Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 76405-76425 [2015-31002]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information). V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA’s role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action: • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011); • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.); • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Sulfur oxides. Dated: November 23, 2015. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, Region 5. [FR Doc. 2015–30917 Filed 12–8–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150818742–5742–01] RIN 0648–XE130 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2016 and 2017 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. SUMMARY: Comments must be received by January 8, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0110, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76405 Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150110, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2014 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2014, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907–271– 2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. The draft 2015 SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76406 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2016 and 2017, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 590,161 mt. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2015 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2015 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES) and, (4) considering information presented in the final 2015 SAFE report prepared for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish fisheries. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications Removal of Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for Hook-and-Line Catcher/ Processors At its June 2013 meeting, the Council took final action to establish a temporary process to permanently remove catch limits, known as sideboard limits, for Pacific cod that are applicable to certain hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/Ps) in the Central and Western GOA regulatory areas. This action is known as Amendment 45 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Amendment 45). The final rule implementing the regulations associated with Amendment 45 was published on May 19, 2015 (80 FR 28539). If all persons holding a license limitation program license with endorsements that allow directed fishing for Pacific cod as a hook-andline C/P in the Central or Western GOA sign and submit to NMFS an affidavit affirming that all eligible participants in that regulatory area recommend removal of the Crab Rationalization Program GOA Pacific cod sideboard limit, then NMFS would not establish Crab Rationalization Program GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits for the hook-andline C/P sector through the annual harvest specification process. All eligible fishery participants submitted VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 affidavits as described above for the Western GOA and Central GOA; therefore NMFS will not establish 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod sideboard limits for hook-and-line C/Ps. These sideboard limits have been removed from Table 15 of this proposed rule. Revise Maximum Retainable Amounts for Skates In December 2014, the Council took final action to reduce the maximum retainable amount (MRA) for skates in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). Per the Council’s recommendation, NMFS developed and published a proposed rule to modify regulations that specify the MRA for skates in the GOA (80 FR 39734, July 10, 2015). An MRA is expressed as a percentage and is the maximum amount of a species closed to directed fishing (i.e., skate species) that may be retained on board a vessel relative to the retained amount of other groundfish species or halibut open for directed fishing (basis species). An MRA serves as a management tool to slow the harvest rates of incidental catch species and limit retention up to a maximum percentage of the amount of retained groundfish or halibut on board the vessel. NMFS has established a single MRA percentage for big skate (Raja binoculata), longnose skate (Raja rhina), and for all remaining skate species (Bathyraja spp.). The proposed rule would reduce the MRA for skates in the GOA from 20 percent to 5 percent. The reduced MRA would apply to all vessels directed fishing for groundfish or halibut in the GOA. NMFS anticipates that the proposed regulatory revisions associated with the skate MRA reduction will be effective in 2016. Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications In October 2015, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2014 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates and the SSC sets an overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 group. The amounts proposed for the 2016 and 2017 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2014 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2015 SAFE report. The draft stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2015 SAFE report are available at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/stocks/ plan_team/draft_assessments.htm. In November 2015, the Plan Team updated the 2014 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2015, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team compiled this information and produced the draft 2015 SAFE report for presentation at the December 2015 Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council will consider information in the draft 2015 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2015 Plan Team meeting and December 2015 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ‘‘warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the September 2015 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2015 Council meeting. The species with possible model changes are Pacific cod, rex sole, and rock sole. In November 2015, the Plan Team considered updated stock assessments for groundfish, which are included in the draft 2015 SAFE report. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS If the draft 2015 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the draft 2015 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. The proposed 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2016 and 2017 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2016 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 25, 2015 (80 FR 10250). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exceptions of shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ‘‘other rockfish’’ in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for harvest opportunities while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards in the SEO District. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts of this species in other directed fisheries. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 The proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in Prince William Sound (PWS). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council reduced the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 707 mt; (2) Central GOA, 15,330 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 11,611 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State’s 2016 and 2017 GHLs in these areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern and Central and 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABCs. The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established by the State for the PWS pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Based on genetic studies, fisheries scientists believe that the pollock in PWS is not a separate stock from the combined W/ C/WYK population. Since 1996, the Plan Team has had a protocol of recommending that the GHL amount be deducted from the GOA-wide ABC. For 2016 and 2017, the SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/ WYK pollock ABC including the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2015 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. Accordingly, the Council recommended adopting a W/C/WYK pollock ABC that has been reduced to account for the State’s PWS GHL. For 2016 and 2017, the proposed PWS pollock GHL is 6,271 mt, as recommended by State fisheries managers. The proposed 2016 and 2017 ABC is 263,449 mt, and the proposed TAC is 257,178 mt. The Council has adopted the SSC’s 2014 recommendation to revise the terminology used when apportioning pollock in the W/C/WYK. The SSC recommended describing apportionments of pollock to the W/C/ WYK as ‘‘apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)’’ rather than ‘‘ABCs.’’ The SSC noted that describing subarea PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76407 apportionments as ‘‘apportionments of the ACL’’ more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC from one area to another pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL and ABC are not exceeded. The SSC noted that this terminology change is acceptable for pollock in the W/C/WYK only. Further information about the rationale to adopt this terminology is in the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015). NMFS’ proposed apportionments for groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of Pacific cod, pollock, and sablefish. Additional detail on these apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here. NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the W/C/WYK and the SEO District of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 divided equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts. NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod gear and sector apportionments are discussed in detail below; Table 3 lists these amounts. The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76408 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below; Tables 4 and 5 list these amounts. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 590,161 mt for 2016 and 2017, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. The sums of the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs are higher than the final 2015 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish fisheries (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015). The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for pollock, Pacific ocean perch, and rougheye rockfish are higher than the final 2015 TACs for these species. The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for sablefish, shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish are lower than the final 2015 TACs for these species. The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for the remaining species are equal to the final 2015 TACs. For 2016 and 2017, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. Table 1 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2014 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 2015 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during its December 2015 meeting. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ....................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 321,067 16,833 41,472 127,936 68,958 6,187 250,824 12,625 41,472 127,936 68,958 6,187 244,553 12,625 Total ............................................................ 337,900 263,449 257,178 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 38,702 61,320 2,828 27,091 45,990 2,121 Total ............................................................ 133,100 102,850 75,202 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,338 4,232 1,552 2,436 3,988 1,338 4,232 1,552 2,436 3,988 Total ............................................................ 11,293 9,558 9,558 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 19,577 17,114 1,959 554 13,250 17,114 1,959 554 Total ............................................................ 48,407 39,205 32,877 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 299 3,645 5,409 3,824 299 3,645 5,409 3,824 Total ............................................................ 15,803 13,177 13,177 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,234 5,707 758 1,280 1,234 5,707 758 1,280 Total ............................................................ 11,733 8,979 8,979 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... n/a n/a n/a 29,545 109,692 35,328 14,500 75,000 6,900 Pacific cod 3 .................................................... Sablefish 4 ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 OFL Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM ABC 09DEP1 TAC 2 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76409 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL TAC 2 ABC SEO ................................................................ mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Longnose skates 17 ......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 41,378 27,759 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... W/C/WYK ....................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a 23,876 2,513 2,358 16,184 2,055 20,597 839 2,358 16,184 2,055 20,597 839 24,849 21,436 21,436 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 1,158 3,563 1,158 3,563 5,631 4,721 4,721 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 92 397 834 92 397 834 1,764 1,323 1,323 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 273 3,077 1,187 174 273 3,077 1,187 174 5,759 4,711 4,711 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 117 643 382 117 643 382 1,370 1,142 1,142 SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 361 n/a n/a n/a 225 235 875 731 225 235 875 731 2,454 1,841 1,841 W/C combined ................................................ WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a 1,031 580 2,469 1,031 580 200 5,347 4,080 1,811 GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,700 731 1,257 1,267 2,000 731 1,257 1,267 4,340 3,255 3,255 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 152 2,090 976 152 2,090 976 Total ............................................................ Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skates 16 .................................................... 50,818 Total ............................................................ Other rockfish 14 15 .......................................... 8,650 15,400 3,538 171 Total ............................................................ Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish 13 .................................... 12,776 24,893 3,538 171 Total ............................................................ Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... n/a n/a n/a n/a Total ............................................................ ............................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ Total ............................................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ........................................ 103,300 Total ............................................................ Shortraker 185,352 Total ............................................................ rockfish 9 217,522 Total ............................................................ Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... 6,900 Total ............................................................ Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... 10,787 Total ............................................................ Flathead sole .................................................. n/a 4,291 3,218 3,218 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76410 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Other skates 18 ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Total ......................................................... GW GW GW GW GW OFL ABC TAC 2 ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. 2,980 7,448 7,986 1,530 2,009 2,235 5,569 5,989 1,148 1,507 2,235 5,569 5,989 1,148 1,507 ......................................................................... 910,895 731,049 590,161 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2 The combined pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat areas is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among four statistical areas. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned among various sectors 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2016 and trawl gear in 2017. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the other rockfish (slope rockfish) species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Thornyhead rockfish’’ means Sebastes species. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish (slope rockfish)’’ means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ‘‘other rockfish’’ also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means all rockfish species included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ and demersal shelf rockfish categories. 16 ‘‘Big skates’’ means Raja binoculata. 17 ‘‘Longnose skates’’ means Raja rhina. 18 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja spp. Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2015, NMFS apportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposes reapportionment of all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in anticipation of the projected annual catch of these species. The TACs in Table 1 reflect the apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups. Each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species categories contains the full TAC recommended by the Council, since none of the relevant species and species groups’ TACs contributed to a reserve that could be used for future reapportionments. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 seasons, the apportionments have historically been based on the proportional distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. However, for 2016 and 2017, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. This combination of summer and winter distribution has been used for area apportionments since 2002. The average is intended to reflect the best available information about migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 8 percent, 67 percent, and 25 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 8 percent, 83 percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 27 percent, 32 percent, and 41 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2016 and 2017 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 6,187 mt and SEO District of 12,625 mt are not allocated by season. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of pollock amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, 76411 or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined as fishing activity occurs during the fishing year by the offshore component. Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season 2 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ................................... B (Mar 10–May 31) .................................. C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ..................................... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ....................................... 4,760 4,760 15,975 15,975 (7.99%) (7.99%) (26.81%) (26.81%) 39,992 49,586 19,179 19,179 (67.11%) (83.21%) (32.18%) (32.18%) 14,839 5,245 24,437 24,437 (24.90%) (8.80%) (41.01%) (41.01%) 59,592 59,592 59,592 59,592 Annual Total 3 ................................... 41,472 .................... 127,936 .................... 68,958 .................... 238,366 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. 2 As mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. Pursuant § 679.20(a)(6)(ii) NMFS proposes the allocation of the Pacific cod TAC between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA. In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear. In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishery year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a federal fisheries permit that use jig gear PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs depending on the annual performance of the jig sector. If such allocation increases are not harvested by the jig sector, then the annual jig sector allocations may subsequently be reduced (See Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 2.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 and 2014 allocations in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector would receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76412 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional performance increase. However, allocation increases to the jig sector are established for a minimum of 2 years. NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2014 and 2015 harvest performance of each jig sector when the 2015 fishing year is complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. Based on the current catch (through November 2015) by the Western GOA jig sector, the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector would not change in 2016. Similarly, the current catch by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector’s Pacific cod allocation percentage would not change in 2016. The jig sector allocations are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) seasons. Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA FOR PROCESSING BY THE INSHORE AND OFFSHORE COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ................................................. Hook-and-line CV ................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ................................................ Trawl CV ............................................................... Trawl C/P .............................................................. Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................. 948 366 5,176 10,039 627 9,934 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 569 183 2,850 7,242 235 5,176 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 379 183 2,327 2,797 392 4,758 Total ............................................................... 27,091 60.00 16,255 40.00 10,837 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ................................................. Hook-and-line <50 CV .......................................... Hook-and-line ≥50 CV .......................................... Hook-and-line C/P ................................................ Trawl CV ............................................................... Trawl C/P .............................................................. Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................. 460 6,648 3,054 2,324 18,933 1,911 12,660 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.13 2.00 17.83 276 4,241 2,554 1,870 9,623 912 8,118 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 184 2,407 500 454 9,310 999 4,542 Total ............................................................... 45,990 60.00 27,594 40.00 18,396 Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Eastern GOA ................................................................ mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using Hookand-Line and Trawl Gear Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 2,121 1,909 recommended and NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This action results in a proposed 2016 allocation of 199 mt to trawl gear and 1,353 mt to hook-andline gear in the WYK District, and 2,436 mt to hook-and-line gear in the SEO District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2016 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2017 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) Sfmt 4702 212 fishery is conducted concurrent with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on recent survey information. The Council also recommended that only the trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis, rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the ABCs and TACs. With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to part 679), directed fishing E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the 76413 effective date of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2016 SABLEFISH TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO HOOK-AND-LINE AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central ......................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 1 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 1,338 4,232 1,552 2,436 1,070 3,386 1,353 2,436 268 846 199 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 9,558 8,245 1,313 1 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2017 SABLEFISH TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central ......................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 1,338 4,232 1,552 2,436 n/a n/a n/a n/a 268 846 199 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 9,558 n/a 1,313 1 The mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. Proposed Apportionments to the Rockfish Program These proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary and secondary species, allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) in the Central GOA are allocated to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish). Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants. (Rockfish Program sideboards and halibut PSC limits are discussed below.) Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 longline fishery in 2016 and 2017. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it is the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2015, the catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an increase to the entry level longline fishery 2016 and 2017 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percent of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76414 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA Up to maximum percent of each TAC of: (%) Rockfish primary species 2016 and 2017 allocations Incremental increase in 2017 if ≥90 percent of 2016 allocation is harvested Pacific ocean perch ................................. Northern rockfish ..................................... Dusky rockfish ......................................... 5 metric tons ............................................ 5 metric tons ............................................ 30 metric tons .......................................... 5 metric tons ............................................ 5 metric tons ............................................ 20 metric tons .......................................... Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery and other participants in the Rockfish Program, which include CV and C/P cooperatives. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 2,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 250 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations between vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 1 2 5 applications for CV cooperatives and C/ P cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2016 and 2017 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/rockfish/ after March 1. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND OTHER PARTICIPANTS IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance (ICA) TAC TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the Rockfish Cooperatives Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 16,184 3,563 3,077 2,000 250 250 14,184 3,313 2,827 5 5 30 14,179 3,308 2,797 Total .............................................................................. 22,824 2,500 20,324 40 20,284 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives. Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/ P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are in metric tons] Central GOA annual TAC mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye rockfish ............................................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Catcher vessel cooperatives Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 N/A N/A 7.84 1,752 287 N/A N/A 69 N/A 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 N/A 149 159 379 232 45,990 4,232 397 643 875 authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. Amendment 95 to the FMP (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) implemented PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4702 measures establishing GOA halibut PSC limits in Federal regulations and reducing the halibut PSC limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76415 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules groundfish fisheries. These reductions are incorporated into the halibut PSC limits that are proposed by this action. For most gear and operational types, the halibut PSC limit reductions are phasedin over 3 years, beginning in 2014 and ending in 2016. In 2015, the trawl halibut PSC limit was reduced by 12 percent from the 2013 limit. Under Amendment 95 and § 679.21(d)(3)(i), the initial trawl halibut PSC limit is reduced by an additional 3 percent in 2016. This results in a total reduction of 15 percent in 2016 as compared to the 2013 halibut PSC limit. The reduced PSC limit will remain in effect each year thereafter. In addition, under Amendment 95 and § 679.21(d)(2)(iv), the initial hookand-line PSC for the other hook and-line CV sector was reduced 7 percent in 2014 and an additional 5-percent in 2015. This action implements an additional 3-percent reduction in 2016 for a total reduction of 15 percent from the 2013 limit. The PSC limit for the hook-and-line C/P sector was reduced by 7 percent in 2014 and thereafter. In October 2015, the Council recommended halibut PSC limits that reflect the reductions implemented under Amendment 95 of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 256 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for the 2016 groundfish fisheries. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence) and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of the 225 mt TAC for DSR in 2015, 83 mt were available for the DSR commercial directed fishery, of which 36 mt were harvested. The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2016 and 2017. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality, (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ (§ 679.7(f)(11)), (3) sablefish IFQ fishermen typically hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ, and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2015. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 31, 2015, is 1,324 mt for trawl gear and 185 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,509 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This account system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment and the information presented in the final 2015 SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. The final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 10250, February 26, 2015) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’ findings with respect to halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council’s and NMFS’ findings for 2016 are unchanged from 2015. Table 9 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC reductions implemented in accordance with Amendment 95 (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) and § 679.21(d)(3)(i). Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be deducted from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear1 Trawl gear Other than DSR mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Season Percent DSR Amount Season Percent Amount Season January 20–April 1 .... 27.5 469 January 1–June 10 .. 86 220 April 1–July 1 ............ 20 341 2 July 1–September 1 .. 30 512 June 10–September 1. September 1–December 31. .................................. September 1–October 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 7.5 Jkt 238001 128 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Amount 5 January 1–December 31. .................................. .................... 12 31 .................................. .................... .................... .................... .................................. .................... Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 9 76416 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS—Continued [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season October 1–December 31. Total ................... Season Amount .................................. .................... .................... .................................. .................... 1,706 ...................... Amount 256 15 Percent .................................. .................... 256 .................................. 9 1 The Pacific halibut PSC limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line IFQ sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates and ‘‘other species’’ (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 10 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries. These limits proportionately incorporate the halibut PSC limit reductions implemented in accordance with Amendment 95 (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) and § 679.21(d)(3). Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/ P sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing with trawl gear for the remainder of the fishing year. TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMIT APPORTIONED BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water 1 Total January 20–April 1 ...................................................................................................................... April 1–July 1 ............................................................................................................................... July 1–September 1 .................................................................................................................... September 1–October 1 .............................................................................................................. 384 85 171 128 85 ................... 256 ................. 341 ................. Any remainder 469 341 512 128 Subtotal, January 20–October 1 .......................................................................................... 768 682 ................. 1,450 October 1–December 31 2 ........................................................................................................... ........................ ........................ 256 Total .............................................................................................................................. ........................ ........................ 1,706 1 Vessels mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through September 1) deepwater species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and is not repeated here. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments of 140 mt and 116 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 C/P sectors, respectively. The 2016 and 2017 annual halibut PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors in the GOA. No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS calculates the projected E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-andline sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC limit 76417 is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)). TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERIES’’ HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and- line sector Sector annual amount 256 ............................. Catcher Vessel ......... 140 Catcher/Processor .... 116 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. The DMRs are based on the best information available, including information contained in the annual SAFE report. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the halibut DMRs Seasonal percentage Season January 1–June 10 ....................................... June 10–September 1 .................................. September 1–December 31 ......................... January 1–June 10 ....................................... June 10–September 1 .................................. September 1–December 31 ......................... developed and recommended by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) for the 2016 through 2017 GOA groundfish fisheries be used to monitor the proposed 2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch mortality allowances (see Tables 9 through 11). The IPHC developed the DMRs for the 2016 through 2017 GOA groundfish fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. Long-term average DMRs were not available for some fisheries, so rates from the most recent years were used. For the skate, sculpin, shark, squid, and octopus fisheries, 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 120 3 17 100 2 14 where not enough mortality data are available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in the Pacific cod fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default rate. The IPHC will analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the mean. A discussion of the DMRs and how the IPHC establishes them is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Any changes to the current DMRs will be incorporated into the final GOA harvest specifications. Table 12 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Mortality rate (%) Gear Target fishery Hook-and-line ............................................................................ Other fisheries 1 ........................................................................ Skates ...................................................................................... Pacific cod ................................................................................ Rockfish .................................................................................... Arrowtooth flounder .................................................................. Deep-water flatfish ................................................................... Flathead sole ............................................................................ Non-pelagic pollock .................................................................. Other fisheries .......................................................................... Pacific cod ................................................................................ Pelagic pollock ......................................................................... Rex sole ................................................................................... Rockfish .................................................................................... Sablefish ................................................................................... Shallow-water flatfish ............................................................... Other fisheries .......................................................................... Pacific cod ................................................................................ Trawl ......................................................................................... mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Pot ............................................................................................. 10 10 10 9 76 43 67 58 62 62 59 71 65 59 66 21 21 1 Other fisheries includes targets for hook-and-line sablefish and all gear types for Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 the Western and Central GOA in the directed pollock fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA if PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the applicable limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(6)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76418 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In addition, all salmon (regardless of species), taken in the pollock directed fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until an observer at the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon (§ 679.21(h)(4)). Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program that are fishing for groundfish species other than pollock (§ 679.21(i)(3)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limits its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2015, that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2016 Chinook salmon PSC limit (§ 679.21(i)(3)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl C/ Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2015 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2015 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/ P sector will receive an incremental increase of its Chinook salmon PSC limit, whereas the non-Rockfish Program CV sector will not. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/ Ps from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iii) establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. Table 13 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 16. TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/gear A Season, January 20– March 10. B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–October 1. D Season, October 1–November 1. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season 1, January 1–June 10. B Season 2, September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Sablefish ................................ Annual, trawl gear ................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Area/component Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 0.0079 0.0078 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs 3 4,760 39,992 14,839 4,760 49,586 5,245 15,975 19,179 24,437 15,975 19,179 24,437 6,187 12,625 16,255 27,594 10,837 18,396 1,909 212 268 846 199 Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 2,879 4,667 3,009 2,879 5,787 1,064 9,660 2,238 4,956 9,660 2,238 4,956 2,162 4,412 2,164 1,910 1,442 1,273 15 2 0 54 9 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76419 TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/gear Area/component Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky Rockfish ...................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other Rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skates .............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Squids .................................... Sharks ................................... Octopuses ............................. Sculpins ................................. Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 1 The 2 The 3 The ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 0.0000 0.0647 0.0128 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 0.0036 0.0213 0.0009 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 0.0003 0.0277 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 0.0020 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 0.0034 0.1699 0.0000 0.0309 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs 3 13,250 17,114 2,513 299 3,645 9,233 1,234 5,707 2,038 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,709 2,358 16,184 2,894 1,158 3,563 92 397 834 273 3,077 1,361 117 643 382 225 235 875 731 n/a 1,031 780 2,000 731 1,257 1,267 152 2,090 976 2,235 5,569 5,989 1,148 1,507 Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 207 1,005 32 0 236 118 1 219 6 30 2,100 3 31 328 3 5 1,211 135 0 99 0 9 9 0 0 9 0 15 5 0 7 25 20 n/a 175 0 62 5 8 8 1 13 6 14 35 38 7 9 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. The proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries categories proportionately incorporate reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments (see Table 10). E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76420 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest whole metric ton] Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC limit Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ................... January 20–April 1 ............................ 2 ................... April 1–July 1 ..................................... 3 ................... July 1–September 1 .......................... 4 ................... September 1–October 1 .................... 5 ................... October 1–December 31 ................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... all targets ........................................... 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 85 85 256 171 341 128 0 256 131 6 29 18 58 24 44 0 52 Total ..... ............................................................ ............................................................ ........................ 1,706 361 Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the Crab Rationalization Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), and Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011). Table 15 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Season/gear Area/component/gear Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit A Season, January 20– March 10. Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0098 4,760 47 B Season, March 10–May 31 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 39,992 14,839 4,760 49,586 5,245 15,975 124 3 47 154 1 157 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 19,179 24,437 15,975 59 5 157 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W Jig CV .............................. 0.0031 0.0002 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 19,179 24,437 6,187 12,625 16,255 59 5 0 0 0 W Hook-and-line CV ............. W Pot CV .............................. W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig CV ............................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 16,255 16,255 16,255 16,255 27,594 27,594 7 1,621 127 11 0 3 C Season, August 25–October 1. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS D Season, October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 A Season,1 January 1–June 10. Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76421 TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear B Season,2 September 1— December 31. Annual ................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... ............................................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ........................ mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Sablefish ................................ Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skate ................................ Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skate ..................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... W Jig CV .............................. 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0000 27,594 27,594 27,594 10,837 1,308 375 33 0 W Hook-and-line CV ............. W Pot CV .............................. W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig CV ............................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0110 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0005 0.0000 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 0.0000 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 0.0035 0.0033 0.0000 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 10,837 10,837 10,837 10,837 18,396 18,396 18,396 18,396 18,396 1,909 212 268 846 199 13,250 17,114 2,513 299 3,645 9,233 1,234 5,707 2,038 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,709 2,358 16,184 2,894 1,158 3,563 92 397 834 273 3,077 1,361 117 643 382 225 235 875 731 ........................ 1,031 780 2,000 731 1,257 1,267 152 2,090 976 2,235 5,569 5,989 4 1,080 85 8 0 2 872 250 22 21 0 0 0 0 78 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 8 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 6 3 ........................ 3 0 0 29 20 0 6 33 0 39 98 105 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76422 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 1 The 2 The 0.0176 0.0176 Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs Proposed 2016 and 2017 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 1,148 1,507 20 27 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/ P rockfish sideboard restrictions, and C/ P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat Districts from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative will receive the portion of each sideboard limit that is not assigned to rockfish cooperatives. Table 16 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HARVEST LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (C/P) SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery C/P sector (% of TAC) Western GOA ................................................. Dusky rockfish ................................................ Pacific ocean perch ........................................ Northern rockfish ............................................ Dusky rockfish ................................................ Pacific ocean perch ........................................ 72.3 ................ 50.6 ................ 74.3 ................ Confid.1 .......... Confid.1 .......... West Yakutat District ...................................... 1 Not Proposed 2016 and 2017 C/P limit 273 2,358 1,158 1,187 2,055 197 1,193 860 N/A N/A released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 2016, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 applicable opt-out sideboard limits and post these limits on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/rockfish/. Table 17 lists the 2016 and 2017 proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector. These proposed 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits proportionately incorporate reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments (see Table 10). E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76423 TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT MORTALITY LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Annual halibut mortality limit (mt) Annual shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deepwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Catcher/processor ................................................................ 0.10 2.50 1,706 2 43 Amendment 80 Program Groundfish Sideboard and PSC Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004. Table 18 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18. TABLE 18—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Proposed 2016 and 2017 TAC (mt) Proposed 2016 and 2017 Amendment 80 vessel sideboard limits (mt) Species Season Area Pollock ................................... A Season, January 20–February 25. Shumagin (610) .................... 0.003 4,760 14 B Season, March 10–May 31 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 39,992 14,839 4,760 49,586 5,245 15,975 80 30 14 99 10 48 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.002 0.002 0.003 19,179 24,437 15,975 38 49 48 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ W .......................................... 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 19,179 24,437 6,187 16,255 38 49 12 325 C ........................................... W .......................................... 0.044 0.020 27,594 10,837 1,214 217 C ........................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... W .......................................... WYK ...................................... 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 18,396 2,121 2,358 2,055 1,158 273 1,187 809 72 2,344 1,975 1,158 209 1,064 C Season, August 25–September 15. D Season, October 1–November 1. Pacific cod ............................. Annual ................................... A Season 1, January 1–June 10. B Season 2, September 1– December 31. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... 1 The 2 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76424 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. These proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits proportionately incorporate the reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments (see Table 10). TABLE 19—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Proposed 2016 annual PSC limit (mt) Proposed 2016 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ................... January 20–April 1 ............................ 2 ................... April 1–July 1 ..................................... 3 ................... July 1–September 1 .......................... 4 ................... September 1–October 1 .................... 5 ................... October 1–December 31 ................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... shallow-water ..................................... deep-water ......................................... 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 Total ..... ............................................................ ............................................................ ........................ ........................ 474 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives. NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The Small Business Administration has established size standards for all major industry sectors in the United States. A business primarily involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $20.5 million, for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Fishing vessels are considered small entities if their total annual gross receipts, from all their activities combined, are less than $20.5 million. The IRFA estimates the number of harvesting vessels that are considered small entities, but these estimates may overstate the number of small entities because (1) some vessels may also be active as tender vessels in the salmon fishery, fish in areas other than Alaska and the West Coast, or generate revenue from other non-fishing sources; and (2) all affiliations are not taken into account, especially if the vessel has affiliations not tracked in available data (i.e., ownership of multiple vessel or affiliation with processors) and may be misclassified as a small entity. The IRFA shows that, in 2014, there were 915 individual CVs with gross revenues less than or equal to $20.5 million. This estimate accounts for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $20.5 million’’ threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 915 small CV entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear vessels, and trawl gear vessels are estimated to be $400,000, $740,000, and $2.5 million, respectively. Revenue data for the four C/Ps considered to be small entities are confidential. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which case harvests would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action alternative,’’ would have set TACs equal to zero. The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those adopted by the Council in October 2015, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s GOA Plan Team in September 2015, and reviewed by the Council’s SSC in October 2015. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 would be 731,049 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is 590,161 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred alternative. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 In some instances, the selection of Alternative 1 would not reflect the practical implications that increased TACs (where the sum of TACs equals the sum of ABCs) for some species probably would not be fully harvested. This could be due to a lack of commercial or market interest in such species. Additionally, an underharvest of some TACs could result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, the Council’s preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2016 TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. While production declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76425 Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 915 individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. Additionally, the four small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would have gross revenues of $0. The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2016 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2016 and 2017. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2015, when it reviews the November 2015 SAFE report from its Groundfish Plan Team, and the December 2015 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because 2016 TACs in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2016 TACs, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2015 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: December 3, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–31002 Filed 12–7–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150916863–5863–01] RIN 0648–XE202 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 236 (Wednesday, December 9, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 76405-76425]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31002]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 150818742-5742-01]
RIN 0648-XE130


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2016 
and 2017 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 8, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0110, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0110, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the 
Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) 
prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2014 Stock Assessment and Fishery 
Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated 
November 2014, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 
99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. The draft 2015 SAFE report for the GOA will be available 
from the same source.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.

[[Page 76406]]

    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the 
optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). 
Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit 
public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific halibut prohibited 
species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and 
Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 
of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2016 and 2017, the sum 
of the proposed TAC amounts is 590,161 mt.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2016 and 2017 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2015 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2015 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see 
ADDRESSES) and, (4) considering information presented in the final 2015 
SAFE report prepared for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest 
Specifications

Removal of Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for Hook-and-Line Catcher/
Processors

    At its June 2013 meeting, the Council took final action to 
establish a temporary process to permanently remove catch limits, known 
as sideboard limits, for Pacific cod that are applicable to certain 
hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/Ps) in the Central and Western GOA 
regulatory areas. This action is known as Amendment 45 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs 
(Amendment 45). The final rule implementing the regulations associated 
with Amendment 45 was published on May 19, 2015 (80 FR 28539).
    If all persons holding a license limitation program license with 
endorsements that allow directed fishing for Pacific cod as a hook-and-
line C/P in the Central or Western GOA sign and submit to NMFS an 
affidavit affirming that all eligible participants in that regulatory 
area recommend removal of the Crab Rationalization Program GOA Pacific 
cod sideboard limit, then NMFS would not establish Crab Rationalization 
Program GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits for the hook-and-line C/P 
sector through the annual harvest specification process. All eligible 
fishery participants submitted affidavits as described above for the 
Western GOA and Central GOA; therefore NMFS will not establish 2016 and 
2017 Pacific cod sideboard limits for hook-and-line C/Ps. These 
sideboard limits have been removed from Table 15 of this proposed rule.

Revise Maximum Retainable Amounts for Skates

    In December 2014, the Council took final action to reduce the 
maximum retainable amount (MRA) for skates in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 
Per the Council's recommendation, NMFS developed and published a 
proposed rule to modify regulations that specify the MRA for skates in 
the GOA (80 FR 39734, July 10, 2015). An MRA is expressed as a 
percentage and is the maximum amount of a species closed to directed 
fishing (i.e., skate species) that may be retained on board a vessel 
relative to the retained amount of other groundfish species or halibut 
open for directed fishing (basis species). An MRA serves as a 
management tool to slow the harvest rates of incidental catch species 
and limit retention up to a maximum percentage of the amount of 
retained groundfish or halibut on board the vessel. NMFS has 
established a single MRA percentage for big skate (Raja binoculata), 
longnose skate (Raja rhina), and for all remaining skate species 
(Bathyraja spp.). The proposed rule would reduce the MRA for skates in 
the GOA from 20 percent to 5 percent. The reduced MRA would apply to 
all vessels directed fishing for groundfish or halibut in the GOA. NMFS 
anticipates that the proposed regulatory revisions associated with the 
skate MRA reduction will be effective in 2016.

Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In October 2015, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent 
biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish 
stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish 
Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2014 SAFE report for 
the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see ADDRESSES). The 
SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and 
estimates of each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as 
well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and 
the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From 
these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates and the SSC sets an 
overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species group. The 
amounts proposed for the 2016 and 2017 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 
2014 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2016 
and 2017 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species 
groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed 
below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final 
harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific 
information contained in the final 2015 SAFE report. The draft stock 
assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2015 SAFE report are 
available at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/stocks/plan_team/draft_assessments.htm.
    In November 2015, the Plan Team updated the 2014 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2015, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team 
compiled this information and produced the draft 2015 SAFE report for 
presentation at the December 2015 Council meeting. At that meeting, the 
Council will consider information in the draft 2015 SAFE report, 
recommendations from the November 2015 Plan Team meeting and December 
2015 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public 
comments in making its recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 
harvest specifications. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the 
Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ``warranted on the basis 
of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic 
considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to 
fall within the OY range.''
    In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most 
significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of 
fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been 
for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. 
These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock 
assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, 
changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the 
September 2015 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information 
at the October 2015 Council meeting. The species with possible model 
changes are Pacific cod, rex sole, and rock sole. In November 2015, the 
Plan Team considered updated stock assessments for groundfish, which 
are included in the draft 2015 SAFE report.

[[Page 76407]]

    If the draft 2015 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the 
proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the draft 2015 SAFE 
report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a 
species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications may 
reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications.
    The proposed 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the 
best available biological and socioeconomic information, including 
projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock 
biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP 
specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. 
The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are 
determined by the level of reliable information available to the 
fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive 
series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 
representing the highest level of information quality available and 
Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. 
The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs 
for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2016 and 2017 
OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. 
The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's 
TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2016 
harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 
25, 2015 (80 FR 10250).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the 
exceptions of shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth 
flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ``other 
rockfish'' in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, Atka mackerel, and 
Pacific cod. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and 
flathead sole TACs are set to allow for harvest opportunities while 
conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The 
``other rockfish'' TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of 
discards in the SEO District. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to 
accommodate incidental catch amounts of this species in other directed 
fisheries.
    The proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate 
the State's guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod in State 
waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in 
Prince William Sound (PWS). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the 
Council reduced the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the 
Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State 
GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are less 
than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 707 
mt; (2) Central GOA, 15,330 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 11,611 mt. These 
amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2016 and 2017 GHLs in these 
areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern and Central and 30 percent 
of the Western GOA proposed ABCs.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and 
West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL 
established by the State for the PWS pollock fishery. The Plan Team, 
SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal 
water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. 
Based on genetic studies, fisheries scientists believe that the pollock 
in PWS is not a separate stock from the combined W/C/WYK population. 
Since 1996, the Plan Team has had a protocol of recommending that the 
GHL amount be deducted from the GOA-wide ABC. For 2016 and 2017, the 
SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC 
including the amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. At the 
November 2015 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended 
setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. 
Accordingly, the Council recommended adopting a W/C/WYK pollock ABC 
that has been reduced to account for the State's PWS GHL. For 2016 and 
2017, the proposed PWS pollock GHL is 6,271 mt, as recommended by State 
fisheries managers. The proposed 2016 and 2017 ABC is 263,449 mt, and 
the proposed TAC is 257,178 mt.
    The Council has adopted the SSC's 2014 recommendation to revise the 
terminology used when apportioning pollock in the W/C/WYK. The SSC 
recommended describing apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK as 
``apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)'' rather than ``ABCs.'' 
The SSC noted that describing subarea apportionments as 
``apportionments of the ACL'' more accurately reflects that such 
apportionments address management, rather than biological or 
conservation, concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this 
manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC from one area to 
another pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-
wide ACL and ABC are not exceeded. The SSC noted that this terminology 
change is acceptable for pollock in the W/C/WYK only. Further 
information about the rationale to adopt this terminology is in the 
final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish (80 FR 
10250, February 25, 2015).
    NMFS' proposed apportionments for groundfish species are based on 
the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
Pacific cod, pollock, and sablefish. Additional detail on these 
apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here.
    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the W/C/WYK and the SEO District of 
the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the 
annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the 
GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 divided equally among 
each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through 
March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 
25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) 
(Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and 
(B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts.
    NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern 
GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the 
Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl 
gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC 
is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through 
December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through 
December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 
(Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod gear and sector apportionments are discussed in detail 
below; Table 3 lists these amounts.
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of

[[Page 76408]]

trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes 
available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to 
trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other directed groundfish 
fisheries in the WYK District (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional 
detail is provided below; Tables 4 and 5 list these amounts.
    The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 590,161 mt 
for 2016 and 2017, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. 
The sums of the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs are higher than the final 
2015 TACs currently specified for the GOA groundfish fisheries (80 FR 
10250, February 25, 2015). The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for pollock, 
Pacific ocean perch, and rougheye rockfish are higher than the final 
2015 TACs for these species. The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for 
sablefish, shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, 
flathead sole, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish are lower than the 
final 2015 TACs for these species. The proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for 
the remaining species are equal to the final 2015 TACs.
    For 2016 and 2017, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect 
harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. 
Table 1 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area 
apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2014 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required 
OY range. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, 
and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 
2015 SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2016 
and 2017 harvest specifications during its December 2015 meeting.

    Table 1--Proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat,
    Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat, Southeast Outside, and Gulfwide
                                         Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                          Area 1                 OFL             ABC            TAC 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock 2.............................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          41,472          41,472
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a         127,936         127,936
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          68,958          68,958
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           6,187           6,187
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         321,067         250,824         244,553
                                        SEO (650)...............          16,833          12,625          12,625
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                          337,900         263,449         257,178
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod 3.........................  W.......................             n/a          38,702          27,091
                                        C.......................             n/a          61,320          45,990
                                        E.......................             n/a           2,828           2,121
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                          133,100         102,850          75,202
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish 4...........................  W.......................             n/a           1,338           1,338
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,232           4,232
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,552           1,552
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,436           2,436
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           3,988           3,988
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           11,293           9,558           9,558
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish 5..............  W.......................             n/a          19,577          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          17,114          17,114
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,959           1,959
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             554             554
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           48,407          39,205          32,877
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deep-water flatfish 6.................  W.......................             n/a             299             299
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,645           3,645
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           5,409           5,409
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,824           3,824
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           15,803          13,177          13,177
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           1,234           1,234
                                        C.......................             n/a           5,707           5,707
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             758             758
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,280           1,280
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           11,733           8,979           8,979
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          29,545          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a         109,692          75,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          35,328           6,900

[[Page 76409]]

 
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          10,787           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                          217,522         185,352         103,300
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          12,776           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          24,893          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,538           3,538
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             171             171
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           50,818          41,378          27,759
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch 7.................  W.......................             n/a           2,358           2,358
                                        C.......................             n/a          16,184          16,184
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,055           2,055
                                        W/C/WYK.................          23,876          20,597          20,597
                                        SEO.....................           2,513             839             839
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                           24,849          21,436          21,436
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish 8...................  W.......................             n/a           1,158           1,158
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,563           3,563
                                        E.......................             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            5,631           4,721           4,721
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish 9.................  W.......................             n/a              92              92
                                        C.......................             n/a             397             397
                                        E.......................             n/a             834             834
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            1,764           1,323           1,323
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dusky rockfish 10.....................  W.......................             n/a             273             273
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,077           3,077
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,187           1,187
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             174             174
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            5,759           4,711           4,711
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11.  W.......................             n/a             117             117
                                        C.......................             n/a             643             643
                                        E.......................             n/a             382             382
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            1,370           1,142           1,142
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish 12............  SEO.....................             361             225             225
Thornyhead rockfish 13................  W.......................             n/a             235             235
                                        C.......................             n/a             875             875
                                        E.......................             n/a             731             731
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            2,454           1,841           1,841
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish 14 15..................  W/C combined............             n/a           1,031           1,031
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             580             580
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,469             200
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            5,347           4,080           1,811
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           2,000
Big skates 16.........................  W.......................             n/a             731             731
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,257           1,257
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,267           1,267
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            4,340           3,255           3,255
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates 17....................  W.......................             n/a             152             152
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,090           2,090
                                        E.......................             n/a             976             976
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                          Total                            4,291           3,218           3,218
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 76410]]

 
Other skates 18.......................  GW......................           2,980           2,235           2,235
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           7,448           5,569           5,569
Sharks................................  GW......................           7,986           5,989           5,989
Squids................................  GW......................           1,530           1,148           1,148
Octopuses.............................  GW......................           2,009           1,507           1,507
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         910,895         731,049         590,161
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide).
2 The combined pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat areas is apportioned in the Western/
  Central Regulatory Areas among four statistical areas. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs,
  rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017
  seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area,
  pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances.
3 Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory
  Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned among various
  sectors 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas
  of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by
  the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2016
  and 2017 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
4 Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2016 and trawl gear in 2017. Tables 4 and 5 list the
  proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of sablefish TACs.
5 ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
6 ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole.
7 ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
8 ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the
  WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the other rockfish (slope rockfish) species
  group.
9 ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
10 ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
11 ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
12 ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S.
  maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
13 ``Thornyhead rockfish'' means Sebastes species.
14 ``Other rockfish (slope rockfish)'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S.
  paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S.
  variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus
  (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola
  (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus
  (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ``other rockfish'' also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous).
15 ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means all
  rockfish species included in the ``other rockfish'' and demersal shelf rockfish categories.
16 ``Big skates'' means Raja binoculata.
17 ``Longnose skates'' means Raja rhina.
18 ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja spp.

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and 
octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during 
the fishing year. In 2015, NMFS apportioned all of the reserves in the 
final harvest specifications. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposes 
reapportionment of all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, 
sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in anticipation of the 
projected annual catch of these species. The TACs in Table 1 reflect 
the apportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species 
groups. Each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species categories 
contains the full TAC recommended by the Council, since none of the 
relevant species and species groups' TACs contributed to a reserve that 
could be used for future reapportionments.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 
through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
have historically been based on the proportional distribution of 
pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In 
the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the 
distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS 
summer surveys. However, for 2016 and 2017, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS proposes, averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock 
in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the 
distribution based on only the winter surveys. This combination of 
summer and winter distribution has been used for area apportionments 
since 2002. The average is intended to reflect the best available 
information about migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the 
performance of the fishery in the area during the A season. For the A 
season, the apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate

[[Page 76411]]

of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 8 
percent, 67 percent, and 25 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 
630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 8 percent, 83 
percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on 
the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 27 
percent, 32 percent, and 41 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 
630, respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for 
the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent 
limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in 
proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those 
statistical areas (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2016 and 
2017 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 6,187 mt and SEO District of 
12,625 mt are not allocated by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal 
allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore 
component after subtraction of pollock amounts projected by the 
Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore 
component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. 
Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting 
pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that 
will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for 
groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable 
amounts allowed under Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these 
incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined 
as fishing activity occurs during the fishing year by the offshore 
component.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

       Table 2--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass
                                      Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Season \2\                              Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                                  Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                                   Kodiak (Area 630)        Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10)............................................        4,760      (7.99%)       39,992     (67.11%)       14,839     (24.90%)       59,592
B (Mar 10-May 31)............................................        4,760      (7.99%)       49,586     (83.21%)        5,245      (8.80%)       59,592
C (Aug 25-Oct 1).............................................       15,975     (26.81%)       19,179     (32.18%)       24,437     (41.01%)       59,592
D (Oct 1-Nov 1)..............................................       15,975     (26.81%)       19,179     (32.18%)       24,437     (41.01%)       59,592
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total \3\.........................................       41,472  ...........      127,936  ...........       68,958  ...........      238,366
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10
  through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and
  offshore components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in
  this table.

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for 
the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. 
Pursuant Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) NMFS proposes the allocation of the 
Pacific cod TAC between the inshore and offshore components in the 
Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA. In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod 
TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then 
among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using 
hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length 
overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs 
using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear. In 
the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to 
vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/
Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using 
pot gear. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and 
Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 
percent of the annual TAC to the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishery year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a federal fisheries permit that use jig gear 
before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance 
with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase up to 6 
percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs 
depending on the annual performance of the jig sector. If such 
allocation increases are not harvested by the jig sector, then the 
annual jig sector allocations may subsequently be reduced (See Table 1 
of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector 
allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). NMFS proposes that 
the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the 
Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an 
additional 2.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 
percent of its initial 2012 and 2014 allocations in the Western GOA. 
NMFS also proposes that the jig sector would receive 1.0 percent of the 
annual Pacific

[[Page 76412]]

cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 
percent and no additional performance increase. However, allocation 
increases to the jig sector are established for a minimum of 2 years. 
NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2014 and 2015 harvest performance of 
each jig sector when the 2015 fishing year is complete to determine 
whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in 
conjunction with the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.
    Based on the current catch (through November 2015) by the Western 
GOA jig sector, the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector 
would not change in 2016. Similarly, the current catch by the Central 
GOA jig sector indicates that this sector's Pacific cod allocation 
percentage would not change in 2016. The jig sector allocations are 
further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) 
seasons.
    Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 
proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs.

  Table 3--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch
 Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA for Processing
                                     by the Inshore and Offshore Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          A Season                          B Season
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Annual           Sector                            Sector
 Regulatory area and sector     allocation      percentage of      Seasonal       percentage of      Seasonal
                                   (mt)        annual non-jig     allowances     annual non-jig     allowances
                                                     TAC             (mt)              TAC             (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC).......             948               N/A             569               N/A             379
    Hook-and-line CV........             366              0.70             183              0.70             183
    Hook-and-line C/P.......           5,176             10.90           2,850              8.90           2,327
    Trawl CV................          10,039             27.70           7,242             10.70           2,797
    Trawl C/P...............             627              0.90             235              1.50             392
    Pot CV and Pot C/P......           9,934             19.80           5,176             18.20           4,758
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...............          27,091             60.00          16,255             40.00          10,837
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC).......             460               N/A             276               N/A             184
    Hook-and-line <50 CV....           6,648              9.32           4,241              5.29           2,407
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV...           3,054              5.61           2,554              1.10             500
    Hook-and-line C/P.......           2,324              4.11           1,870              1.00             454
    Trawl CV................          18,933             21.13           9,623             20.45           9,310
    Trawl C/P...............           1,911              2.00             912              2.19             999
    Pot CV and Pot C/P......          12,660             17.83           8,118              9.97           4,542
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...............          45,990             60.00          27,594             40.00          18,396
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA.................           2,121                     1,909
                                                  212
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using 
Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA 
may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed 
fisheries for other target species (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making 
the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-
and-line gear. NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish 
TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This 
action results in a proposed 2016 allocation of 199 mt to trawl gear 
and 1,353 mt to hook-and-line gear in the WYK District, and 2,436 mt to 
hook-and-line gear in the SEO District. Table 4 lists the allocations 
of the proposed 2016 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. 
Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2017 sablefish TACs to 
trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the sablefish Individual Fishery 
Quota (IFQ) fishery is conducted concurrent with the halibut IFQ 
fishery and is based on recent survey information. The Council also 
recommended that only the trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 
years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear 
could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest 
specifications. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and 
the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before 
the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council 
recommended that the sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis, rather 
than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information 
could be considered in establishing the ABCs and TACs. With the 
exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish 
Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to part 679), directed fishing

[[Page 76413]]

for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, 
fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 
20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl 
gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2016 and 
2017 harvest specifications.

 Table 4--Proposed 2016 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Hook-and-
                                               Line and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,338           1,070             268
Central.........................................................           4,232           3,386             846
West Yakutat \1\................................................           1,552           1,353             199
Southeast Outside...............................................           2,436           2,436               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           9,558           8,245           1,313
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


 Table 5--Proposed 2017 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear
                                                       \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,338             n/a             268
Central.........................................................           4,232             n/a             846
West Yakutat \2\................................................           1,552             n/a             199
Southeast Outside...............................................           2,436             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           9,558             n/a           1,313
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing
  Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Proposed Apportionments to the Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations 
established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily 
trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using 
longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative 
quota to participants for primary and secondary species, allows a 
participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with 
rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, 
and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The 
Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary 
species for vessels using longline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) in the Central GOA are 
allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in 
other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the Rockfish 
Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific 
secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, 
shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish).
    Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to 
restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program 
to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program 
fisheries. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a 
portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-
water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish 
Program participants. (Rockfish Program sideboards and halibut PSC 
limits are discussed below.)
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific 
ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of dusky rockfish to 
the entry level longline fishery in 2016 and 2017. The allocation for 
the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year 
if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The 
incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until 
it is the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2015, the 
catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. 
Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an increase to the entry level 
longline fishery 2016 and 2017 allocations in the Central GOA. The 
remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be 
allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations 
of the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs for each rockfish primary species to 
the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future 
years, and the maximum percent of the TAC for the entry level longline 
fishery.

[[Page 76414]]



 Table 6--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Incremental increase in   Up to  maximum
                                                                       2017  if >=90 percent of      percent of
        Rockfish primary species           2016 and 2017 allocations      2016  allocation is      each TAC of:
                                                                               harvested                (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.....................  5 metric tons.............  5 metric tons.............               1
Northern rockfish.......................  5 metric tons.............  5 metric tons.............               2
Dusky rockfish..........................  30 metric tons............  20 metric tons............               5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of rockfish primary 
species among various components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists 
the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA 
to the entry level longline fishery and other participants in the 
Rockfish Program, which include CV and C/P cooperatives. NMFS also 
proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other 
directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 2,000 mt of Pacific ocean 
perch, 250 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These 
amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central 
GOA by other groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations between vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and C/P cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2016 and 2017 allocations in conjunction with these proposed 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/rockfish/ after March 1.

  Table 7--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the
                   Entry Level Longline Fishery and Other Participants in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Allocation to
                                                    Incidental                       the entry     Allocation to
    Rockfish primary species            TAC            catch       TAC minus ICA       level       the Rockfish
                                                     allowance                     longline \1\    Cooperatives
                                                       (ICA)                          fishery
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          16,184           2,000          14,184               5          14,179
Northern rockfish...............           3,563             250           3,313               5           3,308
Dusky rockfish..................           3,077             250           2,827              30           2,797
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          22,824           2,500          20,324              40          20,284
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives.

    Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary 
species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the GOA. CV cooperatives receive 
allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, 
and thornyhead rockfish. C/P cooperatives receive allocations of 
sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker 
rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of 
the proposed 2016 and 2017 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the 
Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives.

   Table 8--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher
                                    Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Catcher vessel  cooperatives          Catcher/processor
                                                 --------------------------------          cooperatives
   Rockfish secondary species       Central GOA                                  -------------------------------
                                    annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................          45,990            3.81           1,752             N/A             N/A
Sablefish.......................           4,232            6.78             287            3.51             149
Shortraker rockfish.............             397             N/A             N/A           40.00             159
Rougheye rockfish...............             643             N/A             N/A           58.87             379
Thornyhead rockfish.............             875            7.84              69           26.50             232
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. Amendment 95 to the FMP 
(79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) implemented measures establishing GOA 
halibut PSC limits in Federal regulations and reducing the halibut PSC 
limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line

[[Page 76415]]

groundfish fisheries. These reductions are incorporated into the 
halibut PSC limits that are proposed by this action. For most gear and 
operational types, the halibut PSC limit reductions are phased-in over 
3 years, beginning in 2014 and ending in 2016.
    In 2015, the trawl halibut PSC limit was reduced by 12 percent from 
the 2013 limit. Under Amendment 95 and Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(i), the 
initial trawl halibut PSC limit is reduced by an additional 3 percent 
in 2016. This results in a total reduction of 15 percent in 2016 as 
compared to the 2013 halibut PSC limit. The reduced PSC limit will 
remain in effect each year thereafter.
    In addition, under Amendment 95 and Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iv), the 
initial hook-and-line PSC for the other hook and-line CV sector was 
reduced 7 percent in 2014 and an additional 5-percent in 2015. This 
action implements an additional 3-percent reduction in 2016 for a total 
reduction of 15 percent from the 2013 limit. The PSC limit for the 
hook-and-line C/P sector was reduced by 7 percent in 2014 and 
thereafter.
    In October 2015, the Council recommended halibut PSC limits that 
reflect the reductions implemented under Amendment 95 of 1,706 mt for 
trawl gear, 256 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal 
shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District for the 2016 
groundfish fisheries.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. 
NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the 
duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) 
the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the 
distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR 
fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets 
the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of 
DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and 
subsistence) and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of 
the 225 mt TAC for DSR in 2015, 83 mt were available for the DSR 
commercial directed fishery, of which 36 mt were harvested.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2016 and 
2017. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions 
because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality, (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if 
any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ 
(Sec.  679.7(f)(11)), (3) sablefish IFQ fishermen typically hold 
halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut 
they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ, and (4) NMFS estimates 
negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates 
halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the 
small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature 
of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released 
with jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2015. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 31, 2015, is 1,324 
mt for trawl gear and 185 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut 
mortality of 1,509 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using 
groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's catch 
accounting system. This account system contains historical and recent 
catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on public comment and the information presented in the final 2015 
SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the 
seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC 
limits for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.
    The final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 10250, 
February 26, 2015) summarized the Council's and NMFS' findings with 
respect to halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The 
Council's and NMFS' findings for 2016 are unchanged from 2015. Table 9 
lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific halibut PSC limits, 
allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables 
reflect the halibut PSC reductions implemented in accordance with 
Amendment 95 (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) and Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(i). 
Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or 
overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be deducted 
from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment within the 
fishing year.

                               Table 9--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Trawl gear                                                             Hook-and-line gear\1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Other than DSR                                    DSR
               Season                    Percent       Amount   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          Season            Percent       Amount             Season             Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..................          27.5          469  January 1-June 10......           86          220  January 1-December 31..            9
April 1-July 1......................          20            341  June 10-September 1....            2            5  .......................  ...........
July 1-September 1..................          30            512  September 1-December 31           12           31  .......................  ...........
September 1-October 1...............           7.5          128  .......................  ...........  ...........  .......................  ...........

[[Page 76416]]

 
October 1-December 31...............          15            256  .......................  ...........  ...........  .......................  ...........
                                     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...........................  ............        1,706  .......................  ...........          256  .......................            9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut PSC limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The
  hook-and-line IFQ sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery 
categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category's 
proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during 
a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish 
harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the 
trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed 
of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth 
flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed of pollock, 
Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, 
skates and ``other species'' (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) 
(Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii)).
    Table 10 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments 
of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the 
shallow-water species fisheries. These limits proportionately 
incorporate the halibut PSC limit reductions implemented in accordance 
with Amendment 95 (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) and Sec.  
679.21(d)(3).
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/P sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-
apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 
percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish 
Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program 
halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing 
with trawl gear for the remainder of the fishing year.

  Table 10--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Seasonal Apportionments of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limit Apportioned Between
                          the Trawl Gear Shallow-Water and Deep-Water Species Fisheries
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Season                      Shallow-water            Deep-water \1\                 Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..........................             384  85................................             469
April 1-July 1..............................              85  256...............................             341
July 1-September 1..........................             171  341...............................             512
September 1-October 1.......................             128  Any remainder.....................             128
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtotal, January 20-October 1..........             768  682...............................           1,450
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
October 1-December 31 \2\...................  ..............  ..................................             256
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...............................  ..............  ..................................           1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July
  1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear 
must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut 
PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/
Ps in accordance with Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these 
harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the 
calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' 
halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were 
included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 
FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and is not repeated here.
    For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments of 140 mt and 116 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-
and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2016 and 2017 annual halibut 
PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using 
seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 
lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal 
apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P 
sectors in the GOA.
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS calculates the 
projected

[[Page 76417]]

unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-line 
sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of 
halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line sector 
for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an 
additional amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector to 
continue its directed fishing operations (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)).

  Table 11--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line fisheries'' Halibut PSC Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher
                                                          Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                              Sector
      ``Other than DSR''  allowance           Hook-and- line  sector     Sector annual               Season                  Seasonal        seasonal
                                                                            amount                                          percentage        amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
256......................................  Catcher Vessel.............             140  January 1-June 10...............              86             120
                                                                                        June 10-September 1.............               2               3
                                                                                        September 1-December 31.........              12              17
                                           Catcher/Processor..........             116  January 1-June 10...............              86             100
                                                                                        June 10-September 1.............               2               2
                                                                                        September 1-December 31.........              12              14
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish 
catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality allowance 
or seasonal apportionment is reached. The DMRs are based on the best 
information available, including information contained in the annual 
SAFE report.
    NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the halibut DMRs 
developed and recommended by the International Pacific Halibut 
Commission (IPHC) for the 2016 through 2017 GOA groundfish fisheries be 
used to monitor the proposed 2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch mortality 
allowances (see Tables 9 through 11). The IPHC developed the DMRs for 
the 2016 through 2017 GOA groundfish fisheries using the 10-year mean 
DMRs for those fisheries. Long-term average DMRs were not available for 
some fisheries, so rates from the most recent years were used. For the 
skate, sculpin, shark, squid, and octopus fisheries, where not enough 
mortality data are available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in 
the Pacific cod fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default 
rate. The IPHC will analyze observer data annually and recommend 
changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the 
mean. A discussion of the DMRs and how the IPHC establishes them is 
available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Any changes to the current 
DMRs will be incorporated into the final GOA harvest specifications. 
Table 12 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 DMRs.

  Table 12--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for
                  Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
           [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Mortality rate
             Gear                   Target fishery             (%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hook-and-line.................  Other fisheries \1\...                10
                                Skates................                10
                                Pacific cod...........                10
                                Rockfish..............                 9
Trawl.........................  Arrowtooth flounder...                76
                                Deep-water flatfish...                43
                                Flathead sole.........                67
                                Non-pelagic pollock...                58
                                Other fisheries.......                62
                                Pacific cod...........                62
                                Pelagic pollock.......                59
                                Rex sole..............                71
                                Rockfish..............                65
                                Sablefish.............                59
                                Shallow-water flatfish                66
Pot...........................  Other fisheries.......                21
                                Pacific cod...........                21
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Other fisheries includes targets for hook-and-line sablefish and all
  gear types for Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and
  octopuses.

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established 
separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in 
the directed pollock fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the 
pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of 
the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (Sec.  679.21(h)(6)). The 
annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 
6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the

[[Page 76418]]

Central GOA are set in Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In addition, all 
salmon (regardless of species), taken in the pollock directed fisheries 
in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until an observer at 
the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch is provided an 
opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific 
data or biological samples from the salmon (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)).
    Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established 
an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock 
groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 
3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs 
participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to 
trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program that are fishing 
for groundfish species other than pollock (Sec.  679.21(i)(3)). NMFS 
will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish 
fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook 
salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl 
CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in 
subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and 
their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon 
PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limits its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2015, that sector 
will receive an incremental increase to its 2016 Chinook salmon PSC 
limit (Sec.  679.21(i)(3)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook 
salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2015 
fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook 
salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2015 
Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/P sector will receive an 
incremental increase of its Chinook salmon PSC limit, whereas the non-
Rockfish Program CV sector will not. This evaluation will be completed 
in conjunction with the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from 
harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock 
harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish 
harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits 
under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs 
operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of 
TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 
679.64(b)(3)(iii) establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in 
the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each 
sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that 
species over the same period.
    Table 13 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 16.

  Table 13--Proposed 2016 and 2017 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest
                                                Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-                   Proposed 2016
                                                                     1997 non-     Proposed 2016   and 2017 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component   exempt AFA CV   and 2017 TACs   exempt AFA CV
                                by  season/gear                   catch to 1995-        \3\          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047           4,760           2,879
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.1167          39,992           4,667
                                March 10.        Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          14,839           3,009
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047           4,760           2,879
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          49,586           5,787
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           5,245           1,064
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047          15,975           9,660
                                25-October 1.    Chirikof (620).          0.1167          19,179           2,238
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          24,437           4,956
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047          15,975           9,660
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          19,179           2,238
                                November 1.      Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          24,437           4,956
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           6,187           2,162
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495          12,625           4,412
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W..............          0.1331          16,255           2,164
                                January 1-June   C..............          0.0692          27,594           1,910
                                10.
                               B Season \2\,     W..............          0.1331          10,837           1,442
                                September 1-     C..............          0.0692          18,396           1,273
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           1,909              15
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             212               2
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             268               0
                                gear.            C..............          0.0642             846              54
                                                 E..............          0.0433             199               9

[[Page 76419]]

 
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          17,114           1,005
                                                 E..............          0.0126           2,513              32
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             299               0
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,645             236
                                                 E..............          0.0128           9,233             118
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           1,234               1
                                                 C..............          0.0384           5,707             219
                                                 E..............          0.0029           2,038               6
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          75,000           2,100
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           3,709               3
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           2,358               5
                                                 C..............          0.0748          16,184           1,211
                                                 E..............          0.0466           2,894             135
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003           1,158               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,563              99
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              92               0
                                                 C..............          0.0218             397               9
                                                 E..............          0.0110             834               9
Dusky Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             273               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,077               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067           1,361               9
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             117               0
                                                 C..............          0.0237             643              15
                                                 E..............          0.0124             382               5
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             225               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             235               7
                                                 C..............          0.0280             875              25
                                                 E..............          0.0280             731              20
Other Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0034             n/a             n/a
                                                 C..............          0.1699           1,031             175
                                                 E..............          0.0000             780               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           2,000              62
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             731               5
                                                 C..............          0.0063           1,257               8
                                                 E..............          0.0063           1,267               8
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             152               1
                                                 C..............          0.0063           2,090              13
                                                 E..............          0.0063             976               6
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           2,235              14
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,569              35
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,989              38
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,148               7
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,507               9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 non-
exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the 
GOA. The proposed 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments of trawl 
halibut PSC limits between the deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries categories proportionately incorporate reductions made to the 
annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments 
(see Table 10).

[[Page 76420]]



  Table 14--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut Prohibited Species
                           Catch (PSC) Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                            [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest whole metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                     Proposed 2016
                                                                   exempt AFA CV   Proposed 2016   and 2017 non-
        Season             Season dates         Target fishery    retained catch   and 2017 PSC    exempt AFA CV
                                                                     to total          limit         PSC limit
                                                                  retained catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1....................  January 20-April 1..  shallow-water......           0.340             384             131
                                             deep-water.........           0.070              85               6
2....................  April 1-July 1......  shallow-water......           0.340              85              29
                                             deep-water.........           0.070             256              18
3....................  July 1-September 1..  shallow-water......           0.340             171              58
                                             deep-water.........           0.070             341              24
4....................  September 1-October   shallow-water......           0.340             128              44
                        1.
                                             deep-water.........           0.070               0               0
5....................  October 1-December    all targets........           0.205             256              52
                        31.
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total............  ....................  ...................  ..............           1,706             361
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with 
a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation 
in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these 
vessels' catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA 
groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard 
limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from 
the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on 
another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of the Crab 
Rationalization Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs 
(Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP 
(76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), and Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 
74670, December 1, 2011).
    Table 15 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard 
limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch 
of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

 Table 15--Proposed 2016 and 2017 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-                   Proposed 2016
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                    and 2017 non-
                                                 Area/component/    crab vessel    Proposed 2016     AFA crab
           Species                Season/gear          gear       catch to 1996-   and 2017 TACs      vessel
                                                                    2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                      harvest                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098           4,760              47
                                January 20-
                                March 10.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          39,992             124
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          14,839               3
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.0098           4,760              47
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          49,586             154
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           5,245               1
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.0098          15,975             157
                                25-October 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          19,179              59
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          24,437               5
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098          15,975             157
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          19,179              59
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          24,437               5
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.0000           6,187               0
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.0000          12,625               0
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W Jig CV.......          0.0000          16,255               0
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 W Hook-and-line          0.0004          16,255               7
                                                  CV.
                                                 W Pot CV.......          0.0997          16,255           1,621
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078          16,255             127
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007          16,255              11
                                                 C Jig CV.......          0.0000          27,594               0
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          27,594               3
                                                  CV.

[[Page 76421]]

 
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          27,594           1,308
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          27,594             375
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          27,594              33
                               B Season,\2\      W Jig CV.......          0.0000          10,837               0
                                September 1--
                                December 31.
                                                 W Hook-and-line          0.0004          10,837               4
                                                  CV.
                                                 W Pot CV.......          0.0997          10,837           1,080
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078          10,837              85
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007          10,837               8
                                                 C Jig CV.......          0.0000          18,396               0
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          18,396               2
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          18,396             872
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          18,396             250
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          18,396              22
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0110           1,909              21
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0000             212               0
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             268               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0000             846               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000             199               0
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                 C..............          0.0001          17,114               2
                                                 E..............          0.0000           2,513               0
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             299               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,645               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           9,233               0
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           1,234               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           5,707               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           2,038               0
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0004          14,500               6
                                                 C..............          0.0001          75,000               8
                                                 E..............          0.0000          13,800               0
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                 C..............          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,709               0
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           2,358               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000          16,184               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           2,894               0
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0005           1,158               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,563               0
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0013              92               0
                                                 C..............          0.0012             397               0
                               ................  E..............          0.0009             834               1
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0017             273               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,077               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,361               0
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0067             117               1
                                                 C..............          0.0047             643               3
                                                 E..............          0.0008             382               0
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0000             225               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0047             235               1
                                                 C..............          0.0066             875               6
                                                 E..............          0.0045             731               3
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035  ..............  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0033           1,031               3
                                                 E..............          0.0000             780               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0000           2,000               0
Big skate....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             731              29
                                                 C..............          0.0159           1,257              20
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,267               0
Longnose skate...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             152               6
                                                 C..............          0.0159           2,090              33
                                                 E..............          0.0000             976               0
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           2,235              39
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           5,569              98
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           5,989             105

[[Page 76422]]

 
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,148              20
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,507              27
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish 
sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. 
These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish 
harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific 
ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat Districts from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited 
from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of 
participating in a rockfish cooperative will receive the portion of 
each sideboard limit that is not assigned to rockfish cooperatives. 
Table 16 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish 
sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to 
confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the 
sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed.

 Table 16--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District
                                by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Proposed 2016
               Area                       Fishery         C/P sector  (% of TAC)   Proposed 2016   and 2017 C/P
                                                                                   and 2017 TACs       limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA......................  Dusky rockfish......  72.3...................             273             197
                                   Pacific ocean perch.  50.6...................           2,358           1,193
                                   Northern rockfish...  74.3...................           1,158             860
West Yakutat District............  Dusky rockfish......  Confid.\1\.............           1,187             N/A
                                   Pacific ocean perch.  Confid.\1\.............           2,055             N/A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut 
PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits 
apply to the CV sector as vessels participating in a rockfish 
cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps 
that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that 
portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit 
not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for 
C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative 
are described in Sec.  679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are 
linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt 
out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of 
the Rockfish Program in 2016, and will know the ratios and amounts used 
to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any 
applicable opt-out sideboard limits and post these limits on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/rockfish/. Table 17 lists the 2016 and 2017 
proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector. These 
proposed 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits proportionately incorporate 
reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated 
seasonal apportionments (see Table 10).

[[Page 76423]]



                       Table 17--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                        Annual  shallow-
                                                                      Shallow-water      Deep-water                      water  species    Annual deep-
                                                                     species fishery  species fishery   Annual halibut      fishery       water species
                               Sector                                  halibut PSC      halibut PSC    mortality limit    halibut PSC    fishery halibut
                                                                     sideboard ratio  sideboard ratio        (mt)       sideboard limit   PSC sideboard
                                                                        (percent)        (percent)                            (mt)          limit (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor..................................................            0.10             2.50            1,706                2               43
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish Sideboard and PSC Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/
P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut 
PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability 
of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. 
Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from 
directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky 
rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004. Table 18 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 sideboard 
limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted 
or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program 
vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18.

        Table 18--Proposed 2016 and 2017 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of                      Proposed 2016
                                                                   Amendment 80                      and 2017
                                                                      sector       Proposed 2016   Amendment 80
           Species                  Season             Area        vessels 1998-   and 2017 TAC       vessel
                                                                   2004 catch to       (mt)          sideboard
                                                                        TAC                         limits (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           4,760              14
                                January 20-
                                February 25.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          39,992              80
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          14,839              30
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).           0.003           4,760              14
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          49,586              99
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,245              10
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).           0.003          15,975              48
                                25-September 15.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          19,179              38
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          24,437              49
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003          15,975              48
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          19,179              38
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          24,437              49
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           6,187              12
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W..............           0.020          16,255             325
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 C..............           0.044          27,594           1,214
                               B Season \2\,     W..............           0.020          10,837             217
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 C..............           0.044          18,396             809
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           2,121              72
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           2,358           2,344
                                                 WYK............           0.961           2,055           1,975
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000           1,158           1,158
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             273             209
                                                 WYK............           0.896           1,187           1,064
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 
Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are

[[Page 76424]]

slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two 
factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish 
Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this 
restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 2016 and 
2017 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. 
These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC 
sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels, as 
contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. These proposed 2016 and 2017 
PSC sideboard limits proportionately incorporate the reductions made to 
the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal 
apportionments (see Table 10).

    Table 19--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Historic
                                                                   Amendment 80                    Proposed 2016
                                                                    use of the     Proposed 2016   Amendment 80
        Season             Season dates        Fishery category   annual halibut    annual PSC      vessel PSC
                                                                     PSC limit      limit  (mt)      sideboard
                                                                      (ratio)                       limit (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1....................  January 20-April 1..  shallow-water......          0.0048           1,706               8
                                             deep-water.........          0.0115           1,706              20
2....................  April 1-July 1......  shallow-water......          0.0189           1,706              32
                                             deep-water.........          0.1072           1,706             183
3....................  July 1-September 1..  shallow-water......          0.0146           1,706              25
                                             deep-water.........          0.0521           1,706              89
4....................  September 1-October   shallow-water......          0.0074           1,706              13
                        1.
                                             deep-water.........          0.0014           1,706               2
5....................  October 1-December    shallow-water......          0.0227           1,706              39
                        31.
                                             deep-water.........          0.0371           1,706              63
                      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............  ....................  ...................  ..............  ..............             474
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the 
public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS 
issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental 
Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the 
Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of 
the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest 
strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no 
significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its 
alternatives.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA 
evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest 
strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set 
forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the 
range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve 
the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the 
methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself 
remains constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP 
prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries 
within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and 
C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations 
of groundfish.
    The Small Business Administration has established size standards 
for all major industry sectors in the United States. A business 
primarily involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual gross receipts not in excess of $20.5 million, for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. Fishing vessels are considered small 
entities if their total annual gross receipts, from all their 
activities combined, are less than $20.5 million. The IRFA estimates 
the number of harvesting vessels that are considered small entities, 
but these estimates may overstate the number of small entities because 
(1) some vessels may also be active as tender vessels in the salmon 
fishery, fish in areas other than Alaska and the West Coast, or 
generate revenue from other non-fishing sources; and (2) all 
affiliations are not taken into account, especially if the vessel has 
affiliations not tracked in available data (i.e., ownership of multiple 
vessel or affiliation with processors) and may be misclassified as a 
small entity.
    The IRFA shows that, in 2014, there were 915 individual CVs with 
gross revenues less than or equal to $20.5 million. This estimate 
accounts for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative 
affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the

[[Page 76425]]

fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization 
Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate 
gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that 
must meet the ``under $20.5 million'' threshold. Vessels that 
participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities 
within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for membership in these 
cooperatives, there are an estimated 915 small CV entities remaining in 
the GOA groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average 
gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for 
hook-and-line CVs, pot gear vessels, and trawl gear vessels are 
estimated to be $400,000, $740,000, and $2.5 million, respectively. 
Revenue data for the four C/Ps considered to be small entities are 
confidential.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC 
were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which 
case harvests would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set 
TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average 
fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower 
limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action 
alternative,'' would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those 
adopted by the Council in October 2015, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and 
ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's GOA Plan Team in September 2015, and reviewed by the 
Council's SSC in October 2015. The Council based its TAC 
recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in 
Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 would be 
731,049 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum 
of TACs is 590,161 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this 
instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small 
entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred alternative. In 
some instances, the selection of Alternative 1 would not reflect the 
practical implications that increased TACs (where the sum of TACs 
equals the sum of ABCs) for some species probably would not be fully 
harvested. This could be due to a lack of commercial or market interest 
in such species. Additionally, an underharvest of some TACs could 
result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore 
constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA 
groundfish species.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the 
most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, 
the Council's preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take 
account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. 
NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as 
well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible 
harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component 
of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray 
stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species 
category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the 
GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2016 
TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of 
this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size 
of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for 
GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. While production 
declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with significant 
price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained 
by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue 
declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative would have a 
detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be 
contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as 
mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 915 
individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. 
Additionally, the four small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would have 
gross revenues of $0.
    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the 
current 2016 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2016 and 2017. As noted in the 
IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 
2015, when it reviews the November 2015 SAFE report from its Groundfish 
Plan Team, and the December 2015 Council meeting reports of its SSC and 
AP. Because 2016 TACs in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications are unchanged from the 2016 TACs, NMFS does not expect 
adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any 
changes made by the Council in December 2015 to have significant 
adverse impacts on small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting 
from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the 
Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-
31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-
241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: December 3, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-31002 Filed 12-7-15; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P