the electrical opening of all the containers connected to these routes. Such conditions, during a sudden depressurization event, could result in lack of oxygen and consequent injuries to airplane occupants. (f) Compliance Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES (g) Modification Within 24 months after the effective date of this AD: Modify the routing of electrical harnesses 1523VB on the left-hand side and 1524VB on the right-hand side, at the level of the door 3 area between frames 53.6 and 53.8, and between stringers 14 and 15, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A330– 92–3098 or A340–92–4084, both dated January 11, 2013, as applicable. (h) Other FAA AD Provisions The following provisions also apply to this AD: (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM–116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Vladimir Ulyanov, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM–116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057–3356; telephone 425–227–1138; fax 425–227–1149. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-116AMOC-REQUESTS@faa.gov. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD. (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: As of the effective date of this AD, for any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM– 116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus’s EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature. (i) Related Information Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) 2013– VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 0196, dated August 28, 2013, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA2014-0140-0002. (j) Material Incorporated by Reference (1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. (2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless this AD specifies otherwise. (i) Airbus Service Bulletin A330–92–3098, dated January 11, 2013. (ii) Airbus Service Bulletin A340–92–4084, dated January 11, 2013. (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS—Airworthiness Office—EAL, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 45 80; email airworthiness.A330-A340@airbus.com; Internet http://www.airbus.com. (4) You may view this 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. (5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202–741–6030, or go to: http:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibrlocations.html. Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 15, 2014. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2014–25413 Filed 10–27–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 902 50 CFR Parts 300, 600, and 665 [Docket No. 130708597–4380–01] RIN 0648–BD46 Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; U.S. Territorial Catch and Fishing Effort Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; final specifications; effectiveness of collection-ofinformation requirements. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64097 This final rule implements a management framework for specifying catch and effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Using the established framework, NMFS is also specifying a catch limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each territory for 2014. A territory may allocate up to 1,000 mt of that limit to eligible U.S. longline fishing vessels. This final rule also makes several technical administrative changes to the regulations and announces the effectiveness of collection-ofinformation requirements. This action is consistent with international objectives of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of available catch limits between U.S participating territories and eligible U.S. fisheries, consistent with the conservation requirements of the bigeye tuna stock. DATES: This final rule and final specifications are effective October 24, 2014. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement for review pursuant to § 665.819(b)(3) is November 28, 2014. ADDRESSES: You may review the background and details of this action in Amendment 7 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific. You may obtain a copy of Amendment 7 and supporting documents, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2012–0178, from the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20120178, or from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808–522–8220, fax 808– 522–8226, www.wpcouncil.org. You may submit written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-ofinformation requirements contained in this final rule to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd. Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, and by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to 202–395–7285. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries Division, 808–725–5176. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the pelagic fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and Hawaii under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (FEP). The Council SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64098 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations recommends conservation and management measures for NMFS to implement under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Certain pelagic fish stocks, including tunas, are also subject to conservation and management measures cooperatively agreed to by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an international regional fisheries management organization of which the United States is a member. The WCPFC has jurisdiction over fisheries harvesting highly migratory species on the high seas in the western and central Pacific Ocean, including pelagic fish stocks managed under the FEP. Pursuant to WCPFC Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2012–01, NMFS implemented the 2014 longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 3,763 mt for U.S. vessels in the western and central Pacific (78 FR 58240, September 23, 2013). The limit does not apply to vessels in the longline fisheries of the U.S. participating territories to the WCPFC, that is, American Samoa, Guam, or the CNMI. Section 113 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012, as amended, (Section 113) directed the Council to amend the FEP to authorize U.S. participating territories to use, assign, allocate, and manage their catch and effort limits for highly migratory fish stocks through agreements with U.S. vessels permitted under the FEP. Consistent with Section 113, which has now lapsed, the Council transmitted Amendment 7 on December 23, 2013. The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 7 on March 28, 2014. This final rule and associated final specifications implement conservation and management measures described in Amendment 7. This final rule is consistent with the WCPFC CMM 2013–01 objectives of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of available quota between U.S. participating territories and eligible U.S. fisheries. Although individual catch limits do not apply to the U.S. participating territories under CMM 2013–01, NMFS is implementing longline catch limits for bigeye tuna for the territories to ensure sustainable management, and to limit the overall mortality of bigeye tuna in the region. This rule establishes accountability measures for attributing and restricting catch and fishing effort towards territorial limits, including catches and fishing effort under the territory agreements. Annual review and action VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 by the Council and NMFS will ensure that any transfer of quota is consistent with the conservation requirements of the stock. Final Rule This rule implements the following: • A framework consistent with WCPFC conservation and management measures for specifying catch or fishing effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. participating territories; • Authorization for territories to enter into specified fishing agreements with U.S. fishing vessels permitted under the FEP, and to allocate to those vessels a specified portion of the territory’s catch or fishing effort limit, as determined by NMFS and the Council; • Criteria that any specified fishing agreements must satisfy, and the procedures for reviewing such agreements; and • Accountability measures for attributing and restricting catch and fishing effort toward specified limits, including catches and fishing effort made by vessels in the agreements. Under the framework process, the Council will review existing and proposed catch or effort limits and the portion available for allocation at least annually to ensure consistency with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. Based on this review, at least annually, the Council will recommend to NMFS whether such catch or effort limit or the portion available for allocation should be approved for the next fishing year. NMFS will review all Council recommendations and, if determined to be consistent with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, will approve the Council’s recommendations. If NMFS determines that a Council recommendation is inconsistent with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws, NMFS will disapprove the recommendation. If NMFS disapproves a catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, or if the Council recommends and NMFS approves no catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, then no specified fishing agreements would be authorized for the fishing year covered by such action. 2014 Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit NMFS is using the framework process to specify a longline bigeye tuna catch limit of 2,000 mt for each U.S. participating territory. Additionally, NMFS specifies that each territory may PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 allocate up to 1,000 mt of that limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels based in other U.S. participating territories or in Hawaii, and identified in a specified fishing agreement. NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under specified fishing agreements, and restrict catches, as appropriate, using the accountability measures described in this final rule. The longline bigeye tuna catch limit specifications are effective for the 2014 fishing year, which began on January 1, 2014. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement for review pursuant to § 665.819(b)(3) is November 28, 2014. Additional background information on this final rule and the final bigeye tuna catch specification is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and proposed specifications (79 FR 1354, January 8, 2014), and is not repeated here. Comments and Responses On January 8, 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule and proposed specifications, and request for public comments (79 FR 1354); the comment period ended February 24, 2014. NMFS received comments from individuals, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, and responds as follows: Comment 1: Several commenters support NMFS assistance to U.S. Pacific island territories. Response: Comment noted; this final rule requires that any fishing agreements between the U.S. participating territories and U.S. vessels include support for fisheries development projects in the territories and as described in their marine conservation plans. Comment 2: The Hawaii-based longline fleet is already subject to a bigeye tuna catch limit, and this proposed action would allow the fleet to catch up to an additional 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna. There needs to be a reduction in bigeye tuna fishing pressure to regain sustainable levels, so the territories should not be allowed to allocate up to 1,000 mt of their 2,000mt bigeye tuna catch limit to the Hawaii fleet. Response: Section 113, as amended, directed the Council to prepare and transmit an amendment and regulations implementing a process for transferring U.S. territory quota for highly migratory species to eligible U.S. fishing vessels. This final rule implements this process consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is consistent with WCPFC CMM 2013–01, and other applicable laws, including the E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the NMFS final rule published September 23, 2013 (78 FR 58240), which maintains the U.S. limit for longline-caught bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) at 3,763 mt in 2014. The management framework provides for the domestic implementation of catch or fishing effort limits for the longline fisheries in the U.S. territories, while allowing for the limited transfer of quota to U.S. fisheries, consistent with the conservation and management needs of the stock. One of the objectives of CMM 2013–01 is to reduce fishing mortality on bigeye tuna and eliminate overfishing. This rulemaking includes accountability measures to ensure consistency with this international objective, as well as with the MagnusonStevens Act requirement to prevent overfishing. This final rule establishes a framework that allows each territory to allocate a portion of its catch or fishing effort limit to U.S. fishing vessels with a valid Federal permit issued under the FEP through a specified fishing agreement. The amount available for allocation under agreements is subject to annual review to ensure consistency with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. If the Council does not recommend a specification, or recommends an amount that, in light of the best scientific information available, is inconsistent with the conservation and management needs of the stock or decisions of the WCPFC, then NMFS will not approve specified fishing agreements for that year. Under this framework process, NMFS is also specifying an annual limit of 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna caught with longline fishing gear in the WCPO for each territory. CMM 2013–01 does not establish an individual limit on the amount of bigeye tuna that may be harvested annually in the WCPFC Convention Area by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and participating territories (PTs) of the WCPFC, including American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. Although Paragraph 41 of CMM 2013–01 limits members that harvested less than 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna in 2004 to no more than 2,000 mt for each of the years 2014 through 2017, SIDS and PTs are not subject to the 2,000-mt limit. As part of this action to allow for the limited transfer of quota from the U.S. territories to U.S. pelagic longline fisheries, NMFS is establishing 2,000-mt limits for each U.S. territory. These overall limits, in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 conjunction with the 1,000-mt limit that each territory may allocate, will help ensure sustainability of the stock. In 2011 and 2012, under Section 113, American Samoa and the Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) entered into an agreement to attribute longline catch to American Samoa in exchange for funds deposited in the Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support fishery development projects in the territories. NMFS attributed 628 mt of bigeye tuna caught by HLA vessels under the agreement in 2011 to American Samoa. In 2012, NMFS attributed 771 mt of bigeye tuna to American Samoa. In 2013, the CNMI and HLA entered into a Section 113 agreement. In that year, NMFS attributed to the CNMI 501 mt of bigeye tuna caught by HLA vessels. Based on this history, and the requirement in this rule that no vessel operate under more than one specified fishing agreement at a given time, NMFS anticipates that no more than 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna would be transferred annually under specified territory fishing agreements. NMFS does not expect any significant change in fishing effort than had occurred under baseline conditions in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Finally, as explained above and in Amendment 7, the rule does not impede the WCPFC objective of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna. See also the response to Comment 5. Comment 3: The proposed rule would have negative effects beyond just the target species, especially for threatened marine animals such as sharks, sea turtles, and billfish, and would increase shark bycatch each year. Response: NMFS anticipates that fishing effort by the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery, a limited entry fishery with a relatively fixed number of active permits, will remain similar to baseline fishing years under Section 113 (2011, 2012, and 2013). Impacts to protected species are expected to remain within the range analyzed in the 2013 environmental assessment (EA). Moreover, in a Biological Opinion dated September 19, 2014, NMFS concluded that the continued operation of the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery under effort levels expected under the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed humpback whales, sperm whales, the MHI insular false killer whale distinct population segment (DPS), North Pacific loggerhead DPS, leatherback sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, green sea turtles, and the Indowest Pacific scalloped hammerhead DPS. NMFS based this conclusion on a careful assessment of the effects of the PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64099 action, together with the environmental baseline and the cumulative effects. Amendment 7, which this final rule implements, presents information and impacts to target and non-target species. Catches of non-target species under this rule are commensurate with the level of fishing effort for bigeye tuna. With respect to Western and Central North Pacific (WCNP) striped marlin, NMFS does not anticipate this action to result in catches that exceed the U.S. limit for WCPO striped marlin under CMM 2010–01. Each cooperating member, non-member, and participating territory of the WCPFC is subject to a 20-percent reduction of the highest catch of North Pacific striped marlin between 2000 and 2003. The measure provides that each flag/chartering member, cooperating non-member, and participating territory (CCM) shall decide on the management measures required to ensure that its flagged/chartered vessels operate under the specified catch limits. CMM 2010– 01 provides exemptions to catch limits for the SIDS and PTs. The WCPO striped marlin limit applicable to the U.S. (i.e., Hawaii) fisheries in 2013 and beyond is 457 mt annually, which accounts for the 20 percent reduction agreed to in CMM 2010–01. U.S. catch has been below levels agreed to by the WCPFC. Table 12 in Amendment 7 describes recent catches of North Pacific striped marlin by U.S. longline vessels, including catches attributed under fishing agreements. Historical average landings from 2008–2012 are only 60 percent of the U.S. limit under CMM 2010–01 for 2013 and beyond. Although a non-target species caught while targeting bigeye tuna and swordfish, striped marlin are highly marketable and longline fishermen typically discard less than five percent. NMFS has no information that impacts on sharks will increase under the proposed action. With the exception of mako and thresher sharks that are sometimes retained for market in low quantities, U.S. longline fishermen based in the Pacific Islands release most sharks alive. See also the response to Comment 5. Under this action, NMFS expects fishing effort, expected catch rates, and total catches for target and non-target species to remain within the range observed in 2011, 2012, and 2013 under Section 113. Comment 4: This proposed rule would allow the U.S.A. to increase its catch of bigeye tuna, a species already experiencing overfishing, by 80 percent and ignore its internationallyestablished quota agreed to during the most recent meeting of the WCPFC. The proposed rule ignores scientific advice E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64100 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations calling for a 39-percent reduction in bigeye tuna fishing mortality from 2004 levels to end overfishing and threatens the future of the fishery by allowing the U.S. Hawaii based longline fleet to catch up to an additional 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna allocated to American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. This catch would be in addition to the 3,763 mt of U.S quota just agreed upon at the WCPFC meeting in December 2013, raising the U.S. allowable catch by 80 percent for a species in dire need of catch reductions. Furthermore, because longline fishing for bigeye tuna by U.S. Pacific territories has historically remained well below 1,000 mt per year, the proposed rule would result in a net increase in fishing effort within the WCPFC area rather than a mere transfer of effort from one CCM to another. Response: NMFS has already implemented the 3,763 mt catch limit for longline-caught bigeye tuna for the United States for 2014 (see 50 CFR 300.224), and will implement the U.S. catch limits specified in CMM 2013–01 for subsequent years in one or more separate rulemakings, as appropriate. This final rule allows for the limited transfer of available quota from territories to eligible U.S. longline fishermen, for example, after the U.S. WCPO limit for bigeye tuna has been reached, while applying precautionary measures to ensure that international objectives to end overfishing are not undermined. This final rule is not likely to result in an additional 3,000 mt bigeye mortality by U.S. fishing vessels because it includes accountability measures that prohibit any vessel from operating under more than one specified fishing agreement at a time. In addition, no U.S. territory may assign more than 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna to U.S. vessels operating under specified fishing agreements in 2014. Consistent with landings in 2011, 2012, and 2013, NMFS anticipates that bigeye catch under specified fishing agreements will be less than 1,000 mt. See also the response to Comments 2 and 5. Comment 5: The proposal to create a framework to allow the transfer of catch or fishing effort from U.S. Pacific territories to the U.S. Hawaii-based longline fleet would allow for the continued overfishing of bigeye tuna in the WCPO, run counter to scientific advice that has been consistently presented for over a decade, and cause the U.S.A. to undermine WCPFC conservation objectives. Response: This final rule and 2014 specification provides for a 1,000-mt transferable limit for each territory under a specified fishing agreement VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 with U.S. vessels. Although this rule allows for such transfers, accountability measures do not allow fishermen to operate under more than one territorial agreement at a time. Accordingly, NMFS anticipates that actual catches will be similar to fishing operations under Section 113 from 2011 through 2013, and result in no more than 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna catch annually under territory agreements. The management framework provides that the Council will review and recommend, and NMFS will specify, territory catch or fishing effort and transferable limits on an annual basis, regardless of whether it proposes a single or multi-year specification. Accordingly, a multi-year specification that fails to prevent overfishing consistent with WCPFC conservation and management measures will be subject to disapproval. In the event of disapproval of the specification, no fishing agreements will be approved for the fishing year. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, when there were no limits on the amount of bigeye transferred under Section 113 agreements, 628 mt, 771 mt, and 501 mt, respectively, of bigeye tuna were transferred to a U.S. territory. Based on historical operations under Section 113, NMFS anticipates that up to 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna could be assigned under the territory agreement(s) in any one year. As documented in the EA, catches by Hawaii and territory longline fisheries, when combined with U.S. WCPO longline limit for bigeye tuna of 3,763 mt per year (which will be reduced in 2015 and again in 2017) would not impede the CMM 2013–01 objective of ending overfishing on bigeye tuna. See also the response to Comments 2, 3, and 12. Comment 6: Increased fishing effort associated with the increase in catch of bigeye tuna will impact yellowfin and albacore tunas and oceanic white-tip and silky sharks that are species of concern within the WCPFC Convention Area and violate CMMs 2013–01, 2005– 03, 2011–04, and 2013–08. NMFS and the Council should focus on leading conservation efforts, not circumventing the catch limits the WCPFC has put in place. To sustain the bigeye tuna fishery, it is imperative that U.S. actions promote and support the control of fishing mortality based on best available science and implementation of sustainable measures. Response: Section 113 directed the Council to prepare an amendment and regulations that establish a process for transferring quota for highly migratory species from U.S. participating territories to eligible U.S. longline fishing vessels. This final rule PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 implements a framework process for authorizing the limited transfer of highly migratory species quota, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and WCPFC decisions. This final rule is consistent with CMM 2013–01 for longline-caught yellowfin tuna and the fishing effort limits for albacore under CMM 2005–02. CMM 2013–01 provides that CCMs should not increase catches of yellowfin tuna by their longline vessels. This final rule does not increase harvest pressure on yellowfin tuna, but merely provides a mechanism for continuing baseline effort levels from 2011 to 2013. Regarding the CMM for North Pacific albacore, vessels in the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery do not fish for albacore north of the equator, so that fishery is not subject to the fishing effort limit. This final rule does not undermine the WCPFC’s measures for silky sharks or oceanic whitetip sharks under CMMs 2013–08 and 2011–04, respectively. These measures, which currently are published as proposed regulations, require that fishermen release these sharks with as little harm as possible; the measures do not require limits on fishing effort in any fishery. NMFS must give priority to the conservation needs of the stock and will allow the transfer of quota only to the extent that it is consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act and international objectives to end overfishing on bigeye tuna. As explained in Amendment 7 and supported by existing data and model projections, the expected transfer of 1,000 mt in 2014 would not delay or impede WCPFC objectives of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna. Comment 7: To secure the future of bigeye tuna populations, the WCPFC placed a specific limit on the U.S. longline catch of 3,763 mt for 2014, and decreased this amount slightly for 2015 and 2016. The proposed rule creates a loophole to this limit, which undoes the modest reductions the commission requires of U.S. longline vessels. Response: This final rule includes safeguards to ensure that any transfer of quota does not impede WCPFC conservation and management decisions, including measures to end overfishing of bigeye tuna. See also the response to Comments 2 and 5. Comment 8: NMFS should include the forecast of our changing climate in all of its policies. The impact of global warming will greatly impact animals worldwide. There are already signs of failing species as their food supplies disappear. Response: NMFS and the Council addressed climate change, as well as E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations other cumulative effects, and their impact upon pelagic fisheries in Amendment 7 and associated EA. Climate change impacts on marine ecosystem processes are not well understood. It is particularly challenging to accurately predict climate change effects associated with actions, such as here, that are of a shortterm nature. Comment 9: We must take action now before overfishing significantly reduces the bigeye tuna populations, jeopardizing commercial fisheries and the marine environment. Response: The United States, through the Departments of State and Commerce, continues to work cooperatively with regional organizations like the WCPFC to address the conservation needs of bigeye and other highly migratory stocks. NMFS remains committed to achieving the necessary reductions in bigeye mortality that will end overfishing. This rule establishes a framework that would provide U.S. fisheries with limited access to quota that otherwise is available to the U.S. participating territories, consistent with conservation and management objectives of the WCPFC and Magnuson-Stevens Act. Amendment 7 analyzed impacts of the action on fisheries, fishery participants, and the marine environment consistent with international conservation and management measures, the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws. The effects of the action on these resource components did not result in the identification of any significant impacts. See also the response to Comment 2. Comment 10: The proposed action appears to specify catch limits for longline-caught bigeye tuna of 2,000 mt per year for each territory, of which 1,000 mt may be transferred annually under agreements consistent with the FEP and other applicable laws to eligible U.S. vessels. Response: These final specifications apply only in 2014. The management framework implemented by this rule requires the Council to review any proposed and existing catch or fishing effort limits and allocation limits at least annually to ensure consistency with the FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. The Council will then recommend the amount of catch or effort limit and/or allocation limit, if any, for the next fishing year. NMFS reviews the recommended limits for consistency with all applicable laws and WCPFC CMMs and, if consistent, NMFS will approve the recommendation. If NMFS disapproves the recommendation, or if VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 the Council recommends no allocation limit, then no specified fishing agreements will be approved for that fishing year. This process did not change from the proposed rule. Comment 11: The statutory authority for territories to use, assign, allocate, and manage catch limits of highly migratory fish stocks in the way proposed (under Section 113) expired on December 31, 2013. There is, accordingly, neither congressional direction nor statutory authority to implement the proposed rule. Response: The Council transmitted Amendment 7 on December 23, 2013, consistent with Section 113 (as amended by Section 110 of the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act), and the MagnusonStevens Act. NMFS published the Notice of Availability for Amendment 7 on December 30, 2013. Although Section 113 (now lapsed) required the Council to take specific action to develop and transmit an amendment and regulations to implement this framework, Section 113 did not convey substantive authority that did not already exist under the MagnusonStevens Act, WCPFC Implementation Act, and other applicable laws. The Council and NMFS have authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in response to a Congressional directive, to develop measures that establish a territory’s limited transferable interest in fishery resources, where necessary and appropriate for the conservation and management of the fishery. Comment 12: Despite acknowledging that measures must satisfy the conservation and management objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in order to ensure the continued sustainability of the target stocks, the proposed management framework fails to include goals of ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks when setting catch limits. The proposed action fails to address the ecosystem consequences of bycatch of fish, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals in the Hawaii longline fisheries in violation of the MagnusonStevens Act. The framework in the Council’s preferred alternative would allow establishment of catch limits even in the absence of WCPFC limits on SIDS and PTs, but the criteria for how the Council will establish those limits are significantly more permissive than allowed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Rather than following the National Standards in section 301, the Council would set catch limits after considering the status of highly migratory species stocks, the needs of fishing communities dependent upon the particular fishery resource, and any other relevant PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64101 conservation and management factors. Because those limits are set under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its implementing regulations, they should be based on best available science, specifically the status of the stock, and designed to result in a high probability of ending overfishing in as short a period as possible and/or designed to rebuild stocks in as short a period as possible. Response: The proposed action is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which includes the National Standards referenced by the commenter, and other applicable laws. However, NMFS disagrees with the commenter’s implicit assumption that any catch limit must have a high probability of ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks in as short a period as possible. Although the western pacific bigeye stock is currently subject to overfishing, it is not overfished as defined by NMFS status determination criteria under the Pelagic FEP. Further, the Council and NMFS are not required to develop annual catch limits for internationally-managed stocks (16 U.S.C. 1853 note). Given the relative impact of the U.S. on western pacific bigeye tuna, applying limits to U.S. fishermen on only the U.S. portion of the catch or quota would not lead to ending overfishing and could unfairly disadvantage U.S. fishermen (74 FR 3178 and 3199, January 16, 2009). Accordingly, when evaluating whether a conservation and management action proposed under the Magnuson- Stevens Act prevents overfishing of a stock that is subject to international management, NMFS considers whether the action is consistent with the conservation objectives of the applicable decision of the regional fishery management organization. Amendment 7 addresses impacts to target species including consideration whether anticipated catch levels will undermine conservation and management objectives to end overfishing on WCPO bigeye tuna. There are accountability measures in place to account for any changes in stock status or other factors. The Council and NMFS will use the best scientific information available to review and specify catch or fishing effort limits or allocation limits on an annual basis, taking into account catches of other target and non-target species, including consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. See also the response to Comments 2, 3, and 5. Comment 13: NMFS should adopt Alternative 2 in the EA associated with Amendment 7 wherein no authority E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64102 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations exists for U.S. participating territories to assign, allocate, and manage catch limits of bigeye tuna as was done in 2012 and 2013, establish a framework for setting catch limits based on the status of the stock—designed to result in a high probability of ending overfishing in as short a period as possible—and no higher than allowed under international conservation measures, and prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze impacts of the action beyond 2020, the impact of longline overfishing on ecosystem structure per Polovina et al. (2013), and the long-term impacts and contingencies if bigeye tuna overfishing continues. Response: See response to Comment 11 regarding statutory authority. This action includes appropriate management safeguards, including annual review and action on territory and allocation limits based on the best scientific and commercial information available, which will ensure that this limited transfer of available quota will not undermine conservation objectives. The EA provides a comprehensive description of the affected environment and analysis of the action through a reasonable range of alternatives. Based on the EA, including consideration of precautionary measures that provide for annual Council review and NMFS action, with supporting NEPA and ESA analyses, NMFS believes that the environmental impacts associated with this action are not significant as to require the preparation of an EIS. In particular, NMFS is satisfied that safeguards, including the availability of annual review and prompt corrective action, are sufficient to respond to any change in the conservation needs of the stock and to keep impacts of this action to a minimum. Highly migratory species, including bigeye tuna, are subject to international management measures agreed to by the WCPFC, to which the U.S.A. is a member. The U.S. territories are authorized to harvest specified levels of highly migratory species. This action would allow for the limited transfer of bigeye tuna and potentially other highly migratory species between territories and U.S. vessels consistent with international measures that would end overfishing within target dates set out by the WCPFC. The EA analyzed the impacts of the specified territory catch limits for bigeye tuna, not only in 2014 when the limits are in effect, but also through 2017 and 2020 when based on existing management measures and the best scientific information available, overfishing of bigeye tuna is expected to end. In addition, the EA analyzed various catch levels of bigeye tuna VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 under agreements, including the most likely scenario that the territories would assign 1,000 mt to U.S. vessels, based on the latest stock assessment of bigeye tuna in the WCPO (2011), along with other stock assessments and information for non-target and protected marine species. The stock status trend in the Tuna Management Simulator (TUMAS) model (developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the science provider to the WCPFC) using recent average recruitment of WCPO bigeye tuna, suggests further improvements in stock conditions by 2017 and 2020. The 2014 allocation allows each territory to transfer no more than 1,000 mt. In the future, if the best scientific information available and environmental analyses indicate that stock conditions have not improved as projected, the Council and NMFS would likely approve a smaller transferable allocation, or none at all. Further, the annual review process allows the Council and NMFS to take corrective action, as appropriate, to meet the conservation needs of the stock, non-target stock, or protected species. Comment 14: Increasing U.S. longline fishing effort, including the Hawaii deep-set fishery for which discards now amount to 40 percent of the catch, will increase fishing mortality for non-target species, violating international and U.S. prohibitions on bycatch of vulnerable species. While Hawaii’s shallow-set longline fishery has 100 percent observer coverage, the other longline fisheries for which the rule sets bigeye tuna catch limits have far less. All should be required to have 100 percent observer coverage. The animals subjected to higher mortality as a result of the proposed rule include yellowfin tuna, North Pacific albacore, silky sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered species at greater risk of [mortality] from fishing include, but are not limited to, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, sperm whales, Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whales, and short-tailed albatross. International and U.S. laws restrict the take of many of these species. Response: The Hawaii deep-set longline fishery is observed at 20 percent coverage levels, well in excess of 5 percent required under WCPFC measures, and consistent with statistically reliable sampling methods for determining impacts on target and non-target stocks and protected species. Moreover, impacts to non-target species and protected species are expected to remain within those observed in 2011– 2013 while the fishery operated under Section 113, well within levels analyzed PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 and authorized in relevant ESA, MMPA, and Magnuson-Stevens Act determinations. See also the responses to Comments 3, 6, 22, and 23. Comment 15: As evidenced by recent stock assessments of bigeye tuna in the Pacific, the status of bigeye tuna has reached a critical threshold where action to reduce fishing mortality should be implemented immediately. Response: See the response to Comments 2 and 5. Comment 16: Based on evidence that fishing negatively alters the ecosystem, and that the bigeye tuna population may soon no longer produce maximum sustainable yield for fishermen, NMFS should not allow increased U.S. bigeye tuna landings, but should prevent overfishing and analyze the consequences of not doing so, and act to reduce bycatch. Response: The action is consistent with CMM 2013–01 objectives of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of available quota between U.S. participating territories and U.S. fisheries. This action is consistent with international agreements, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and controls catches of bigeye tuna by U.S. territorial longline fisheries. NMFS has already implemented the 2014 WCPFC longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 3,763 mt for U.S. vessels in the WCPO. Under CMM 2013–01, individual catch limits do not apply to the U.S. participating territories, but NMFS is taking this action to implement limits for longlinecaught bigeye tuna for the territories to ensure sustainable management and to limit the overall mortality of bigeye tuna from fisheries of the United States and U.S. territories. This action establishes accountability measures for attributing and restricting catch and fishing effort towards territorial limits, including catches and effort made under territory fishing agreements. Annual review and action by the Council and NMFS will help ensure achievement of the WCPFC’s conservation goals. If, based on the conservation needs of the stock, NMFS disapproves the Council’s annual recommendation, or if the Council recommends and NMFS approves an allocation limit of zero, then no territory fishing agreements would be accepted for the year covered by that action. See also the response to Comments 2, 5, and 19. Comment 17: The proposed rule provides for the Council to take the lead on establishing catch limits for the territories, raising serious concerns about conflicts of interest. Hawaii fishermen’s deposits into the Western E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund provide an incentive for the Council to set higher-than-sustainable catch limits for the U.S. territories. The Council financially benefits from high catch limits for the territories, which allow the territories to turn around and ‘‘sell’’ their allocations through the transfer agreements to Hawaii longline vessels. In essence, the proposed rule establishes a system under which Hawaii fishermen pay the Council to fish above the limits in the WCPFC CMMs. Especially for a species undergoing overfishing, it is imperative that catch limits are sciencebased and proposed by a financially disinterested agency. The MagnusonStevens Act requires disclosure and recusal of voting Council members in decisions ‘‘which would have a significant and predictable effect on [their] financial interest.’’ The novel situation that the rule proposes—in that a Council financially benefits from higher fish catch limits—is analogous to what Congress hoped to prevent by enacting the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s disclosure and recusal provisions. Response: This final rule is consistent with the process followed under Section 113 from 2011–2013, in which funds under specified fishing agreements were deposited into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund (SFF) for fishery development projects listed in the territory Marine Conservation Plans approved by the Secretary of Commerce. The Council accesses funds in the SFF through cooperative grant agreements consistent with federal grant requirements. However, under this action and the Magnuson-Stevens Act section 204(e), funds from the SFF may not be used to support Council activities or to fund Council operations. Furthermore, the Council does not establish minimum funding levels for territory agreements—funding levels for a specified fishing agreement are negotiated between parties of the agreement. The 2014 and any future annual specifications are subject to NMFS’ approval, subject to consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and WCPFC conservation and management objectives using the best scientific information available. To the extent that a Council member’s financial interests may be affected by a decision to fund, or not to fund, a particular MCP project, the disclosure, voting, and recusal requirements of Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(j) and 50 CFR 600.235 would apply. Comment 18: Neither NMFS nor the Council provided a reasoned explanation based on best available science for the bigeye limit of 2,000 mt VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 for U.S territories. In Amendment 7 and the EA, the discussion of Alternative 4 states that the Council will consider ‘‘the status of highly migratory species stocks, the needs of fishing communities . . . and any other relevant conservation and management factors’’ to develop catch limits, these criteria were not systematically applied to produce the Sub-alternatives 4(a) (no limit) or 4(b) (limit of 2,000 mt). The EA states that no more than 1,000 mt is likely to be transferred even though the proposed rule would allow a maximum of 3,000 mt to be transferred. Therefore, no need exists to set catch limits as high as 2,000 mt per territory. To set the limit so far above the needs of fishing communities for a species undergoing overfishing encourages unsustainable and speculative development. Response: Alternative 4 provides a description of the Council’s preferred alternative for the management framework, that is, the process. Subalternatives 4(a) and 4(b) relate to the Council’s recommendation to specify annual longline catch limits for bigeye tuna for the territories and limits on amounts available for allocation under agreements between the territories and U.S. vessels, that is, the specifications. Amendment 7 and the EA analyzed the status of target, non-target, and protected species, as well as the anticipated impacts from each alternative, including the preferred. The Council based the 2,000-mt limit for each U.S. territory on past limits provided to WCPFC members that harvested less than 2,000 mt annually in previous CMMs (2008–01 and 2011–01), and which is currently set forth in paragraph 41 of CMM 2013–01. Paragraph 41 states that each member that caught less than 2,000 mt of bigeye in 2004 ensure that its catch does not exceed 2,000 mt in each of the next 4 years (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017). However, paragraph 7 of CMM 2013–01 exempts SIDS and PTs from the 2,000 mt annual limit meaning that, under WCPFC decisions, these members are not subject to individual bigeye limits. This final rule would effectively remove that exemption and make American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI subject to 2,000 mt limits for 2014. The 2,000 mt limits would allow for the continued development of domestic fisheries in the U.S. participating territories while ensuring that total bigeye tuna mortality by all U.S. and territory longline fisheries would not exceed a fixed amount. American Samoa has an existing longline fishery that catches bigeye tuna while targeting South Pacific albacore. If that fishery diversifies and targets other species, PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64103 higher landings of bigeye tuna may result. Therefore, the total limit of 2,000 mt will allow territories to enter into fishing agreements with U.S. fisheries, while maintaining sufficient reserve quota for domestic development. See also the responses to Comments 2 and 19. Comment 19: NMFS and the Council should have analyzed the health of the bigeye tuna stock across the Pacific Ocean, acknowledge the remaining uncertainty regarding the future of the stock, and provide a measure for curtailing domestic development if a stock producing maximum sustainable yield fails to materialize in future years. In addition, the action should consider other fish that might substitute for bigeye tuna in the event yield declines and what the environmental consequences will be of transferring longline capacity of the U.S. territories and Hawaii to those species. Response: The specified catch limit for bigeye tuna is effective for 2014 only. The Council may recommend that NMFS set appropriate catch or fishing effort limits and allocation limits for the territories’ pelagic fisheries, including longline. Further, the framework includes mandatory precautionary measures to ensure that any limits are specified according to the best scientific information available, recognizing potential changes in stock status and international conservation and management measures and to ensure consistency with the conservation needs of the stock. The Council and NMFS will review any existing or proposed catch or fishing effort limit or transfer limit on an annual basis to ensure consistency with the FEP, MagnusonStevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. The Council and NMFS will evaluate the environmental effects of any future catch or fishing effort limit or allocation limit that the Council recommends using the best scientific information available at the time in an appropriate NEPA analysis. In the event that the Council fails to recommend a specification, or recommends an amount that, in light of the best available scientific information, is inconsistent with the conservation and management needs of the stock, then NMFS will not approve specified fishing agreements for that year. NMFS is satisfied that the process described above adequately accounts for scientific uncertainty and the possibility that future stock projections may not align with observed trends. The Council and NMFS regularly review the status of pelagic fisheries in the region and will take future management action as warranted by the circumstances. E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64104 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Amendment 7 and the EA analyzed comprehensively the impacts of territorial catch limits for bigeye tuna across the Pacific, not only in 2014 when the limits are in effect, but also through 2017 and 2020. In addition, the EA analyzed various catch levels of bigeye tuna under agreements, including the most likely scenario that the territories would assign up to 1,000 mt to U.S. vessels, based on the 2011 stock assessment of bigeye tuna in the WCPO (2011) and the 2013 assessment for the eastern Pacific Ocean, along with other stock assessments and information for non-target and protected marine species. In December 2014, the WCPFC is expected to review several stock assessment updates for highly migratory species, including a 2014 assessment of bigeye tuna in the WCPO. If approved by the WCPFC for management, NMFS and the Council would use these new assessments in reviewing and developing catch or fishing effort specifications in future years. Finally, NMFS is unable to speculate whether other fish could substitute for bigeye tuna in the future if circumstances change, including the stock status of bigeye tuna. Moreover, such consideration is outside the scope of this rule and the Council’s action. Comment 20: The EA misinterprets fisheries science by taking a short-term instead of a long-term view, and ignores both the serious consequences of continuing overfishing and the benefits gained from ending overfishing. Sibert et al. (2012), concerned that high fishing mortality will soon reduce bigeye tuna to fewer than are capable of producing maximum sustainable yield, have recommended policies to curtail mortality of juveniles and adults. For the EA to analyze impacts of the proposed action on bigeye tuna in only 2020, six years away, fails to account for the long-term benefits that the fishermen could realize by reducing fishing mortality now. In some places, the EA takes an even shorter view, analyzing the socioeconomic impacts in 2014, but not long-term impacts of continued overfishing. For example, the transfer agreements—which increase U.S. vessels’ catch of bigeye tuna compared to the WCPFC limits on U.S. bigeye tuna catch—may provide unsustainable short-term benefits if bigeye tuna overfishing continues. The EA states that catches ‘‘of target and non-target species by U.S. longline fisheries would likely be lower by several hundred tons (e.g., bigeye tuna) to tens of tons (e.g., WCNP striped marlin) without arrangements.’’ This short-term view excludes the potentially significant benefits from conservation VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 measures if fishing mortality were reduced now (i.e., catches could be far greater in 2030 without the arrangements). (See Sibert et al. 2012.) Instead, the EA analyzes only the shortterm effects. To take the ‘‘hard look’’ that NEPA demands, statements in the EA like the one on page 38—‘‘Local markets and consumers would be limited in the fresh pelagic fish from the Hawaii longline fishery’’ if the Hawaii fishery closes before the year’s end— must be counter-balanced with analysis of the potential for continued overfishing to cause bigeye tuna soon to be incapable of producing maximum sustainable yield. By artificially truncating its analysis, the EA fails to account for the threat to the long-term survival of the fishery posed by increasing fishery mortality through the transfer agreements. Without transfer agreements—and the resulting increase in overfishing— catches of bigeye tuna could increase and catches of non-target fish could decrease. Ending overfishing would create both a healthier ecosystem and additional economic benefits for U.S. fishermen in the long-term. Given the significant environmental effects that may occur, NEPA compels NMFS to fully analyze the issue in an environmental impact statement. Response: This action is consistent with, and would not impede, WCPFC conservation and management objectives to end overfishing on bigeye tuna. See also the response to Comment 4. Amendment 7 used the Tuna Management Simulator (TUMAS) model to analyze the potential impacts on WCPO bigeye tuna under a variety of catch scenarios, including the level NMFS and the Council anticipate in 2014, that is, if up to 1,000 mt were assigned under a territory agreements and added to the U.S. WCPO bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 mt. Contrary to the implication raised in the comment, the EA did analyze the impact of no fishing agreements with U.S. participating territories, meaning that U.S. fisheries would harvest no more than 3,763 mt of bigeye tuna in 2014 and beyond. Conservative analysis in Amendment 7 indicated that without any territory agreements, that is, assuming a constant catch of 3,763 mt of WCPO bigeye tuna (which does not account for further reductions in U.S. longline catch for bigeye tuna as agreed to in CMM 2013– 01), and using 2010 fishing conditions as the baseline, overfishing of bigeye tuna would end by 2017, with a concomitant improvement in stock status. This projected improvement in the condition of WCPO bigeye tuna uses the recent average recruitment scenario, PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 the better of two indicators of future recruitment levels as detailed in Amendment 7. The recent recruitment scenario reflects current conditions and conditions that are likely to prevail into the near future where bigeye tuna catches will be from a mixture of purse seine and longline fisheries. The EA also analyzed the impact of 4,763 mt of bigeye tuna catch under the same recent average recruitment scenario. The analysis revealed virtually no change from the ‘‘no action’’ alternative in the status of bigeye tuna when projected to 2017 and 2020. Moreover, the simulated TUMAS projections also indicate an end to overfishing when the contribution of an additional 1,000 mt transferred under territory agreements, or 4,763 mt of WCPO bigeye tuna catch, is included and projected through 2017 and 2020. See also the response to Comment 20. Sibert et al. (2012) evaluate historical effort of purse seine and longline fisheries and spatial management by the WCPFC and explore alternative conservation and management scenarios using a model-based approach for reducing and managing fishing mortality on bigeye tuna for guiding future conservation measures for tropical tunas. This action would not impede the objective of CMM 2013–01 to end overfishing on bigeye tuna in the WCPO as Amendment 7 details. Further, Sibert et al. (2012) note that there are no suitable models for forecasting fishing effort beyond extrapolating current fishing conditions more than a few years into the future and longer-term forecasts would require realistic and quantitative information on commercial fishing on a fleet-wide basis, that is, all foreign and domestic purse seine and longline vessels in the WCPO. NMFS disagrees that it should decrease catches now in order to reap far greater bigeye catches in 2030. Under the Magnuson- Stevens Act, conservation and management measures must prevent overfishing while ensuring on a continuing basis the optimum yield from each fishery. This final rule achieves the National Standard 1 directives of both preventing overfishing while allowing fishermen a reasonable opportunity to harvest the stock. Finally, Amendment 7 describes impacts to non-target species under each alternative. NMFS agrees that eliminating overfishing on bigeye tuna in the WCPO may have ancillary benefits to the ecosystem and U.S. fishermen, but the effects are not quantifiable. NMFS found that there would be no significant effects of the E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations action (negative or positive) on the environment. See also the response to Comment 13. Comment 21: The EA unlawfully fails to address whether the proposed rule would violate other WCPFC CMMs that restrict catch of fish, including sharks. Response: See the response to Comments 3, 5, and 6. Comment 22: Incidental take of endangered marine mammals in commercial fisheries requires a negligible impact determination and other requirements to be met before authorization under the MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E). The MMPA requires fishery monitoring at levels to produce statistically reliable estimates of marine mammal serious injury and mortality. In the deep-set longline fishery, observer coverage should be increased to 100 percent. This level of monitoring has already been recommended in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 2012 biological opinion for the Hawaii pelagic longline fisheries, both shallow- and deep-set. The proposed rule’s increase of fishing effort in this fishery in the absence of MMPA authorization could lead to illegal incidental take. Response: In a Biological Opinion dated September 19, 2014, NMFS concluded that the longline fishery is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed humpback whales, sperm whales, the MHI insular false killer whale distinct population segment (DPS), North Pacific loggerhead DPS, leatherback sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, green sea turtles, and the Indo-west Pacific scalloped hammerhead DPS. NMFS based this conclusion on a careful assessment of the effects of the action, together with the environmental baseline and the cumulative effects. Where appropriate, an incidental take statement allows for the incidental taking of ESA-listed species during the course of fishing operations, where consistent with specified reasonable and prudent measures and terms and conditions. Moreover, on October 10, 2014, NMFS authorized a permit under the MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E), addressing the fishery’s interactions with depleted stocks of marine mammals. The permit authorizes the incidental, but not intentional, taking of ESA-listed humpback whales (Central North Pacific (CNP) stock), sperm whales (Hawaii stock), and MHI insular false killer whales. In authorizing this permit, NMFS determined that incidental taking by the Hawaii longline fisheries will have a negligible impact on the affected stocks of marine mammals. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 The USFWS provided conservation recommendations regarding the amount of observer coverage for the Hawaiibased deep-set longline fishery in its 2012 biological opinion (BiOp) (Biological Opinion of the USFWS for the Operation of Hawaii-based Pelagic Longline Fisheries, Shallow Set and Deep Set, Hawaii; January 6, 2012). As stated in the 2012 BiOp, conservation recommendations are discretionary agency activities to minimize or avoid adverse effects of a proposed action on listed species or critical habitat (e.g., to help implement recovery plans, or to collect information). The USFWS recommended that observer coverage for the deep-set fishery be increased, as funds are available, and that the amount of coverage be increased to 100 percent for vessels fishing within the range of the short-tailed albatross. However, NMFS is satisfied that 20 percent observer coverage is sufficient to provide statistically reliable information with which to accurately assess the fishery’s impacts on protected species. Moreover, whether or when to make changes to observer coverage is outside the scope of this rulemaking. Comment 23: According to Amendment 7 and the EA, the most recent ESA consultation for longline fisheries in Guam and the CNMI was completed in 2001. Since then, loggerhead sea turtles—one of the sea turtle species with which the fisheries interact—have been listed as distinct populations segments (DPSs) under the ESA. Based on this information and likely other new information on the fisheries’ interactions, NMFS must complete consultation on the impacts of the proposed rule on listed animals. If the fisheries are likely to harm migratory birds or marine mammals, NMFS should also make appropriate determinations under those laws. Response: On September 22, 2011, NMFS and USFWS determined that the loggerhead sea turtle is composed of nine DPSs (76 FR 58868). Effective October 24, 2011, NMFS and USFWS listed four DPSs as threatened and five as endangered under the ESA. Specifically, NMFS listed the North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle DPS and South Pacific loggerhead sea turtle DPS as endangered and at risk of extinction. Due to geography and the operational area of historical longline fishing in and around the Marianas Archipelago, the effective population addressed in the 2001 Biological Opinion for pelagic longline fisheries in Guam and the CNMI was the North Pacific DPS. Currently there is no U.S. longline fishing occurring in or near the Marianas Archipelago that may affect PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64105 the North Pacific loggerhead DPS. This action analyzes fishing effort by U.S. longline vessels operating under agreements that, consistent with historical trends, will occur primarily on the high seas around the Hawaiian Archipelago. A no-jeopardy biological opinion completed on September 19, 2014, thoroughly analyzed the impacts of the continued operation of the deepset fishery on the North Pacific loggerhead DPS. As part of its environmental baseline analysis, the biological opinion also considered impacts to the species from other domestic and international fisheries throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Comment 24: Although imperfect, this action represents the best efforts of the Council and NMFS to achieve a complicated set of purposes, balancing U.S. law, international treaties, practicalities, and science, in a context in which the United States, no matter what actions it takes, cannot control the outcome or ensure success because of the substantial impact of large-scale foreign fisheries. As stated in the assessment document, the Hawaii-based commercial longline fisheries are one of ‘‘the most responsible fisheries in the world.’’ Our fisheries are rigorously managed, monitored and enforced, and operate under an extensive set of operational and management requirements and limits for the benefit of target and bycatch species, and for the protection of marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. Response: NMFS agrees that the management recommendations in Amendment 7 and this implementing final rule are based on the best scientific information available and is consistent with WCPFC conservation and management objectives, the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws. Comment 25: Although the United States has a robust set of laws and regulatory programs to address and ensure sustainable fish stocks and fisheries, principally under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it is wellestablished that the U.S.A. cannot end overfishing of bigeye tuna in the WCPO through unilateral actions, and unilateral suppression of U.S. commercial longline fishing targeting bigeye tuna would actually be counterproductive to conservation of bigeye tuna and other species. Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment. Comment 26: This action is more stringent than current international treaty requirements, and meets or exceeds applicable standards under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64106 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Convention Implementation Act (WCPFCIA), the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and Section 113. Response: This action is consistent with the statutes noted, as well as with the objectives of the CMMs to end overfishing of bigeye tuna. Also, see response to Comments 2 and 31. Comment 27: The proposed regulations establish a new and unproven regulatory process requiring annual Council and NMFS analyses of complex information. Any failure in the proposed multi-step process could result in no acceptance of a specified fishing agreement, which would be catastrophic for the Hawaii-based longline fisheries. Response: NMFS is sensitive to the potential economic impact that rejection of a specified fishing agreement may have on fishery participants. Nevertheless, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the conservation needs of affected fishery stocks take priority over short-term economic interests. This principle is particularly important here, where bigeye tuna is currently subject to overfishing in the WCPO. This final rule provides the ability for NMFS to monitor and take action in response to the best scientific information available, including new stock assessments and WCPFC conservation and management measures. It establishes an orderly process by which the Council and NMFS can monitor management agreements and take timely action to prevent overfishing while ensuring optimum yield on a continuing basis. The rule provides deadlines to establish a schedule and flexibility to allow for contingencies. The process and procedures identified are necessary to ensure that the limited transfer of quota to U.S. fisheries is done responsibly with the conservation requirements of the pelagic stocks. Implementing agreements in a haphazard manner could result in increased overfishing pressure on bigeye tuna and loss of management controls. The availability of this review process is essential to the NMFS determination that the rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law. Comment 28: In the proposed rule, the notification (§ 665.819(c)(ii)) and appeal (§ 665.819(c)(8)) provisions would grant rights only to signatory territories, not the signatory vessel owners or their representative. This would violate due process for NMFS to enact a process for reviewing, approving, denying, or conditioning specified fishing agreements that failed to afford rights of notice, appeal, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 hearing to all of the parties to such agreements. Response: NMFS agrees that the proposed rule contained this unintended oversight. The final rule corrects the oversight by including vessel owners and their representatives in the notification and appeal processes. Comment 29: The default result of any failure of the process of specifying an annual transfer limit should be continuation of the previously existing annual limit. This approach would be consistent with existing federal administrative law under which invalid regulations generally result in reinstatement of the prior existing regulations, not a regulatory vacuum. Response: As stated above, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that NMFS give priority to the conservation needs of fishery stocks over economic interests. Under this action, the Council and NMFS will review and specify annual catch or fishing effort limits including the amount of catch or effort allowed for transfer under specified fishing agreements on an annual basis. This review is independent of the Council and NMFS review of specified fishing agreements. The failure of the Council to recommend, or NMFS to approve, an annual allocation limit that meets the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act or other applicable law will require that no allocation limit be approved for that fishing year. This review and approval process is essential to the NMFS determination that the rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law. Comment 30: A multi-year transfer limit would add important predictability, while reducing the extreme time-sensitivity, risk, and administrative costs of annual reviews. Moreover, a multi-year limit is likely to be more consistent with the availability of new stock assessment information. Response: This final rule allows NMFS to specify catch or fishing effort limits on an annual or multi-year basis, as recommended by the Council, and not exceeding WCPFC adopted limits. The action allows for multi-year annual limits if they are consistent with the conservation requirements of the stock. The Council must annually undertake their review and recommendation based on the best scientific information available relative to the stock status. If the WCPFC does not agree to limits for a western Pacific pelagic species that apply to a U.S. territory, the Council may recommend that NMFS set a catch or effort limit, and allocation limit that are consistent with the FEP, MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws; PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 this includes the possibility of multiyear limits. Nevertheless, the management framework requires the Council to review and make recommendations, and NMFS to take action on any existing or proposed catch or fishing effort limit and portion available for allocation, at least annually, to account for any changes to stock status, status of the fishery, and other relevant socio-economic factors, and to ensure consistency with all applicable laws. The annual review and recommendation includes any multiyear limit previously recommended and implemented. As stated above, annual review and action is necessary to ensure that the conservation needs of the stock take priority over economic considerations and to ensure that management is based on the best available scientific information, as mandated by Magnuson-Stevens Act. Comment 31: The proposed action includes adoption of both an annual longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 2,000 mt per year for each of the territories, each with an annual transferable limit of 1,000 mt. These limits are substantially more stringent than the conservation measures adopted by the WCPFC and the mandate of Congress in Section 113. Response: NMFS agrees that the action would implement catch limits for the territories that would otherwise not exist under CMM 2013–01. Also, see response to Comment 26. Comment 32: Given increasingly stringent international requirements, were NMFS to subsequently impose lower transferable limits or to otherwise procedurally limit transfers, the result would both violate applicable law and do more harm than good for U.S. commercial fisheries, bigeye tuna in the WCPO, and conservation efforts generally. Response: The proposed framework allows the Council and NMFS to set catch or effort limits for pelagic management unit species (MUS) based on the best scientific information available, including stock assessments, social and economic information, and consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and international conservation and management measures to ensure responsible fisheries development in the U.S. participating territories. Comment 33: NMFS has no authority to adopt regulations that limit the transfer authority of a territory as proposed. Response: NMFS is taking this action under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which authorizes NMFS to promulgate regulations necessary or appropriate to implement a plan amendment, E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations including regulations to establish a U.S. participating territory’s transferable interest in fishery resources. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the United States exercises sovereign rights and exclusive management authority over all fishery resources in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). However, the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides States and territories with limited authority to manage fisheries outside of their boundaries when authorized to do so by a fishery management plan, or with respect to their own vessels, when the State or territory’s management is consistent with the relevant fishery management plan and regulations. This action would authorize U.S. territories to enter into agreements to transfer a limited amount of pelagic species quota to eligible U.S. fishing vessels. See also the response to Comment 2. Comment 34: The proposed rule appears to implement the 1,000-mt limit to ensure that sufficient catch quota is available for territory fishery participants, but there is no factual basis to anticipate that there is a need to reserve 1,000 mt for territory fisheries. Even if there were a demonstrated need to reserve catch, it would be within the sovereign rights of each territory to evaluate and reserve appropriate catch quota in negotiating the terms of specified fishing agreements. Neither the Magnuson-Stevens Act nor other U.S. law or regulation grants to NMFS the right or obligation to enact catch limits for this purpose. Also, a 1,000-mt limit on transfers does not appear to be necessary to ensure sustainability, rather this limit has the appearance of increased stringency in regulating U.S. fisheries, but the reality of only handicapping U.S. fisheries relative to competing international fisheries. Response: As stated above, the United States exercises exclusive management authority over fishery resources in the United States exclusive economic zone. This action would authorize U.S. participating territories to enter into agreements to transfer a limited amount of highly migratory species quota to eligible U.S. fishing vessels. The 1,000 mt-transferable limits in this final rule are based on the historical catches of bigeye made under a 2011–2012 agreement between American Samoa and the HLA. NMFS disagrees that the U.S. participating territories have independent authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act or WCPF Convention to evaluate and reserve catch of bigeye tuna; however, within the available transfer limits, the territories can negotiate the terms of specified fishing agreements, including the amount of catch to be transferred. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 This authority is subject to implementation under the MagnusonStevens Act, which provides oversight and management by the Council and NMFS. NMFS believes that 1,000-mt transferable limits helps achieve conservation and management objectives to eliminate overfishing on bigeye tuna, consistent with regional international objectives. Limiting overall harvest of bigeye tuna is important to eliminate overfishing and sustainably manage the stock in the WCPO; a transferable limit of 1,000 mt allows the territories to make allocation agreements with U.S. vessels to support fisheries development in the territories, while allowing the territories to retain a portion for utilization by their domestic fisheries. See also the response to Comment 18. Comment 35: Proposed regulations in § 665.819(c)(3)(iii) would authorize NMFS, in consultation with the Council, to impose ‘‘such additional terms and conditions’’ as it deems necessary for specified fishing agreements. This appears to be a catchall provision designed to grant overly broad agency discretion to intervene in a commercial agreement between a territory and the Hawaii longline fisheries. We are aware of no demonstrated need, purpose, or authority for this provision. Response: Fishery management plan amendments and implementing regulations must be consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including the 10 National Standards. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS and the Council are responsible for ensuring that fish stocks are sustainably managed to prevent overfishing, while achieving on a continuing basis the optimum yield from each fishery. NMFS must give appropriate consideration to the economics of the fishery, including the commercial agreements referenced above, but these considerations do not take priority over the conservation needs of the stock (see 50 CFR 600.345(b)(1)). Moreover, NMFS notes that nothing in Section 113, WCPFC decisions, or the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides fishermen with an unbounded entitlement to purchase and harvest additional quota through territory agreements. NMFS cannot anticipate every possible term that parties may agree to in specified agreements. Accordingly, the narrowly-tailored regulatory provision provides that NMFS, in consultation with the Council, may recommend such additional terms and conditions as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, and is intended to PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64107 ensure that the limited exchange of quota for pelagic management unit species, including bigeye tuna, does not jeopardize the conservation needs of affected stocks. NMFS considers this regulatory provision, along with other precautionary measures implemented by this rule, to be vital to our determination that the action is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. Moreover, the Council’s action expressly anticipated the abovereferenced regulatory text. At the 154th Council Meeting in June 2012, the Council took action to recommend, in relevant part, that ‘‘the authority provided in this Pelagics FEP amendment may be subject to maximum annual limits, and any other terms or conditions, as recommended by the Council and approved by the Secretary of Commerce’’ (emphasis added). In the same action, the Council expressly authorized its Executive Director to review the regulations for consistency with the Council action before submitting them. The Executive Director discharged this responsibility in forwarding the regulations implementing Amendment 7, including the referenced regulatory text. This action was further affirmed by the Council’s action at the 157th meeting in June 2013. Comment 36: There should be no reduction in the recreational catch limits for tunas. Response: This action does not create, affect, or change any recreational fishing catch limits for tuna anywhere. Comment 37: Demand for bigeye tuna is so high that protection of the species for sustainable fisheries is critical. While NMFS does not expect the fishing limits to be reached in monitored areas, this highly migratory species should be consistently be protected throughout the western Pacific. We should monitor and support sustainable bigeye tuna and other pelagic fisheries, because we are one of the top consumers and beneficiaries of these fisheries, which is annually more than $50 million industry. If we hope to continue to enjoy the economic and substantive benefits of these fish, we must do our part to protect them consistently. Response: NMFS agrees that consistent international conservation and management of bigeye tuna in the WCPO is necessary to end overfishing. This action is consistent with CMM 2013–01 and its objective of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna in the WCPO. The Council and NMFS will determine any amount of quota available for transfer, on an annual basis, among U.S. territories and qualifying U.S. vessels E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 64108 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations after consideration of the conservation status and needs of the stock. See also the response to Comment 2. Comment 38: Abolish longline fishing for bigeye tuna, as this is not a sustainable catch method and involves senseless bycatch. Reduce the bigeye tuna catch quota by 40 percent as recommended by scientists. We need to lower catch, eliminate bycatch deaths, and stop longlining, drift nets, and other extreme fishing methods. Response: This action does not change longline as an approved gear type to target pelagic fish in the WCPO. Other fishing methods are outside of the scope of this action. See also the responses to Comments 2, 3, and 4. Comment 39: All nations should adhere to reduced catch if we are to have any bigeye tuna left. It is in our interest as well as other fishing nations to do so. Also, there should be enforced rules for some areas that should be left off limits to fishing to help these fish recover their numbers. Response: NMFS agrees that international compliance with the WCPFC CMM 2013–01 is necessary to eliminate overfishing on bigeye tuna in the WCPO and maintaining sustainable fisheries. Restricted fishing areas, while not part of this final rule, can be an important management measure in many fisheries, including U.S. pelagic longline fisheries that operate around Hawaii and American Samoa. The NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard enforce fisheries laws of the U.S. in cooperation with State, territorial, and international partners. See also the response to Comment 4. Comment 40: Allowing bigeye tuna populations to recover will ensure its long-term viability in commercial fishing. Response: NMFS agrees. National Standard 1 in the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires any management action to prevent overfishing while achieving optimum yield from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry on a continual basis. This action is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the WCPFC goal of ending overfishing on bigeye tuna. Comment 41: Our own scientists say bigeye tuna is overfished and headed for extinction. Response: The latest stock assessment (2014) and NMFS’ status determination for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean concluded the stock is subject to overfishing, but not overfished or approaching an overfished condition. A stock is subject to overfishing when the level of fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 mortality or annual total catch jeopardizes the capacity to produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY) on a continuing basis. In contrast, a stock is overfished when its biomass has decreased below the level that jeopardizes the capacity of the stock to produce MSY on a continuing basis. Bigeye tuna in the WCPO is currently subject to international management under the WCPFC, which has established a goal of eliminating overfishing of the stock. The Pacificwide stock of bigeye tuna is not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Comment 42: There is concern about increased fishing effort in the Hawaii longline fishery. Since 2005, the number of hooks that this fishery has set has increased by more than 14 million and projections indicate a total increase of nearly 44 percent by next year. In addition to bigeye tuna, a number of other species are a currently experiencing overfishing and/or are in an overfished condition, including North Pacific striped marlin, which could see increased catches of 20 mt. Response: NMFS disagrees that the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery will increase by the amount noted. During 2012, when the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery operated under the U.S. longline limit for WCPO bigeye tuna and a Section 113 catch agreement, the fishery deployed 43,965,781 hooks. Based on a statistical analysis of logbook data, NMFS expects fishing effort (sets and hooks) to increase slightly or remain similar to recent years, and it is quite possible that the current deep-set fleet of 124–129 vessels may be operating near its annual maximum in terms of hooks, sets, and trips. Based on effort trends, NMFS estimates that in the near future the fishery may deploy 46,117,532 hooks in a year. If this occurs, it would represent an approximately 4.9 percent increase over the 2012 effort level. See also the response to Comment 3. Comment 43: The proposed transfer agreements fail to implement the WCPFC’s recommended catch limits of bigeye tuna and other conservation measures. Nothing in CMM 2013–01 supports the NMFS claim that CMM 2013–01 does not establish annual bigeye tuna limits for the U.S. territories. On the contrary, CMM 2013– 01 expressly provides that ‘‘attribution of catch and effort shall be to the flag State,’’ in this case, the United States. The territories do not have additional bigeye tuna quotas under CMM 2013–01 that they can allocate to Hawaii-based longliners. The transfer agreements do not constitute charter arrangements PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 under CMM 2011–05. Paragraph 7 in CMM 2013–01 does not create a loophole for U.S. flagged longline vessels to engage in unlimited fishing for bigeye tuna, contravening the WCPFC’s intent to curb overfishing through the establishment of firm catch limits by flag. Response: NMFS has already implemented the 3,763-mt catch limit for longline-caught bigeye tuna for the United States for 2014 (see 50 CFR 300.224) and will implement the U.S. longline catch limits for bigeye tuna specified in CMM 2013–01 for subsequent years in one or more separate rulemakings, as appropriate. Acting pursuant to the directive of Section 113, the Council also prepared an amendment and final rule that establishes a management framework for specifying catch and fishing effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the territories under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including provisions that would allow for the limited transfer of quota from U.S. participating territories to eligible U.S. fishing vessels, consistent with the conservation needs of the affected stocks. CMM 2013–01, paragraphs 7 and 41, provide that SIDS and PTs, including American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI, are not subject to individual longline limits for bigeye tuna and does not require that bigeye tuna catch limits be established for the longline fisheries of PTs. NMFS notes that CMM 2013–01 does not establish individual bigeye tuna catch quotas for the territories; it only establishes individual fishing limits for certain members that operate developed fisheries. Moreover, nothing in CMM 2013–01 or predecessor decisions of the WCPFC requires that vessels operate under charters for purposes of catch attribution. To the contrary, CMM 2011– 01 incorporated paragraph 2 of CMM 2008–01, which provided that vessels operated under ‘‘charter, lease or similar mechanisms’’ by developing states and participating territories, as an integral part of their domestic fleet, would be considered to be vessels of the host island State or territory. NMFS agrees that paragraph 7 of CMM 2013–01 should not create a loophole for U.S. longline vessels to engage in unlimited fishing for bigeye tuna. This action authorizes U.S. territories to transfer a limited amount of available bigeye quota to longline fisheries that have the capacity to harvest the stock, consistent with the conservation needs of the stock. Comment 44: The proposed action will allow for an increase in catch beyond the U.S. bigeye tuna catch limit E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations recently agreed to in the WCPFC under CMM 2013–01 and could increase tension among WCPFC member States and undermine progress toward the negotiation of further necessary reductions in fishing mortality, possibly undermining the leadership role of the United States in conservation efforts. Response: NMFS is dedicated to U.S. management and conservation of the WCPO bigeye tuna and the work of the WCPFC, and does not believe this final rule will adversely affect the role of the United States in the WCPFC. NMFS considered and analyzed impacts of the action on bigeye tuna with all other sources of fishing mortality, and on the premise that the U.S. fisheries must continue to comply with applicable international conservation and management measures. This final rule will not result in significant adverse impacts to bigeye tuna, or prevent management measures from improving the status of bigeye tuna in the WCPO. CMM 2013–01 does not provide individual limits for annual catch of bigeye tuna for the SIDS and PTs, but NMFS acknowledges that there is potential for increased bigeye tuna catches by these countries through vessel chartering or similar mechanisms, including catch attribution programs. Nevertheless, an increase in vessel chartering by other members was not observed during the three years (2011–2013) of the longline fishery’s operation under Section 113, and we do not anticipate changes as a result of this final rule. See also the responses to Comments 2 and 4. Comment 45: CMM 2013–01 does not prescribe the transfer of catch limits from one State to another, nor does it allow for the transfer of catch limits from one territory to a State. To be consistent with U.S. commitments and legally-binding agreements, NMFS should specify criteria for fishing agreements that require all longline vessels to be based domestically in the territory in question, only catch the territory’s bigeye tuna limit within the EEZ around each territory, and support the territories’ development of its domestic fisheries. In addition, NMFS should include accountability measures that report on how such vessels have supported the development of the territory’s domestic fisheries. Response: Section 113, as amended, required the Council to develop and transmit a fishery management plan amendment and regulations, no later than December 31, 2013, that establish a framework for transferring territory catch or effort limits to eligible U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 payments into the Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support fisheries development projects in the territories. This final rule implements these provisions, as established in Amendment 7. In developing Amendment 7, the Council identified and analyzed a range of alternatives to achieve the objective of Section 113, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. NMFS is bound to work within the Council process established under the MagnusonStevens Act, and must approve the Council’s recommendation unless it finds such recommendation to be inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act or other laws. Under the provisions of the Council’s proposal, specified fishing agreements must either provide for landing or offloading of catch in the ports of the relevant territory or provide funds to the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support fisheries development in that territory. NMFS is unaware of any legal impediment to approval and implementation of these conditions. Changes to the Proposed Rule In the proposed rule, the provisions for notification in § 665.819(c)(3)(ii) and appeal in § 665.819(c)(8) regarding agency decisions on specified fishing agreements would have granted administrative appeal rights to the signatory territories, but not to the signatory vessel owners or their representatives. This unintended oversight, if implemented, would have denied procedural rights of review to all of the signatory parties to specified fishing agreements. The final rule corrects the oversight by including vessel owners and their representatives in those provisions. In the proposed rule, the provisions in § 665.819(b)(2) and (b)(3) related to setting catch or fishing effort limit specifications and allocation portions for the fishing year, and the provisions in § 665.819(d)(1) regarding action when territorial catch or fishing effort limits or allocation limits are projected to be reached, each included references to the use of the Federal Register and other reasonable means to notify the public. While NMFS will endeavor to use other reasonable means of notifying permit holders and public of these provisions, the only required means of notification is publication in the Federal Register. The final rule has been updated to reflect this clarification. NMFS is making several technical clarifications in this final rule. In the proposed rule at § 665.819, paragraph (c)(1)(ii) requires a specified fishing agreement to identify the ‘‘amount’’ of PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64109 western Pacific pelagic MUS to which the fishing agreement applies. Because WCPFC catch limits and related NMFS catch specifications refer to the weight of fish, not the number or other measure, NMFS added ‘‘(weight)’’ after ‘‘amount’’ to clarify the requirement. NMFS is also changing the mailing addresses and phone numbers for several NMFS offices in the regulations for Pacific Island and international fisheries and in the general MagnusonStevens Act provisions. After the proposed rule was published, the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, and the Pacific Islands Division of NOAA Law Enforcement moved their offices to a new location. Accordingly, this final rule revises addresses and contact information in §§ 300.31, 300.211, 300.219, 600.502, and 665.12. Under NOAA Administrative Order 205–11, dated December 17, 1990, the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere has delegated authority to sign material for publication in the Federal Register to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA. Classification The Regional Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, has determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island pelagic fisheries, and that it is consistent with Amendment 7, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. Administrative Procedure Act NMFS has determined that good cause exists to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this rule because, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d), this rule relieves a restriction on the regulated community, and requiring a 30-day delay would be contrary to the public interest. This rule requires NMFS to begin attributing longline caught bigeye to the U.S. territory to which a fishing agreement applies seven days before the date NMFS projects the fishery to reach the U.S. bigeye tuna limit. NMFS now projects the current 3,763 metric ton limit will be reached in early- to midNovember 2014. NMFS must determine, in early November 2014, the amount of unused U.S. bigeye tuna quota, and begin attributing catch made by U.S. vessels identified in qualifying fishing agreement to the U.S. territory to which the agreement applies. If the effectiveness of this final rule is delayed past the date the bigeye tuna limit is reached, NMFS would be required to publish a temporary rule that restricts the Hawaii-based longline fishery until this final rule is effective, after which E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 64110 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations NMFS would remove the restrictions. If the rule’s effectiveness is delayed, fisheries that might otherwise remain unrestricted may prematurely be restricted based on the lower U.S. limit having been reached. By implementing this rule immediately, it allows the fishery to continue fishing without the uncertainty or disruption of a potential closure. Executive Order 12866 This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Certification Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act The Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule and specifications stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for the certification in the proposed rule and specifications, and does not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments regarding this certification. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. Paperwork Reduction Act This final rule contains collection-ofinformation requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number 0648–0689. Specifically, the owners of U.S. pelagic longline fishing vessels, or their designated representatives, may enter into specified fishing agreements with the governments of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, and this collection-of-information covers the preparation and submission of the agreement documents. The public reporting burden for a specified fishing agreement is estimated to average six hours per response, and two hours per appeal, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection information. NMFS expects to receive up to nine applications for specified fishing agreements each year, and one appeal per year, for a total maximum reporting burden of 56 hours per year. NMFS received no comments on the collectionof-information requirements in the proposed rule. Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to the NMFS Regional VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 Administrator (see ADDRESSES), 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, and no person shall be subject to 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. CFR part or section where the information collection requirement is located * Current OMB control number (all numbers begin with 0648–) * * * * * * 50 CFR. * List of Subjects ¥0689 665.819 ................................. 15 CFR Part 902 Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. * * * * 50 CFR Part 300 Title 50 Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS 50 CFR Part 600 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 5501 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 2431 et seq., 31 U.S.C. 9701 et seq. Administrative practice and procedure, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 50 CFR Part 665 Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Commercial fishing, Fisheries, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Dated: October 23, 2014. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS is amending 15 CFR part 902, and 50 CFR parts 300, 600, and 665 as follows: Title 15 PART 902—NOAA INFORMATION COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT: OMB CONTROL NUMBERS 1. The authority citation for part 902 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. 2. In § 902.1, amend the table in paragraph (b), under the entry ‘‘50 CFR’’ by adding an entry for § 665.819 to read as follows: ■ § 902.1 OMB control numbers assigned pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act. * PO 00000 * * (b) * * * Frm 00054 * Fmt 4700 * Sfmt 4700 3. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows: ■ 4. In § 300.31, revise the definition of ‘‘Regional Administrator’’ to read as follows: ■ § 300.31 Definitions. * * * * * Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, facsimile: 808–725–5215, or a designee. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 300.211, revise the definitions of ‘‘Pacific Islands Regional Administrator’’ and ‘‘Special Agent-InCharge (or SAC)’’ to read as follows: § 300.211 Definitions. * * * * * Pacific Islands Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, or a designee. * * * * * Special Agent-In-Charge (or SAC) means the Special-Agent-In-Charge, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; tel: 808–725–6100; facsimile: 808–725– 6199; email: pidvms@noaa.gov, or a designee. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 300.219, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 300.219 Vessel monitoring system. (a) SAC and VMS Helpdesk contact information and business hours. For the E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 64111 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations purpose of this section, the following contact information applies: (1) SAC. Address: 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone: 808–725–6100; facsimile: 808–725–6199; email: pidvms@noaa.gov; business hours: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time. (2) VMS Helpdesk. Telephone: 888– 219–9228; email: ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov; business hours: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 300.224, remove paragraph (g) and revise paragraphs (d) and (f)(1)(iv) to read as follows: § 300.224 Longline fishing restrictions. * * * * * (d) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels included in specified fishing agreements under § 665.819(c) of this title. Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel that is included in a specified fishing agreement under § 665.819(c) of this title will be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the terms of the agreement to the extent the agreement is consistent with § 665.819(c) of this title and other applicable laws, and will not be counted against the limit, provided that: (1) The start date specified in § 665.819(c)(9)(i) of this title has occurred or passed; and (2) NMFS has not made a determination under § 665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna exceeds the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the agreement. * * * * * (f) * * * (1) * * * (iv) Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a vessel that is included in a specified fishing agreement under § 665.819(c) of this title, if the agreement provides for bigeye tuna to be attributed to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, provided that: (A) The start date specified in § 665.819(c)(9)(i) of this title has occurred or passed; and (B) NMFS has not made a determination under § 665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna exceeds the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the agreement. * * * * * PART 600—MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS 8. The authority citation for part 600 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 9. In § 600.502, amend Table 1 by revising the entries for ‘‘Administrator, Pacific Islands Region’’ under the heading ‘‘NMFS regional administrators,’’ and ‘‘Director, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’’ under the heading ‘‘NMFS science and research directors’’ to read as follows: ■ § 600.502 Vessel reports. * * * * * TABLE 1 TO § 600.502—ADDRESSES NMFS regional administrators NMFS science and research directors * * Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. * * * Director, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. * Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone number: 808–725–6100, or a designee. * * * * * ■ 12. In § 665.800, add definitions of ‘‘Effective date,’’ ‘‘U.S. participating territory,’’ and ‘‘WCPFC’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: * * * * PART 665—FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC 10. The authority citation for part 665 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 11. In § 665.12, revise the definitions of ‘‘Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO)’’ and ‘‘Special Agent-In-Charge’’ to read as follows: ■ § 665.12 Definitions. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) means the headquarters of the Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, located at 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone number: 808–725– 5000. * * * * * Special Agent-In-Charge (SAC) means the Special Agent-In-Charge, NMFS, Pacific Islands Enforcement Division, located at 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 § 665.800 Definitions. * * * * * Effective date means the date upon which the Regional Administrator provides written notice to the authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. participating territory that a specified fishing agreement meets the requirements of this section. * * * * * U.S. participating territory means a U.S. participating territory to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (including any annexes, amendments, or protocols that are in PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 U.S. Coast Guard commanders * * * * * * * force, or have come into force, for the United States), and includes American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. * * * * * WCPFC means the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including its employees and contractors. * * * * * ■ 13. In § 665.802, add paragraph (o) to read as follows: § 665.802 Prohibitions. * * * * * (o) Use a fishing vessel to retain on board, transship, or land pelagic MUS captured by longline gear in the WCPFC Convention Area, as defined in § 300.211 of this title, in violation of any restriction announced in accordance with § 665.819(d)(2). * * * * * ■ 14. Add § 665.819 to subpart F to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 64112 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 665.819 Territorial catch and fishing effort limits. (a) General. (1) Notwithstanding § 665.4, if the WCPFC agrees to a catch or fishing effort limit for a stock of western Pacific pelagic MUS that is applicable to a U.S. participating territory, the Regional Administrator may specify an annual or multi-year catch or fishing effort limit for a U.S. participating territory, as recommended by the Council, not to exceed the WCPFC adopted limit. The Regional Administrator may authorize such U.S. participating territory to allocate a portion, as recommended by the Council, of the specified catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a valid permit issued under § 665.801 through a specified fishing agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section. (2) If the WCPFC does not agree to a catch or fishing effort limit for a stock of western Pacific pelagic MUS applicable to a U.S. participating territory, the Council may recommend that the Regional Administrator specify such a limit that is consistent with the Pelagics FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. The Council may also recommend that the Regional Administrator authorize a U.S. participating territory to allocate a portion of a specified catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels holding valid permits issued under § 665.801 through a specified fishing agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section. (3) The Council shall review any existing or proposed catch or fishing effort limit specification and portion available for allocation at least annually to ensure consistency with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. Based on this review, at least annually, the Council shall recommend to the Regional Administrator whether such catch or fishing effort limit specification or portion available for allocation should be approved for the next fishing year. (4) The Regional Administrator shall review any Council recommendation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section and, if determined to be consistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws, shall approve such recommendation. If the Regional Administrator determines that a recommendation is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions and other applicable laws, the Regional Administrator will disapprove the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 recommendation and provide the Council with a written explanation of the reasons for disapproval. If a catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit is disapproved, or if the Council recommends and NMFS approves no catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, no specified fishing agreements as described in paragraph (c) of this section will be accepted for the fishing year covered by such action. (b) Procedures and timing. (1) After receiving a Council recommendation for a catch or fishing effort limit specification, or portion available for allocation, the Regional Administrator will evaluate the recommendation for consistency with the Pelagics FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. (2) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal Register a notice and request for public comment of the proposed catch or fishing effort limit specification and any portion of the limit that may be allocated to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a valid permit issued under § 665.801. (3) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal Register, a notice of the final catch or fishing effort limit specification and portion of the limit that may be allocated to a fishing vessel or vessels holding valid permits issued under § 665.801. The final specification of a catch or fishing effort limit will also announce the deadline for submitting a specified fishing agreement for review as described in paragraph (c) of this section. The deadline will be no earlier than 30 days after the publication date of the Federal Register notice that specifies the final catch or fishing effort limit and the portion of the limit that may be allocated through a specified fishing agreement. (c) Specified fishing agreements. A specified fishing agreement means an agreement between a U.S. participating territory and the owner or a designated representative of a fishing vessel or vessels holding a valid permit issued under § 665.801 of this part. An agreement provides access to an identified portion of a catch or fishing effort limit and may not exceed the amount specified for the territory and made available for allocation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section. The identified portion of a catch or fishing effort limit in an agreement must account for recent and anticipated harvest on the stock or stock complex or fishing effort, and any other valid agreements with the territory during the same year not to exceed the territory’s catch or fishing effort limit or allocation limit. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (1) An authorized official or designated representative of a U.S. participating territory may submit a complete specified fishing agreement to the Council for review. A complete specified fishing agreement must meet the following requirements: (i) Identify the vessel(s) to which the fishing agreement applies, along with documentation that such vessel(s) possesses a valid permit issued under § 665.801; (ii) Identify the amount (weight) of western Pacific pelagic MUS to which the fishing agreement applies, if applicable; (iii) Identify the amount of fishing effort to which the fishing agreement applies, if applicable; (iv) Be signed by an authorized official of the applicable U.S. participating territory, or designated representative; (v) Be signed by each vessel owner or designated representative; and (vi) Satisfy either paragraph (c)(1)(vi)(A) or (B) of this section: (A) Require the identified vessels to land or offload catch in the ports of the U.S. participating territory to which the fishing agreement applies; or (B) Specify the amount of monetary contributions that each vessel owner in the agreement, or his or her designated representative, will deposit into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund. (vii) Be consistent with the Pelagics FEP and implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws; and (viii) Shall not confer any right of compensation to any party enforceable against the United States should action under such agreement be prohibited or limited by NMFS pursuant to its authority under Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws. (2) Council review. The Council, through its Executive Director, will review a submitted specified fishing agreement to ensure that it is consistent with paragraph (1) of this section. The Council will advise the authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. participating territory to which the agreement applies of any inconsistency and provide an opportunity to modify the agreement, as appropriate. The Council will transmit the complete specified fishing agreement to the Regional Administrator for review. (3) Agency review. (i) Upon receipt of a specified fishing agreement from the Council, the Regional Administrator will consider such agreement for consistency with paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Pelagics FEP and E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. (ii) Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the fishing agreement from the Council, the Regional Administrator will provide the authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. participating territory to which the agreement applies and the signatory vessel owners or their designated representatives with written notice of whether the agreement meets the requirements of this section. The Regional Administrator will reject an agreement for any of the following reasons: (A) The agreement fails to meet the criteria specified in this subpart; (B) The applicant has failed to disclose material information; (C) The applicant has made a material false statement related to the specified fishing agreement; (D) The agreement is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws; or (E) The agreement includes a vessel identified in another valid specified fishing agreement. (iii) The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Council, may recommend that specified fishing agreements include such additional terms and conditions as are necessary to ensure consistency with the Pelagics FEP and implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. (iv) The U.S. participating territory must notify NMFS and the Council in writing of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to which the specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the change. (v) Upon written notice that a specified fishing agreement fails to meet the requirements of this section, the Regional Administrator may provide the U.S. participating territory an opportunity to modify the fishing agreement within the time period prescribed in the notice. Such opportunity to modify the agreement may not exceed 30 days following the date of written notice. The U.S. participating territory may resubmit the agreement according to paragraph (c)(1) of this section. (vi) The absence of the Regional Administrator’s written notice within the time period specified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section or, if applicable, within the extended time period specified in paragraph (c)(3)(v) of this section shall operate as the Regional Administrator’s finding that the fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 Jkt 235001 agreement meets the requirements of this section. (4) Transfer. Specified fishing agreements authorized under this section are not transferable or assignable, except as allowed pursuant to paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section. (5) A vessel shall not be identified in more than one valid specified fishing agreement at a time. (6) Revocation and suspension. The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Council, may at any time revoke or suspend attribution under a specified fishing agreement upon the determination that either: Operation under the agreement would violate the requirements of the Pelagics FEP or implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws; or the U.S. participating territory fails to notify NMFS and the Council in writing of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to which the specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the change. (7) Cancellation. The U.S. participating territory and the vessel owner(s), or designated representative(s), that are party to a specified fishing agreement must notify the Regional Administrator in writing within 72 hours after an agreement is cancelled or no longer valid. A valid notice of cancellation shall require the signatures of both parties to the agreement. All catch or fishing effort attributions under the agreement shall cease upon the written date of a valid notice of cancellation. (8) Appeals. An authorized official or designated representative of a U.S. participating territory or signatory vessel owners or their designated representatives may appeal the granting, denial, conditioning, or suspension of a specified fishing agreement affecting their interests to the Regional Administrator in accordance with the permit appeals procedures set forth in § 665.801(o) of this subpart. (9) Catch or fishing effort attribution procedures. (i) For vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement that are subject to a U.S. limit and fishing restrictions set forth in 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, NMFS will attribute catch made by such vessels to the applicable U.S. participating territory starting seven days before the date NMFS projects the annual U.S. limit to be reached, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is later. (ii) For U.S. fishing vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement that are subject to catch or fishing effort limits and fishing restrictions set forth in this subpart, NMFS will attribute catch or fishing effort to the applicable PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 64113 U.S. participating territory starting seven days before the date NMFS projects the limit to be reached, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is later. (iii) If NMFS determines catch or fishing effort made by fishing vessels identified in a specified fishing agreement exceeds the allocated limit, NMFS will attribute any overage of the limit back to the U.S. or Pacific island fishery to which the vessel(s) is registered and permitted in accordance with the regulations set forth in 50 CFR part 300, subpart O and other applicable laws. (d) Accountability measures. (1) NMFS will monitor catch and fishing effort with respect to any territorial catch or fishing effort limit, including the amount of a limit allocated to vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement, using data submitted in logbooks and other information. When NMFS projects a territorial catch or fishing effort limit or allocated limit to be reached, the Regional Administrator shall publish notification to that effect in the Federal Register at least seven days before the limit will be reached. (2) The notice will include an advisement that fishing for the applicable pelagic MUS stock or stock complex, or fishing effort, will be restricted on a specific date. The restriction may include, but is not limited to, a prohibition on retention, closure of a fishery, closure of specific areas, or other catch or fishing effort restrictions. The restriction will remain in effect until the end of the fishing year. (e) Disbursement of contributions from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund. (1) NMFS shall make available to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council monetary contributions, made to the Fund pursuant to a specified fishing agreement, in the following order of priority: (i) Project(s) identified in an approved Marine Conservation Plan (16 U.S.C. 1824) of a U.S. participating territory that is a party to a valid specified fishing agreement, pursuant to § 665.819(c); and (ii) In the case of two or more valid specified fishing agreements in a fishing year, the projects listed in an approved Marine Conservation Plan applicable to the territory with the earliest valid agreement will be funded first. (2) At least seven calendar days prior to the disbursement of any funds, the Council shall provide in writing to NMFS a list identifying the order of priority of the projects in an approved Marine Conservation Plan that are to be E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 64114 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 208 / Tuesday, October 28, 2014 / Rules and Regulations funded. The Council may thereafter revise this list. [FR Doc. 2014–25610 Filed 10–24–14; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Parts 510, 520, 522, 524, and 556 [Docket No. FDA–2014–N–0002] New Animal Drugs; Alfaxalone; Dinoprost; Ivermectin and Clorsulon; Nitrofurazone; Trenbolone and Estradiol Benzoate; Trimethoprim and Sulfadiazine; Tylosin; Change of Sponsor AGENCY: Food and Drug Administration, HHS. Final rule, technical amendment. ACTION: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending the animal drug regulations to reflect approval actions for new animal drug applications (NADAs) and abbreviated new animal drug applications (ANADAs) during August 2014. FDA is also informing the public of the availability of summaries of the basis of approval and of environmental review documents, where applicable. The animal drug regulations are also being amended to reflect a change of sponsorship of two NADAs and one SUMMARY: ANADA, and to reflect a revised food safety warning. DATES: This rule is effective October 28, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George K. Haibel, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV–6), Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240–276–9019, george.haibel@fda.hhs.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FDA is amending the animal drug regulations to reflect approval actions for NADAs and ANADAs during August 2014, as listed in table 1. In addition, FDA is informing the public of the availability, where applicable, of documentation of environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and, for actions requiring review of safety or effectiveness data, summaries of the basis of approval (FOI Summaries) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These public documents may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management (HFA–305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Persons with access to the Internet may obtain these documents at the CVM FOIA Electronic Reading Room: http://www.fda.gov/ AboutFDA/CentersOffices/ OfficeofFoods/CVM/ CVMFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/ default.htm. Marketing exclusivity and patent information may be accessed in FDA’s publication, Approved Animal Drug Products Online (Green Book) at: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ Products/ ApprovedAnimalDrugProducts/ default.htm. In addition, Macleod Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2600 Canton Ct., Fort Collins, CO 80525 has transferred ownership of, and all rights and interest in ANADA 200–033 for UNIPRIM (trimethoprim and sulfadiazine) Powder to Neogen Corp. (Neogen), 944 Nandino Blvd., Lexington, KY 40511. In 2004, Hess & Clark, Inc., transferred ownership of, and all rights and interest in NADA 011–154 for NFZ Puffer (nitrofurazone soluble powder) and NADA 140–851 for NFZ Wound Dressing (nitrofurazone ointment) to Neogen. At this time, the regulations are being amended to reflect these transfers. Following these changes of sponsorship, Macleod Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Hess & Clark, Inc., will no longer be the sponsor of an approved application. Accordingly, 21 CFR 510.600(c) is being amended to remove the entries for these firms. Also, the animal drug regulations are being amended in 21 CFR 522.690 to revise a human food safety warning for dinoprost tromethamine injectable solution. This amendment is being made to improve the accuracy of the regulations. This rule does not meet the definition of ‘‘rule’’ in 5 U.S.C. 804(3)(A) because it is a rule of ‘‘particular applicability.’’ Therefore, it is not subject to the congressional review requirements in 5 U.S.C. 801–808. TABLE 1—ORIGINAL AND SUPPLEMENTAL NADAS AND ANADAS APPROVED DURING AUGUST 2014 Sponsor 140–833 ...... Merial Ltd., 3239 Satellite Blvd., Bldg. 500, Duluth, GA 30096– 4640. IVOMEC Plus (ivermectin and clorsulon) Injection for Cattle. 141–043 ...... Zoetis Inc., 333 Portage St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007. SYNOVEX CHOICE (trenbolone and estradiol implant). 141–342 ...... asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES NADA/ ANADA Jurox Pty. Ltd., 85 Gardiner Rd., Rutherford, NSW 2320, Australia. ALFAXAN (alfaxalone) Injectable Anesthetic for Dogs and Cats. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 27, 2014 New animal drug product name Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Action 21 CFR Sections FOIA Summary Supplemental approval reducing the preslaughter withdrawal period from 49 days to 21 days. Supplemental approval for increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency in heifers fed in confinement for slaughter. Supplemental approval adding a label statement that alfaxalone is a Class IV controlled substance. 522.1193 ........ 556.344 .......... yes ................. CE.1 2 522.2478 ........ yes ................. EA/FONSI.3 522.52 ............ no ................... CE.1 4 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\28OCR1.SGM 28OCR1 NEPA Review

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 208 (Tuesday, October 28, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64097-64114]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-25610]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 902

50 CFR Parts 300, 600, and 665

[Docket No. 130708597-4380-01]
RIN 0648-BD46


Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; U.S. Territorial Catch and 
Fishing Effort Limits

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

ACTION: Final rule; final specifications; effectiveness of collection-
of-information requirements.

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SUMMARY: This final rule implements a management framework for 
specifying catch and effort limits and accountability measures for 
pelagic fisheries in the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, 
Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). 
Using the established framework, NMFS is also specifying a catch limit 
of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each 
territory for 2014. A territory may allocate up to 1,000 mt of that 
limit to eligible U.S. longline fishing vessels. This final rule also 
makes several technical administrative changes to the regulations and 
announces the effectiveness of collection-of-information requirements. 
This action is consistent with international objectives of ending 
overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of 
available catch limits between U.S participating territories and 
eligible U.S. fisheries, consistent with the conservation requirements 
of the bigeye tuna stock.

DATES: This final rule and final specifications are effective October 
24, 2014.
    The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement for review 
pursuant to Sec.  665.819(b)(3) is November 28, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may review the background and details of this action in 
Amendment 7 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the 
Western Pacific. You may obtain a copy of Amendment 7 and supporting 
documents, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0178, from the Federal e-
Rulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-
0178, or from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 
1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 
808-522-8226, www.wpcouncil.org.
    You may submit written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates 
or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements 
contained in this final rule to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd. Bldg. 
176, Honolulu, HI 96818, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or 
fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries Division, 808-725-5176.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the pelagic 
fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and Hawaii under the 
Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific 
(FEP). The Council

[[Page 64098]]

recommends conservation and management measures for NMFS to implement 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Certain pelagic fish stocks, 
including tunas, are also subject to conservation and management 
measures cooperatively agreed to by the Western and Central Pacific 
Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an international regional fisheries 
management organization of which the United States is a member. The 
WCPFC has jurisdiction over fisheries harvesting highly migratory 
species on the high seas in the western and central Pacific Ocean, 
including pelagic fish stocks managed under the FEP. Pursuant to WCPFC 
Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2012-01, NMFS implemented the 
2014 longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 3,763 mt for U.S. vessels 
in the western and central Pacific (78 FR 58240, September 23, 2013). 
The limit does not apply to vessels in the longline fisheries of the 
U.S. participating territories to the WCPFC, that is, American Samoa, 
Guam, or the CNMI.
    Section 113 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing 
Appropriations Act of 2012, as amended, (Section 113) directed the 
Council to amend the FEP to authorize U.S. participating territories to 
use, assign, allocate, and manage their catch and effort limits for 
highly migratory fish stocks through agreements with U.S. vessels 
permitted under the FEP. Consistent with Section 113, which has now 
lapsed, the Council transmitted Amendment 7 on December 23, 2013. The 
Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 7 on March 28, 2014. This 
final rule and associated final specifications implement conservation 
and management measures described in Amendment 7. This final rule is 
consistent with the WCPFC CMM 2013-01 objectives of ending overfishing 
of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of available 
quota between U.S. participating territories and eligible U.S. 
fisheries. Although individual catch limits do not apply to the U.S. 
participating territories under CMM 2013-01, NMFS is implementing 
longline catch limits for bigeye tuna for the territories to ensure 
sustainable management, and to limit the overall mortality of bigeye 
tuna in the region. This rule establishes accountability measures for 
attributing and restricting catch and fishing effort towards 
territorial limits, including catches and fishing effort under the 
territory agreements. Annual review and action by the Council and NMFS 
will ensure that any transfer of quota is consistent with the 
conservation requirements of the stock.

Final Rule

    This rule implements the following:
     A framework consistent with WCPFC conservation and 
management measures for specifying catch or fishing effort limits and 
accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. participating 
territories;
     Authorization for territories to enter into specified 
fishing agreements with U.S. fishing vessels permitted under the FEP, 
and to allocate to those vessels a specified portion of the territory's 
catch or fishing effort limit, as determined by NMFS and the Council;
     Criteria that any specified fishing agreements must 
satisfy, and the procedures for reviewing such agreements; and
     Accountability measures for attributing and restricting 
catch and fishing effort toward specified limits, including catches and 
fishing effort made by vessels in the agreements.
    Under the framework process, the Council will review existing and 
proposed catch or effort limits and the portion available for 
allocation at least annually to ensure consistency with WCPFC 
decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws. Based on this review, at least annually, the Council will 
recommend to NMFS whether such catch or effort limit or the portion 
available for allocation should be approved for the next fishing year. 
NMFS will review all Council recommendations and, if determined to be 
consistent with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable laws, will approve the Council's recommendations. If 
NMFS determines that a Council recommendation is inconsistent with 
WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable 
laws, NMFS will disapprove the recommendation. If NMFS disapproves a 
catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, or if 
the Council recommends and NMFS approves no catch or fishing effort 
limit specification or allocation limit, then no specified fishing 
agreements would be authorized for the fishing year covered by such 
action.

2014 Bigeye Tuna Catch Limit

    NMFS is using the framework process to specify a longline bigeye 
tuna catch limit of 2,000 mt for each U.S. participating territory. 
Additionally, NMFS specifies that each territory may allocate up to 
1,000 mt of that limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels based in other 
U.S. participating territories or in Hawaii, and identified in a 
specified fishing agreement. NMFS will monitor catches of longline-
caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under specified fishing 
agreements, and restrict catches, as appropriate, using the 
accountability measures described in this final rule. The longline 
bigeye tuna catch limit specifications are effective for the 2014 
fishing year, which began on January 1, 2014.
    The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement for review 
pursuant to Sec.  665.819(b)(3) is November 28, 2014.
    Additional background information on this final rule and the final 
bigeye tuna catch specification is contained in the preamble to the 
proposed rule and proposed specifications (79 FR 1354, January 8, 
2014), and is not repeated here.

Comments and Responses

    On January 8, 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule and proposed 
specifications, and request for public comments (79 FR 1354); the 
comment period ended February 24, 2014. NMFS received comments from 
individuals, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, 
and responds as follows:
    Comment 1: Several commenters support NMFS assistance to U.S. 
Pacific island territories.
    Response: Comment noted; this final rule requires that any fishing 
agreements between the U.S. participating territories and U.S. vessels 
include support for fisheries development projects in the territories 
and as described in their marine conservation plans.
    Comment 2: The Hawaii-based longline fleet is already subject to a 
bigeye tuna catch limit, and this proposed action would allow the fleet 
to catch up to an additional 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna. There needs to be 
a reduction in bigeye tuna fishing pressure to regain sustainable 
levels, so the territories should not be allowed to allocate up to 
1,000 mt of their 2,000-mt bigeye tuna catch limit to the Hawaii fleet.
    Response: Section 113, as amended, directed the Council to prepare 
and transmit an amendment and regulations implementing a process for 
transferring U.S. territory quota for highly migratory species to 
eligible U.S. fishing vessels. This final rule implements this process 
consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This 
action is consistent with WCPFC CMM 2013-01, and other applicable laws, 
including the

[[Page 64099]]

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), 
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the NMFS final rule published 
September 23, 2013 (78 FR 58240), which maintains the U.S. limit for 
longline-caught bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean 
(WCPO) at 3,763 mt in 2014.
    The management framework provides for the domestic implementation 
of catch or fishing effort limits for the longline fisheries in the 
U.S. territories, while allowing for the limited transfer of quota to 
U.S. fisheries, consistent with the conservation and management needs 
of the stock. One of the objectives of CMM 2013-01 is to reduce fishing 
mortality on bigeye tuna and eliminate overfishing. This rulemaking 
includes accountability measures to ensure consistency with this 
international objective, as well as with the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
requirement to prevent overfishing.
    This final rule establishes a framework that allows each territory 
to allocate a portion of its catch or fishing effort limit to U.S. 
fishing vessels with a valid Federal permit issued under the FEP 
through a specified fishing agreement. The amount available for 
allocation under agreements is subject to annual review to ensure 
consistency with WCPFC decisions, the FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable laws. If the Council does not recommend a 
specification, or recommends an amount that, in light of the best 
scientific information available, is inconsistent with the conservation 
and management needs of the stock or decisions of the WCPFC, then NMFS 
will not approve specified fishing agreements for that year.
    Under this framework process, NMFS is also specifying an annual 
limit of 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna caught with longline fishing gear in 
the WCPO for each territory. CMM 2013-01 does not establish an 
individual limit on the amount of bigeye tuna that may be harvested 
annually in the WCPFC Convention Area by Small Island Developing States 
(SIDS) and participating territories (PTs) of the WCPFC, including 
American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. Although Paragraph 41 of CMM 2013-
01 limits members that harvested less than 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna in 
2004 to no more than 2,000 mt for each of the years 2014 through 2017, 
SIDS and PTs are not subject to the 2,000-mt limit. As part of this 
action to allow for the limited transfer of quota from the U.S. 
territories to U.S. pelagic longline fisheries, NMFS is establishing 
2,000-mt limits for each U.S. territory. These overall limits, in 
conjunction with the 1,000-mt limit that each territory may allocate, 
will help ensure sustainability of the stock.
    In 2011 and 2012, under Section 113, American Samoa and the Hawaii 
Longline Association (HLA) entered into an agreement to attribute 
longline catch to American Samoa in exchange for funds deposited in the 
Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support fishery development projects in 
the territories. NMFS attributed 628 mt of bigeye tuna caught by HLA 
vessels under the agreement in 2011 to American Samoa. In 2012, NMFS 
attributed 771 mt of bigeye tuna to American Samoa. In 2013, the CNMI 
and HLA entered into a Section 113 agreement. In that year, NMFS 
attributed to the CNMI 501 mt of bigeye tuna caught by HLA vessels. 
Based on this history, and the requirement in this rule that no vessel 
operate under more than one specified fishing agreement at a given 
time, NMFS anticipates that no more than 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna would 
be transferred annually under specified territory fishing agreements. 
NMFS does not expect any significant change in fishing effort than had 
occurred under baseline conditions in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Finally, as 
explained above and in Amendment 7, the rule does not impede the WCPFC 
objective of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna.
    See also the response to Comment 5.
    Comment 3: The proposed rule would have negative effects beyond 
just the target species, especially for threatened marine animals such 
as sharks, sea turtles, and billfish, and would increase shark bycatch 
each year.
    Response: NMFS anticipates that fishing effort by the Hawaii deep-
set longline fishery, a limited entry fishery with a relatively fixed 
number of active permits, will remain similar to baseline fishing years 
under Section 113 (2011, 2012, and 2013). Impacts to protected species 
are expected to remain within the range analyzed in the 2013 
environmental assessment (EA). Moreover, in a Biological Opinion dated 
September 19, 2014, NMFS concluded that the continued operation of the 
Hawaii deep-set longline fishery under effort levels expected under the 
proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of 
ESA-listed humpback whales, sperm whales, the MHI insular false killer 
whale distinct population segment (DPS), North Pacific loggerhead DPS, 
leatherback sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, green sea turtles, 
and the Indo-west Pacific scalloped hammerhead DPS. NMFS based this 
conclusion on a careful assessment of the effects of the action, 
together with the environmental baseline and the cumulative effects.
    Amendment 7, which this final rule implements, presents information 
and impacts to target and non-target species. Catches of non-target 
species under this rule are commensurate with the level of fishing 
effort for bigeye tuna. With respect to Western and Central North 
Pacific (WCNP) striped marlin, NMFS does not anticipate this action to 
result in catches that exceed the U.S. limit for WCPO striped marlin 
under CMM 2010-01. Each cooperating member, non-member, and 
participating territory of the WCPFC is subject to a 20-percent 
reduction of the highest catch of North Pacific striped marlin between 
2000 and 2003. The measure provides that each flag/chartering member, 
cooperating non-member, and participating territory (CCM) shall decide 
on the management measures required to ensure that its flagged/
chartered vessels operate under the specified catch limits. CMM 2010-01 
provides exemptions to catch limits for the SIDS and PTs. The WCPO 
striped marlin limit applicable to the U.S. (i.e., Hawaii) fisheries in 
2013 and beyond is 457 mt annually, which accounts for the 20 percent 
reduction agreed to in CMM 2010-01. U.S. catch has been below levels 
agreed to by the WCPFC. Table 12 in Amendment 7 describes recent 
catches of North Pacific striped marlin by U.S. longline vessels, 
including catches attributed under fishing agreements. Historical 
average landings from 2008-2012 are only 60 percent of the U.S. limit 
under CMM 2010-01 for 2013 and beyond. Although a non-target species 
caught while targeting bigeye tuna and swordfish, striped marlin are 
highly marketable and longline fishermen typically discard less than 
five percent.
    NMFS has no information that impacts on sharks will increase under 
the proposed action. With the exception of mako and thresher sharks 
that are sometimes retained for market in low quantities, U.S. longline 
fishermen based in the Pacific Islands release most sharks alive.
    See also the response to Comment 5. Under this action, NMFS expects 
fishing effort, expected catch rates, and total catches for target and 
non-target species to remain within the range observed in 2011, 2012, 
and 2013 under Section 113.
    Comment 4: This proposed rule would allow the U.S.A. to increase 
its catch of bigeye tuna, a species already experiencing overfishing, 
by 80 percent and ignore its internationally-established quota agreed 
to during the most recent meeting of the WCPFC. The proposed rule 
ignores scientific advice

[[Page 64100]]

calling for a 39-percent reduction in bigeye tuna fishing mortality 
from 2004 levels to end overfishing and threatens the future of the 
fishery by allowing the U.S. Hawaii based longline fleet to catch up to 
an additional 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna allocated to American Samoa, 
Guam, and the CNMI. This catch would be in addition to the 3,763 mt of 
U.S quota just agreed upon at the WCPFC meeting in December 2013, 
raising the U.S. allowable catch by 80 percent for a species in dire 
need of catch reductions. Furthermore, because longline fishing for 
bigeye tuna by U.S. Pacific territories has historically remained well 
below 1,000 mt per year, the proposed rule would result in a net 
increase in fishing effort within the WCPFC area rather than a mere 
transfer of effort from one CCM to another.
    Response: NMFS has already implemented the 3,763 mt catch limit for 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for the United States for 2014 (see 50 CFR 
300.224), and will implement the U.S. catch limits specified in CMM 
2013-01 for subsequent years in one or more separate rulemakings, as 
appropriate. This final rule allows for the limited transfer of 
available quota from territories to eligible U.S. longline fishermen, 
for example, after the U.S. WCPO limit for bigeye tuna has been 
reached, while applying precautionary measures to ensure that 
international objectives to end overfishing are not undermined.
    This final rule is not likely to result in an additional 3,000 mt 
bigeye mortality by U.S. fishing vessels because it includes 
accountability measures that prohibit any vessel from operating under 
more than one specified fishing agreement at a time. In addition, no 
U.S. territory may assign more than 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna to U.S. 
vessels operating under specified fishing agreements in 2014. 
Consistent with landings in 2011, 2012, and 2013, NMFS anticipates that 
bigeye catch under specified fishing agreements will be less than 1,000 
mt.
    See also the response to Comments 2 and 5.
    Comment 5: The proposal to create a framework to allow the transfer 
of catch or fishing effort from U.S. Pacific territories to the U.S. 
Hawaii-based longline fleet would allow for the continued overfishing 
of bigeye tuna in the WCPO, run counter to scientific advice that has 
been consistently presented for over a decade, and cause the U.S.A. to 
undermine WCPFC conservation objectives.
    Response: This final rule and 2014 specification provides for a 
1,000-mt transferable limit for each territory under a specified 
fishing agreement with U.S. vessels. Although this rule allows for such 
transfers, accountability measures do not allow fishermen to operate 
under more than one territorial agreement at a time. Accordingly, NMFS 
anticipates that actual catches will be similar to fishing operations 
under Section 113 from 2011 through 2013, and result in no more than 
1,000 mt of bigeye tuna catch annually under territory agreements. The 
management framework provides that the Council will review and 
recommend, and NMFS will specify, territory catch or fishing effort and 
transferable limits on an annual basis, regardless of whether it 
proposes a single or multi-year specification. Accordingly, a multi-
year specification that fails to prevent overfishing consistent with 
WCPFC conservation and management measures will be subject to 
disapproval. In the event of disapproval of the specification, no 
fishing agreements will be approved for the fishing year.
    In 2011, 2012, and 2013, when there were no limits on the amount of 
bigeye transferred under Section 113 agreements, 628 mt, 771 mt, and 
501 mt, respectively, of bigeye tuna were transferred to a U.S. 
territory. Based on historical operations under Section 113, NMFS 
anticipates that up to 1,000 mt of bigeye tuna could be assigned under 
the territory agreement(s) in any one year. As documented in the EA, 
catches by Hawaii and territory longline fisheries, when combined with 
U.S. WCPO longline limit for bigeye tuna of 3,763 mt per year (which 
will be reduced in 2015 and again in 2017) would not impede the CMM 
2013-01 objective of ending overfishing on bigeye tuna.
    See also the response to Comments 2, 3, and 12.
    Comment 6: Increased fishing effort associated with the increase in 
catch of bigeye tuna will impact yellowfin and albacore tunas and 
oceanic white-tip and silky sharks that are species of concern within 
the WCPFC Convention Area and violate CMMs 2013-01, 2005-03, 2011-04, 
and 2013-08. NMFS and the Council should focus on leading conservation 
efforts, not circumventing the catch limits the WCPFC has put in place. 
To sustain the bigeye tuna fishery, it is imperative that U.S. actions 
promote and support the control of fishing mortality based on best 
available science and implementation of sustainable measures.
    Response: Section 113 directed the Council to prepare an amendment 
and regulations that establish a process for transferring quota for 
highly migratory species from U.S. participating territories to 
eligible U.S. longline fishing vessels. This final rule implements a 
framework process for authorizing the limited transfer of highly 
migratory species quota, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
WCPFC decisions. This final rule is consistent with CMM 2013-01 for 
longline-caught yellowfin tuna and the fishing effort limits for 
albacore under CMM 2005-02. CMM 2013-01 provides that CCMs should not 
increase catches of yellowfin tuna by their longline vessels. This 
final rule does not increase harvest pressure on yellowfin tuna, but 
merely provides a mechanism for continuing baseline effort levels from 
2011 to 2013. Regarding the CMM for North Pacific albacore, vessels in 
the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery do not fish for albacore north of 
the equator, so that fishery is not subject to the fishing effort 
limit. This final rule does not undermine the WCPFC's measures for 
silky sharks or oceanic whitetip sharks under CMMs 2013-08 and 2011-04, 
respectively. These measures, which currently are published as proposed 
regulations, require that fishermen release these sharks with as little 
harm as possible; the measures do not require limits on fishing effort 
in any fishery.
    NMFS must give priority to the conservation needs of the stock and 
will allow the transfer of quota only to the extent that it is 
consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act and international objectives to 
end overfishing on bigeye tuna. As explained in Amendment 7 and 
supported by existing data and model projections, the expected transfer 
of 1,000 mt in 2014 would not delay or impede WCPFC objectives of 
ending overfishing of bigeye tuna.
    Comment 7: To secure the future of bigeye tuna populations, the 
WCPFC placed a specific limit on the U.S. longline catch of 3,763 mt 
for 2014, and decreased this amount slightly for 2015 and 2016. The 
proposed rule creates a loophole to this limit, which undoes the modest 
reductions the commission requires of U.S. longline vessels.
    Response: This final rule includes safeguards to ensure that any 
transfer of quota does not impede WCPFC conservation and management 
decisions, including measures to end overfishing of bigeye tuna.
    See also the response to Comments 2 and 5.
    Comment 8: NMFS should include the forecast of our changing climate 
in all of its policies. The impact of global warming will greatly 
impact animals worldwide. There are already signs of failing species as 
their food supplies disappear.
    Response: NMFS and the Council addressed climate change, as well as

[[Page 64101]]

other cumulative effects, and their impact upon pelagic fisheries in 
Amendment 7 and associated EA. Climate change impacts on marine 
ecosystem processes are not well understood. It is particularly 
challenging to accurately predict climate change effects associated 
with actions, such as here, that are of a short-term nature.
    Comment 9: We must take action now before overfishing significantly 
reduces the bigeye tuna populations, jeopardizing commercial fisheries 
and the marine environment.
    Response: The United States, through the Departments of State and 
Commerce, continues to work cooperatively with regional organizations 
like the WCPFC to address the conservation needs of bigeye and other 
highly migratory stocks. NMFS remains committed to achieving the 
necessary reductions in bigeye mortality that will end overfishing. 
This rule establishes a framework that would provide U.S. fisheries 
with limited access to quota that otherwise is available to the U.S. 
participating territories, consistent with conservation and management 
objectives of the WCPFC and Magnuson-Stevens Act. Amendment 7 analyzed 
impacts of the action on fisheries, fishery participants, and the 
marine environment consistent with international conservation and 
management measures, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws. The effects of the action on these resource components did not 
result in the identification of any significant impacts.
    See also the response to Comment 2.
    Comment 10: The proposed action appears to specify catch limits for 
longline-caught bigeye tuna of 2,000 mt per year for each territory, of 
which 1,000 mt may be transferred annually under agreements consistent 
with the FEP and other applicable laws to eligible U.S. vessels.
    Response: These final specifications apply only in 2014. The 
management framework implemented by this rule requires the Council to 
review any proposed and existing catch or fishing effort limits and 
allocation limits at least annually to ensure consistency with the FEP, 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. The 
Council will then recommend the amount of catch or effort limit and/or 
allocation limit, if any, for the next fishing year. NMFS reviews the 
recommended limits for consistency with all applicable laws and WCPFC 
CMMs and, if consistent, NMFS will approve the recommendation. If NMFS 
disapproves the recommendation, or if the Council recommends no 
allocation limit, then no specified fishing agreements will be approved 
for that fishing year. This process did not change from the proposed 
rule.
    Comment 11: The statutory authority for territories to use, assign, 
allocate, and manage catch limits of highly migratory fish stocks in 
the way proposed (under Section 113) expired on December 31, 2013. 
There is, accordingly, neither congressional direction nor statutory 
authority to implement the proposed rule.
    Response: The Council transmitted Amendment 7 on December 23, 2013, 
consistent with Section 113 (as amended by Section 110 of the 
Department of Commerce Appropriations Act), and the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. NMFS published the Notice of Availability for Amendment 7 on 
December 30, 2013. Although Section 113 (now lapsed) required the 
Council to take specific action to develop and transmit an amendment 
and regulations to implement this framework, Section 113 did not convey 
substantive authority that did not already exist under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, WCPFC Implementation Act, and other applicable laws. The 
Council and NMFS have authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in 
response to a Congressional directive, to develop measures that 
establish a territory's limited transferable interest in fishery 
resources, where necessary and appropriate for the conservation and 
management of the fishery.
    Comment 12: Despite acknowledging that measures must satisfy the 
conservation and management objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 
order to ensure the continued sustainability of the target stocks, the 
proposed management framework fails to include goals of ending 
overfishing and rebuilding stocks when setting catch limits. The 
proposed action fails to address the ecosystem consequences of bycatch 
of fish, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals in the Hawaii longline 
fisheries in violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The framework in 
the Council's preferred alternative would allow establishment of catch 
limits even in the absence of WCPFC limits on SIDS and PTs, but the 
criteria for how the Council will establish those limits are 
significantly more permissive than allowed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
Rather than following the National Standards in section 301, the 
Council would set catch limits after considering the status of highly 
migratory species stocks, the needs of fishing communities dependent 
upon the particular fishery resource, and any other relevant 
conservation and management factors. Because those limits are set under 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its implementing regulations, they should 
be based on best available science, specifically the status of the 
stock, and designed to result in a high probability of ending 
overfishing in as short a period as possible and/or designed to rebuild 
stocks in as short a period as possible.
    Response: The proposed action is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, which includes the National Standards referenced by the 
commenter, and other applicable laws. However, NMFS disagrees with the 
commenter's implicit assumption that any catch limit must have a high 
probability of ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks in as short a 
period as possible. Although the western pacific bigeye stock is 
currently subject to overfishing, it is not overfished as defined by 
NMFS status determination criteria under the Pelagic FEP. Further, the 
Council and NMFS are not required to develop annual catch limits for 
internationally-managed stocks (16 U.S.C. 1853 note). Given the 
relative impact of the U.S. on western pacific bigeye tuna, applying 
limits to U.S. fishermen on only the U.S. portion of the catch or quota 
would not lead to ending overfishing and could unfairly disadvantage 
U.S. fishermen (74 FR 3178 and 3199, January 16, 2009). Accordingly, 
when evaluating whether a conservation and management action proposed 
under the Magnuson- Stevens Act prevents overfishing of a stock that is 
subject to international management, NMFS considers whether the action 
is consistent with the conservation objectives of the applicable 
decision of the regional fishery management organization.
    Amendment 7 addresses impacts to target species including 
consideration whether anticipated catch levels will undermine 
conservation and management objectives to end overfishing on WCPO 
bigeye tuna. There are accountability measures in place to account for 
any changes in stock status or other factors. The Council and NMFS will 
use the best scientific information available to review and specify 
catch or fishing effort limits or allocation limits on an annual basis, 
taking into account catches of other target and non-target species, 
including consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable laws.
    See also the response to Comments 2, 3, and 5.
    Comment 13: NMFS should adopt Alternative 2 in the EA associated 
with Amendment 7 wherein no authority

[[Page 64102]]

exists for U.S. participating territories to assign, allocate, and 
manage catch limits of bigeye tuna as was done in 2012 and 2013, 
establish a framework for setting catch limits based on the status of 
the stock--designed to result in a high probability of ending 
overfishing in as short a period as possible--and no higher than 
allowed under international conservation measures, and prepare an 
environmental impact statement to analyze impacts of the action beyond 
2020, the impact of longline overfishing on ecosystem structure per 
Polovina et al. (2013), and the long-term impacts and contingencies if 
bigeye tuna overfishing continues.
    Response: See response to Comment 11 regarding statutory authority. 
This action includes appropriate management safeguards, including 
annual review and action on territory and allocation limits based on 
the best scientific and commercial information available, which will 
ensure that this limited transfer of available quota will not undermine 
conservation objectives. The EA provides a comprehensive description of 
the affected environment and analysis of the action through a 
reasonable range of alternatives. Based on the EA, including 
consideration of precautionary measures that provide for annual Council 
review and NMFS action, with supporting NEPA and ESA analyses, NMFS 
believes that the environmental impacts associated with this action are 
not significant as to require the preparation of an EIS. In particular, 
NMFS is satisfied that safeguards, including the availability of annual 
review and prompt corrective action, are sufficient to respond to any 
change in the conservation needs of the stock and to keep impacts of 
this action to a minimum.
    Highly migratory species, including bigeye tuna, are subject to 
international management measures agreed to by the WCPFC, to which the 
U.S.A. is a member. The U.S. territories are authorized to harvest 
specified levels of highly migratory species. This action would allow 
for the limited transfer of bigeye tuna and potentially other highly 
migratory species between territories and U.S. vessels consistent with 
international measures that would end overfishing within target dates 
set out by the WCPFC. The EA analyzed the impacts of the specified 
territory catch limits for bigeye tuna, not only in 2014 when the 
limits are in effect, but also through 2017 and 2020 when based on 
existing management measures and the best scientific information 
available, overfishing of bigeye tuna is expected to end. In addition, 
the EA analyzed various catch levels of bigeye tuna under agreements, 
including the most likely scenario that the territories would assign 
1,000 mt to U.S. vessels, based on the latest stock assessment of 
bigeye tuna in the WCPO (2011), along with other stock assessments and 
information for non-target and protected marine species.
    The stock status trend in the Tuna Management Simulator (TUMAS) 
model (developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the 
science provider to the WCPFC) using recent average recruitment of WCPO 
bigeye tuna, suggests further improvements in stock conditions by 2017 
and 2020. The 2014 allocation allows each territory to transfer no more 
than 1,000 mt. In the future, if the best scientific information 
available and environmental analyses indicate that stock conditions 
have not improved as projected, the Council and NMFS would likely 
approve a smaller transferable allocation, or none at all. Further, the 
annual review process allows the Council and NMFS to take corrective 
action, as appropriate, to meet the conservation needs of the stock, 
non-target stock, or protected species.
    Comment 14: Increasing U.S. longline fishing effort, including the 
Hawaii deep-set fishery for which discards now amount to 40 percent of 
the catch, will increase fishing mortality for non-target species, 
violating international and U.S. prohibitions on bycatch of vulnerable 
species. While Hawaii's shallow-set longline fishery has 100 percent 
observer coverage, the other longline fisheries for which the rule sets 
bigeye tuna catch limits have far less. All should be required to have 
100 percent observer coverage. The animals subjected to higher 
mortality as a result of the proposed rule include yellowfin tuna, 
North Pacific albacore, silky sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks. 
Endangered species at greater risk of [mortality] from fishing include, 
but are not limited to, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, sperm 
whales, Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whales, and short-
tailed albatross. International and U.S. laws restrict the take of many 
of these species.
    Response: The Hawaii deep-set longline fishery is observed at 20 
percent coverage levels, well in excess of 5 percent required under 
WCPFC measures, and consistent with statistically reliable sampling 
methods for determining impacts on target and non-target stocks and 
protected species. Moreover, impacts to non-target species and 
protected species are expected to remain within those observed in 2011-
2013 while the fishery operated under Section 113, well within levels 
analyzed and authorized in relevant ESA, MMPA, and Magnuson-Stevens Act 
determinations.
    See also the responses to Comments 3, 6, 22, and 23.
    Comment 15: As evidenced by recent stock assessments of bigeye tuna 
in the Pacific, the status of bigeye tuna has reached a critical 
threshold where action to reduce fishing mortality should be 
implemented immediately.
    Response: See the response to Comments 2 and 5.
    Comment 16: Based on evidence that fishing negatively alters the 
ecosystem, and that the bigeye tuna population may soon no longer 
produce maximum sustainable yield for fishermen, NMFS should not allow 
increased U.S. bigeye tuna landings, but should prevent overfishing and 
analyze the consequences of not doing so, and act to reduce bycatch.
    Response: The action is consistent with CMM 2013-01 objectives of 
ending overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited 
transfer of available quota between U.S. participating territories and 
U.S. fisheries. This action is consistent with international 
agreements, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and controls catches of bigeye 
tuna by U.S. territorial longline fisheries. NMFS has already 
implemented the 2014 WCPFC longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 
3,763 mt for U.S. vessels in the WCPO. Under CMM 2013-01, individual 
catch limits do not apply to the U.S. participating territories, but 
NMFS is taking this action to implement limits for longline-caught 
bigeye tuna for the territories to ensure sustainable management and to 
limit the overall mortality of bigeye tuna from fisheries of the United 
States and U.S. territories. This action establishes accountability 
measures for attributing and restricting catch and fishing effort 
towards territorial limits, including catches and effort made under 
territory fishing agreements. Annual review and action by the Council 
and NMFS will help ensure achievement of the WCPFC's conservation 
goals. If, based on the conservation needs of the stock, NMFS 
disapproves the Council's annual recommendation, or if the Council 
recommends and NMFS approves an allocation limit of zero, then no 
territory fishing agreements would be accepted for the year covered by 
that action.
    See also the response to Comments 2, 5, and 19.
    Comment 17: The proposed rule provides for the Council to take the 
lead on establishing catch limits for the territories, raising serious 
concerns about conflicts of interest. Hawaii fishermen's deposits into 
the Western

[[Page 64103]]

Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund provide an incentive for the Council 
to set higher-than-sustainable catch limits for the U.S. territories. 
The Council financially benefits from high catch limits for the 
territories, which allow the territories to turn around and ``sell'' 
their allocations through the transfer agreements to Hawaii longline 
vessels. In essence, the proposed rule establishes a system under which 
Hawaii fishermen pay the Council to fish above the limits in the WCPFC 
CMMs. Especially for a species undergoing overfishing, it is imperative 
that catch limits are science-based and proposed by a financially 
disinterested agency. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires disclosure and 
recusal of voting Council members in decisions ``which would have a 
significant and predictable effect on [their] financial interest.'' The 
novel situation that the rule proposes--in that a Council financially 
benefits from higher fish catch limits--is analogous to what Congress 
hoped to prevent by enacting the Magnuson-Stevens Act's disclosure and 
recusal provisions.
    Response: This final rule is consistent with the process followed 
under Section 113 from 2011-2013, in which funds under specified 
fishing agreements were deposited into the Western Pacific Sustainable 
Fisheries Fund (SFF) for fishery development projects listed in the 
territory Marine Conservation Plans approved by the Secretary of 
Commerce. The Council accesses funds in the SFF through cooperative 
grant agreements consistent with federal grant requirements. However, 
under this action and the Magnuson-Stevens Act section 204(e), funds 
from the SFF may not be used to support Council activities or to fund 
Council operations. Furthermore, the Council does not establish minimum 
funding levels for territory agreements--funding levels for a specified 
fishing agreement are negotiated between parties of the agreement.
    The 2014 and any future annual specifications are subject to NMFS' 
approval, subject to consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
WCPFC conservation and management objectives using the best scientific 
information available. To the extent that a Council member's financial 
interests may be affected by a decision to fund, or not to fund, a 
particular MCP project, the disclosure, voting, and recusal 
requirements of Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(j) and 50 CFR 600.235 
would apply.
    Comment 18: Neither NMFS nor the Council provided a reasoned 
explanation based on best available science for the bigeye limit of 
2,000 mt for U.S territories. In Amendment 7 and the EA, the discussion 
of Alternative 4 states that the Council will consider ``the status of 
highly migratory species stocks, the needs of fishing communities . . . 
and any other relevant conservation and management factors'' to develop 
catch limits, these criteria were not systematically applied to produce 
the Sub-alternatives 4(a) (no limit) or 4(b) (limit of 2,000 mt). The 
EA states that no more than 1,000 mt is likely to be transferred even 
though the proposed rule would allow a maximum of 3,000 mt to be 
transferred. Therefore, no need exists to set catch limits as high as 
2,000 mt per territory. To set the limit so far above the needs of 
fishing communities for a species undergoing overfishing encourages 
unsustainable and speculative development.
    Response: Alternative 4 provides a description of the Council's 
preferred alternative for the management framework, that is, the 
process. Sub-alternatives 4(a) and 4(b) relate to the Council's 
recommendation to specify annual longline catch limits for bigeye tuna 
for the territories and limits on amounts available for allocation 
under agreements between the territories and U.S. vessels, that is, the 
specifications. Amendment 7 and the EA analyzed the status of target, 
non-target, and protected species, as well as the anticipated impacts 
from each alternative, including the preferred.
    The Council based the 2,000-mt limit for each U.S. territory on 
past limits provided to WCPFC members that harvested less than 2,000 mt 
annually in previous CMMs (2008-01 and 2011-01), and which is currently 
set forth in paragraph 41 of CMM 2013-01. Paragraph 41 states that each 
member that caught less than 2,000 mt of bigeye in 2004 ensure that its 
catch does not exceed 2,000 mt in each of the next 4 years (2014, 2015, 
2016, and 2017). However, paragraph 7 of CMM 2013-01 exempts SIDS and 
PTs from the 2,000 mt annual limit meaning that, under WCPFC decisions, 
these members are not subject to individual bigeye limits. This final 
rule would effectively remove that exemption and make American Samoa, 
Guam, and the CNMI subject to 2,000 mt limits for 2014.
    The 2,000 mt limits would allow for the continued development of 
domestic fisheries in the U.S. participating territories while ensuring 
that total bigeye tuna mortality by all U.S. and territory longline 
fisheries would not exceed a fixed amount. American Samoa has an 
existing longline fishery that catches bigeye tuna while targeting 
South Pacific albacore. If that fishery diversifies and targets other 
species, higher landings of bigeye tuna may result. Therefore, the 
total limit of 2,000 mt will allow territories to enter into fishing 
agreements with U.S. fisheries, while maintaining sufficient reserve 
quota for domestic development.
    See also the responses to Comments 2 and 19.
    Comment 19: NMFS and the Council should have analyzed the health of 
the bigeye tuna stock across the Pacific Ocean, acknowledge the 
remaining uncertainty regarding the future of the stock, and provide a 
measure for curtailing domestic development if a stock producing 
maximum sustainable yield fails to materialize in future years. In 
addition, the action should consider other fish that might substitute 
for bigeye tuna in the event yield declines and what the environmental 
consequences will be of transferring longline capacity of the U.S. 
territories and Hawaii to those species.
    Response: The specified catch limit for bigeye tuna is effective 
for 2014 only. The Council may recommend that NMFS set appropriate 
catch or fishing effort limits and allocation limits for the 
territories' pelagic fisheries, including longline. Further, the 
framework includes mandatory precautionary measures to ensure that any 
limits are specified according to the best scientific information 
available, recognizing potential changes in stock status and 
international conservation and management measures and to ensure 
consistency with the conservation needs of the stock. The Council and 
NMFS will review any existing or proposed catch or fishing effort limit 
or transfer limit on an annual basis to ensure consistency with the 
FEP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. 
The Council and NMFS will evaluate the environmental effects of any 
future catch or fishing effort limit or allocation limit that the 
Council recommends using the best scientific information available at 
the time in an appropriate NEPA analysis. In the event that the Council 
fails to recommend a specification, or recommends an amount that, in 
light of the best available scientific information, is inconsistent 
with the conservation and management needs of the stock, then NMFS will 
not approve specified fishing agreements for that year.
    NMFS is satisfied that the process described above adequately 
accounts for scientific uncertainty and the possibility that future 
stock projections may not align with observed trends. The Council and 
NMFS regularly review the status of pelagic fisheries in the region and 
will take future management action as warranted by the circumstances.

[[Page 64104]]

    Amendment 7 and the EA analyzed comprehensively the impacts of 
territorial catch limits for bigeye tuna across the Pacific, not only 
in 2014 when the limits are in effect, but also through 2017 and 2020. 
In addition, the EA analyzed various catch levels of bigeye tuna under 
agreements, including the most likely scenario that the territories 
would assign up to 1,000 mt to U.S. vessels, based on the 2011 stock 
assessment of bigeye tuna in the WCPO (2011) and the 2013 assessment 
for the eastern Pacific Ocean, along with other stock assessments and 
information for non-target and protected marine species. In December 
2014, the WCPFC is expected to review several stock assessment updates 
for highly migratory species, including a 2014 assessment of bigeye 
tuna in the WCPO. If approved by the WCPFC for management, NMFS and the 
Council would use these new assessments in reviewing and developing 
catch or fishing effort specifications in future years.
    Finally, NMFS is unable to speculate whether other fish could 
substitute for bigeye tuna in the future if circumstances change, 
including the stock status of bigeye tuna. Moreover, such consideration 
is outside the scope of this rule and the Council's action.
    Comment 20: The EA misinterprets fisheries science by taking a 
short-term instead of a long-term view, and ignores both the serious 
consequences of continuing overfishing and the benefits gained from 
ending overfishing. Sibert et al. (2012), concerned that high fishing 
mortality will soon reduce bigeye tuna to fewer than are capable of 
producing maximum sustainable yield, have recommended policies to 
curtail mortality of juveniles and adults. For the EA to analyze 
impacts of the proposed action on bigeye tuna in only 2020, six years 
away, fails to account for the long-term benefits that the fishermen 
could realize by reducing fishing mortality now. In some places, the EA 
takes an even shorter view, analyzing the socioeconomic impacts in 
2014, but not long-term impacts of continued overfishing. For example, 
the transfer agreements--which increase U.S. vessels' catch of bigeye 
tuna compared to the WCPFC limits on U.S. bigeye tuna catch--may 
provide unsustainable short-term benefits if bigeye tuna overfishing 
continues. The EA states that catches ``of target and non-target 
species by U.S. longline fisheries would likely be lower by several 
hundred tons (e.g., bigeye tuna) to tens of tons (e.g., WCNP striped 
marlin) without arrangements.'' This short-term view excludes the 
potentially significant benefits from conservation measures if fishing 
mortality were reduced now (i.e., catches could be far greater in 2030 
without the arrangements). (See Sibert et al. 2012.) Instead, the EA 
analyzes only the short-term effects. To take the ``hard look'' that 
NEPA demands, statements in the EA like the one on page 38--``Local 
markets and consumers would be limited in the fresh pelagic fish from 
the Hawaii longline fishery'' if the Hawaii fishery closes before the 
year's end--must be counter-balanced with analysis of the potential for 
continued overfishing to cause bigeye tuna soon to be incapable of 
producing maximum sustainable yield. By artificially truncating its 
analysis, the EA fails to account for the threat to the long-term 
survival of the fishery posed by increasing fishery mortality through 
the transfer agreements.
    Without transfer agreements--and the resulting increase in 
overfishing--catches of bigeye tuna could increase and catches of non-
target fish could decrease. Ending overfishing would create both a 
healthier ecosystem and additional economic benefits for U.S. fishermen 
in the long-term. Given the significant environmental effects that may 
occur, NEPA compels NMFS to fully analyze the issue in an environmental 
impact statement.
    Response: This action is consistent with, and would not impede, 
WCPFC conservation and management objectives to end overfishing on 
bigeye tuna. See also the response to Comment 4. Amendment 7 used the 
Tuna Management Simulator (TUMAS) model to analyze the potential 
impacts on WCPO bigeye tuna under a variety of catch scenarios, 
including the level NMFS and the Council anticipate in 2014, that is, 
if up to 1,000 mt were assigned under a territory agreements and added 
to the U.S. WCPO bigeye tuna limit of 3,763 mt. Contrary to the 
implication raised in the comment, the EA did analyze the impact of no 
fishing agreements with U.S. participating territories, meaning that 
U.S. fisheries would harvest no more than 3,763 mt of bigeye tuna in 
2014 and beyond.
    Conservative analysis in Amendment 7 indicated that without any 
territory agreements, that is, assuming a constant catch of 3,763 mt of 
WCPO bigeye tuna (which does not account for further reductions in U.S. 
longline catch for bigeye tuna as agreed to in CMM 2013-01), and using 
2010 fishing conditions as the baseline, overfishing of bigeye tuna 
would end by 2017, with a concomitant improvement in stock status. This 
projected improvement in the condition of WCPO bigeye tuna uses the 
recent average recruitment scenario, the better of two indicators of 
future recruitment levels as detailed in Amendment 7. The recent 
recruitment scenario reflects current conditions and conditions that 
are likely to prevail into the near future where bigeye tuna catches 
will be from a mixture of purse seine and longline fisheries.
    The EA also analyzed the impact of 4,763 mt of bigeye tuna catch 
under the same recent average recruitment scenario. The analysis 
revealed virtually no change from the ``no action'' alternative in the 
status of bigeye tuna when projected to 2017 and 2020. Moreover, the 
simulated TUMAS projections also indicate an end to overfishing when 
the contribution of an additional 1,000 mt transferred under territory 
agreements, or 4,763 mt of WCPO bigeye tuna catch, is included and 
projected through 2017 and 2020. See also the response to Comment 20.
    Sibert et al. (2012) evaluate historical effort of purse seine and 
longline fisheries and spatial management by the WCPFC and explore 
alternative conservation and management scenarios using a model-based 
approach for reducing and managing fishing mortality on bigeye tuna for 
guiding future conservation measures for tropical tunas. This action 
would not impede the objective of CMM 2013-01 to end overfishing on 
bigeye tuna in the WCPO as Amendment 7 details. Further, Sibert et al. 
(2012) note that there are no suitable models for forecasting fishing 
effort beyond extrapolating current fishing conditions more than a few 
years into the future and longer-term forecasts would require realistic 
and quantitative information on commercial fishing on a fleet-wide 
basis, that is, all foreign and domestic purse seine and longline 
vessels in the WCPO.
    NMFS disagrees that it should decrease catches now in order to reap 
far greater bigeye catches in 2030. Under the Magnuson- Stevens Act, 
conservation and management measures must prevent overfishing while 
ensuring on a continuing basis the optimum yield from each fishery. 
This final rule achieves the National Standard 1 directives of both 
preventing overfishing while allowing fishermen a reasonable 
opportunity to harvest the stock.
    Finally, Amendment 7 describes impacts to non-target species under 
each alternative. NMFS agrees that eliminating overfishing on bigeye 
tuna in the WCPO may have ancillary benefits to the ecosystem and U.S. 
fishermen, but the effects are not quantifiable. NMFS found that there 
would be no significant effects of the

[[Page 64105]]

action (negative or positive) on the environment.
    See also the response to Comment 13.
    Comment 21: The EA unlawfully fails to address whether the proposed 
rule would violate other WCPFC CMMs that restrict catch of fish, 
including sharks.
    Response: See the response to Comments 3, 5, and 6.
    Comment 22: Incidental take of endangered marine mammals in 
commercial fisheries requires a negligible impact determination and 
other requirements to be met before authorization under the MMPA 
section 101(a)(5)(E). The MMPA requires fishery monitoring at levels to 
produce statistically reliable estimates of marine mammal serious 
injury and mortality. In the deep-set longline fishery, observer 
coverage should be increased to 100 percent. This level of monitoring 
has already been recommended in the United States Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS) 2012 biological opinion for the Hawaii pelagic longline 
fisheries, both shallow- and deep-set. The proposed rule's increase of 
fishing effort in this fishery in the absence of MMPA authorization 
could lead to illegal incidental take.
    Response: In a Biological Opinion dated September 19, 2014, NMFS 
concluded that the longline fishery is not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of ESA-listed humpback whales, sperm whales, the 
MHI insular false killer whale distinct population segment (DPS), North 
Pacific loggerhead DPS, leatherback sea turtles, olive ridley sea 
turtles, green sea turtles, and the Indo-west Pacific scalloped 
hammerhead DPS. NMFS based this conclusion on a careful assessment of 
the effects of the action, together with the environmental baseline and 
the cumulative effects. Where appropriate, an incidental take statement 
allows for the incidental taking of ESA-listed species during the 
course of fishing operations, where consistent with specified 
reasonable and prudent measures and terms and conditions.
    Moreover, on October 10, 2014, NMFS authorized a permit under the 
MMPA section 101(a)(5)(E), addressing the fishery's interactions with 
depleted stocks of marine mammals. The permit authorizes the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of ESA-listed humpback whales 
(Central North Pacific (CNP) stock), sperm whales (Hawaii stock), and 
MHI insular false killer whales. In authorizing this permit, NMFS 
determined that incidental taking by the Hawaii longline fisheries will 
have a negligible impact on the affected stocks of marine mammals.
    The USFWS provided conservation recommendations regarding the 
amount of observer coverage for the Hawaii-based deep-set longline 
fishery in its 2012 biological opinion (BiOp) (Biological Opinion of 
the USFWS for the Operation of Hawaii-based Pelagic Longline Fisheries, 
Shallow Set and Deep Set, Hawaii; January 6, 2012). As stated in the 
2012 BiOp, conservation recommendations are discretionary agency 
activities to minimize or avoid adverse effects of a proposed action on 
listed species or critical habitat (e.g., to help implement recovery 
plans, or to collect information). The USFWS recommended that observer 
coverage for the deep-set fishery be increased, as funds are available, 
and that the amount of coverage be increased to 100 percent for vessels 
fishing within the range of the short-tailed albatross. However, NMFS 
is satisfied that 20 percent observer coverage is sufficient to provide 
statistically reliable information with which to accurately assess the 
fishery's impacts on protected species. Moreover, whether or when to 
make changes to observer coverage is outside the scope of this 
rulemaking.
    Comment 23: According to Amendment 7 and the EA, the most recent 
ESA consultation for longline fisheries in Guam and the CNMI was 
completed in 2001. Since then, loggerhead sea turtles--one of the sea 
turtle species with which the fisheries interact--have been listed as 
distinct populations segments (DPSs) under the ESA. Based on this 
information and likely other new information on the fisheries' 
interactions, NMFS must complete consultation on the impacts of the 
proposed rule on listed animals. If the fisheries are likely to harm 
migratory birds or marine mammals, NMFS should also make appropriate 
determinations under those laws.
    Response: On September 22, 2011, NMFS and USFWS determined that the 
loggerhead sea turtle is composed of nine DPSs (76 FR 58868). Effective 
October 24, 2011, NMFS and USFWS listed four DPSs as threatened and 
five as endangered under the ESA. Specifically, NMFS listed the North 
Pacific loggerhead sea turtle DPS and South Pacific loggerhead sea 
turtle DPS as endangered and at risk of extinction. Due to geography 
and the operational area of historical longline fishing in and around 
the Marianas Archipelago, the effective population addressed in the 
2001 Biological Opinion for pelagic longline fisheries in Guam and the 
CNMI was the North Pacific DPS. Currently there is no U.S. longline 
fishing occurring in or near the Marianas Archipelago that may affect 
the North Pacific loggerhead DPS. This action analyzes fishing effort 
by U.S. longline vessels operating under agreements that, consistent 
with historical trends, will occur primarily on the high seas around 
the Hawaiian Archipelago. A no-jeopardy biological opinion completed on 
September 19, 2014, thoroughly analyzed the impacts of the continued 
operation of the deep-set fishery on the North Pacific loggerhead DPS. 
As part of its environmental baseline analysis, the biological opinion 
also considered impacts to the species from other domestic and 
international fisheries throughout the Western and Central Pacific 
Ocean.
    Comment 24: Although imperfect, this action represents the best 
efforts of the Council and NMFS to achieve a complicated set of 
purposes, balancing U.S. law, international treaties, practicalities, 
and science, in a context in which the United States, no matter what 
actions it takes, cannot control the outcome or ensure success because 
of the substantial impact of large-scale foreign fisheries. As stated 
in the assessment document, the Hawaii-based commercial longline 
fisheries are one of ``the most responsible fisheries in the world.'' 
Our fisheries are rigorously managed, monitored and enforced, and 
operate under an extensive set of operational and management 
requirements and limits for the benefit of target and bycatch species, 
and for the protection of marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the management recommendations in 
Amendment 7 and this implementing final rule are based on the best 
scientific information available and is consistent with WCPFC 
conservation and management objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable laws.
    Comment 25: Although the United States has a robust set of laws and 
regulatory programs to address and ensure sustainable fish stocks and 
fisheries, principally under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it is well-
established that the U.S.A. cannot end overfishing of bigeye tuna in 
the WCPO through unilateral actions, and unilateral suppression of U.S. 
commercial longline fishing targeting bigeye tuna would actually be 
counterproductive to conservation of bigeye tuna and other species.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment.
    Comment 26: This action is more stringent than current 
international treaty requirements, and meets or exceeds applicable 
standards under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries

[[Page 64106]]

Convention Implementation Act (WCPFCIA), the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
Section 113.
    Response: This action is consistent with the statutes noted, as 
well as with the objectives of the CMMs to end overfishing of bigeye 
tuna. Also, see response to Comments 2 and 31.
    Comment 27: The proposed regulations establish a new and unproven 
regulatory process requiring annual Council and NMFS analyses of 
complex information. Any failure in the proposed multi-step process 
could result in no acceptance of a specified fishing agreement, which 
would be catastrophic for the Hawaii-based longline fisheries.
    Response: NMFS is sensitive to the potential economic impact that 
rejection of a specified fishing agreement may have on fishery 
participants. Nevertheless, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the 
conservation needs of affected fishery stocks take priority over short-
term economic interests. This principle is particularly important here, 
where bigeye tuna is currently subject to overfishing in the WCPO.
    This final rule provides the ability for NMFS to monitor and take 
action in response to the best scientific information available, 
including new stock assessments and WCPFC conservation and management 
measures. It establishes an orderly process by which the Council and 
NMFS can monitor management agreements and take timely action to 
prevent overfishing while ensuring optimum yield on a continuing basis. 
The rule provides deadlines to establish a schedule and flexibility to 
allow for contingencies. The process and procedures identified are 
necessary to ensure that the limited transfer of quota to U.S. 
fisheries is done responsibly with the conservation requirements of the 
pelagic stocks. Implementing agreements in a haphazard manner could 
result in increased overfishing pressure on bigeye tuna and loss of 
management controls. The availability of this review process is 
essential to the NMFS determination that the rule is consistent with 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law.
    Comment 28: In the proposed rule, the notification (Sec.  
665.819(c)(ii)) and appeal (Sec.  665.819(c)(8)) provisions would grant 
rights only to signatory territories, not the signatory vessel owners 
or their representative. This would violate due process for NMFS to 
enact a process for reviewing, approving, denying, or conditioning 
specified fishing agreements that failed to afford rights of notice, 
appeal, and hearing to all of the parties to such agreements.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the proposed rule contained this 
unintended oversight. The final rule corrects the oversight by 
including vessel owners and their representatives in the notification 
and appeal processes.
    Comment 29: The default result of any failure of the process of 
specifying an annual transfer limit should be continuation of the 
previously existing annual limit. This approach would be consistent 
with existing federal administrative law under which invalid 
regulations generally result in reinstatement of the prior existing 
regulations, not a regulatory vacuum.
    Response: As stated above, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that 
NMFS give priority to the conservation needs of fishery stocks over 
economic interests. Under this action, the Council and NMFS will review 
and specify annual catch or fishing effort limits including the amount 
of catch or effort allowed for transfer under specified fishing 
agreements on an annual basis. This review is independent of the 
Council and NMFS review of specified fishing agreements. The failure of 
the Council to recommend, or NMFS to approve, an annual allocation 
limit that meets the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act or other 
applicable law will require that no allocation limit be approved for 
that fishing year. This review and approval process is essential to the 
NMFS determination that the rule is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable law.
    Comment 30: A multi-year transfer limit would add important 
predictability, while reducing the extreme time-sensitivity, risk, and 
administrative costs of annual reviews. Moreover, a multi-year limit is 
likely to be more consistent with the availability of new stock 
assessment information.
    Response: This final rule allows NMFS to specify catch or fishing 
effort limits on an annual or multi-year basis, as recommended by the 
Council, and not exceeding WCPFC adopted limits. The action allows for 
multi-year annual limits if they are consistent with the conservation 
requirements of the stock. The Council must annually undertake their 
review and recommendation based on the best scientific information 
available relative to the stock status. If the WCPFC does not agree to 
limits for a western Pacific pelagic species that apply to a U.S. 
territory, the Council may recommend that NMFS set a catch or effort 
limit, and allocation limit that are consistent with the FEP, Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable laws; this includes the possibility 
of multi-year limits. Nevertheless, the management framework requires 
the Council to review and make recommendations, and NMFS to take action 
on any existing or proposed catch or fishing effort limit and portion 
available for allocation, at least annually, to account for any changes 
to stock status, status of the fishery, and other relevant socio-
economic factors, and to ensure consistency with all applicable laws. 
The annual review and recommendation includes any multi-year limit 
previously recommended and implemented. As stated above, annual review 
and action is necessary to ensure that the conservation needs of the 
stock take priority over economic considerations and to ensure that 
management is based on the best available scientific information, as 
mandated by Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    Comment 31: The proposed action includes adoption of both an annual 
longline catch limit for bigeye tuna of 2,000 mt per year for each of 
the territories, each with an annual transferable limit of 1,000 mt. 
These limits are substantially more stringent than the conservation 
measures adopted by the WCPFC and the mandate of Congress in Section 
113.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the action would implement catch limits 
for the territories that would otherwise not exist under CMM 2013-01. 
Also, see response to Comment 26.
    Comment 32: Given increasingly stringent international 
requirements, were NMFS to subsequently impose lower transferable 
limits or to otherwise procedurally limit transfers, the result would 
both violate applicable law and do more harm than good for U.S. 
commercial fisheries, bigeye tuna in the WCPO, and conservation efforts 
generally.
    Response: The proposed framework allows the Council and NMFS to set 
catch or effort limits for pelagic management unit species (MUS) based 
on the best scientific information available, including stock 
assessments, social and economic information, and consistency with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and international conservation and management 
measures to ensure responsible fisheries development in the U.S. 
participating territories.
    Comment 33: NMFS has no authority to adopt regulations that limit 
the transfer authority of a territory as proposed.
    Response: NMFS is taking this action under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, which authorizes NMFS to promulgate regulations necessary or 
appropriate to implement a plan amendment,

[[Page 64107]]

including regulations to establish a U.S. participating territory's 
transferable interest in fishery resources. Under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, the United States exercises sovereign rights and exclusive 
management authority over all fishery resources in the U.S. Exclusive 
Economic Zone (EEZ). However, the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides States 
and territories with limited authority to manage fisheries outside of 
their boundaries when authorized to do so by a fishery management plan, 
or with respect to their own vessels, when the State or territory's 
management is consistent with the relevant fishery management plan and 
regulations. This action would authorize U.S. territories to enter into 
agreements to transfer a limited amount of pelagic species quota to 
eligible U.S. fishing vessels.
    See also the response to Comment 2.
    Comment 34: The proposed rule appears to implement the 1,000-mt 
limit to ensure that sufficient catch quota is available for territory 
fishery participants, but there is no factual basis to anticipate that 
there is a need to reserve 1,000 mt for territory fisheries. Even if 
there were a demonstrated need to reserve catch, it would be within the 
sovereign rights of each territory to evaluate and reserve appropriate 
catch quota in negotiating the terms of specified fishing agreements. 
Neither the Magnuson-Stevens Act nor other U.S. law or regulation 
grants to NMFS the right or obligation to enact catch limits for this 
purpose. Also, a 1,000-mt limit on transfers does not appear to be 
necessary to ensure sustainability, rather this limit has the 
appearance of increased stringency in regulating U.S. fisheries, but 
the reality of only handicapping U.S. fisheries relative to competing 
international fisheries.
    Response: As stated above, the United States exercises exclusive 
management authority over fishery resources in the United States 
exclusive economic zone. This action would authorize U.S. participating 
territories to enter into agreements to transfer a limited amount of 
highly migratory species quota to eligible U.S. fishing vessels. The 
1,000 mt-transferable limits in this final rule are based on the 
historical catches of bigeye made under a 2011-2012 agreement between 
American Samoa and the HLA. NMFS disagrees that the U.S. participating 
territories have independent authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
or WCPF Convention to evaluate and reserve catch of bigeye tuna; 
however, within the available transfer limits, the territories can 
negotiate the terms of specified fishing agreements, including the 
amount of catch to be transferred. This authority is subject to 
implementation under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides oversight 
and management by the Council and NMFS. NMFS believes that 1,000-mt 
transferable limits helps achieve conservation and management 
objectives to eliminate overfishing on bigeye tuna, consistent with 
regional international objectives. Limiting overall harvest of bigeye 
tuna is important to eliminate overfishing and sustainably manage the 
stock in the WCPO; a transferable limit of 1,000 mt allows the 
territories to make allocation agreements with U.S. vessels to support 
fisheries development in the territories, while allowing the 
territories to retain a portion for utilization by their domestic 
fisheries.
    See also the response to Comment 18.
    Comment 35: Proposed regulations in Sec.  665.819(c)(3)(iii) would 
authorize NMFS, in consultation with the Council, to impose ``such 
additional terms and conditions'' as it deems necessary for specified 
fishing agreements. This appears to be a catch-all provision designed 
to grant overly broad agency discretion to intervene in a commercial 
agreement between a territory and the Hawaii longline fisheries. We are 
aware of no demonstrated need, purpose, or authority for this 
provision.
    Response: Fishery management plan amendments and implementing 
regulations must be consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including 
the 10 National Standards. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS and the 
Council are responsible for ensuring that fish stocks are sustainably 
managed to prevent overfishing, while achieving on a continuing basis 
the optimum yield from each fishery. NMFS must give appropriate 
consideration to the economics of the fishery, including the commercial 
agreements referenced above, but these considerations do not take 
priority over the conservation needs of the stock (see 50 CFR 
600.345(b)(1)). Moreover, NMFS notes that nothing in Section 113, WCPFC 
decisions, or the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides fishermen with an 
unbounded entitlement to purchase and harvest additional quota through 
territory agreements. NMFS cannot anticipate every possible term that 
parties may agree to in specified agreements. Accordingly, the 
narrowly-tailored regulatory provision provides that NMFS, in 
consultation with the Council, may recommend such additional terms and 
conditions as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws, and is intended to ensure that 
the limited exchange of quota for pelagic management unit species, 
including bigeye tuna, does not jeopardize the conservation needs of 
affected stocks. NMFS considers this regulatory provision, along with 
other precautionary measures implemented by this rule, to be vital to 
our determination that the action is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    Moreover, the Council's action expressly anticipated the above-
referenced regulatory text. At the 154th Council Meeting in June 2012, 
the Council took action to recommend, in relevant part, that ``the 
authority provided in this Pelagics FEP amendment may be subject to 
maximum annual limits, and any other terms or conditions, as 
recommended by the Council and approved by the Secretary of Commerce'' 
(emphasis added). In the same action, the Council expressly authorized 
its Executive Director to review the regulations for consistency with 
the Council action before submitting them. The Executive Director 
discharged this responsibility in forwarding the regulations 
implementing Amendment 7, including the referenced regulatory text. 
This action was further affirmed by the Council's action at the 157th 
meeting in June 2013.
    Comment 36: There should be no reduction in the recreational catch 
limits for tunas.
    Response: This action does not create, affect, or change any 
recreational fishing catch limits for tuna anywhere.
    Comment 37: Demand for bigeye tuna is so high that protection of 
the species for sustainable fisheries is critical. While NMFS does not 
expect the fishing limits to be reached in monitored areas, this highly 
migratory species should be consistently be protected throughout the 
western Pacific. We should monitor and support sustainable bigeye tuna 
and other pelagic fisheries, because we are one of the top consumers 
and beneficiaries of these fisheries, which is annually more than $50 
million industry. If we hope to continue to enjoy the economic and 
substantive benefits of these fish, we must do our part to protect them 
consistently.
    Response: NMFS agrees that consistent international conservation 
and management of bigeye tuna in the WCPO is necessary to end 
overfishing. This action is consistent with CMM 2013-01 and its 
objective of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna in the WCPO. The Council 
and NMFS will determine any amount of quota available for transfer, on 
an annual basis, among U.S. territories and qualifying U.S. vessels

[[Page 64108]]

after consideration of the conservation status and needs of the stock. 
See also the response to Comment 2.
    Comment 38: Abolish longline fishing for bigeye tuna, as this is 
not a sustainable catch method and involves senseless bycatch. Reduce 
the bigeye tuna catch quota by 40 percent as recommended by scientists. 
We need to lower catch, eliminate bycatch deaths, and stop longlining, 
drift nets, and other extreme fishing methods.
    Response: This action does not change longline as an approved gear 
type to target pelagic fish in the WCPO. Other fishing methods are 
outside of the scope of this action.
    See also the responses to Comments 2, 3, and 4.
    Comment 39: All nations should adhere to reduced catch if we are to 
have any bigeye tuna left. It is in our interest as well as other 
fishing nations to do so. Also, there should be enforced rules for some 
areas that should be left off limits to fishing to help these fish 
recover their numbers.
    Response: NMFS agrees that international compliance with the WCPFC 
CMM 2013-01 is necessary to eliminate overfishing on bigeye tuna in the 
WCPO and maintaining sustainable fisheries. Restricted fishing areas, 
while not part of this final rule, can be an important management 
measure in many fisheries, including U.S. pelagic longline fisheries 
that operate around Hawaii and American Samoa. The NOAA Office of Law 
Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard enforce fisheries laws of the U.S. 
in cooperation with State, territorial, and international partners.
    See also the response to Comment 4.
    Comment 40: Allowing bigeye tuna populations to recover will ensure 
its long-term viability in commercial fishing.
    Response: NMFS agrees. National Standard 1 in the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act requires any management action to prevent overfishing while 
achieving optimum yield from each fishery for the U.S. fishing industry 
on a continual basis. This action is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and the WCPFC goal of ending overfishing on bigeye tuna.
    Comment 41: Our own scientists say bigeye tuna is overfished and 
headed for extinction.
    Response: The latest stock assessment (2014) and NMFS' status 
determination for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean 
concluded the stock is subject to overfishing, but not overfished or 
approaching an overfished condition. A stock is subject to overfishing 
when the level of fishing mortality or annual total catch jeopardizes 
the capacity to produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY) on a continuing 
basis. In contrast, a stock is overfished when its biomass has 
decreased below the level that jeopardizes the capacity of the stock to 
produce MSY on a continuing basis. Bigeye tuna in the WCPO is currently 
subject to international management under the WCPFC, which has 
established a goal of eliminating overfishing of the stock. The 
Pacific-wide stock of bigeye tuna is not listed as threatened or 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
    Comment 42: There is concern about increased fishing effort in the 
Hawaii longline fishery. Since 2005, the number of hooks that this 
fishery has set has increased by more than 14 million and projections 
indicate a total increase of nearly 44 percent by next year. In 
addition to bigeye tuna, a number of other species are a currently 
experiencing overfishing and/or are in an overfished condition, 
including North Pacific striped marlin, which could see increased 
catches of 20 mt.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery 
will increase by the amount noted. During 2012, when the Hawaii deep-
set longline fishery operated under the U.S. longline limit for WCPO 
bigeye tuna and a Section 113 catch agreement, the fishery deployed 
43,965,781 hooks. Based on a statistical analysis of logbook data, NMFS 
expects fishing effort (sets and hooks) to increase slightly or remain 
similar to recent years, and it is quite possible that the current 
deep-set fleet of 124-129 vessels may be operating near its annual 
maximum in terms of hooks, sets, and trips. Based on effort trends, 
NMFS estimates that in the near future the fishery may deploy 
46,117,532 hooks in a year. If this occurs, it would represent an 
approximately 4.9 percent increase over the 2012 effort level.
    See also the response to Comment 3.
    Comment 43: The proposed transfer agreements fail to implement the 
WCPFC's recommended catch limits of bigeye tuna and other conservation 
measures. Nothing in CMM 2013-01 supports the NMFS claim that CMM 2013-
01 does not establish annual bigeye tuna limits for the U.S. 
territories. On the contrary, CMM 2013-01 expressly provides that 
``attribution of catch and effort shall be to the flag State,'' in this 
case, the United States. The territories do not have additional bigeye 
tuna quotas under CMM 2013-01 that they can allocate to Hawaii-based 
longliners. The transfer agreements do not constitute charter 
arrangements under CMM 2011-05. Paragraph 7 in CMM 2013-01 does not 
create a loophole for U.S. flagged longline vessels to engage in 
unlimited fishing for bigeye tuna, contravening the WCPFC's intent to 
curb overfishing through the establishment of firm catch limits by 
flag.
    Response: NMFS has already implemented the 3,763-mt catch limit for 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for the United States for 2014 (see 50 CFR 
300.224) and will implement the U.S. longline catch limits for bigeye 
tuna specified in CMM 2013-01 for subsequent years in one or more 
separate rulemakings, as appropriate. Acting pursuant to the directive 
of Section 113, the Council also prepared an amendment and final rule 
that establishes a management framework for specifying catch and 
fishing effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries 
in the territories under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including provisions 
that would allow for the limited transfer of quota from U.S. 
participating territories to eligible U.S. fishing vessels, consistent 
with the conservation needs of the affected stocks. CMM 2013-01, 
paragraphs 7 and 41, provide that SIDS and PTs, including American 
Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI, are not subject to individual longline 
limits for bigeye tuna and does not require that bigeye tuna catch 
limits be established for the longline fisheries of PTs.
    NMFS notes that CMM 2013-01 does not establish individual bigeye 
tuna catch quotas for the territories; it only establishes individual 
fishing limits for certain members that operate developed fisheries. 
Moreover, nothing in CMM 2013-01 or predecessor decisions of the WCPFC 
requires that vessels operate under charters for purposes of catch 
attribution. To the contrary, CMM 2011-01 incorporated paragraph 2 of 
CMM 2008-01, which provided that vessels operated under ``charter, 
lease or similar mechanisms'' by developing states and participating 
territories, as an integral part of their domestic fleet, would be 
considered to be vessels of the host island State or territory.
    NMFS agrees that paragraph 7 of CMM 2013-01 should not create a 
loophole for U.S. longline vessels to engage in unlimited fishing for 
bigeye tuna. This action authorizes U.S. territories to transfer a 
limited amount of available bigeye quota to longline fisheries that 
have the capacity to harvest the stock, consistent with the 
conservation needs of the stock.
    Comment 44: The proposed action will allow for an increase in catch 
beyond the U.S. bigeye tuna catch limit

[[Page 64109]]

recently agreed to in the WCPFC under CMM 2013-01 and could increase 
tension among WCPFC member States and undermine progress toward the 
negotiation of further necessary reductions in fishing mortality, 
possibly undermining the leadership role of the United States in 
conservation efforts.
    Response: NMFS is dedicated to U.S. management and conservation of 
the WCPO bigeye tuna and the work of the WCPFC, and does not believe 
this final rule will adversely affect the role of the United States in 
the WCPFC. NMFS considered and analyzed impacts of the action on bigeye 
tuna with all other sources of fishing mortality, and on the premise 
that the U.S. fisheries must continue to comply with applicable 
international conservation and management measures. This final rule 
will not result in significant adverse impacts to bigeye tuna, or 
prevent management measures from improving the status of bigeye tuna in 
the WCPO. CMM 2013-01 does not provide individual limits for annual 
catch of bigeye tuna for the SIDS and PTs, but NMFS acknowledges that 
there is potential for increased bigeye tuna catches by these countries 
through vessel chartering or similar mechanisms, including catch 
attribution programs. Nevertheless, an increase in vessel chartering by 
other members was not observed during the three years (2011-2013) of 
the longline fishery's operation under Section 113, and we do not 
anticipate changes as a result of this final rule.
    See also the responses to Comments 2 and 4.
    Comment 45: CMM 2013-01 does not prescribe the transfer of catch 
limits from one State to another, nor does it allow for the transfer of 
catch limits from one territory to a State. To be consistent with U.S. 
commitments and legally-binding agreements, NMFS should specify 
criteria for fishing agreements that require all longline vessels to be 
based domestically in the territory in question, only catch the 
territory's bigeye tuna limit within the EEZ around each territory, and 
support the territories' development of its domestic fisheries. In 
addition, NMFS should include accountability measures that report on 
how such vessels have supported the development of the territory's 
domestic fisheries.
    Response: Section 113, as amended, required the Council to develop 
and transmit a fishery management plan amendment and regulations, no 
later than December 31, 2013, that establish a framework for 
transferring territory catch or effort limits to eligible U.S. fishing 
vessels in exchange for payments into the Sustainable Fisheries Fund to 
support fisheries development projects in the territories. This final 
rule implements these provisions, as established in Amendment 7. In 
developing Amendment 7, the Council identified and analyzed a range of 
alternatives to achieve the objective of Section 113, consistent with 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. NMFS is bound to 
work within the Council process established under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and must approve the Council's recommendation unless it finds such 
recommendation to be inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act or 
other laws. Under the provisions of the Council's proposal, specified 
fishing agreements must either provide for landing or offloading of 
catch in the ports of the relevant territory or provide funds to the 
Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support fisheries 
development in that territory. NMFS is unaware of any legal impediment 
to approval and implementation of these conditions.

Changes to the Proposed Rule

    In the proposed rule, the provisions for notification in Sec.  
665.819(c)(3)(ii) and appeal in Sec.  665.819(c)(8) regarding agency 
decisions on specified fishing agreements would have granted 
administrative appeal rights to the signatory territories, but not to 
the signatory vessel owners or their representatives. This unintended 
oversight, if implemented, would have denied procedural rights of 
review to all of the signatory parties to specified fishing agreements. 
The final rule corrects the oversight by including vessel owners and 
their representatives in those provisions.
    In the proposed rule, the provisions in Sec.  665.819(b)(2) and 
(b)(3) related to setting catch or fishing effort limit specifications 
and allocation portions for the fishing year, and the provisions in 
Sec.  665.819(d)(1) regarding action when territorial catch or fishing 
effort limits or allocation limits are projected to be reached, each 
included references to the use of the Federal Register and other 
reasonable means to notify the public. While NMFS will endeavor to use 
other reasonable means of notifying permit holders and public of these 
provisions, the only required means of notification is publication in 
the Federal Register. The final rule has been updated to reflect this 
clarification.
    NMFS is making several technical clarifications in this final rule. 
In the proposed rule at Sec.  665.819, paragraph (c)(1)(ii) requires a 
specified fishing agreement to identify the ``amount'' of western 
Pacific pelagic MUS to which the fishing agreement applies. Because 
WCPFC catch limits and related NMFS catch specifications refer to the 
weight of fish, not the number or other measure, NMFS added 
``(weight)'' after ``amount'' to clarify the requirement.
    NMFS is also changing the mailing addresses and phone numbers for 
several NMFS offices in the regulations for Pacific Island and 
international fisheries and in the general Magnuson-Stevens Act 
provisions. After the proposed rule was published, the NMFS Pacific 
Islands Regional Office, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, and 
the Pacific Islands Division of NOAA Law Enforcement moved their 
offices to a new location. Accordingly, this final rule revises 
addresses and contact information in Sec. Sec.  300.31, 300.211, 
300.219, 600.502, and 665.12.
    Under NOAA Administrative Order 205-11, dated December 17, 1990, 
the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere has delegated authority 
to sign material for publication in the Federal Register to the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, has 
determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and 
management of Pacific Island pelagic fisheries, and that it is 
consistent with Amendment 7, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other 
applicable laws.

Administrative Procedure Act

    NMFS has determined that good cause exists to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness of this rule because, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d), 
this rule relieves a restriction on the regulated community, and 
requiring a 30-day delay would be contrary to the public interest. This 
rule requires NMFS to begin attributing longline caught bigeye to the 
U.S. territory to which a fishing agreement applies seven days before 
the date NMFS projects the fishery to reach the U.S. bigeye tuna limit. 
NMFS now projects the current 3,763 metric ton limit will be reached in 
early- to mid-November 2014. NMFS must determine, in early November 
2014, the amount of unused U.S. bigeye tuna quota, and begin 
attributing catch made by U.S. vessels identified in qualifying fishing 
agreement to the U.S. territory to which the agreement applies. If the 
effectiveness of this final rule is delayed past the date the bigeye 
tuna limit is reached, NMFS would be required to publish a temporary 
rule that restricts the Hawaii-based longline fishery until this final 
rule is effective, after which

[[Page 64110]]

NMFS would remove the restrictions. If the rule's effectiveness is 
delayed, fisheries that might otherwise remain unrestricted may 
prematurely be restricted based on the lower U.S. limit having been 
reached. By implementing this rule immediately, it allows the fishery 
to continue fishing without the uncertainty or disruption of a 
potential closure.

Executive Order 12866

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

Certification Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule and specifications stage that 
this action would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis 
for the certification in the proposed rule and specifications, and does 
not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments regarding this 
certification. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was 
not required and none was prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) under Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) Control Number 0648-0689. Specifically, the owners of 
U.S. pelagic longline fishing vessels, or their designated 
representatives, may enter into specified fishing agreements with the 
governments of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, 
and this collection-of-information covers the preparation and 
submission of the agreement documents. The public reporting burden for 
a specified fishing agreement is estimated to average six hours per 
response, and two hours per appeal, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection information. NMFS expects to receive up to nine applications 
for specified fishing agreements each year, and one appeal per year, 
for a total maximum reporting burden of 56 hours per year. NMFS 
received no comments on the collection-of-information requirements in 
the proposed rule. Send comments regarding these burden estimates or 
any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for 
reducing the burden, to the NMFS Regional Administrator (see 
ADDRESSES), 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, and no person shall be subject to 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.

List of Subjects

15 CFR Part 902

    Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

50 CFR Part 300

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

50 CFR Part 600

    Administrative practice and procedure, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

50 CFR Part 665

    Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Commercial 
fishing, Fisheries, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Western and 
Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

    Dated: October 23, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS is amending 15 CFR 
part 902, and 50 CFR parts 300, 600, and 665 as follows: Title 15

PART 902--NOAA INFORMATION COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE 
PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT: OMB CONTROL NUMBERS

0
1. The authority citation for part 902 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  902.1, amend the table in paragraph (b), under the entry 
``50 CFR'' by adding an entry for Sec.  665.819 to read as follows:


Sec.  902.1  OMB control numbers assigned pursuant to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Current OMB
                                                          control number
  CFR part or section where the information collection     (all numbers
                 requirement is located                     begin with
                                                              0648-)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                 * * * *
50 CFR..................................................
 
                                 * * * *
665.819.................................................           -0689
 
                                 * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title 50

PART 300--INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

0
3. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 951 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 
U.S.C. 5501 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 2431 et seq., 31 U.S.C. 9701 et seq.

0
4. In Sec.  300.31, revise the definition of ``Regional Administrator'' 
to read as follows:


Sec.  300.31  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator, Pacific 
Islands Region, NMFS, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, 
facsimile: 808-725-5215, or a designee.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  300.211, revise the definitions of ``Pacific Islands 
Regional Administrator'' and ``Special Agent-In-Charge (or SAC)'' to 
read as follows:


Sec.  300.211  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Pacific Islands Regional Administrator means the Regional 
Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 
176, Honolulu, HI 96818, or a designee.
* * * * *
    Special Agent-In-Charge (or SAC) means the Special-Agent-In-Charge, 
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division, 1845 Wasp 
Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; tel: 808-725-6100; facsimile: 
808-725-6199; email: pidvms@noaa.gov, or a designee.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  300.219, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  300.219  Vessel monitoring system.

    (a) SAC and VMS Helpdesk contact information and business hours. 
For the

[[Page 64111]]

purpose of this section, the following contact information applies:
    (1) SAC. Address: 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; 
telephone: 808-725-6100; facsimile: 808-725-6199; email: 
pidvms@noaa.gov; business hours: Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time.
    (2) VMS Helpdesk. Telephone: 888-219-9228; email: 
ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov; business hours: Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  300.224, remove paragraph (g) and revise paragraphs (d) and 
(f)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  300.224  Longline fishing restrictions.

* * * * *
    (d) Exception for bigeye tuna caught by vessels included in 
specified fishing agreements under Sec.  665.819(c) of this title. 
Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel that is included in a specified fishing 
agreement under Sec.  665.819(c) of this title will be attributed to 
the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana 
Islands, according to the terms of the agreement to the extent the 
agreement is consistent with Sec.  665.819(c) of this title and other 
applicable laws, and will not be counted against the limit, provided 
that:
    (1) The start date specified in Sec.  665.819(c)(9)(i) of this 
title has occurred or passed; and
    (2) NMFS has not made a determination under Sec.  
665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna exceeds 
the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the agreement.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear may be retained on board, 
transshipped, and/or landed if they were caught by a vessel that is 
included in a specified fishing agreement under Sec.  665.819(c) of 
this title, if the agreement provides for bigeye tuna to be attributed 
to the longline fishery of American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern 
Mariana Islands, provided that:
    (A) The start date specified in Sec.  665.819(c)(9)(i) of this 
title has occurred or passed; and
    (B) NMFS has not made a determination under Sec.  
665.819(c)(9)(iii) of this title that the catch of bigeye tuna exceeds 
the limit allocated to the territory that is a party to the agreement.
* * * * *

PART 600--MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS

0
8. The authority citation for part 600 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

0
9. In Sec.  600.502, amend Table 1 by revising the entries for 
``Administrator, Pacific Islands Region'' under the heading ``NMFS 
regional administrators,'' and ``Director, Pacific Islands Fisheries 
Science Center'' under the heading ``NMFS science and research 
directors'' to read as follows:


Sec.  600.502  Vessel reports.

* * * * *

                  Table 1 to Sec.   600.502--Addresses
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                NMFS science and      U.S. Coast Guard
NMFS regional administrators   research directors        commanders
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                              * * * * * * *
Administrator, Pacific        Director, Pacific           * * * * *
 Islands Region, National      Islands Fisheries
 Marine Fisheries Service,     Science Center,
 NOAA, 1845 Wasp Blvd.,        National Marine
 Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI       Fisheries Service,
 96818.                        NOAA, 1845 Wasp
                               Blvd., Bldg. 176,
                               Honolulu, HI 96818.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

PART 665--FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC

0
10. The authority citation for part 665 continues to read as follows:

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

0
11. In Sec.  665.12, revise the definitions of ``Pacific Islands 
Regional Office (PIRO)'' and ``Special Agent-In-Charge'' to read as 
follows:


Sec.  665.12  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) means the headquarters of 
the Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, located at 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 
176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone number: 808-725-5000.
* * * * *
    Special Agent-In-Charge (SAC) means the Special Agent-In-Charge, 
NMFS, Pacific Islands Enforcement Division, located at 1845 Wasp Blvd., 
Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone number: 808-725-6100, or a 
designee.
* * * * *

0
12. In Sec.  665.800, add definitions of ``Effective date,'' ``U.S. 
participating territory,'' and ``WCPFC'' in alphabetical order to read 
as follows:


Sec.  665.800  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Effective date means the date upon which the Regional Administrator 
provides written notice to the authorized official or designated 
representative of the U.S. participating territory that a specified 
fishing agreement meets the requirements of this section.
* * * * *
    U.S. participating territory means a U.S. participating territory 
to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly 
Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean 
(including any annexes, amendments, or protocols that are in force, or 
have come into force, for the United States), and includes American 
Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
* * * * *
    WCPFC means the Commission for the Conservation and Management of 
Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, 
including its employees and contractors.
* * * * *

0
13. In Sec.  665.802, add paragraph (o) to read as follows:


Sec.  665.802  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (o) Use a fishing vessel to retain on board, transship, or land 
pelagic MUS captured by longline gear in the WCPFC Convention Area, as 
defined in Sec.  300.211 of this title, in violation of any restriction 
announced in accordance with Sec.  665.819(d)(2).
* * * * *

0
14. Add Sec.  665.819 to subpart F to read as follows:

[[Page 64112]]

Sec.  665.819  Territorial catch and fishing effort limits.

    (a) General. (1) Notwithstanding Sec.  665.4, if the WCPFC agrees 
to a catch or fishing effort limit for a stock of western Pacific 
pelagic MUS that is applicable to a U.S. participating territory, the 
Regional Administrator may specify an annual or multi-year catch or 
fishing effort limit for a U.S. participating territory, as recommended 
by the Council, not to exceed the WCPFC adopted limit. The Regional 
Administrator may authorize such U.S. participating territory to 
allocate a portion, as recommended by the Council, of the specified 
catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a 
valid permit issued under Sec.  665.801 through a specified fishing 
agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
    (2) If the WCPFC does not agree to a catch or fishing effort limit 
for a stock of western Pacific pelagic MUS applicable to a U.S. 
participating territory, the Council may recommend that the Regional 
Administrator specify such a limit that is consistent with the Pelagics 
FEP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws. The Council may also recommend that the Regional Administrator 
authorize a U.S. participating territory to allocate a portion of a 
specified catch or fishing effort limit to a fishing vessel or vessels 
holding valid permits issued under Sec.  665.801 through a specified 
fishing agreement pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
    (3) The Council shall review any existing or proposed catch or 
fishing effort limit specification and portion available for allocation 
at least annually to ensure consistency with the Pelagics FEP, 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws. Based 
on this review, at least annually, the Council shall recommend to the 
Regional Administrator whether such catch or fishing effort limit 
specification or portion available for allocation should be approved 
for the next fishing year.
    (4) The Regional Administrator shall review any Council 
recommendation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section and, if 
determined to be consistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, WCPFC decisions, and other applicable laws, shall approve such 
recommendation. If the Regional Administrator determines that a 
recommendation is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, WCPFC decisions and other applicable laws, the Regional 
Administrator will disapprove the recommendation and provide the 
Council with a written explanation of the reasons for disapproval. If a 
catch or fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit is 
disapproved, or if the Council recommends and NMFS approves no catch or 
fishing effort limit specification or allocation limit, no specified 
fishing agreements as described in paragraph (c) of this section will 
be accepted for the fishing year covered by such action.
    (b) Procedures and timing. (1) After receiving a Council 
recommendation for a catch or fishing effort limit specification, or 
portion available for allocation, the Regional Administrator will 
evaluate the recommendation for consistency with the Pelagics FEP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws.
    (2) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal Register 
a notice and request for public comment of the proposed catch or 
fishing effort limit specification and any portion of the limit that 
may be allocated to a fishing vessel or vessels holding a valid permit 
issued under Sec.  665.801.
    (3) The Regional Administrator will publish in the Federal 
Register, a notice of the final catch or fishing effort limit 
specification and portion of the limit that may be allocated to a 
fishing vessel or vessels holding valid permits issued under Sec.  
665.801. The final specification of a catch or fishing effort limit 
will also announce the deadline for submitting a specified fishing 
agreement for review as described in paragraph (c) of this section. The 
deadline will be no earlier than 30 days after the publication date of 
the Federal Register notice that specifies the final catch or fishing 
effort limit and the portion of the limit that may be allocated through 
a specified fishing agreement.
    (c) Specified fishing agreements. A specified fishing agreement 
means an agreement between a U.S. participating territory and the owner 
or a designated representative of a fishing vessel or vessels holding a 
valid permit issued under Sec.  665.801 of this part. An agreement 
provides access to an identified portion of a catch or fishing effort 
limit and may not exceed the amount specified for the territory and 
made available for allocation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this 
section. The identified portion of a catch or fishing effort limit in 
an agreement must account for recent and anticipated harvest on the 
stock or stock complex or fishing effort, and any other valid 
agreements with the territory during the same year not to exceed the 
territory's catch or fishing effort limit or allocation limit.
    (1) An authorized official or designated representative of a U.S. 
participating territory may submit a complete specified fishing 
agreement to the Council for review. A complete specified fishing 
agreement must meet the following requirements:
    (i) Identify the vessel(s) to which the fishing agreement applies, 
along with documentation that such vessel(s) possesses a valid permit 
issued under Sec.  665.801;
    (ii) Identify the amount (weight) of western Pacific pelagic MUS to 
which the fishing agreement applies, if applicable;
    (iii) Identify the amount of fishing effort to which the fishing 
agreement applies, if applicable;
    (iv) Be signed by an authorized official of the applicable U.S. 
participating territory, or designated representative;
    (v) Be signed by each vessel owner or designated representative; 
and
    (vi) Satisfy either paragraph (c)(1)(vi)(A) or (B) of this section:
    (A) Require the identified vessels to land or offload catch in the 
ports of the U.S. participating territory to which the fishing 
agreement applies; or
    (B) Specify the amount of monetary contributions that each vessel 
owner in the agreement, or his or her designated representative, will 
deposit into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund.
    (vii) Be consistent with the Pelagics FEP and implementing 
regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws; and
    (viii) Shall not confer any right of compensation to any party 
enforceable against the United States should action under such 
agreement be prohibited or limited by NMFS pursuant to its authority 
under Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws.
    (2) Council review. The Council, through its Executive Director, 
will review a submitted specified fishing agreement to ensure that it 
is consistent with paragraph (1) of this section. The Council will 
advise the authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. 
participating territory to which the agreement applies of any 
inconsistency and provide an opportunity to modify the agreement, as 
appropriate. The Council will transmit the complete specified fishing 
agreement to the Regional Administrator for review.
    (3) Agency review. (i) Upon receipt of a specified fishing 
agreement from the Council, the Regional Administrator will consider 
such agreement for consistency with paragraph (c)(1) of this section, 
the Pelagics FEP and

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implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other 
applicable laws.
    (ii) Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the fishing agreement 
from the Council, the Regional Administrator will provide the 
authorized official or designated representative of the U.S. 
participating territory to which the agreement applies and the 
signatory vessel owners or their designated representatives with 
written notice of whether the agreement meets the requirements of this 
section. The Regional Administrator will reject an agreement for any of 
the following reasons:
    (A) The agreement fails to meet the criteria specified in this 
subpart;
    (B) The applicant has failed to disclose material information;
    (C) The applicant has made a material false statement related to 
the specified fishing agreement;
    (D) The agreement is inconsistent with the Pelagics FEP, 
implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable 
laws; or
    (E) The agreement includes a vessel identified in another valid 
specified fishing agreement.
    (iii) The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Council, 
may recommend that specified fishing agreements include such additional 
terms and conditions as are necessary to ensure consistency with the 
Pelagics FEP and implementing regulations, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable laws.
    (iv) The U.S. participating territory must notify NMFS and the 
Council in writing of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to 
which the specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the 
change.
    (v) Upon written notice that a specified fishing agreement fails to 
meet the requirements of this section, the Regional Administrator may 
provide the U.S. participating territory an opportunity to modify the 
fishing agreement within the time period prescribed in the notice. Such 
opportunity to modify the agreement may not exceed 30 days following 
the date of written notice. The U.S. participating territory may 
resubmit the agreement according to paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
    (vi) The absence of the Regional Administrator's written notice 
within the time period specified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this 
section or, if applicable, within the extended time period specified in 
paragraph (c)(3)(v) of this section shall operate as the Regional 
Administrator's finding that the fishing agreement meets the 
requirements of this section.
    (4) Transfer. Specified fishing agreements authorized under this 
section are not transferable or assignable, except as allowed pursuant 
to paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section.
    (5) A vessel shall not be identified in more than one valid 
specified fishing agreement at a time.
    (6) Revocation and suspension. The Regional Administrator, in 
consultation with the Council, may at any time revoke or suspend 
attribution under a specified fishing agreement upon the determination 
that either: Operation under the agreement would violate the 
requirements of the Pelagics FEP or implementing regulations, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws; or the U.S. 
participating territory fails to notify NMFS and the Council in writing 
of any changes in the identity of fishing vessels to which the 
specified fishing agreement applies within 72 hours of the change.
    (7) Cancellation. The U.S. participating territory and the vessel 
owner(s), or designated representative(s), that are party to a 
specified fishing agreement must notify the Regional Administrator in 
writing within 72 hours after an agreement is cancelled or no longer 
valid. A valid notice of cancellation shall require the signatures of 
both parties to the agreement. All catch or fishing effort attributions 
under the agreement shall cease upon the written date of a valid notice 
of cancellation.
    (8) Appeals. An authorized official or designated representative of 
a U.S. participating territory or signatory vessel owners or their 
designated representatives may appeal the granting, denial, 
conditioning, or suspension of a specified fishing agreement affecting 
their interests to the Regional Administrator in accordance with the 
permit appeals procedures set forth in Sec.  665.801(o) of this 
subpart.
    (9) Catch or fishing effort attribution procedures. (i) For vessels 
identified in a valid specified fishing agreement that are subject to a 
U.S. limit and fishing restrictions set forth in 50 CFR part 300, 
subpart O, NMFS will attribute catch made by such vessels to the 
applicable U.S. participating territory starting seven days before the 
date NMFS projects the annual U.S. limit to be reached, or upon the 
effective date of the agreement, whichever is later.
    (ii) For U.S. fishing vessels identified in a valid specified 
fishing agreement that are subject to catch or fishing effort limits 
and fishing restrictions set forth in this subpart, NMFS will attribute 
catch or fishing effort to the applicable U.S. participating territory 
starting seven days before the date NMFS projects the limit to be 
reached, or upon the effective date of the agreement, whichever is 
later.
    (iii) If NMFS determines catch or fishing effort made by fishing 
vessels identified in a specified fishing agreement exceeds the 
allocated limit, NMFS will attribute any overage of the limit back to 
the U.S. or Pacific island fishery to which the vessel(s) is registered 
and permitted in accordance with the regulations set forth in 50 CFR 
part 300, subpart O and other applicable laws.
    (d) Accountability measures. (1) NMFS will monitor catch and 
fishing effort with respect to any territorial catch or fishing effort 
limit, including the amount of a limit allocated to vessels identified 
in a valid specified fishing agreement, using data submitted in 
logbooks and other information. When NMFS projects a territorial catch 
or fishing effort limit or allocated limit to be reached, the Regional 
Administrator shall publish notification to that effect in the Federal 
Register at least seven days before the limit will be reached.
    (2) The notice will include an advisement that fishing for the 
applicable pelagic MUS stock or stock complex, or fishing effort, will 
be restricted on a specific date. The restriction may include, but is 
not limited to, a prohibition on retention, closure of a fishery, 
closure of specific areas, or other catch or fishing effort 
restrictions. The restriction will remain in effect until the end of 
the fishing year.
    (e) Disbursement of contributions from the Sustainable Fisheries 
Fund. (1) NMFS shall make available to the Western Pacific Fishery 
Management Council monetary contributions, made to the Fund pursuant to 
a specified fishing agreement, in the following order of priority:
    (i) Project(s) identified in an approved Marine Conservation Plan 
(16 U.S.C. 1824) of a U.S. participating territory that is a party to a 
valid specified fishing agreement, pursuant to Sec.  665.819(c); and
    (ii) In the case of two or more valid specified fishing agreements 
in a fishing year, the projects listed in an approved Marine 
Conservation Plan applicable to the territory with the earliest valid 
agreement will be funded first.
    (2) At least seven calendar days prior to the disbursement of any 
funds, the Council shall provide in writing to NMFS a list identifying 
the order of priority of the projects in an approved Marine 
Conservation Plan that are to be

[[Page 64114]]

funded. The Council may thereafter revise this list.
[FR Doc. 2014-25610 Filed 10-24-14; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P