Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 76425-76442 [2015-31003]

Download as PDF 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 76426 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: NMFS proposes 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI 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–2015–0118, by any 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-20150118, 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), Supplementary Information Report (SIR), 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 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2014, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http:// www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2015 SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all groundfish species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 17 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest specifications for 2016 and 2017 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 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES) and (4) considering information presented in the final 2015 SAFE reports prepared for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish fisheries. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Other Actions Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications On November 30, 2015, the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (State), established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the BS. The action by the State will require a downward adjustment of the proposed 2016 and 2017 Bering Sea subarea Pacific cod TAC because the combined TAC and GHL is greater than the proposed ABC of 255,000 mt. The BOF for the State established a GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the AI. The action by the State does not require a downward adjustment of the proposed Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TAC because the combined TAC and GHL (14,174 mt) is less than the proposed ABC of 17,600 mt. Accordingly, the Council will need to consider these GHLs when recommending the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI TACs. The Council is expected to set the final Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TACs less than the ABCs by amounts that account for these 2016 and 2017 GHLs. In addition, the Council’s BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) is reviewing the stock structure of BSAI groundfish and may recommend allocating current overfishing levels (OFLs) or ABCs by subareas or reporting areas. At its June 2015 meeting, the Council recommended reductions to the BSAI halibut PSC limits by 21 percent through Amendment 111 to the FMP. A notice of availability associated with those recommendations was published on October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66486). The specific reductions are 25 percent for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent for non-trawl fisheries. These reductions are expected to be implemented in 2016, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 111. On implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits proposed by this action would be reduced. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications At the October 2015 Council meeting, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Advisory Panel (AP), and Council E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2014 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see ADDRESSES). The amounts proposed for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are based on the 2014 SAFE report, and are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2015 meeting. 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. At its December 2015 meeting, the Council will consider information contained in the final 2015 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2015 Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December 2015 SSC and AP meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. 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, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. These changes were recommended by the Plan Team in November 2015 and are included in the final 2015 SAFE report. The final 2015 SAFE report includes the most recent information, such as 2015 catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts published here. If the final 2015 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the final 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the FMP requires TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2016 and 2017, the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2016 and 2017 will equal 2 million mt. The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available while Tier 6 represents the lowest. In October 2015, 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. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2016 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2015 (80 FR 11919). The Council adopted the AP’s TAC recommendations. For 2016 and 2017, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 2,731,897 mt, which is the same as the final 2016 ABC total in the final 2015 and 2016 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are equal PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76427 to proposed ABCs for Bering Sea sablefish, AI sablefish, AI ‘‘other rockfish’’ and eastern Aleutian Islands (EAI) Pacific ocean perch. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are less than the proposed ABCs for Bering Sea pollock, AI pollock, Bogoslof pollock, Bering Sea Pacific cod, AI Pacific cod, yellowfin sole, Bering Sea Greenland turbot, AI Greenland turbot, arrowtooth flounder, rock sole, flathead sole, Alaska plaice, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, central Aleutian Islands (CAI) Pacific ocean perch, western Aleutian Islands (WAI) Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, eastern Bering Sea (EBS)/EAI rougheye rockfish, CAI/ WAI rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, Bering Sea ‘‘other rockfish,’’ Bering Sea/EAI, CAI, and WAI Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2015 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during its December 2015 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2014 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. 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.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76428 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1— PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2016 and 2017 Species Area OFL ABC TAC ITAC 2 Skates ............................................................ Sculpins .......................................................... Sharks ............................................................ Squids ............................................................ Octopuses ...................................................... BS ............ AI ............. Bogoslof ... BS ............ AI ............. BS ............ AI ............. BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BS ............ AI ............. BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BS ............ EAI ........... CAI ........... WAI .......... BSAI ........ BSAI ........ EBS/EAI .. CAI/WAI ... BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BS ............ AI ............. BSAI ........ EAI/BS ..... CAI ........... WAI .......... BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ BSAI ........ 3,490,000 38,699 21,200 389,000 23,400 1,431 1,934 262,900 6,453 n/a n/a 91,663 11,000 170,100 76,504 51,600 17,700 40,809 n/a n/a n/a n/a 15,100 688 n/a n/a 690 1,667 n/a n/a 115,908 n/a n/a n/a 47,035 52,365 1,363 2,624 3,452 1,554,000 31,900 15,900 255,000 17,600 1,211 1,637 245,500 5,248 4,050 1,198 78,661 9,500 164,800 63,711 42,900 13,250 33,550 8,411 7,970 7,406 9,763 12,295 555 178 377 518 1,250 695 555 98,137 35,637 30,652 31,848 39,468 39,725 1,022 1,970 2,589 1,310,000 19,000 100 240,000 9,422 1,211 1,637 149,000 2,648 2,448 200 22,000 6,500 69,250 24,250 18,500 3,620 31,991 8,021 7,970 7,000 9,000 3,250 349 149 200 250 880 325 555 54,817 27,317 17,000 10,500 25,700 4,700 125 400 400 1,179,000 17,100 100 214,320 8,414 515 348 133,057 2,251 2,081 170 18,700 5,525 61,840 21,655 15,725 3,077 28,223 6,818 7,117 6,251 8,037 2,763 297 127 170 213 748 276 472 48,952 24,394 15,181 9,377 21,845 3,995 106 340 340 131,000 1,900 0 25,680 1,008 167 276 15,943 0 262 0 2,354 0 7,410 2,595 0 0 2,565 0 853 749 963 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5,865 2,923 1,819 1,124 0 0 0 0 0 TOTAL .................................................... .................. 4,935,285 2,731,897 2,000,000 1,789,447 197,025 Pollock ............................................................ Pacific cod ...................................................... Sablefish ........................................................ Yellowfin sole ................................................. Greenland turbot ............................................ Arrowtooth flounder ........................................ Kamchatka flounder ....................................... Rock sole 6 ..................................................... Flathead sole 7 ............................................... Alaska plaice .................................................. Other flatfish 8 ................................................ Pacific ocean perch ....................................... Northern rockfish ............................................ Rougheye rockfish 9 ....................................... Shortraker rockfish ......................................... Other rockfish 10 ............................................. Atka mackerel ................................................ mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 These CDQ 3 4 5 amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the (BS) includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 3 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a directed pollock fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. 4 The Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska guideline harvest level in state waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea. 5 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, and 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear. The 2016 hook-and-line and pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ program. 6 ‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 9 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 10 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent of the BSAI pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA (see § 679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 4.0 percent or 47,160 mt of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2015. During this 16-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 16-year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2014. During this 12-year period, the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2013, with a 12-year average of 8 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 5,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 3,500 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 200 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS’ examination of the average incidental retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2014. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that Bering Sea pollock TAC be apportioned after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 4.0 percent for the ICA as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the AI subarea, the A season pollock TAC may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season. Table 2 lists these proposed 2016 and 2017 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76429 than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/ processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 14 through 17 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The Bering Sea subarea inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2016 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2016 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2016 AFA inshore cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA before noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2016 and 2017 amounts by sector. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76430 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] A season 1 2016 and 2017 Allocations Area and sector Bering Sea subarea TAC .......................................................................... CDQ DFA ................................................................................................... ICA 1 ........................................................................................................... AFA Inshore ............................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ......................................................................... Catch by C/Ps .................................................................................... Catch by C/Vs 3 .................................................................................. Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ...................................................................... AFA Motherships ....................................................................................... Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ...................................................................... Excessive Processing Limit 6 ..................................................................... Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ............................................................. Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ................................................................... CDQ DFA ................................................................................................... ICA ............................................................................................................. Aleut Corporation ....................................................................................... Area 541 harvest limit 7 .............................................................................. Area 542 harvest limit 7 .............................................................................. Area 543 harvest limit 7 .............................................................................. Bogoslof District ICA 7 ................................................................................ 1,310,000 131,000 47,160 565,920 452,736 414,253 38,483 2,264 113,184 198,072 339,552 1,131,840 31,900 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 9,570 4,785 1,595 100 A season DFA n/a 52,400 n/a 226,368 181,094 165,701 15,393 905 45,274 n/a n/a 452,736 n/a n/a 760 1,200 13,520 n/a n/a n/a n/a B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 36,680 n/a 158,458 126,766 n/a n/a n/a 31,692 n/a n/a 316,915 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 78,600 n/a 339,552 271,642 248,552 23,090 1,358 67,910 n/a n/a 679,104 n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 1,180 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector 50 percent, catcher/processor sector 40 percent, and mothership sector 10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors (C/Ps) shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed C/Ps. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/ processor sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and nontrawl gear sectors (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may be allocated to jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Sea subarea to jig gear in 2016 and 2017. This percentage is applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543; and equally divides the annual TAC between the A PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules Table 3 lists these 2016 and 2017 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access 76431 allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. TABLE 3–PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Allocation by area Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ....................................................... CDQ reserve ......................................... n/a .......................................................... Total ....................................................... A ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... B ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... Total ....................................................... Total ....................................................... Total ....................................................... A ............................................................. B ............................................................. Total ....................................................... Total ....................................................... 27,317 2,923 1,461 n/a 1,461 n/a 1,000 117 2,328 1,164 1,164 20,949 11,766 17,000 1,819 910 91 910 91 75 0 1,511 755 755 13,595 8,114 10,500 1,124 562 n/a 562 n/a 40 0 0 0 0 9,337 5,742 A ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... B ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... Total ....................................................... A ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... B ............................................................. Critical habitat 5 ...................................... 5,883 n/a 5,883 n/a 9,183 4,592 n/a 4,592 n/a 4,057 406 4,057 406 5,481 2,741 274 2,741 274 2,871 n/a 2,871 n/a 3,595 1,798 n/a 1,798 n/a ICA ......................................................... Jig 6 ........................................................ BSAI trawl limited access ...................... Amendment 80 7 .................................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016. Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 .. Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea Central Aleutian District Western Aleutian District 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of critical habitat; paragraph (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and paragraph (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. 7 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council recommended and NMFS proposes separate BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. However, if the nonCDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line and pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line catcher/ processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 non-AFA trawl catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2016 and 2017, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 500 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76432 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2014 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2016 and 2017. NMFS first subtracted the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC and then multiplied the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod by the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543. Based on these calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 2,478 mt. The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector 2016 and 2017 share of gear sector total Percent 2016 and 2017 share of sector total n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 60.8 n/a n/a 48.7 240,000 25,680 214,320 9,422 1,008 8,414 2,478 222,734 135,422 n/a 134,922 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 500 n/a 08,071 Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ... 0.2 n/a 444 Pot catcher/processors ................................. 1.5 n/a 3,329 Pot catcher vessels >60 ft LOA ................... 8.4 n/a 18,641 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hookand-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ................................... 2 n/a 4,438 22.1 49,224 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ....................... 2.3 5,123 n/a Amendment 80 ............................................. 13.4 29,846 n/a Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 3 ... n/a 4,711 n/a Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 3 ....... n/a 25,135 n/a Jig ................................................................. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Total Bering Sea TAC .................................. Bering Sea CDQ ........................................... Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC ........................... Total Aleutian Islands TAC ........................... Aleutian Islands CDQ ................................... Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC .................... Western Aleutians Islands Limit ................... Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 .......................... Total hook-and-line/pot gear ......................... Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ................................ Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ........................... Hook-and-line catcher/processors ................ 1.4 3,118 n/a 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionment Season Amount n/a ......................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ........ n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ........ n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Dec 31 ..................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Dec 31 ..................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Sept 1–Dec 31 ...................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Sept 1–Dec 31 ...................... n/a ......................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,116 52,955 226 217 1,698 1,631 9,507 9,134 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 1–Apr 30 ........................ Apr 30–Aug 31 ..................... Aug 31–Dec 31 ..................... 36,426 5,415 7,384 3,842 1,281 0 22,385 7,462 0 3,533 1,178 0 18,851 6,284 0 1,871 624 624 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 500 mt for 2016 and 2017 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. 3 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76433 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules Sablefish Gear Allocation Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the Bering Sea subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hookand-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries would reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries would remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. apportion 20 percent of the hook-andline and pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the nonspecified reserves, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be assigned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries will be limited to the 2016 TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Percent of TAC Subarea and gear 2016 share of TAC 2016 CDQ reserve 2016 ITAC 1 2017 share of TAC 2017 ITAC 2017 CDQ reserve Bering Sea: Trawl ...................................................... Hook-and-line gear 2 .............................. 50 50 606 606 515 n/a 45 121 606 n/a 515 n/a 45 n/a Total ................................................ 100 1,211 515 167 606 515 45 Aleutian Islands: Trawl ...................................................... Hook-and-line gear 2 .............................. 25 75 409 1,228 348 n/a 31 246 409 n/a 348 n/a 31 n/a Total ................................................ 100 1,637 348 276 409 348 31 1 Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants. Section 679.20(b)(1) does not provide for the establishment of an ITAC for sablefish allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and in § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 2016 and 2017 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Flathead sole Eastern Aleutian District TAC .......................................................... CDQ ......................................................... ICA ........................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ........................ Amendment 80 ......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 7,970 853 200 692 6,225 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Central Aleutian District Western Aleutian District 7,000 749 75 618 5,558 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 9,000 963 10 161 7,866 Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 24,250 2,595 5,000 0 16,655 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 69,250 7,410 6,000 0 55,840 149,000 15,943 3,500 16,765 112,792 76434 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 and 2017 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Flathead sole Eastern Aleutian District Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 1 ................................................... Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 1 .. Central Aleutian District 3,301 2,924 Western Aleutian District 2,947 2,611 4,171 3,695 Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 1,708 14,947 13,813 42,027 44,812 67,980 1 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share (QS) units and the total Amendment 80 QS units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the 2016 and 2017 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ABC SURPLUS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole ABC .............................................................................................................................................. TAC .............................................................................................................................................. ABC surplus ................................................................................................................................. ABC reserve ................................................................................................................................ CDQ ABC reserve ....................................................................................................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ....................................................................................................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 1 .................................................................................. Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 1 ...................................................................................... 63,711 24,250 39,461 39,461 4,222 35,239 3,615 31,624 Rock sole 164,800 69,250 95,550 95,550 10,224 85,326 21,107 64,219 Yellowfin sole 245,500 149,000 96,500 96,500 10,326 86,175 34,240 51,935 1 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring As discussed above, NMFS published a notice of availability to implement Amendment 111 to the FMP (80 FR 66486, October 29, 2015). Amendment 95 would reduce halibut PSC limits in the BSAI by 25 percent for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent for non-trawl fisheries. These reductions are expected to be implemented in 2016, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 111. On implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits proposed by this action would be reduced. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and (e)(2), the 2016 and 2017 BSAI halibut mortality limits are 3,675 mt for trawl fisheries, and 900 mt for the nontrawl fisheries. Sections 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and (e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes apportionment of the non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery categories. Table 10 lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the trawl fisheries, and Table 11 lists the PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 fishery bycatch allowances for the nontrawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years after consultation with the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules mortality because the IFQ program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 2015, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 35,298 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 1.8 mt. The 2015 jig gear fishery harvested about 28 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 47,591 or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC among the AFA sectors, depending on past catch performance and on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector participates in an approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2016, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000, and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery as stated in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements, allocations, and reports at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/bycatch/ default.htm. Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2016 and 2017 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 647 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2016 and 2017 nonChinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, nonChinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2015 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2016 and 2017 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2014 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2015. Section § 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Based on 2015 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 18.6 million red king crabs, which is above the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 46.5 million lbs (21,092 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 8). Based on 2015 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 329 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2016 and 2017 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. bairdi abundance was PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 76435 estimated to be greater than 270 million and less than 400 million animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2015 survey estimate of 4.288 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 4,708,314 animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2016 and 2017 herring biomass is 274,236 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on spawning location estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2016 and 2017 is 2,742 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2016 PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and § 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector is then further allocated to Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 12. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2017 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76436 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI trawl limited access and bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected start of fishing effort, and (6) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC apportionments in Table 10 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON–TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS Total non-trawl PSC PSC species and area 1 Non-trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ 2 900 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 832 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI ........................... Herring (mt) BSAI .......................................... Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 ................... C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ............................ C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 .................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 .................... Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ 2 Total trawl PSC 3,675 2,742 97,000 4,708,314 830,000 2,520,000 CDQ PSQ reserve 2 3,349 n/a 86,621 4,204,524 741,190 2,250,360 Amendment 80 sector 3 393 n/a 10,379 503,790 88,810 269,640 2,325 n/a 43,293 2,066,524 312,115 532,660 BSAI trawl limited access fishery 875 n/a 26,489 1,351,334 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) allocates 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and § 679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocates 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits by 150 mt for halibut mortality and 20 percent for crab PSC. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. 2 Section TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED, SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI Fishery categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 .................................................................................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..................................................................... Rockfish ................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ............................................................................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species2 3 ................................................................................................................... Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ........................................................................................ 187 30 20 14 42 2,242 207 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC ................................................................................................................................................ 2,742 97,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than pelagic trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. 4 In October 2015 the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BSAI trawl limited access fisheries Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Yellowfin sole ....................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish ........................................................................... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .......................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................ Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ................................. Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC .................................. C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 167 0 23,338 0 1,273,886 0 293,234 0 1,005,879 0 0 5 453 250 875 0 0 2,954 197 26,489 0 2,104 54,298 21,046 1,351,334 0 0 50,816 4,235 348,285 0 849 42,424 4,242 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. 2 ‘‘Other VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76437 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Catcher/ processor Non-trawl fisheries Seasons Pacific cod ................................................ Total Pacific cod ....................................... January 1–June 10 ................................... June 10–August 15 .................................. August 15–December 31 ......................... May 1–December 31 ................................ n/a ............................................................. n/a ............................................................. n/a ............................................................. Non-Pacific cod non-trawl ......................... Groundfish pot and jig .............................. Sablefish hook-and-line ............................ Total for all non-trawl PSC ....................... Catcher vessel 760 455 190 115 n/a n/a n/a n/a All Non-trawl 15 10 3 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a 775 n/a n/a n/a 58 Exempt Exempt 833 TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2016 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCE FOR THE BSAI AMENDMENT 80 COOPERATIVES Prohibited species and zones 1 Cooperative Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 632 1,693 12,459 30,834 Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ....................... Alaska Seafood Cooperative ........................... 1 Refer C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 650,551 1,415,973 82,136 229,979 Zone 2 137,369 395,291 to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs) To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch 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 halibut DMRs developed and recommended by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 8, 10, 11, and 12). The IPHC developed these DMRs for the 2016 to 2017 BSAI fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. 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 their justification is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 13 lists the 2016 and 2017 DMRs. TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ASSUMED PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Gear Fishery Non-CDQ hook-and-line .......... Greenland turbot ........................................................................................................................... Other species 1 .............................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Rockfish ........................................................................................................................................ Alaska plaice ................................................................................................................................. Arrowtooth flounder ....................................................................................................................... Atka mackerel ............................................................................................................................... Flathead sole ................................................................................................................................ Greenland turbot ........................................................................................................................... Kamchatka flounder ...................................................................................................................... Non-pelagic pollock ....................................................................................................................... Pelagic pollock .............................................................................................................................. Other flatfish 2 ................................................................................................................................ Other species 1 .............................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Rockfish ........................................................................................................................................ Rock sole ...................................................................................................................................... Sablefish ....................................................................................................................................... Yellowfin sole ................................................................................................................................ Other species 1 .............................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Atka mackerel ............................................................................................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ....................................................................................................................... Flathead sole ................................................................................................................................ Kamchatka flounder ...................................................................................................................... Non-pelagic pollock ....................................................................................................................... mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Non-CDQ trawl ......................... Non-CDQ pot ........................... CDQ trawl ................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 11 9 9 4 66 84 82 72 82 84 81 88 63 66 66 83 86 75 84 20 20 82 84 79 84 86 76438 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 ASSUMED PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR THE BSAI— Continued Gear Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Fishery CDQ hook-and-line .................. CDQ pot ................................... Pelagic pollock .............................................................................................................................. Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Greenland turbot ........................................................................................................................... Rockfish ........................................................................................................................................ Rock sole ...................................................................................................................................... Yellowfin sole ................................................................................................................................ Greenland turbot ........................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ..................................................................................................................................... Sablefish ....................................................................................................................................... 90 87 89 69 86 85 4 10 8 41 1 ‘‘Other species’’ includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 2 ‘‘Other Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as ‘‘sideboard’’ limits on catch. The basis for these proposed sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 14 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 catcher/ processor sideboard limits. All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/ processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 14. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/ processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR LISTED AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSORS (C/PS) [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Retained catch Target species Sablefish trawl ..................... Greenland turbot ................. Arrowtooth flounder ............. Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole ............................ Flathead sole ...................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish ........................ Pacific ocean perch ............ Northern rockfish ................. Rougheye rockfish .............. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish ...................... Atka mackerel ..................... Skates ................................. Sculpins ............................... Sharks ................................. Squids ................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Total catch Ratio of retained catch to total catch 8 0 121 23 76 76 6,317 1,925 14 3,058 12 125 3 54 91 50 50 50 18 22 ........................ n/a n/a ........................ n/a n/a 553 553 553 73 497 145 17,305 4,987 33,987 33,987 169,362 52,755 9,438 52,298 4,879 6,179 5,698 13,598 13,040 2,811 2,811 2,811 621 806 ........................ n/a n/a ........................ n/a n/a 68,672 68,672 68,672 3,328 0.016 0 0.007 0.005 0.002 0.002 0.037 0.036 0.001 0.058 0.002 0.02 0.001 0.004 0.007 0.018 0.018 0.018 0.029 0.027 ........................ 0.115 0.115 ........................ 0.2 0.2 0.008 0.008 0.008 0.022 Area BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... Eastern AI .......................... Central AI ........................... Western AI ......................... BSAI ................................... EBS/EAI ............................. CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Central AI ........................... A season 2 .......................... B season 2 .......................... Western AI ......................... A season 2 .......................... B season 2 .......................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 2016 and 2017 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2016 and 2017 AFA C/P sideboard limit 515 348 2,081 170 18,700 5,525 61,840 21,655 15,725 3,077 6,818 7,117 6,251 8,037 2,763 149 200 250 325 555 ........................ 7,591 7,591 ........................ 4,689 4,689 21,845 3,995 125 340 8 0 15 1 37 11 2,288 780 16 178 14 142 6 32 19 3 4 5 9 15 ........................ 873 873 ........................ 938 938 175 32 1 7 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76439 TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR LISTED AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSORS (C/PS)—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Area Retained catch Octopuses ........................... BSAI ................................... Total catch 553 Ratio of retained catch to total catch 2016 and 2017 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2016 and 2017 AFA C/P sideboard limit 0.008 400 3 68,672 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). 2 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District. Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2016 and 2017 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 15 that are caught by listed AFA catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 2016 or 2017 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached. Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for pollock will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). TABLE 15–PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 BSAI PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSORS Ratio of PSC to total PSC PSC species and area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality ...................................................................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 ...................................................................................................... C. opilio (COBLZ) ............................................................................................................ C. bairdi ........................................................................................................................... Zone 1 .............................................................................................................................. Zone 2 .............................................................................................................................. 1 Refer Proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 0.007 0.153 n/a 0.14 0.05 n/a 86,621 4,204,524 n/a 741,190 2,250,360 Proposed 2016 and 2017 C/P sideboard limit 2 286 606 643,292 n/a 103,767 112,518 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 2 Halibut AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Tables 16 and 17 list the proposed 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits. All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits listed in Table 16. E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76440 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules TABLE 16–PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Fishery by area/gear/season Pacific cod ....................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Jig gear .......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ........................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Jun 10–Dec 31 ........................................... Pot gear CV ................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ............................................ CV <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl gear CV ................................................ Jan 20–Apr 1 .............................................. Apr 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................................. BS trawl gear ................................................. AI trawl gear ................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS trawl gear ................................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... Eastern AI ...................................................... Central AI ....................................................... Western AI ..................................................... BSAI ............................................................... EBS/EAI ......................................................... CAI/WAI .......................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... Eastern AI/BS ................................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................................. Central AI ....................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................................. Western AI ..................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Sablefish ......................................................... Greenland turbot ............................................. Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Kamchatka flounder ........................................ Rock sole ........................................................ Flathead sole .................................................. Alaska plaice ................................................... Other flatfish .................................................... Pacific ocean perch ........................................ Northern rockfish ............................................. Rougheye rockfish .......................................... Shortraker rockfish .......................................... Other rockfish .................................................. Atka mackerel ................................................. Skates ............................................................. Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Ratio of 1995– 1997 AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 2016 and 2017 initial TAC 1 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a 0 n/a 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 3,118 n/a 226 217 n/a 9,507 9,134 4,438 n/a 0 n/a 0 0 n/a 6 5 3 n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 0.0906 0.0645 0.0645 0.0205 0.069 0.069 0.0341 0.0505 0.0441 0.0441 0.1 0.0077 0.0025 0 0.0084 0.0037 0.0037 0.0037 0.0048 0.0095 n/a 0.0032 0.0032 n/a 0.0001 0.0001 n/a 0 0 0.0541 0.0541 0.0541 0.3827 0.0541 n/a 36,426 5,415 7,384 514 348 2,081 170 18,700 5,525 61,840 21,655 15,725 3,077 6,818 7,117 6,251 8,037 2,763 149 200 250 325 555 n/a 12,197 12,197 n/a 7,591 7,591 n/a 4,689 4,689 21,845 3,995 125 340 400 n/a 31,359 4,662 6,357 47 22 134 3 1,290 381 2,109 1,094 693 136 682 55 16 0 23 1 1 1 2 5 n/a 39 39 n/a 1 1 n/a 0 0 1,182 216 7 130 22 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2016 and 2017 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 17 that are caught by AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Sections 679.21(e)(7) and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 17 is reached. The PSC that is caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 in the Bering Sea subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules 76441 TABLE 17–PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut .................................... Proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 Proposed 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.299 0.168 0.33 0.186 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 86,621 4,204,524 741,190 2,250,360 887 2 101 228 0 2 5 25,900 706,360 244,593 418,567 Pacific cod trawl ...................................................................... Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot ............................................. Yellowfin sole total .................................................................. Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 4 .................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish .. Rockfish .................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 5 .................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 ............ C. opilio COBLZ ..................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ..................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ..................... 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. Target fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). 3 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. 2 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, and 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, analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology may produce 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other alternatives. 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 exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities operating catcher vessels and catcher/ processors 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 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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. 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. Because some catcher vessels and catcher/processors meet this size standard, they are considered to be small entities for the purposes of this analysis. The estimated directly regulated small entities include approximately 190 catcher vessels, two catcher/processors, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or crab rationalization cooperatives, and, since under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $20.5 million’’ threshold, they are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. Thus, the E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1 76442 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 236 / Wednesday, December 9, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS estimate of 190 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $446,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.31 million for small pot vessels, and $2.28 million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/ processors is confidential; however, in 2014, NMFS estimates that there are two catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less than $20.5. 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 BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI 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 BSAI Plan Team in September 2015, and reviewed and modified 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 BSAI OY of two million mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 would be about 2,731,897 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this instance, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 08, 2015 Jkt 238001 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. 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 TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2015 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the BSAI, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The proposed harvest specifications 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 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because 2016 TACs in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2016 harvest specification 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 be large enough to have an impact 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 resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2015 SIR (http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ analyses/specs/15_16bsaigoasir.pdf). 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 4, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–31003 Filed 12–7–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\09DEP1.SGM 09DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 236 (Wednesday, December 9, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 76425-76442]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31003]


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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

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

[[Page 76426]]


ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the BSAI 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-2015-0118, by any 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-2015-0118, 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), Supplementary Information Report (SIR), 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 BSAI, dated November 2014, is available from the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, 
Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from the 
Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2015 SAFE report 
for the BSAI is available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish 
fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS approved 
it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries 
also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all 
groundfish species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 
million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)). 
Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest 
specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on 
proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species 
catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves 
established by Sec.  679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific 
cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, 
Amendment 80 allocations, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve 
amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest 
specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 17 of this action satisfy 
these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest 
specifications for 2016 and 2017 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 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental 
EIS (see ADDRESSES) and (4) considering information presented in the 
final 2015 SAFE reports prepared for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish 
fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications

    On November 30, 2015, the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a 
regulatory body for the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game 
(State), established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters 
between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea 
(BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod acceptable biological 
catch (ABC) for the BS. The action by the State will require a downward 
adjustment of the proposed 2016 and 2017 Bering Sea subarea Pacific cod 
TAC because the combined TAC and GHL is greater than the proposed ABC 
of 255,000 mt.
    The BOF for the State established a GHL in State waters in the 
Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod 
ABC for the AI. The action by the State does not require a downward 
adjustment of the proposed Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TAC 
because the combined TAC and GHL (14,174 mt) is less than the proposed 
ABC of 17,600 mt.
    Accordingly, the Council will need to consider these GHLs when 
recommending the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI TACs. The Council is expected 
to set the final Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea 
Pacific cod TACs less than the ABCs by amounts that account for these 
2016 and 2017 GHLs.
    In addition, the Council's BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) is 
reviewing the stock structure of BSAI groundfish and may recommend 
allocating current overfishing levels (OFLs) or ABCs by subareas or 
reporting areas.
    At its June 2015 meeting, the Council recommended reductions to the 
BSAI halibut PSC limits by 21 percent through Amendment 111 to the FMP. 
A notice of availability associated with those recommendations was 
published on October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66486). The specific reductions 
are 25 percent for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl 
limited access fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent 
for non-trawl fisheries. These reductions are expected to be 
implemented in 2016, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 111. On 
implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits 
proposed by this action would be reduced.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    At the October 2015 Council meeting, the Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), Advisory Panel (AP), and Council

[[Page 76427]]

reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and 
presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan 
Team and presented in the final 2014 SAFE report for the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see ADDRESSES). The amounts 
proposed for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are based on the 
2014 SAFE report, and are subject to change in the final harvest 
specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council's December 
2015 meeting. 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. At its 
December 2015 meeting, the Council will consider information contained 
in the final 2015 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2015 
Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December 2015 SSC and AP 
meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations 
for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.
    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, 
which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. 
These changes were recommended by the Plan Team in November 2015 and 
are included in the final 2015 SAFE report. The final 2015 SAFE report 
includes the most recent information, such as 2015 catch data. The 
final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected 
to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts 
published here.
    If the final 2015 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the final 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. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the FMP requires TACs to be set to an OY 
between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend 
TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team, if 
setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause TACs to exceed an OY of 2 
million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a 
large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2016 and 2017, 
the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the 
final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2016 and 2017 will equal 2 
million mt.
    The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the development of 
ABCs and OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The 
FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on 
the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 
1 represents the highest level of information quality available while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest.
    In October 2015, 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. These amounts 
are unchanged from the final 2016 harvest specifications published in 
the Federal Register on March 5, 2015 (80 FR 11919). The Council 
adopted the AP's TAC recommendations. For 2016 and 2017, the Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 
1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the 
specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs for all 
assessed groundfish is 2,731,897 mt, which is the same as the final 
2016 ABC total in the final 2015 and 2016 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are 
equal to proposed ABCs for Bering Sea sablefish, AI sablefish, AI 
``other rockfish'' and eastern Aleutian Islands (EAI) Pacific ocean 
perch. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are 
less than the proposed ABCs for Bering Sea pollock, AI pollock, 
Bogoslof pollock, Bering Sea Pacific cod, AI Pacific cod, yellowfin 
sole, Bering Sea Greenland turbot, AI Greenland turbot, arrowtooth 
flounder, rock sole, flathead sole, Alaska plaice, ``other flatfish,'' 
Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, central Aleutian Islands (CAI) Pacific 
ocean perch, western Aleutian Islands (WAI) Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, eastern Bering Sea (EBS)/EAI rougheye rockfish, CAI/
WAI rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, Bering Sea ``other 
rockfish,'' Bering Sea/EAI, CAI, and WAI Atka mackerel, skates, 
sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2015 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during 
its December 2015 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with 
the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2014 
SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and 
socioeconomic considerations. 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.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2016 and 2017 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

[[Page 76428]]



  Table 1-- Proposed 2016 and 2017 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                    Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Proposed 2016 and 2017
                  Species                               Area             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\        CDQ 3 4 5
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock...................................  BS..........................       3,490,000       1,554,000       1,310,000       1,179,000         131,000
                                            AI..........................          38,699          31,900          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                            Bogoslof....................          21,200          15,900             100             100               0
Pacific cod...............................  BS..........................         389,000         255,000         240,000         214,320          25,680
                                            AI..........................          23,400          17,600           9,422           8,414           1,008
Sablefish.................................  BS..........................           1,431           1,211           1,211             515             167
                                            AI..........................           1,934           1,637           1,637             348             276
Yellowfin sole............................  BSAI........................         262,900         245,500         149,000         133,057          15,943
Greenland turbot..........................  BSAI........................           6,453           5,248           2,648           2,251               0
                                            BS..........................             n/a           4,050           2,448           2,081             262
                                            AI..........................             n/a           1,198             200             170               0
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................          91,663          78,661          22,000          18,700           2,354
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................          11,000           9,500           6,500           5,525               0
Rock sole \6\.............................  BSAI........................         170,100         164,800          69,250          61,840           7,410
Flathead sole \7\.........................  BSAI........................          76,504          63,711          24,250          21,655           2,595
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          51,600          42,900          18,500          15,725               0
Other flatfish \8\........................  BSAI........................          17,700          13,250           3,620           3,077               0
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BSAI........................          40,809          33,550          31,991          28,223           2,565
                                            BS..........................             n/a           8,411           8,021           6,818               0
                                            EAI.........................             n/a           7,970           7,970           7,117             853
                                            CAI.........................             n/a           7,406           7,000           6,251             749
                                            WAI.........................             n/a           9,763           9,000           8,037             963
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          15,100          12,295           3,250           2,763               0
Rougheye rockfish \9\.....................  BSAI........................             688             555             349             297               0
                                            EBS/EAI.....................             n/a             178             149             127               0
                                            CAI/WAI.....................             n/a             377             200             170               0
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................             690             518             250             213               0
Other rockfish \10\.......................  BSAI........................           1,667           1,250             880             748               0
                                            BS..........................             n/a             695             325             276               0
                                            AI..........................             n/a             555             555             472               0
Atka mackerel.............................  BSAI........................         115,908          98,137          54,817          48,952           5,865
                                            EAI/BS......................             n/a          35,637          27,317          24,394           2,923
                                            CAI.........................             n/a          30,652          17,000          15,181           1,819
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          31,848          10,500           9,377           1,124
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          47,035          39,468          25,700          21,845               0
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................          52,365          39,725           4,700           3,995               0
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................           1,363           1,022             125             106               0
Squids....................................  BSAI........................           2,624           1,970             400             340               0
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................           3,452           2,589             400             340               0
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL.................................  ............................       4,935,285       2,731,897       2,000,000       1,789,447         197,025
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the (BS) includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian
  Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for
  these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves.
\3\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10
  percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a directed pollock fishery as follows:
  inshore--50 percent; catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships--10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian
  Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance
  (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery.
\4\ The Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska guideline harvest level in state
  waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea.
\5\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, and 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear. The 2016 hook-and-line and pot gear
  portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. 10.7 percent of the TACs for
  Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ program.
\6\ ``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin
  sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice.
\9\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish.


[[Page 76429]]

Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for 
Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and 
AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line 
or pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a 
non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl 
gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland 
turbot and arrowtooth flounder to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs 
for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, 
flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 
679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent 
of the BSAI pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance 
(DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA 
(see Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line 
and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further 
apportion the CDQ reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 4.0 percent or 47,160 mt of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC 
after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based 
on NMFS' examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded 
catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target 
fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2015. During this 16-
year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 
percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 16-year 
average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) 
and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC 
after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on 
NMFS' examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 2003 through 2014. During this 12-year period, the incidental 
catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 
percent in 2013, with a 12-year average of 8 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
5,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 3,500 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 75 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 200 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt of Western Aleutian 
District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka 
mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea 
subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. 
These ICAs are based on NMFS' examination of the average incidental 
retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 
through 2014.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified 
reserve, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing 
(see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that Bering Sea pollock TAC be 
apportioned after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 4.0 
percent for the ICA as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to 
the mothership sector. In the Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent of the DFA 
is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 60 percent of 
the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the 
Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea 
after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt 
for the ICA (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the AI subarea, the 
A season pollock TAC may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC, and the 
remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season. Table 2 
lists these proposed 2016 and 2017 amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock 
harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. 
In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 
percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific 
requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, 
it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/
processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with 
catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional 
Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the 
distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher 
vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/
processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more 
than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor 
sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 allocations of pollock 
TAC. Tables 14 through 17 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher 
vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The Bering Sea subarea inshore 
pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the 
submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on 
December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative 
applications for 2016 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS 
therefore cannot calculate 2016 allocations, NMFS has not included 
inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest 
specifications. NMFS will post 2016 AFA inshore cooperative allocations 
on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior 
to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the 
harvest specifications effective on that date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA 
before noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A 
season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in 
proportion to each sector's allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 
lists these proposed 2016 and 2017 amounts by sector.

[[Page 76430]]



  Table 2--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Allocations of Pollock TACS to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                 2016 and 2017   -----------------------------------------------
               Area and sector                    Allocations                       SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC.......................          1,310,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA......................................            131,000          52,400          36,680          78,600
ICA \1\......................................             47,160             n/a             n/a             n/a
AFA Inshore..................................            565,920         226,368         158,458         339,552
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\...................            452,736         181,094         126,766         271,642
    Catch by C/Ps............................            414,253         165,701             n/a         248,552
    Catch by C/Vs \3\........................             38,483          15,393             n/a          23,090
        Unlisted C/P Limit \4\...............              2,264             905             n/a           1,358
AFA Motherships..............................            113,184          45,274          31,692          67,910
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\...............            198,072             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\...............            339,552             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ)...............          1,131,840         452,736         316,915         679,104
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC.................             31,900             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC.................             19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA......................................              1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA..........................................              2,400           1,200             n/a           1,200
Aleut Corporation............................             14,700          13,520             n/a           1,180
Area 541 harvest limit \7\...................              9,570             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 542 harvest limit \7\...................              4,785             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 543 harvest limit \7\...................              1,595             n/a             n/a             n/a
Bogoslof District ICA \7\....................                100             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector 50 percent,
  catcher/processor sector 40 percent, and mothership sector 10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 40 percent
  of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B
  season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock
  TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the
  Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of
  the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA
  before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/
  processors (C/Ps) shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed C/
  Ps.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting
  not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/processor sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0
  percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to part 679 
and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent 
of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel 
ITAC may be allocated to jig gear. The percent of this allocation is 
recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, 
including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The 
Council recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent allocation of the 
Atka mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea 
subarea to jig gear in 2016 and 2017. This percentage is applied to the 
TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig 
gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to this part and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to no 
more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543; and 
equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined 
at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller 
sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located in Areas 541, 
542, and 543.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.

[[Page 76431]]

    Table 3 lists these 2016 and 2017 Atka mackerel season allowances, 
area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2017 allocations for 
Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 
limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

   Table 3-Proposed 2016 and 2017 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                      Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Allocation by area
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
            Sector \1\                 Season 2 3 4       Eastern Aleutian
                                                          District/Bering    Central Aleutian   Western Aleutian
                                                                Sea              District           District
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC..............................  n/a.................             27,317             17,000             10,500
CDQ reserve......................  Total...............              2,923              1,819              1,124
                                   A...................              1,461                910                562
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                 91                n/a
                                   B...................              1,461                910                562
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                 91                n/a
ICA..............................  Total...............              1,000                 75                 40
Jig \6\..........................  Total...............                117                  0                  0
BSAI trawl limited access........  Total...............              2,328              1,511                  0
                                   A...................              1,164                755                  0
                                   B...................              1,164                755                  0
Amendment 80 \7\.................  Total...............             20,949             13,595              9,337
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for  Total...............             11,766              8,114              5,742
 2016.
                                   A...................              5,883              4,057              2,871
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                406                n/a
                                   B...................              5,883              4,057              2,871
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                406                n/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for     Total...............              9,183              5,481              3,595
 2016.
                                   A...................              4,592              2,741              1,798
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                274                n/a
                                   B...................              4,592              2,741              1,798
                                   Critical habitat \5\                n/a                274                n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the
  jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679
  and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of critical habitat; paragraph (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the
  A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and paragraph (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543
  shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this
  allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
\7\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80
  limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by
  November 1, 2016.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council recommended and NMFS proposes separate BS and AI 
subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC 
to the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. However, if the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be 
reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ 
directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in 
the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ 
program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent 
to hook-and-line and pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) 
length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels 
greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-
line catcher/processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater 
than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/
processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent 
to non-AFA trawl catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher 
vessels. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be 
deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated 
to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2016 and 2017, the Regional 
Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 500 mt, based on anticipated 
incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Table 33 to part 679 and Sec.  679.91. Two Amendment 
80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing year. Because all 
Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no

[[Page 76432]]

allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to 
disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific 
cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next 
seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2014 stock assessment, the Regional 
Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 
26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2016 and 2017. NMFS first 
subtracted the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC 
and then multiplied the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod by the 
percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543. Based on these 
calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 2,478 mt.
    The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 
2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the 
sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances of 
Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

       Table 4--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific COD TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     2016 and 2017 seasonal
                                                 2016 and 2017   2016 and 2017            apportionment
            Sector                  Percent      share of gear     share of    ---------------------------------
                                                 sector total    sector total        Season           Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC..........             n/a         240,000             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Bering Sea CDQ................             n/a          25,680             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC........             n/a         214,320             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC....             n/a           9,422             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ..........             n/a           1,008             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC..             n/a           8,414             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Western Aleutians Islands                  n/a           2,478             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
 Limit.
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\....             100         222,734             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear..            60.8         135,422             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\.....             n/a             n/a             500  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total...             n/a         134,922             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/                    48.7             n/a          08,071  Jan 1-Jun 10....          55,116
 processors.                                                                    Jun 10-Dec 31...          52,955
Hook-and-line catcher vessels              0.2             n/a             444  Jan 1-Jun 10....             226
 >=60 ft LOA.                                                                   Jun 10-Dec 31...             217
Pot catcher/processors........             1.5             n/a           3,329  Jan 1-Jun 10....           1,698
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           1,631
Pot catcher vessels >60 ft LOA             8.4             n/a          18,641  Jan 1-Jun 10....           9,507
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           9,134
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA                   2             n/a           4,438  n/a.............             n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessels.........            22.1          49,224             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          36,426
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           5,415
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....           7,384
AFA trawl catcher/processors..             2.3           5,123             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,842
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,281
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Amendment 80..................            13.4          29,846             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          22,385
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           7,462
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative              n/a           4,711             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,533
 for 2016 \3\.
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,178
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for             n/a          25,135             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          18,851
 2016 \3\.
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           6,284
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Jig...........................             1.4           3,118             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....           1,871
                                                                                Apr 30-Aug 31...             624
                                                                                Aug 31-Dec 31...             624
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI
  Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for
  Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains.
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC
  allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 500 mt for 2016
  and 2017 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
\3\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited
  access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November
  1, 2016.


[[Page 76433]]

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish 
TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear and hook-
and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the Bering Sea 
subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line 
or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 
percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of 
the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ 
reserve. Additionally, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 
percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the nonspecified 
reserves, established under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be assigned to the 
CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be 
established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-
line gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) 
fisheries will be limited to the 2016 fishing year to ensure those 
fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. 
Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries would reduce the 
potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The 
sablefish IFQ fisheries would remain closed at the beginning of each 
fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish 
IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2016 and 2017 
gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                   Table 5--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACS
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2016 share of                     2016 CDQ      2017 share of                     2017 CDQ
            Subarea and gear              Percent of TAC        TAC        2016 ITAC \1\      reserve           TAC          2017 ITAC        reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl...............................              50             606             515              45             606             515              45
    Hook-and-line gear \2\..............              50             606             n/a             121             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           1,211             515             167             606             515              45
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl...............................              25             409             348              31             409             348              31
    Hook-and-line gear \2\..............              75           1,228             n/a             246             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...........................             100           1,637             348             276             409             348              31
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC
  after the subtraction of these reserves.
\2\ For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by
  CDQ participants. Section 679.20(b)(1) does not provide for the establishment of an ITAC for sablefish allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI 
Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access 
sectors, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA 
for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl 
gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and in Sec.  679.91.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2016 
and 2017 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead 
sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole Tacs
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             2016 and 2017 allocations
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Pacific ocean perch                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                         Sector                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Eastern         Central         Western
                                                             Aleutian        Aleutian        Aleutian          BSAI            BSAI            BSAI
                                                             District        District        District
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.....................................................           7,970           7,000           9,000          24,250          69,250         149,000
CDQ.....................................................             853             749             963           2,595           7,410          15,943
ICA.....................................................             200              75              10           5,000           6,000           3,500
BSAI trawl limited access...............................             692             618             161               0               0          16,765
Amendment 80............................................           6,225           5,558           7,866          16,655          55,840         112,792

[[Page 76434]]

 
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 \1\..............           3,301           2,947           4,171           1,708          13,813          44,812
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 \1\.................           2,924           2,611           3,695          14,947          42,027          67,980
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until
  eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016.

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves 
minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each 
Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each 
cooperatives' quota share (QS) units and the total Amendment 80 QS 
units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective 
species. Table 7 lists the 2016 and 2017 ABC surplus and ABC reserves 
for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

  Table 7--Proposed 2016 and 2017 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80
                    ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.............................................................          63,711         164,800         245,500
TAC.............................................................          24,250          69,250         149,000
ABC surplus.....................................................          39,461          95,550          96,500
ABC reserve.....................................................          39,461          95,550          96,500
CDQ ABC reserve.................................................           4,222          10,224          10,326
Amendment 80 ABC reserve........................................          35,239          85,326          86,175
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 \1\......................           3,615          21,107          34,240
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 \1\.........................          31,624          64,219          51,935
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited
  access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November
  1, 2016.

Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    As discussed above, NMFS published a notice of availability to 
implement Amendment 111 to the FMP (80 FR 66486, October 29, 2015). 
Amendment 95 would reduce halibut PSC limits in the BSAI by 25 percent 
for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl limited access 
fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent for non-trawl 
fisheries. These reductions are expected to be implemented in 2016, 
pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 111. On implementation of the 
reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits proposed by this 
action would be reduced.
    Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.21(e)(1)(iv) and (e)(2), the 2016 and 2017 BSAI halibut mortality 
limits are 3,675 mt for trawl fisheries, and 900 mt for the non-trawl 
fisheries. Sections 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and (e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 
mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of 
the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes apportionment of the non-trawl 
halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery 
categories. Table 10 lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the trawl 
fisheries, and Table 11 lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the 
non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from 
the halibut PSC limit. As in past years after consultation with the 
Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-
and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for 
the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig 
gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery 
and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ 
fisheries have low halibut bycatch

[[Page 76435]]

mortality because the IFQ program requires legal-size halibut to be 
retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit 
holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ 
(subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 2015, total groundfish catch for the 
pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 35,298 mt, with an associated halibut 
bycatch mortality of 1.8 mt.
    The 2015 jig gear fishery harvested about 28 mt of groundfish. Most 
vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage 
requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut 
bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of 
the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut 
caught with jig gear and released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 47,591 or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC among the AFA sectors, 
depending on past catch performance and on whether Chinook salmon 
bycatch incentive plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector 
participates in an approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan 
agreement, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to 
that sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook 
salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement is approved, or if the sector 
has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that 
sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2016, the Chinook 
salmon PSC limit is 60,000, and the AFA sector Chinook salmon 
allocations are seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation 
for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for 
the B season pollock fishery as stated in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). 
The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule 
implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 
30, 2010). NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive 
plan agreements, allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2016 and 2017 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, 
as the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 
647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2016 and 
2017 non-Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational 
Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, 
or 4,494, non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ 
program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon to the 
non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2015 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2016 and 2017 
PSC limits and apportionments on the 2014 survey data. The Council will 
reconsider these amounts in December 2015.
    Section Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each 
trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Based on 2015 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated at 18.6 million red king crabs, which is above 
the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning 
biomass is estimated at 46.5 million lbs (21,092 mt). Based on the 
criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2016 and 2017 
PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. 
This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more 
than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass 
estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 
million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to 
up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need 
to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. 
NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the red king crab 
bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance 
within the RKCSS (Table 8). Based on 2015 survey data, Tanner crab 
(Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 329 million animals. 
Pursuant to criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 
2016 and 2017 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 
animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. 
bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 270 million and less 
than 400 million animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated 
to be greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million 
animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab 
(C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio 
bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering 
Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2015 survey 
estimate of 4.288 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC 
limit is 4,708,314 animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2016 and 2017 herring biomass is 274,236 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
spawning location estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed 
for 2016 and 2017 is 2,742 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 
and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2016 PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
specified in Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC 
limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited 
access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iv) 
and Sec.  679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 sector is then further allocated to 
Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 
12. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2016 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2016 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2016, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2017 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives 
and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until 
eligible participants apply for participation in the program by 
November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperatives and 
Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska

[[Page 76436]]

Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting with the 
Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the 
BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to 
maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish 
TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal 
distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target 
groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant 
to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates 
throughout the year, (5) expected start of fishing effort, and (6) 
economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. 
The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC 
apportionments in Table 10 to maximize harvest among gear types, 
fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the 
above criteria.

   Table 8--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, The CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI
                                                              Trawl Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Non-trawl PSC                     Trawl PSC
                                            Total non-       remaining      Total trawl      remaining        CDQ PSQ      Amendment 80     BSAI trawl
        PSC species and area \1\             trawl PSC     after CDQ PSQ        PSC        after CDQ PSQ    reserve \2\     sector \3\    limited access
                                                                \2\                             \2\                                           fishery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI.............             900             832           3,675           3,349             393           2,325             875
Herring (mt) BSAI.......................             n/a             n/a           2,742             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1..........             n/a             n/a          97,000          86,621          10,379          43,293          26,489
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ...............             n/a             n/a       4,708,314       4,204,524         503,790       2,066,524       1,351,334
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1.........             n/a             n/a         830,000         741,190          88,810         312,115         348,285
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2.........             n/a             n/a       2,520,000       2,250,360         269,640         532,660       1,053,394
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
\2\ Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) allocates 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and Sec.   679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocates 7.5 percent, or 67 mt,
  of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of
  each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits by 150 mt for halibut mortality and 20 percent for crab PSC. These reductions
  are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors.


    Table 9--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
   Subarea Prohibited, Species Catch Allowances for all Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Red king crab
           Fishery categories              Herring (mt)      (animals)
                                               BSAI          Zone \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             187             n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish                30             n/a
 \1\....................................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                 20             n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish................................              14             n/a
Pacific cod.............................              42             n/a
Midwater trawl pollock..................           2,242             n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species2 3..             207             n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-                   n/a          24,250
 pelagic trawl gear \4\.................
                                         -------------------------------
    Total trawl PSC.....................           2,742          97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder,
  flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and
  yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than pelagic trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ``other
  species'' fishery category.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks,
  skates, squids, and octopuses.
\4\ In October 2015 the Council recommended that the red king crab
  bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be
  limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).


 Table 10--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Prohibited species and area \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BSAI trawl limited access         Halibut     Red king  crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
            fisheries                mortality       (animals)       (animals)   -------------------------------
                                     (mt) BSAI        Zone 1           COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..................             167          23,338       1,273,886         293,234       1,005,879
Rock sole/flathead sole/other                  0               0               0               0               0
 flatfish \2\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth                    0               0               0               0               0
 flounder/Kamchatka flounder/
 sablefish......................
Rockfish April 15-December 31...               5               0           2,104               0             849
Pacific cod.....................             453           2,954          54,298          50,816          42,424
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other                  250             197          21,046           4,235           4,242
 species \3\....................
Total BSAI trawl limited access              875          26,489       1,351,334         348,285       1,053,394
 PSC............................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin
  sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses.


[[Page 76437]]


     Table 11--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Catcher/
        Non-trawl fisheries                 Seasons             processor      Catcher vessel     All Non-trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod........................  Total Pacific cod....               760                15               775
                                     January 1-June 10....               455                10               n/a
                                     June 10-August 15....               190                 3               n/a
                                     August 15-December 31               115                 2               n/a
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl..........  May 1-December 31....               n/a               n/a                58
Groundfish pot and jig.............  n/a..................               n/a               n/a            Exempt
Sablefish hook-and-line............  n/a..................               n/a               n/a            Exempt
Total for all non-trawl PSC........  n/a..................               n/a               n/a               833
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                           Table 12--Proposed 2016 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowance for the BSAI Amendment 80 Cooperatives
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                            Prohibited species and zones \1\
                                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Cooperative                                Halibut                                                  C. bairdi (animals)
                                                                 mortality (mt)     Red king crab       C. opilio    -----------------------------------
                                                                      BSAI        (animals) Zone 1  (animals)  COBLZ       Zone 1            Zone 2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative.................................               632            12,459           650,551            82,136           137,369
Alaska Seafood Cooperative....................................             1,693            30,834         1,415,973           229,979           395,291
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs)

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch 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 halibut DMRs developed and recommended by the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for the 
2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2016 
and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 8, 10, 11, and 12). The 
IPHC developed these DMRs for the 2016 to 2017 BSAI fisheries using the 
10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. 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 their 
justification is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 13 
lists the 2016 and 2017 DMRs.

    Table 13--Proposed 2016 and 2017 Assumed Pacific Halibut Discard
                      Mortality Rates for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Halibut
                                                              discard
               Gear                        Fishery        mortality rate
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-CDQ hook-and-line.............  Greenland turbot....              11
                                    Other species \1\...               9
                                    Pacific cod.........               9
                                    Rockfish............               4
Non-CDQ trawl.....................  Alaska plaice.......              66
                                    Arrowtooth flounder.              84
                                    Atka mackerel.......              82
                                    Flathead sole.......              72
                                    Greenland turbot....              82
                                    Kamchatka flounder..              84
                                    Non-pelagic pollock.              81
                                    Pelagic pollock.....              88
                                    Other flatfish \2\..              63
                                    Other species \1\...              66
                                    Pacific cod.........              66
                                    Rockfish............              83
                                    Rock sole...........              86
                                    Sablefish...........              75
                                    Yellowfin sole......              84
Non-CDQ pot.......................  Other species \1\...              20
                                    Pacific cod.........              20
CDQ trawl.........................  Atka mackerel.......              82
                                    Arrowtooth flounder.              84
                                    Flathead sole.......              79
                                    Kamchatka flounder..              84
                                    Non-pelagic pollock.              86

[[Page 76438]]

 
                                    Pelagic pollock.....              90
                                    Pacific cod.........              87
                                    Greenland turbot....              89
                                    Rockfish............              69
                                    Rock sole...........              86
                                    Yellowfin sole......              85
CDQ hook-and-line.................  Greenland turbot....               4
                                    Pacific cod.........              10
CDQ pot...........................  Pacific cod.........               8
                                    Sablefish...........              41
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other species'' includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and
  octopuses.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut
  (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole,
  yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder.

Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/
processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other 
than pollock, to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries 
from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery 
cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are 
set out as ``sideboard'' limits on catch. The basis for these proposed 
sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing 
the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and 
Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 14 lists the 
proposed 2016 and 2017 catcher/processor sideboard limits.
    All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/
processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 14. However, groundfish 
sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/processors 
by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors.

              Table 14--Proposed 2016 and 2017 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Listed American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processors (C/Ps)
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             1995-1997
                                                                         ------------------------------------------------  2016 and 2017   2016 and 2017
                                                                                                             Ratio of     ITAC available      AFA C/P
              Target species                            Area                                              retained catch  to all trawl C/    sideboard
                                                                          Retained catch    Total catch       to total        Ps \1\           limit
                                                                                                               catch
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish trawl...........................  BS..........................               8             497           0.016             515               8
                                            AI..........................               0             145               0             348               0
Greenland turbot..........................  BS..........................             121          17,305           0.007           2,081              15
                                            AI..........................              23           4,987           0.005             170               1
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................              76          33,987           0.002          18,700              37
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................              76          33,987           0.002           5,525              11
Rock sole.................................  BSAI........................           6,317         169,362           0.037          61,840           2,288
Flathead sole.............................  BSAI........................           1,925          52,755           0.036          21,655             780
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................              14           9,438           0.001          15,725              16
Other flatfish............................  BSAI........................           3,058          52,298           0.058           3,077             178
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BS..........................              12           4,879           0.002           6,818              14
                                            Eastern AI..................             125           6,179            0.02           7,117             142
                                            Central AI..................               3           5,698           0.001           6,251               6
                                            Western AI..................              54          13,598           0.004           8,037              32
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................              91          13,040           0.007           2,763              19
Rougheye rockfish.........................  EBS/EAI.....................              50           2,811           0.018             149               3
                                            CAI/WAI.....................              50           2,811           0.018             200               4
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................              50           2,811           0.018             250               5
Other rockfish............................  BS..........................              18             621           0.029             325               9
                                            AI..........................              22             806           0.027             555              15
Atka mackerel.............................  Central AI..................  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
                                            A season \2\................             n/a             n/a           0.115           7,591             873
                                            B season \2\................             n/a             n/a           0.115           7,591             873
                                            Western AI..................  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............
                                            A season \2\................             n/a             n/a             0.2           4,689             938
                                            B season \2\................             n/a             n/a             0.2           4,689             938
Skates....................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008          21,845             175
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008           3,995              32
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008             125               1
Squids....................................  BSAI........................              73           3,328           0.022             340               7

[[Page 76439]]

 
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008             400               3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the
  TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
\2\ The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA
  catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC
  specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District.
Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2016 and 2017 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin
  sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to part 679 establish a 
formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA catcher/
processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 
79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 
2007).
    PSC species listed in Table 15 that are caught by listed AFA 
catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard 
limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) 
authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than 
pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 2016 or 2017 
PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached.
    Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while 
fishing for pollock will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually 
specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/
``other species'' fishery categories, according to Sec.  
679.21(e)(3)(iv).

   Table 15-Proposed 2016 and 2017 BSAI Prohibited Species Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Listed
                                               Catcher/Processors
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Proposed 2016
                                                                                and 2017 PSC
                                                                                available to      Proposed 2016
                 PSC species and area \1\                    Ratio of PSC to    trawl vessels     and 2017 C/P
                                                                total PSC           after        sideboard limit
                                                                               subtraction of          \2\
                                                                                   PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality....................................               n/a               n/a               286
Red king crab Zone 1......................................             0.007            86,621               606
C. opilio (COBLZ).........................................             0.153         4,204,524           643,292
C. bairdi.................................................               n/a               n/a               n/a
Zone 1....................................................              0.14           741,190           103,767
Zone 2....................................................              0.05         2,250,360           112,518
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to 
engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, 
to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse 
effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the 
directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for 
setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the 
BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in 
the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 
79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 
2007). Tables 16 and 17 list the proposed 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher 
vessel sideboard limits.
    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will 
be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits listed in Table 16.

[[Page 76440]]



   Table 16-Proposed 2016 and 2017 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   2016 and 2017
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-   2016 and 2017    AFA catcher
                Species                   Fishery by area/gear/     1997 AFA CV     initial TAC       vessel
                                                 season           catch to 1995-        \1\          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                         limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  BSAI....................             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jig gear................               0           3,118               0
                                        Hook-and-line CV........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 1-Jun 10                    0.0006             226               0
                                          Jun 10-Dec 31                   0.0006             217               0
                                        Pot gear CV.............             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 1-Jun 10                    0.0006           9,507               6
                                          Sept 1-Dec 31                   0.0006           9,134               5
                                        CV <60 ft LOA using hook-         0.0006           4,438               3
                                         and-line or pot gear.
                                        Trawl gear CV...........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 20-Apr 1                    0.8609          36,426          31,359
                                          Apr 1-Jun 10                    0.8609           5,415           4,662
                                          Jun 10-Nov 1                    0.8609           7,384           6,357
Sablefish.............................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0906             514              47
                                        AI trawl gear...........          0.0645             348              22
Greenland turbot......................  BS......................          0.0645           2,081             134
                                        AI......................          0.0205             170               3
Arrowtooth flounder...................  BSAI....................           0.069          18,700           1,290
Kamchatka flounder....................  BSAI....................           0.069           5,525             381
Rock sole.............................  BSAI....................          0.0341          61,840           2,109
Flathead sole.........................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0505          21,655           1,094
Alaska plaice.........................  BSAI....................          0.0441          15,725             693
Other flatfish........................  BSAI....................          0.0441           3,077             136
Pacific ocean perch...................  BS......................             0.1           6,818             682
                                        Eastern AI..............          0.0077           7,117              55
                                        Central AI..............          0.0025           6,251              16
                                        Western AI..............               0           8,037               0
Northern rockfish.....................  BSAI....................          0.0084           2,763              23
Rougheye rockfish.....................  EBS/EAI.................          0.0037             149               1
                                        CAI/WAI.................          0.0037             200               1
Shortraker rockfish...................  BSAI....................          0.0037             250               1
Other rockfish........................  BS......................          0.0048             325               2
                                        AI......................          0.0095             555               5
Atka mackerel.........................  Eastern AI/BS...........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 1-Jun 10                    0.0032          12,197              39
                                          Jun 10-Nov 1                    0.0032          12,197              39
                                        Central AI..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 1-Jun 10                    0.0001           7,591               1
                                          Jun 10-Nov 1                    0.0001           7,591               1
                                        Western AI..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                          Jan 1-Jun 10                         0           4,689               0
                                          Jun 10-Nov 1                         0           4,689               0
Skates................................  BSAI....................          0.0541          21,845           1,182
Sculpins..............................  BSAI....................          0.0541           3,995             216
Sharks................................  BSAI....................          0.0541             125               7
Squids................................  BSAI....................          0.3827             340             130
Octopuses.............................  BSAI....................          0.0541             400              22
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are
  multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2016
  and 2017 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access
  sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 17 that are caught by 
AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for 
the AFA catcher vessels. Sections 679.21(e)(7) and 679.21(e)(3)(v) 
authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than 
pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2016 and 2017 PSC 
sideboard limit listed in Table 17 is reached. The PSC that is caught 
by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea 
subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified 
for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories under Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(iv).

[[Page 76441]]



 Table 17-Proposed 2016 and 2017 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Proposed 2016
                                                                    AFA catcher    and 2017 PSC    Proposed 2016
                                         Target fishery category    vessel PSC      limit after    and 2017 AFA
       PSC species and area \1\                    \2\               sideboard    subtraction of  catcher vessel
                                                                    limit ratio    PSQ  reserves   PSC sideboard
                                                                                        \3\          limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut...............................  Pacific cod trawl.......             n/a             n/a             887
                                        Pacific cod hook-and-                n/a             n/a               2
                                         line or pot.
                                        Yellowfin sole total....             n/a             n/a             101
                                        Rock sole/flathead sole/             n/a             n/a             228
                                         other flatfish \4\.
                                        Greenland turbot/                    n/a             n/a               0
                                         arrowtooth/Kamchatka
                                         flounder/sablefish.
                                        Rockfish................             n/a             n/a               2
                                        Pollock/Atka mackerel/               n/a             n/a               5
                                         other species \5\.
Red king crab Zone 1..................  n/a.....................           0.299          86,621          25,900
C. opilio COBLZ.......................  n/a.....................           0.168       4,204,524         706,360
C. bairdi Zone 1......................  n/a.....................            0.33         741,190         244,593
C. bairdi Zone 2......................  n/a.....................           0.186       2,250,360         418,567
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(e)(3)(iv).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses.

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, and 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, analyzing 
the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates 
the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the 
groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As set 
forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the 
range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve 
OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the 
methodology may produce 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other 
alternatives. 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 exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in 
parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities 
operating catcher vessels and catcher/processors 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. 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. Because some 
catcher vessels and catcher/processors meet this size standard, they 
are considered to be small entities for the purposes of this analysis.
    The estimated directly regulated small entities include 
approximately 190 catcher vessels, two catcher/processors, and six CDQ 
groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or crab rationalization 
cooperatives, and, since under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it 
is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the 
cooperative that must meet the ``under $20.5 million'' threshold, they 
are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. 
Thus, the

[[Page 76442]]

estimate of 190 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number 
of small entities. Average gross revenues were $446,000 for small hook-
and-line vessels, $1.31 million for small pot vessels, and $2.28 
million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/processors is 
confidential; however, in 2014, NMFS estimates that there are two 
catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less than $20.5.
    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 BSAI OY, in which 
case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have 
set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year 
average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the 
lower limit of the BSAI 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 BSAI Plan Team in September 2015, and reviewed and modified 
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 BSAI OY of two million mt. As 
shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 
would be about 2,731,897 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the 
OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to 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.
    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 TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, 
to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2015 
TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size 
would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these 
increases is very uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI 
would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the 
BSAI, these increases would still be constrained by production of 
substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from 
smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would have a 
detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to 
obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The proposed harvest specifications 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 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because 2016 TACs 
in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are unchanged from 
the 2016 harvest specification 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 be large enough to have an impact 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 resulting from fishing activities 
conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final 
EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2015 SIR (http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/analyses/specs/15_16bsaigoasir.pdf).

    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 4, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-31003 Filed 12-7-15; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P