Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Species Fisheries, 22156-22158 [2015-09093]

Download as PDF 22156 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 76 / Tuesday, April 21, 2015 / Proposed Rules be set and what the scope of coverage should be. 5. Are there any other changes or refinements that the BLM should consider to its current oil and gas bonding, surety and financial arrangement requirements? Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: Civil Penalty Assessments The BLM is interested in receiving feedback on the following questions related to changes to the current caps on civil penalty assessments: 1. Should the current regulatory caps on the amount of civil penalties that may be assessed be removed? 2. If regulatory caps on the maximum amount of civil penalty assessments should remain, at what level should they be set to adequately deter improper action—in particular, drilling without an approved APD or drilling into Federal leases in knowing or willful trespass? Non-Penalty Assessments and Trespass 1. In addition to the caps on civil penalties set forth at 43 CFR 3163.2, should the BLM consider revising any of the assessments set forth in 43 CFR 3163.1? If so, what changes should be made and on what basis? 2. Should the BLM consider revising its oil trespass regulations set forth at 43 CFR 9239.5–2? If so, what changes should be made and on what basis? In addition to the specific information requests identified above, the BLM is also interested in receiving any other comments you may have regarding royalty rates, annual rental payments, minimum acceptable bids, bonding requirements, or the current regulatory caps on civil penalty assessments for BLM-managed oil and gas leases. Janice M. Schneider, Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management. [FR Doc. 2015–09033 Filed 4–20–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–84–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS [Docket No. 150305219–5219–01] RIN 0648–BE78 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Species Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:28 Apr 20, 2015 Jkt 235001 The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is proposing to modify the existing Pacific bluefin tuna (PBF) Thunnus orientalis recreational daily bag limit in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off California, and to establish filleting-atsea requirements for any tuna species in the U.S. EEZ south of Point Conception, Santa Barbara County, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This action is intended to conserve PBF, and is based on a recommendation of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by May 6, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0029, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150029, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Craig Heberer, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2015–0029’’ in the comments. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2015–0029, or contact the Regional Administrator, William W. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast Regional Office, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA. 98115–0070, or RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@ noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Heberer, NMFS, 760–431–9440, ext. 303. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 7, 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 18444) to implement the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP) that included annual specification guidelines at 50 CFR 660.709. These guidelines establish a process for the Council to take final action at its regularly-scheduled November meeting on any necessary harvest guideline, quota, or other management measure and recommend any such action to NMFS. At their November 2014, meeting, the Council adopted a recommendation (http:// www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/ 1114decisions.pdf) to modify the existing daily bag limit regulations at 50 CFR 660.721 for sport caught PBF harvested in the EEZ off the coast of California and to promulgate at-sea fillet regulations applicable south of Santa Barbara as routine management measures for the 2014–2015 biennial management cycle. The Council’s recommendation and NMFS’ proposed rulemaking are intended to reduce fishing mortality and aid in rebuilding the PBF stock, which is overfished and subject to overfishing (78 FR 41033, July 9, 2013; 80 FR 12621, March 9, 2015) and to satisfy the United States’ obligation to reduce catches of PBF by sportfishing vessels in accordance with Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Resolution C–14– 06. (http://www.iattc.org/PDFFiles2/ Resolutions/C-14-06-Conservation-ofbluefin-2015-2016.pdf). Resolution C–14–06 requires that ‘‘in 2015, all IATTC Members and Cooperating non-Members (CPCs) must take meaningful measures to reduce catches of PBF by sportfishing vessels operating under their jurisdiction to levels comparable to the levels of reduction applied under this resolution to the EPO commercial fisheries until such time that the stock is rebuilt.’’ The proposed daily bag limit of two fish per day being considered under this proposed rule would reduce the U.S. recreational harvest of PBF by approximately 30 percent, which is consistent with the IATTC scientific staff’s conservation recommendation for a 20–45 percent PBF harvest reduction and meets the requirements of IATTC Resolution C–14–06. The filleting-at-sea E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 76 / Tuesday, April 21, 2015 / Proposed Rules measures will assist in the enforcement of the proposed regulations by enabling enforcement personnel to differentiate PBF from other tuna species. This proposed rule is consistent with procedures established at 50 CFR 660.709(a)(4) of the implementing regulations for the HMS FMP. The proposed regulations would reduce the existing bag limit of 10 PBF per day to 2 PBF per day and the maximum multiday possession limit (i.e., for trips of 3 days or more) from 30 PBF to 6 PBF. For fishing trips of less than 3 days, the daily bag limit is multiplied by the number of days fishing to determine the multiday possession limit (e.g., the possession limit for a 1-day trip would be two fish and for a 2-day trip, four fish). A day is defined as a 24-hour period from the time of departure. Thus a trip spanning 2 calendar days could count as only 1 day for the purpose of enforcing possession limits. Most PBF caught by U.S. anglers are taken in the EEZ of Mexico, both on private vessels and on Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (CPFV). The bulk of these trips originate from and return to San Diego, CA, ports. During 2004 through 2013, approximately 78 percent of the fishing effort for PBF (measured by angler days) by U.S. West Coast recreational fishing vessels occurred in Mexico’s EEZ. Fishing by U.S. recreational vessels in Mexico’s EEZ is a permitted activity that is subject to management by the Government of Mexico, which has imposed bag and possession limits. The daily bag and multiday possession limits being proposed for the U.S. EEZ off the coast of California might be more or less conservative than Mexico’s limits. The proposed U.S. recreational limits would not apply to U.S. anglers while in Mexico’s waters, but to facilitate enforcement and monitoring, the limits would apply to U.S. vessels in the U.S. EEZ or landing to U.S. ports, regardless of where the fish were harvested. The proposed regulations would also establish requirements for filleting tuna at-sea (e.g., each fish must be cut into six pieces placed in an individual bag so that certain diagnostic characteristics are left intact), which will assist law enforcement personnel in accurately identifying different species given morphometric and phenotypic similarities between tuna species, specifically, yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and PBF. These requirements would apply to any tuna species caught south of Santa Barbara (i.e., south of a line running west true from Point Conception, Santa Barbara County VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:28 Apr 20, 2015 Jkt 235001 (34°27′ N. lat.)) In addition to enhancing enforcement, the proposed fillet measures would also assist port samplers and fishery biologists conducting fishery surveys in accurately identifying tuna species. The State of California has informed NMFS that it intends to implement companion regulations to the Federal regulations being proposed here by imposing daily PBF bag limits applicable to recreational angling and possession of fish in state waters (0–3 nm). Currently, California State regulations allow, by special permit, the retention of up to three daily bag limits for a trip occurring over multiple, consecutive days. California State regulations also allow for two or more persons angling for finfish aboard a vessel in ocean waters off California to continue fishing until boat limits are reached. NMFS and the Council consider these additional state restrictions to be consistent with Federal regulations implementing the HMS FMP, including this proposed rule if implemented. The proposed fillet requirements differ from current State of California requirements, which allow tuna filleting as long as a 1-inch square patch of skin is left on the fillet. Several comments received during public scoping for this action called for an exception to the fillet requirements for skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis. The Council recommendation to NMFS did not provide an exception for skipjack tuna. However, the California Fish and Game Commission is considering a possible exception, such that skipjack tuna taken from and possessed aboard a vessel south of Point Conception (Santa Barbara County) may be processed by removing the entire fillet on each side and shall bear the entire skin attached. Skipjack tuna possess distinct horizontal bands on their belly that remain visible and distinct allowing for accurate identification, even after the fish or fillet has been frozen. NMFS is seeking further guidance from the public on the issue of a possible exception to the proposed fillet requirements for skipjack tuna. The proposed rule would apply only to recreational fisheries in Federal waters off California. Although PBF are occasionally caught and retained in Oregon and Washington, the catches are negligible. Therefore, the benefits expected from monitoring and regulating PBF catch in waters off those states does not justify the administrative or regulatory burden of doing so. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 22157 Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the HMS FMP, other provisions of the Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. National Environmental Policy Act The Council prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for this action that discusses the impact on the environment as a result of this proposed rule. None of the bag and possession limit alternatives analyzed in the EA are expected to jeopardize the sustainability of the PBF. However, the preferred alternative, which reflects the action proposed in this rule, is likely to have negative economic impacts on the affected fishing communities. The alternatives, including the preferred alternative, for tuna filleting procedures are not expected to result in significant socioeconomic impacts. Executive Order 12866 This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) is as follows: The proposed regulations would reduce the existing bag limit of 10 PBF per day to 2 PBF per day and the maximum multiday possession limit (i.e., for trips of 3 days or more) from 30 PBF to 6 PBF. For fishing trips of less than 3 days, the daily bag limit is multiplied by the number of days fishing to determine the multiday possession limit (e.g., the possession limit for a 1-day trip would be two fish and for a 2-day trip, four fish). These limits will apply to recreational anglers in U.S. waters off the West Coast or any other ocean waters that return to U.S. waters and/or ports. This rule also proposes that tunas caught by recreational anglers to be filleted according to specified configurations for bag limit monitoring and enforcement purposes. This proposed rule, if implemented, would not be expected to directly affect any small entities. This proposed rule would change the PBF recreational bag E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1 22158 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 76 / Tuesday, April 21, 2015 / Proposed Rules limit and the filleting requirements for caught tuna, which affects only individual recreational anglers. Recreational anglers, by definition, may not sell catch, and thus are not considered to be a business. Because recreational anglers are not considered to be a small entity under the RFA, the economic effects of this proposed rule on these anglers are outside the scope of the RFA. Although the for-hire sector of the sport fishery may experience indirect economic impacts due to the imposition of reduced daily bag and possession limits, those impacts are not required elements of the RFA analysis for this action. Because this proposed rule, if implemented, would not be expected to have a significant direct adverse economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. Paperwork Reduction Act There are no new collection-ofinformation requirements associated with this action that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, existing collection-of-information requirements associated with the U.S. West Coast Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan still apply. These existing requirements have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under Control Number 0648–0204. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: April 15, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF THE WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Washington and for bluefin tuna in the U.S. EEZ off the coast of California. In addition to individual fishermen, the operator of a U.S. sportsfishing vessel that fishes for albacore or bluefin tuna is responsible for ensuring that the bag and possession limits of this section are not exceeded. The bag limits of this section apply on the basis of each 24hour period at sea, regardless of the number of trips per day. The provisions of this section do not authorize any person to take and retain more than one daily bag limit of fish during 1 calendar day. Federal recreational HMS regulations are not intended to supersede any more restrictive state recreational HMS regulations relating to federally-managed HMS. (a) Albacore Tuna Daily Bag Limit. Except pursuant to a multi-day possession permit referenced in paragraph (c) of this section, a recreational fisherman may take and retain, or possess onboard no more than: * * * * * (b) Bluefin Tuna Daily Bag Limit. A recreational fisherman may take and retain, or possess on board no more than two bluefin tuna during any part of a fishing trip that occurs in the U.S. EEZ off California south of a line running due west true from the CaliforniaOregon border [42°00′ N. latitude]. * * * * * (e) Restrictions on Filleting of Tuna South of Point Conception. South of a line running due west true from Point Conception, Santa Barbara County (34°27′ N. latitude) to the U.S.-Mexico border, any tuna that has been filleted must be individually bagged as follows: (1) The bag must be marked with the species’ common name, and (2) the fish must be cut into the following six pieces with all skin attached: the four loins, the collar removed as one piece with both pectoral fins attached and intact, and the belly cut to include the vent and with both pelvic fins attached and intact. [FR Doc. 2015–09093 Filed 4–20–15; 8:45 am] Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P 2. In § 660.721, revise the section heading, introductory text, paragraph (a) introductory text and paragraph (b), and add paragraph (e) to read as follows: tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ■ § 660.721 Recreational fishing bag limits and filleting requirements. This section applies to recreational fishing for albacore tuna in the U.S. EEZ off the coast of California, Oregon, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:28 Apr 20, 2015 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 140113035–5354–01] RIN 0648–XD082 Pacific Island Fisheries; 2014–15 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures; Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to specify an annual catch limit (ACL) of 346,000 lb for Deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for the 2014–15 fishing year. If the ACL is projected to be reached, NMFS would close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish for the remainder of the fishing year. The proposed specifications and fishery closure support the long-term sustainability of Hawaii bottomfish. DATES: NMFS must receive comments by May 6, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2013–0174, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20130174, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd. Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 76 (Tuesday, April 21, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 22156-22158]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-09093]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 150305219-5219-01]
RIN 0648-BE78


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Species 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is proposing to 
modify the existing Pacific bluefin tuna (PBF) Thunnus orientalis 
recreational daily bag limit in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off 
California, and to establish filleting-at-sea requirements for any tuna 
species in the U.S. EEZ south of Point Conception, Santa Barbara 
County, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (MSA). This action is intended to conserve PBF, and is based on a 
recommendation of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council).

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by 
May 6, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0029, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0029, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Craig Heberer, NMFS West 
Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long 
Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0029'' in the 
comments.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by 
NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or 
individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be 
considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and 
will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov 
without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and other 
supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 
http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2015-0029, or contact the 
Regional Administrator, William W. Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast 
Regional Office, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA. 98115-
0070, or RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Heberer, NMFS, 760-431-9440, 
ext. 303.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 7, 2004, NMFS published a final 
rule (69 FR 18444) to implement the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. 
West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP) that 
included annual specification guidelines at 50 CFR 660.709. These 
guidelines establish a process for the Council to take final action at 
its regularly-scheduled November meeting on any necessary harvest 
guideline, quota, or other management measure and recommend any such 
action to NMFS. At their November 2014, meeting, the Council adopted a 
recommendation (http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/1114decisions.pdf) to modify the existing daily bag limit regulations 
at 50 CFR 660.721 for sport caught PBF harvested in the EEZ off the 
coast of California and to promulgate at-sea fillet regulations 
applicable south of Santa Barbara as routine management measures for 
the 2014-2015 biennial management cycle. The Council's recommendation 
and NMFS' proposed rulemaking are intended to reduce fishing mortality 
and aid in rebuilding the PBF stock, which is overfished and subject to 
overfishing (78 FR 41033, July 9, 2013; 80 FR 12621, March 9, 2015) and 
to satisfy the United States' obligation to reduce catches of PBF by 
sportfishing vessels in accordance with Inter-American Tropical Tuna 
Commission (IATTC) Resolution C-14-06. (http://www.iattc.org/PDFFiles2/Resolutions/C-14-06-Conservation-of-bluefin-2015-2016.pdf).
    Resolution C-14-06 requires that ``in 2015, all IATTC Members and 
Cooperating non-Members (CPCs) must take meaningful measures to reduce 
catches of PBF by sportfishing vessels operating under their 
jurisdiction to levels comparable to the levels of reduction applied 
under this resolution to the EPO commercial fisheries until such time 
that the stock is rebuilt.'' The proposed daily bag limit of two fish 
per day being considered under this proposed rule would reduce the U.S. 
recreational harvest of PBF by approximately 30 percent, which is 
consistent with the IATTC scientific staff's conservation 
recommendation for a 20-45 percent PBF harvest reduction and meets the 
requirements of IATTC Resolution C-14-06. The filleting-at-sea

[[Page 22157]]

measures will assist in the enforcement of the proposed regulations by 
enabling enforcement personnel to differentiate PBF from other tuna 
species. This proposed rule is consistent with procedures established 
at 50 CFR 660.709(a)(4) of the implementing regulations for the HMS 
FMP.
    The proposed regulations would reduce the existing bag limit of 10 
PBF per day to 2 PBF per day and the maximum multiday possession limit 
(i.e., for trips of 3 days or more) from 30 PBF to 6 PBF. For fishing 
trips of less than 3 days, the daily bag limit is multiplied by the 
number of days fishing to determine the multiday possession limit 
(e.g., the possession limit for a 1-day trip would be two fish and for 
a 2-day trip, four fish). A day is defined as a 24-hour period from the 
time of departure. Thus a trip spanning 2 calendar days could count as 
only 1 day for the purpose of enforcing possession limits.
    Most PBF caught by U.S. anglers are taken in the EEZ of Mexico, 
both on private vessels and on Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels 
(CPFV). The bulk of these trips originate from and return to San Diego, 
CA, ports. During 2004 through 2013, approximately 78 percent of the 
fishing effort for PBF (measured by angler days) by U.S. West Coast 
recreational fishing vessels occurred in Mexico's EEZ. Fishing by U.S. 
recreational vessels in Mexico's EEZ is a permitted activity that is 
subject to management by the Government of Mexico, which has imposed 
bag and possession limits.
    The daily bag and multiday possession limits being proposed for the 
U.S. EEZ off the coast of California might be more or less conservative 
than Mexico's limits. The proposed U.S. recreational limits would not 
apply to U.S. anglers while in Mexico's waters, but to facilitate 
enforcement and monitoring, the limits would apply to U.S. vessels in 
the U.S. EEZ or landing to U.S. ports, regardless of where the fish 
were harvested.
    The proposed regulations would also establish requirements for 
filleting tuna at-sea (e.g., each fish must be cut into six pieces 
placed in an individual bag so that certain diagnostic characteristics 
are left intact), which will assist law enforcement personnel in 
accurately identifying different species given morphometric and 
phenotypic similarities between tuna species, specifically, yellowfin 
(Thunnus albacares) and PBF. These requirements would apply to any tuna 
species caught south of Santa Barbara (i.e., south of a line running 
west true from Point Conception, Santa Barbara County (34[deg]27' N. 
lat.)) In addition to enhancing enforcement, the proposed fillet 
measures would also assist port samplers and fishery biologists 
conducting fishery surveys in accurately identifying tuna species.
    The State of California has informed NMFS that it intends to 
implement companion regulations to the Federal regulations being 
proposed here by imposing daily PBF bag limits applicable to 
recreational angling and possession of fish in state waters (0-3 nm). 
Currently, California State regulations allow, by special permit, the 
retention of up to three daily bag limits for a trip occurring over 
multiple, consecutive days. California State regulations also allow for 
two or more persons angling for finfish aboard a vessel in ocean waters 
off California to continue fishing until boat limits are reached. NMFS 
and the Council consider these additional state restrictions to be 
consistent with Federal regulations implementing the HMS FMP, including 
this proposed rule if implemented. The proposed fillet requirements 
differ from current State of California requirements, which allow tuna 
filleting as long as a 1-inch square patch of skin is left on the 
fillet.
    Several comments received during public scoping for this action 
called for an exception to the fillet requirements for skipjack tuna, 
Katsuwonus pelamis. The Council recommendation to NMFS did not provide 
an exception for skipjack tuna. However, the California Fish and Game 
Commission is considering a possible exception, such that skipjack tuna 
taken from and possessed aboard a vessel south of Point Conception 
(Santa Barbara County) may be processed by removing the entire fillet 
on each side and shall bear the entire skin attached. Skipjack tuna 
possess distinct horizontal bands on their belly that remain visible 
and distinct allowing for accurate identification, even after the fish 
or fillet has been frozen. NMFS is seeking further guidance from the 
public on the issue of a possible exception to the proposed fillet 
requirements for skipjack tuna.
    The proposed rule would apply only to recreational fisheries in 
Federal waters off California. Although PBF are occasionally caught and 
retained in Oregon and Washington, the catches are negligible. 
Therefore, the benefits expected from monitoring and regulating PBF 
catch in waters off those states does not justify the administrative or 
regulatory burden of doing so.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with 
the HMS FMP, other provisions of the Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Council prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for this 
action that discusses the impact on the environment as a result of this 
proposed rule. None of the bag and possession limit alternatives 
analyzed in the EA are expected to jeopardize the sustainability of the 
PBF. However, the preferred alternative, which reflects the action 
proposed in this rule, is likely to have negative economic impacts on 
the affected fishing communities. The alternatives, including the 
preferred alternative, for tuna filleting procedures are not expected 
to result in significant socioeconomic impacts.

Executive Order 12866

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

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) is as follows:
    The proposed regulations would reduce the existing bag limit of 10 
PBF per day to 2 PBF per day and the maximum multiday possession limit 
(i.e., for trips of 3 days or more) from 30 PBF to 6 PBF. For fishing 
trips of less than 3 days, the daily bag limit is multiplied by the 
number of days fishing to determine the multiday possession limit 
(e.g., the possession limit for a 1-day trip would be two fish and for 
a 2-day trip, four fish). These limits will apply to recreational 
anglers in U.S. waters off the West Coast or any other ocean waters 
that return to U.S. waters and/or ports. This rule also proposes that 
tunas caught by recreational anglers to be filleted according to 
specified configurations for bag limit monitoring and enforcement 
purposes.
    This proposed rule, if implemented, would not be expected to 
directly affect any small entities. This proposed rule would change the 
PBF recreational bag

[[Page 22158]]

limit and the filleting requirements for caught tuna, which affects 
only individual recreational anglers. Recreational anglers, by 
definition, may not sell catch, and thus are not considered to be a 
business. Because recreational anglers are not considered to be a small 
entity under the RFA, the economic effects of this proposed rule on 
these anglers are outside the scope of the RFA. Although the for-hire 
sector of the sport fishery may experience indirect economic impacts 
due to the imposition of reduced daily bag and possession limits, those 
impacts are not required elements of the RFA analysis for this action.
    Because this proposed rule, if implemented, would not be expected 
to have a significant direct adverse economic effect on a substantial 
number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is 
not required and none has been prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    There are no new collection-of-information requirements associated 
with this action that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 
existing collection-of-information requirements associated with the 
U.S. West Coast Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan still 
apply. These existing requirements have been approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget under Control Number 0648-0204.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: April 15, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF THE WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 
U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  660.721, revise the section heading, introductory text, 
paragraph (a) introductory text and paragraph (b), and add paragraph 
(e) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.721  Recreational fishing bag limits and filleting 
requirements.

    This section applies to recreational fishing for albacore tuna in 
the U.S. EEZ off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington and 
for bluefin tuna in the U.S. EEZ off the coast of California. In 
addition to individual fishermen, the operator of a U.S. sportsfishing 
vessel that fishes for albacore or bluefin tuna is responsible for 
ensuring that the bag and possession limits of this section are not 
exceeded. The bag limits of this section apply on the basis of each 24-
hour period at sea, regardless of the number of trips per day. The 
provisions of this section do not authorize any person to take and 
retain more than one daily bag limit of fish during 1 calendar day. 
Federal recreational HMS regulations are not intended to supersede any 
more restrictive state recreational HMS regulations relating to 
federally-managed HMS.
    (a) Albacore Tuna Daily Bag Limit. Except pursuant to a multi-day 
possession permit referenced in paragraph (c) of this section, a 
recreational fisherman may take and retain, or possess onboard no more 
than:
* * * * *
    (b) Bluefin Tuna Daily Bag Limit. A recreational fisherman may take 
and retain, or possess on board no more than two bluefin tuna during 
any part of a fishing trip that occurs in the U.S. EEZ off California 
south of a line running due west true from the California-Oregon border 
[42[deg]00' N. latitude].
* * * * *
    (e) Restrictions on Filleting of Tuna South of Point Conception. 
South of a line running due west true from Point Conception, Santa 
Barbara County (34[deg]27' N. latitude) to the U.S.-Mexico border, any 
tuna that has been filleted must be individually bagged as follows:
    (1) The bag must be marked with the species' common name, and
    (2) the fish must be cut into the following six pieces with all 
skin attached: the four loins, the collar removed as one piece with 
both pectoral fins attached and intact, and the belly cut to include 
the vent and with both pelvic fins attached and intact.

[FR Doc. 2015-09093 Filed 4-20-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P