Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Midwater Trawl Requirements, 77267-77275 [2015-31363]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations impacted sectors to benefit from the adjustment, and to provide fishing opportunities for fishermen in geographic areas with access to the fishery only during this time period. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under §§ 635.23(a)(4) and 635.27(a)(9), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: December 9, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–31384 Filed 12–11–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140703553–5999–02] RIN 0648–BE29 Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Midwater Trawl Requirements National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule clarifies the regulatory requirements for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program. This action is needed to eliminate inconsistencies and reduce confusion in the current regulations. For vessels targeting Pacific whiting, the action clarifies that the retention of prohibited and protected species is allowed until landing. The disposition of prohibited and protected species is specified consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (groundfish FMP), the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (salmon FMP), and other applicable law. DATES: Effective January 13, 2016. ADDRESSES: NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 which is summarized in the Classification section of this final rule. NMFS also prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) for the proposed rule (Published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2015; 80 FR 52015). Copies of the IRFA, FRFA and the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available from William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070; or by phone at 206–526–6150. Copies of the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available on the West Coast Region’s Web site at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Becky Renko, 206–526–6110; (fax) 206– 526–6736; becky.renko@noaa.gov. This action amends the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery regulations to eliminate redundancies and inconsistencies relating to the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program (Shorebased IFQ Program). The action is consistent with policy decisions that the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) made during the implementation of a trawl catch share program under Amendment 20 to the groundfish FMP. Midwater trawl gear has primarily been used to target Pacific whiting, but can also be used to target other groundfish species. Since implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program in 2011, midwater trawl gear has been increasingly used to target non-whiting groundfish north of 40°10′ north latitude. South of 40°10′ north latitude midwater trawling has been allowed year round in waters deeper than 150 fathoms (fm) for all target species. In anticipation of the trawl catch share program, groundfish regulations were restructured on October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60868). When the Shorebased IFQ Program was implemented, the midwater Pacific whiting shorebased fishery and the bottom trawl fishery were merged to create a single Shorebased IFQ fishery. Many of the pre-IFQ fishery management measures relating to time and area management were retained in the regulations for use in the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, integrating pre-IFQ regulations with new regulations for the Shorebased IFQ Program resulted in inconsistencies and numerous unclear and confusing management restrictions relating to the use of midwater trawl gear. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 77267 This final rule revises groundfish regulations to clarify that midwater trawl gear is required for vessels targeting Pacific whiting during the primary season north of 40°10′ north latitude, and that midwater trawl gear is allowed for vessels targeting nonwhiting species during the Pacific whiting Shorebased IFQ Program primary season. Restrictions that allow midwater trawl to only be used by vessels participating in the Pacific whiting Shorebased IFQ fishery are removed. The regulations are revised to clarify that vessels using midwater trawl gear, regardless of the target species, are exempt from the trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) restrictions in the area north of 40°10′ north latitude during the dates of the Pacific whiting primary season. These changes allow vessels using midwater trawl gear north of 40°10′ north latitude to declare either ‘‘limited entry midwater trawl, nonwhiting shorebased IFQ’’ or ‘‘limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ’’ consistent with the target strategy. This action is expected to add clarity to the regulations. This action also revises the definition of ‘‘Pacific whiting IFQ trip’’ consistent with Appendix E of the groundfish FMP, which details the Final Preferred Alternative adopted under Amendment 20, and which is consistent with the Environmental Impact Statement analysis conducted in support of Amendment 20. Appendix E defines non-whiting landings as those with less than 50 percent Pacific whiting by weight. Groundfish management includes restrictions on the retention of certain non-groundfish species, including prohibited and protected species. Prohibited species include all salmonids, Pacific halibut, and Dungeness crab off Oregon and Washington. Protected species include marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, and species such as green sturgeon and eulachon, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Generally, prohibited species must be returned to the sea as soon as practicable with a minimum of injury. An exception to the retention restrictions is made for tagged fish, or when retention is authorized by other applicable law. Pacific halibut may be retained until landing by vessels in the Pacific whiting fishery that do not sort the catch at sea only pursuant to NMFS donation regulations. Amendment 10 to the groundfish FMP and Amendment 12 to the salmon FMP were revised to allow salmon bycatch to be retained until landing in cases where the Council determines it is beneficial to the E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 77268 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES management of the groundfish and salmon resources. Under a program approved by the Council and NMFS, salmon remain a prohibited species; and, at a minimum, the requirements must allow for accurate monitoring of the retained salmon and must not provide incentives for fishers to increase salmon bycatch or allow salmon to reach commercial markets. With implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program, a maximized retention provision was added to the groundfish regulations for vessels in the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery. However, the provision did not address the retention of prohibited species other than Pacific halibut, nor did it establish handling and disposition requirements for prohibited species. For consistency with the salmon FMP and Pacific halibut regulations, provisions for the retention and disposition of prohibited species are added by this final rule. In addition, general definitions at 50 CFR 660.11 are revised to add a definition for protected species, and handling and disposition requirements are established in the regulations. Minor changes, as detailed in the preamble of the proposed rule, are made throughout the regulations. These minor changes are being made for consistency between the different subparts of groundfish regulations, for clarity, and to remove redundant regulatory text. Response to Comments NMFS received one comment letter on the proposed rule (80 FR 52015, August 27, 2015) from a business representing fishermen engaged in the whiting and non-whiting midwater trawl fisheries. The comment is addressed here: Comment 1: The commenter indicated that the scope of action was too narrow and should be expanded to allow the use of midwater trawl gear to harvest non-whiting species within the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) south of 40°10′ north latitude. Target species for midwater trawling (widow and yellowtail rockfish) are found in the area south of 40°10′ north latitude. The commenter indicated that the current prohibition on non-whiting midwater trawling within or shoreward of the RCA south of 40°10′ north latitude is an artifact of old management regulations and is no longer necessary. Response: Regulatory provisions to allow non-whiting midwater trawl gear south of 40°10′ north latitude were implemented in 2005. The intent of the allowance was to provide for a chilipepper rockfish fishery without impacting bocaccio, an overfished species. At its September 2015 meeting, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 the Council considered updating the gear regulations for the Shorebased IFQ program, including allowing nonwhiting midwater trawl gear south of 40°10′ north latitude. Further consideration of gear changes is scheduled for the Council’s March 2016 meeting. Because this action revises regulations consistent with policy decisions made during the implementation of the trawl catch share program under Amendment 20 to the groundfish FMP, revisions to update gear provisions are not within the scope considered and are therefore inappropriate for this action and best addressed through future Council action. Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes to the regulatory text from the proposed rule. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the MSA, NMFS has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Groundfish FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), NMFS has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in support of this action. The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS’ response to those comments, relevant analysis contained in the action and its EA, and a summary of the analyses in this rule. A copy of the analyses and the EA are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA was published in the proposed rule for this action and is not repeated here. A description of why this action was considered, the objectives of, and the legal basis for this rule is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final rule and is not repeated here. The rule modifies midwater trawl restrictions for vessels participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program under the authority of the groundfish FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The rule would amend the regulations to remove redundancies and inconsistencies relative to the use of midwater trawl gear, and would add provisions to fully implement ‘‘maximized retention’’ allowances for vessels targeting Pacific whiting. Maximized retention encourages full retention of all catch PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 while recognizing that minor discard events may occur. Only one comment was received on the proposed rule (See Response to Comments section above.) That comment did not raise any issues or concerns related to the IRFA or economic issues more generally. No changes were made to this final rule as a result of the comment. Two alternatives, each with suboptions, were considered. Alternative 1—No Action • North of 40°10′ north latitude midwater trawl gear may be used by vessels with a ‘‘Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ’’ declaration after the start of the primary season. Vessels may use midwater trawl gear to target Pacific whiting and nonwhiting if the vessel also fishes in the Pacific whiting fishery. • There is no requirement to target or land Pacific whiting on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip. • Vessels with a ‘‘Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ’’ declaration may fish within the RCAs after the start of the primary season. • Other than Pacific Halibut, prohibited species and protected species retention until landing is prohibited. • Vessels North of 40°10′ north latitude may carry multiple types of midwater gear and both whiting and non-whiting target strategies are allowed on the same trip, however the vessel must have a valid ‘‘Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ’’ declaration. Alternative 2 (Preferred)—Eliminate Redundancies and Inconsistencies in Regulations Regarding the Use of Midwater Trawl Gear • Midwater trawl gear will be allowed for all target species with a valid declaration for either ‘‘limited entry midwater trawl, non-whiting shorebased IFQ’’ or ‘‘limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ.’’ Nonwhiting vessels would not be obligated to also target Pacific whiting. • A Pacific whiting IFQ trip must be 50 percent or more whiting by weight at landing. • Midwater trawl gear will be allowed within the trawl RCAs and EFH conservation areas for all target species. • For vessels targeting Pacific whiting on ‘‘maximized retention’’ trips, prohibited and protected species must be retained until landing. • The disposition of salmon would be specified such that it is consistent with salmon FMP. • The disposition of Pacific halibut and Dungeness crab would be specified E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations so they are consistent with Pacific halibut regulations and state regulations. • The disposition of protected species would be consistent with the current biological opinions. • North of 40°10′ north latitude, vessels will be allowed to carry multiple types of midwater gear, but: Alternative 2 Sub-option A (preferred): Allow only one target strategy (whiting or non-whiting) on a trip. Alternative 2 Sub-option B: Allow both whiting and non-whiting target strategies on the same trip. However, ‘‘maximized retention’’ would not be allowed if the landed catch was greater than 50 percent non-whiting species. Under No Action, it is unclear whether vessels using midwater trawl north of 40°10′ north latitude must submit a declaration for ‘‘limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ’’ even if they intend to target non-whiting species. Alternative 2 results in a low positive impact over No Action as it removes the prohibition that restricts midwater trawl to the Pacific whiting fishery north of 40°10′ north latitude and allows for the use of either midwater trawl declaration. Alternative 2 would improve tracking of activity relative to time/area restrictions and the specific target strategy. Aligning the declaration with the activity could allow for a more surgical management response that can be clearly understood by harvesters. Under No Action, Pacific whiting trips would not be defined. Alternative 2 defines Pacific whiting trips as trips with landings that are 50 percent or more Pacific whiting by weight. Alternative 2 is not expected to have a measureable effect on the vast majority of midwater trawl trips targeting Pacific whiting. Only a small number of vessels may have reduced flexibility under Alternative 2 sub-option A (one target strategy per trip) because a vessel operator cannot change the target fishing strategy after they leave port. However, sub-option A is most similar to how harvesters currently operate. Either sub-option provides clarity and eliminates inconsistencies, making the regulations less complicated for harvesters and easier to enforce. Revising the groundfish regulations for clarity under Alternative 2 is expected to provide more equitable opportunity for non-whiting vessels north of 40°10′ north latitude as it is clear they do not need to also fish for Pacific whiting. Time/Area restrictions under No Action include Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs), Klamath River conservation zone, Columbia River VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 conservation zone, Ocean Salmon Conservation Zones (OSCZs), Bycatch Reduction Areas (BRAs), the Eureka area 100 fm restriction, prohibition on night fishing south of 42°00′ north latitude, and the Pacific whiting primary seasons. These restrictions were initially implemented to reduce incidental catch of Chinook salmon in the Pacific whiting fisheries. The Klamath River conservation zone, Columbia River conservation zone, OSCZs, and the prohibition on night fishing are specific to the targeting of Pacific whiting and would remain linked to the targeting of whiting under both No Action and Alternative 2. The impacts of No Action on the closed areas are neutral as no changes would be made to reduce the confusion by fishermen or enforcement about prohibited or allowed activities. Because widow rockfish were historically targeted at night with low bycatch, Alternative 2 revisions would clearly state that the prohibition on night fishing does not apply to nonwhiting targeting. BRAs have evolved since their initial implementation in 2007 when they applied specifically to the targeting of whiting. Since 2013, the BRAs have been considered a tool for use in the Pacific whiting sectors (all midwater trawl). Alternative 2 revisions would clearly state that the BRAs and RCA exemptions apply to all midwater trawl. Providing clarification on how time/area restrictions relate to specific target fishing activity under Alternative 2 is expected to reduce regulatory complexity and eliminate contradictory regulations. Changes under Alternative 2 are expected to be beneficial to the harvesters, managers, and enforcement. Maximized retention is allowed under No Action. However, supporting regulations would not be added to reduce confusion regarding the landing of maximized retention catch for nonwhiting target strategies. Provisions would not be added to allow the retention of prohibited species under No Action. The socio-economic impacts of managing under No Action are neutral, providing that restrictions on the retention of prohibited species continue to be unenforced. Alternative 2 would revise the regulations to clearly state that maximized retention would only be allowed for trips targeting Pacific whiting, consistent with the provisions of Amendment 20. Because of relatively low bycatch by vessels targeting Pacific whiting, maximized retention allows sorting to be delayed until landing. Because whiting flesh deteriorates rapidly once the fish are caught, whiting must be minimally handled and PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 77269 immediately chilled to maintain the flesh quality. Allowing Pacific whiting shoreside vessels to retain unsorted catch benefits harvesters by enabling whiting quality to be maintained. Under Alternative 2, provisions would be added to allow Pacific whiting vessels to retain otherwise prohibited species until landing. Non-whiting vessels would have to continue to sort prohibited and protected species at sea. Some non-whiting landings under maximized retention have had a greater variety in bycatch than is typically seen in Pacific whiting landings and have been landed at first receivers with only one catch monitor. Long offloads associated with sorting and weighing non-whiting maximized retention catch has resulted in offload time exceeding the catch monitor’s allowed work hours in a 24 hour period. Alternative 2 would also provide clarification on the disposition of protected species for maximized retention landings. Revisions to the maximized retention requirements under Alternative 2 are expected to reduce regulatory complexity and eliminate contradictory regulations, benefiting harvesters. Under No Action, Pacific whiting trips would continue to be undefined and no protocols for handling or disposing of prohibited or protected species would be defined. The impacts of No Action are neutral, as first receivers would use current methods to identify maximized retention deliveries and determine how to handle and dispose of prohibited and protected species. Defining Pacific whiting trips under Alternative 2 should make it easier for first receivers/processors to identify which trips are classified as ‘‘maximized retention’’ such that it would be more clear which groundfish regulations apply. Alternative 2 specifies handling and disposition of prohibited and protected species. Clear protocols for the disposition of prohibited catch should reduce complexity and confusion for first receivers/processors. Currently, provisions that affect the disposition of prohibited or protected species exist in various federal regulations, nongroundfish FMPs, and ESA biological opinions. Clarifying these provisions in the groundfish regulations will reduce complexity in the requirements for disposition and handling of maximized retention catch and result in a low positive benefit to first receivers/ processors. First receivers are currently taking salmon and grinding and processing the fish into fish meal and/ or providing edible fish to food pantries, soup kitchens, or other non-profit E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 77270 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations organizations. In some states, state agencies have assisted in the transfer of fish to food banks, but this assistance is being withdrawn. However, NMFS concludes that these new regulations do not impose any significant burden on first receivers as they are consistent with current first receiver practices and with prior practices established under the 2007–2010 whiting EFPs. This action will clarify the regulatory requirements for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Shorebased Individual Fishery Quota Program. This action is needed to eliminate inconsistencies and confusion in the current regulations. For vessels targeting Pacific whiting, the action would clarify that the retention of prohibited and protected species is allowed until landing. The disposition of prohibited and protected species would be specified consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan, and other applicable law. The NMFS Guidelines for Economic Analysis of Fishery Management Actions suggest two criteria to consider in determining the significance of regulatory impacts, namely, disproportionality and profitability. As this final rule is intended to clarify the regulations, available information does not indicate that there will be a significant impact in terms of disproportionality and profitability when comparing small versus large businesses. Copies of the Small Entity Compliance Guide prepared for this final rule are available on the West Coast Region’s Web site at http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/. This final rule contains a new collection of information requirement subject to review under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) which was approved by OMB under collection 0648–0619. The public reporting burden for first receivers to retain records showing the disposition of prohibited and protected species is estimated to average 1 minute per response. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this action is consistent with policy decisions that the Council made during the implementation of Amendment 20 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, which was VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 developed after meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials from the area covered by the groundfish FMP. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting members of the Pacific Council must be a representative of an Indian tribe with federally recognized fishing rights from the area of the Council’s jurisdiction. The proposed regulations do not have a direct effect on the tribes. This rule eliminates redundancies and inconsistencies with state law relative to the use of midwater trawl gear and does not have a direct effect on tribes. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries. Dated: December 7, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.11: a. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ‘‘Protected species’’; ■ b. Remove the definition of ‘‘Trawl fishery’’; and ■ c. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ‘‘Trawl fishery or Limited entry trawl fishery’’. The additions read as follows: ■ ■ § 660.11 General definitions. * * * * * Protected species means those species, other than prohibited species, that are protected under Federal law, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act, marine mammals protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Species that are both protected and prohibited are considered prohibited species for purposes of this part. * * * * * Trawl fishery or Limited entry trawl fishery means the groundfish limited entry trawl fishery referred to in subparts C and D, which is composed of vessels registered to a limited entry permit with a trawl endorsement and vessels registered to an MS permit. The trawl fishery is comprised of the PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 following sectors: Catcher/Processor, Mothership, and Shorebased IFQ. The trawl fishery does not include the nongroundfish trawl fisheries, which are all within the open access fishery. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.12, revise paragraphs (a)(1), (10), and (11) to read as follows: § 660.12 General groundfish prohibitions. * * * * * (a) * * * (1) Retain any prohibited or protected species caught by means of fishing gear authorized under this subpart, unless otherwise authorized. Except as otherwise authorized, prohibited and protected species must be returned to the sea as soon as practicable with a minimum of injury when caught and brought on board. * * * * * (10) Transfer fish to another vessel at sea unless the vessel transferring fish is participating in the MS Coop or C/P Coop Programs. (11) Fail to remove all fish from the vessel at landing (defined in § 660.11) and prior to beginning a new fishing trip, except for processing vessels participating in the MS Coop or C/P Coop Programs. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 660.55, revise paragraphs (c)(1)(i)(A) through (C) to read as follows: § 660.55 Allocations. * * * * * (c) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (A) Darkblotched rockfish. Allocate 9 percent or 25 mt, whichever is greater, of the total trawl allocation of darkblotched rockfish to the Pacific whiting fishery (MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ sectors). The distribution of allocation of darkblotched to each of these sectors will be done pro rata relative to the sector’s allocation of the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting. After deducting allocations for the Pacific whiting fishery, the remaining trawl allocation is allocated to the Shorebased IFQ sector. (B) Pacific Ocean Perch (POP). Allocate 17 percent or 30 mt, whichever is greater, of the total trawl allocation of POP to the Pacific whiting fishery (MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ sector). The distribution of POP to each sector will be done pro rata relative to the sector’s allocation of the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting. After deducting allocations for the Pacific whiting fishery, the remaining E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations trawl allocation is allocated to Shorebased IFQ sector. (C) Widow rockfish. Allocate 52 percent of the total trawl allocation of widow rockfish to the Pacific whiting fishery if the stock is under rebuilding, or 10 percent of the total trawl allocation or 500 mt of the trawl allocation, whichever is greater, if the stock is rebuilt. The distribution of the trawl allocation of widow to each sector will be done pro rata relative to the sector’s allocation of the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting. After deducting allocations for the Pacific whiting sectors, the remaining trawl allocation is allocated to Shorebased IFQ sector. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 660.60, revise paragraphs (c)(3)(i) and (d) and remove and reserve paragraph (e). The revisions read as follows: § 660.60 Specifications and management measures. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (c) * * * (3) * * * (i) Depth-based management measures. Depth-based management measures, particularly closed areas known as Groundfish Conservation Areas, may be implemented in any fishery sector that takes groundfish directly or incidentally. Depth-based management measures are set using specific boundary lines that approximate depth contours with latitude/longitude waypoints found at §§ 660.70 through 660.74. Depth-based management measures and closed areas may be used for the following conservation objectives: To protect and rebuild overfished stocks; to prevent the overfishing of any groundfish species by minimizing the direct or incidental catch of that species; or to minimize the incidental harvest of any protected or prohibited species taken in the groundfish fishery. Depth-based management measures and closed areas may be used for the following economic objectives: To extend the fishing season; for the commercial fisheries, to minimize disruption of traditional fishing and marketing patterns; for the recreational fisheries, to spread the available catch over a large number of anglers; to discourage target fishing while allowing small incidental catches to be landed; and to allow small fisheries to operate outside the normal season. BRAs may be implemented as an automatic action in the Pacific whiting fishery consistent with paragraph (d)(1) of this section. BRAs may be implemented as a routine action for vessels using midwater groundfish VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 trawl gear consistent with the purposes for implementing depth-based management and the setting of closed areas as described in this paragraph. * * * * * (d) Automatic actions. Automatic management actions may be initiated by the NMFS Regional Administrator or designee without prior public notice, opportunity to comment, or a Council meeting. These actions are nondiscretionary, and the impacts must have been taken into account prior to the action. Unless otherwise stated, a single notice will be published in the Federal Register making the action effective if good cause exists under the APA to waive notice and comment. (1) Automatic actions are used to: (i) Close the MS or C/P sector when that sector’s Pacific whiting allocation is reached, or is projected to be reached. The MS sector non-coop fishery may be closed by automatic action when the Pacific whiting or non-whiting allocation to the non-coop fishery has been reached or is projected to be reached. (ii) Close one or both MS and C/P sectors when a non-whiting groundfish species with allocations is reached or projected to be reached. (iii) Reapportion unused allocations of non-whiting groundfish species between the MS and C/P sectors. (iv) Reapportion the unused portion of the tribal allocation of Pacific whiting to the MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ sector. (v) Implement the Ocean Salmon Conservation Zone, described at § 660.131, when NMFS projects the Pacific whiting fishery and the tribal whiting fishery combined will take in excess of 11,000 Chinook within a calendar year. (vi) Implement BRAs, described at § 660.131, when NMFS projects a sectorspecific allocation will be reached before the sector’s whiting allocation. (2) Automatic actions are effective when actual notice is sent by NMFS identifying the effective time and date. Actual notice to fishers and processors will be by email, Internet www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ publications/fishery_management/ groundfish/public_notices/recent_ public_notices.html), phone, letter, or press release. Allocation reapportionments will be followed by publication in the Federal Register, in which public comment will be sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 660.100, revise the first sentence to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 § 660.100 77271 Purpose and scope. This subpart applies to the Pacific coast groundfish limited entry trawl fishery. * * * ■ 7. In § 660.111: ■ a. Remove the definition for ‘‘Catcher/ Processor Coop Program or C/P Coop Program’’; ■ b. Add definition for ‘‘Catcher/ Processor Coop Program or C/P Coop sector’’; ■ c. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ‘‘Maximized retention’’; ■ d. Revise the definition for ‘‘Mothership Coop Program or MS Coop Program’’; ■ e. Add a definition for ‘‘Mothership Coop Program or MS Coop sector’’; ■ f. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ‘‘Pacific whiting fishery’’; and ■ g. Revise the definitions for ‘‘Pacific whiting IFQ fishery,’’ ‘‘Pacific whiting IFQ trip,’’ and ‘‘Shorebased IFQ Program’’. The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.111 Trawl fishery—definitions. * * * * * Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program or C/P sector, refers to the fishery described at § 660.160, subpart D. The C/P Coop Program is composed of vessels registered to a limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement and a valid declaration for limited entry, midwater trawl, Pacific whiting catcher/ processor sector. * * * * * Maximized retention means a vessel retains all catch from a trip until landing, subject to the specifications of this subpart. * * * * * Mothership (MS) Coop Program or MS sector refers to the fishery described at § 660.150, subpart D, and includes both the coop and non-coop fisheries. The MS Coop Program is composed of motherships with MS permits and catcher vessels registered to a limited entry permit with an MS/CV endorsement and a valid declaration for limited entry, midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector. The MS Coop Program also includes vessels registered to a limited entry permit without an MS/CV endorsement if the vessel is authorized to harvest the MS sector’s allocation and has a valid declaration for limited entry, midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector. * * * * * Pacific whiting fishery refers to the Pacific whiting primary season fisheries described at § 660.131. The Pacific E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 77272 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations whiting fishery is composed of vessels participating in the C/P Coop Program, the MS Coop Program, or the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery. Pacific whiting IFQ fishery is composed of vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ trips. Pacific whiting IFQ trip means a trip in which a vessel uses midwater groundfish trawl gear during the dates of the Pacific whiting primary season to target Pacific whiting, and Pacific whiting constitutes 50 percent or more of the catch by weight at landing as reported on the state landing receipt. Vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ trips must have a valid declaration for limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ. * * * * * Shorebased IFQ Program or Shorebased IFQ sector, refers to the fishery described at § 660.140, subpart D, and includes all vessels on IFQ trips. * * * * * ■ 8. In § 660.112, revise paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(1)(viii) through (x), and (b)(2)(ii) to read as follows: § 660.112 Trawl fishery—prohibitions. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (a) * * * (2) Sorting, retention, and disposition. (i) Fail to sort, retain, discard, or dispose of catch consistent with the requirements specified at §§ 660.130(d), 660.140 (b)(2)(iii) and (viii), 660.140(g), and 660.140(j)(2). (ii) Fail to sort, retain, discard, or dispose of prohibited and protected species from maximized retention landings consistent with the requirements specified at § 660.140(g)(3). (iii) Retain for personal use or allow to reach commercial markets any part of any prohibited or protected species. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (viii) Fish on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip with a gear other than midwater groundfish trawl gear. (ix) Fish on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip without a valid declaration for limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ. (x) Use midwater groundfish trawl gear Pacific whiting IFQ fishery primary season dates as specified at § 660.131(b). * * * * * (2) * * * (ii) Fail to sort or dispose of catch received from an IFQ trip in accordance with the requirements of §§ 660.130(d) and 660.140(g)(3). * * * * * ■ 9. In § 660.130: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 simultaneously. A vessel may not have both bottom groundfish trawl gear and midwater groundfish trawl gear onboard simultaneously. A vessel may have more than one type of limited entry bottom trawl gear on board, either simultaneously or successively, during a cumulative limit period. A vessel may have more than one type of midwater groundfish trawl gear on board, either § 660.130 Trawl fishery—management simultaneously or successively, during a measures. cumulative limit period. (a) General. This section applies to the (B) If a vessel fishes exclusively with limited entry trawl fishery. Most species large or small footrope trawl gear during taken in the limited entry trawl fishery an entire cumulative limit period, the will be managed with quotas (see vessel is subject to the small or large § 660.140), allocations or set-asides (see footrope trawl gear cumulative limits § 660.150 or § 660.160), or cumulative and that vessel must fish seaward of the trip limits (see trip limits in Tables 1 RCA boundaries during that limit (North) and 1 (South) of this subpart), period. size limits (see § 660.60 (h)(5), subpart (C) If a vessel fishes exclusively with C), seasons (see Pacific whiting at selective flatfish trawl gear during an § 660.131(b), subpart D), gear entire cumulative limit period, then the restrictions (see paragraph (b) of this vessel is subject to the selective flatfish section) and closed areas (see paragraph trawl gear-cumulative limits during that (e) of this section and §§ 660.70 through limit period, regardless of whether the 660.79, subpart C). The limited entry vessel is fishing shoreward or seaward trawl fishery has gear requirements and of the RCA boundaries. harvest limits that differ by the type of (D) If more than one type of bottom groundfish trawl gear on board and the groundfish trawl gear (selective flatfish, area fished. Groundfish vessels large footrope, or small footrope) is on operating south of Point Conception board, either simultaneously or must adhere to CCA restrictions (see successively, at any time during a paragraph (e)(1) of this section and cumulative limit period, then the most § 660.70, subpart C). The trip limits in restrictive cumulative limit associated Tables 1 (North) and 1 (South) of this with the bottom groundfish trawl gear subpart applies to vessels participating on board during that cumulative limit in the limited entry trawl fishery and period applies for the entire cumulative may not be exceeded. Federal limit period, regardless of whether the commercial groundfish regulations are vessel is fishing shoreward or seaward not intended to supersede any more of the RCA. (E) If a vessel fishes both north and restrictive state commercial groundfish south of 40°10′ N. lat. with any type of regulations relating to federallysmall footrope gear onboard the vessel managed groundfish. at any time during the cumulative limit * * * * * period, the most restrictive trip limit (c) * * * associated with the gear on board (3) Fishing with midwater groundfish applies for that trip and will count trawl gear. (i) North of 40°10′ N. lat., toward the cumulative trip limit for that midwater groundfish trawl gear is gear (See crossover provisions at required for Pacific whiting fishery vessels; midwater groundfish trawl gear § 660.120.) * * * * * is allowed for vessels targeting non(d) * * * whiting species during the Pacific (2) * * * whiting primary season for the Pacific (i) First receivers. Fish landed at IFQ whiting IFQ fishery. Also see first receivers (including shoreside restrictions on the use of midwater processing facilities and buying stations groundfish trawl gear within the RCAs that intend to transport catch for north of 40°10′ N. lat. at processing elsewhere) must be sorted, § 660.130(e)(4)(i). prior to first weighing after offloading (ii) South of 40°10′ N. lat., midwater from the vessel and prior to transport groundfish trawl gear is prohibited away from the point of landing, with the shoreward of the RCA boundaries and following exception: Catch from a permitted seaward of the RCA Pacific whiting IFQ trip may be sorted boundaries. after weighing as specified at (4) * * * § 660.140(j)(2). (i) * * * (A) A vessel may not have both * * * * * (3) Sorting requirements for the MS groundfish trawl gear and nonCoop and the C/P Coop Programs. (i) groundfish trawl gear onboard a. Revise paragraphs (a), (c)(3), and (c)(4)(i)(A) through (E); ■ b. Remove paragraph (c)(4)(i)(F); ■ c. Revise paragraphs (d)(2)(i), (d)(3), (e) introductory text, and (e)(4)(i) and (ii); and ■ d. Add paragraphs (e)(6) and (7). The revisions and additions read as follows: ■ PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Processing vessels in the MS and C/P Coop Programs may use a bulk weighing scale in compliance with the equipment requirement at § 660.15(b) to derive an accurate total catch weight prior to sorting. Immediately following weighing of the total catch, the catch must be sorted to the species groups specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section and all catch of-groundfish and non-groundfish species must be accurately accounted for and the weight of all catch other than a single predominant species deducted from the total catch weight to derive the weight of a single predominant species. (ii) If sorting occurs on a catcher vessel in the MS Coop Program, the catch must not be discarded from the vessel and the vessel must not mix catch from hauls until the observer has sampled the catch. (e) Groundfish conservation areas (GCAs) applicable to trawl vessels. A GCA, a type of closed area, is a geographic area defined by coordinates expressed in degrees of latitude and longitude. The latitude and longitude coordinates of the GCA boundaries are specified at §§ 660.70 through 660.74. A vessel that is fishing within a GCA listed in this paragraph (e) with trawl gear authorized for use within a GCA may not have any other type of trawl gear on board the vessel. The following GCAs apply to vessels participating in the limited entry trawl fishery. Additional closed areas that specifically apply to vessels using midwater groundfish trawl gear are described at § 660.131(c). * * * * * (4) * * * (i) Operating a vessel with groundfish trawl gear onboard within a trawl RCA is prohibited, except for the purpose of continuous transit, or under the following conditions when the vessel has a valid declaration for the allowed fishing: (A) Midwater groundfish trawl gear may be used within the RCAs north of 40°10′ N. lat. by vessels targeting Pacific whiting or non-whiting during the applicable Pacific whiting primary season. (B) Vessels fishing with demersal seine gear between 38° N. lat. and 36° N. lat. shoreward of a boundary line approximating the 100 fm (183 m) depth contour as defined at § 660.73, subpart C, may have groundfish trawl gear onboard. (ii) Trawl vessels may transit through an applicable GCA, with or without groundfish on board, provided all groundfish trawl gear is stowed either: Below deck; or if the gear cannot readily VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 be moved, in a secured and covered manner, detached from all towing lines, so that it is rendered unusable for fishing; or remaining on deck uncovered if the trawl doors are hung from their stanchions and the net is disconnected from the doors. These restrictions do not apply to vessels allowed to fish within the trawl RCA under paragraph (e)(4)(i) of this section. * * * * * (6) Bycatch reduction areas (BRAs). Vessels using midwater groundfish trawl gear during the applicable Pacific whiting primary season may be prohibited from fishing shoreward of a boundary line approximating the 75 fm (137 m), 100 fm (183 m) or 150 fm (274 m) depth contours. (7) Eureka management area midwater trawl trip limits. No more than 10,000-lb (4,536 kg) of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any time during a fishing trip, fished with midwater groundfish trawl gear in the fishery management area shoreward of the 100 fm (183 m) depth contour in the Eureka management area. ■ 10. In § 660.131, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (b)(2) introductory text, (b)(2)(i) and (ii), (b)(2)(iii) introductory text, (b)(3) introductory text, (b)(3)(ii), (c) introductory text, (c)(4), (d), and (h)(2) to read as follows: 77273 established for the C/P Coop Program, the MS Coop Program, and the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery for vessels delivering to IFQ first receivers north of 42° N. lat. and vessels delivering to IFQ first receivers between 42° and 40°30′ N. lat. (i) Procedures. The Pacific whiting primary seasons north of 40°30′ N. lat. generally will be established according to the procedures of the PCGFMP for developing and implementing harvest specifications and apportionments. The season opening dates remain in effect unless changed. (ii) Criteria. The start of a Pacific whiting primary season may be changed based on a recommendation from the Council and consideration of the following factors, if applicable: Size of the harvest guidelines for whiting and bycatch species; age/size structure of the whiting population; expected harvest of bycatch and prohibited species; availability and stock status of prohibited species; expected participation by catchers and processors; the period between when catcher vessels make annual processor obligations and the start of the fishery; environmental conditions; timing of alternate or competing fisheries; industry agreement; fishing or processing rates; and other relevant information. (iii) Primary whiting season start § 660.131 Pacific whiting fishery dates and duration. After the start of a management measures. primary season for a sector of the Pacific (a) General. This section applies to the whiting fishery, the primary season MS sector, the C/P sector, the Pacific remains open for that sector until the whiting IFQ fishery, and Shorebased sector allocation of whiting or nonIFQ vessels targeting Pacific whiting whiting groundfish (with allocations) is under trip limits outside the Pacific reached or projected to be reached and whiting primary season. the primary season for that sector is (b) Pacific whiting primary seasons closed by NMFS. The starting dates for and Pacific whiting trip limits—(1) the primary seasons are as follows: Pacific whiting fishery primary seasons. * * * * * (i) For the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery, (3) Pacific whiting trip limits. For the primary season is the period(s) of Shorebased IFQ Program vessels the large-scale Pacific whiting target targeting Pacific whiting outside the fishery conducted after the primary primary season, the ‘‘per trip’’ limit for season start date. whiting is announced in Table 1 of this (ii) For the C/P sector, the primary subpart. The per-trip limit is a routine season is the period(s) when catching management measure under § 660.60(c). and at-sea processing are allowed (after This trip limit includes any whiting the season closes, at-sea processing of any fish already on board the processing caught shoreward of 100 fm (183 m) in the Eureka management-area. The pervessel is allowed to continue). trip limit for other groundfish species (iii) For vessels delivering to are announced in Table 1 (North) and motherships, the primary season is the Table 1 (South) of this subpart and period(s) when catching and at-sea apply as follows: processing is allowed for the MS sector * * * * * (after the season closes, at-sea (ii) If a vessel on a Pacific whiting IFQ processing of any fish already on board trip harvests a groundfish species other the processing vessel is allowed to than whiting for which there is a continue). midwater trip limit, then that vessel (2) Different primary season start may also harvest up to another footropedates. North of 40°30′ N. lat., different specific limit for that species during any primary season starting dates may be PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 77274 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations cumulative limit period that overlaps the start or close of the primary season. (c) Closed areas. Vessels fishing during the Pacific whiting primary seasons shall not target Pacific whiting with midwater groundfish trawl gear in the following portions of the fishery management area: * * * * * (4) Bycatch reduction areas (BRAs). Bycatch reduction area closures specified at § 660.130(e) may be implemented inseason through automatic action when NMFS projects that a Pacific whiting sector will exceed an allocation for a non-whiting groundfish species specified for that sector before the sector’s whiting allocation is projected to be reached. (d) Eureka management area trip limits. Trip landing or frequency limits may be established, modified, or removed under § 660.60 or this paragraph, specifying the amount of Pacific whiting that may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any time during a fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area shoreward of the 100 fathom (183 m) contour in the Eureka management area. Unless otherwise specified, no more than 10,000-lb (4,536 kg) of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any time during a fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area shoreward of the 100 fm (183 m) contour in the Eureka management area. * * * * * (h) * * * (2) The reapportionment of surplus whiting will be made by actual notice under the automatic action authority provided at § 660.60(d)(1). * * * * * ■ 11. In § 660.140, revise paragraph (a) introductory text, (b)(2)(i) through (iii), (g), and (j)(2)(viii) to read as follows: § 660.140 Shorebased IFQ Program. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (a) General. The regulations in this section apply to the Shorebased IFQ Program. The Shorebased IFQ Program includes a system of transferable QS for most groundfish species or species groups, IBQ for Pacific halibut, and trip limits or set-asides for the remaining groundfish species or species groups. NMFS will issue a QS permit to eligible participants and will establish a QS account for each QS permit owner to track the amount of QS or IBQ and QP or IBQ pounds owned by that owner. QS permit owners may own QS or IBQ for IFQ species, expressed as a percent of the allocation to the Shorebased IFQ Program for that species. NMFS will VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 issue QP or IBQ pounds to QS permit owners, expressed in pounds, on an annual basis, to be deposited in the corresponding QS account. NMFS will establish a vessel account for each eligible vessel owner participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program, which is independent of the QS permit and QS account. In order to use QP or IBQ pounds, a QS permit owner must transfer the QP or IBQ pounds from the QS account into the vessel account for the vessel to which the QP or IBQ pounds is to be assigned. Harvests of IFQ species may only be delivered to an IFQ first receiver with a first receiver site license. In addition to the requirements of this section, the Shorebased IFQ Program is subject to the following groundfish regulations of subparts C and D: * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (i) Ensure that all catch removed from a vessel making an IFQ delivery is weighed on a scale or scales meeting the requirements described in § 660.15(c). (ii) Ensure that all catch is landed, sorted, and weighed in accordance with a valid catch monitoring plan as described in § 660.140(f)(3)(iii). (iii) Ensure that all catch is sorted, prior to first weighing, as specified at § 660.130(d) and consistent with § 660.140(j)(2)(viii). * * * * * (g) Retention and disposition requirements—(1) General. Shorebased IFQ Program vessels may discard IFQ species/species groups, provided such discards are accounted for and deducted from QP in the vessel account. With the exception of vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ trips engaged in maximized retention, prohibited and protected species must be discarded at sea; Pacific halibut must be discarded as soon as practicable and the discard mortality must be accounted for and deducted from IBQ pounds in the vessel account. Non-IFQ species and non-groundfish species may be discarded at sea. The sorting of catch, the weighing and discarding of any IBQ and IFQ species, and the retention of IFQ species must be monitored by the observer. (2) Maximized retention for Pacific whiting IFQ trips. Vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ trips may engage in maximized retention. Maximized retention allows for the discard minor operational amounts of catch at sea if the observer has accounted for the discard. Vessels engaged in maximized retention must retain prohibited species until landing. Protected species may be retained until landing except as PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 provided under paragraph (g)(3) of this section. Pacific halibut must be accounted for and deducted from IBQ pounds in the vessel account. (3) Disposition of prohibited species and protected species in maximized retention landings—(i) Prohibited species handling and disposition. To ensure compliance with fishery regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subparts E and F, and part 600, subpart H; with the Pacific Salmon Fishery Management Plan; and with the Pacific Halibut Catch Share Plan; the handling and disposition of all prohibited species in maximized retention landings are the responsibility of the first receiver and must be consistent with the following requirements: (A) Any prohibited species landed at first receivers must not be transferred, processed, or mixed with another landing until the catch monitor has: recorded the number and weight of salmon by species; inspected all prohibited species for tags or marks; and, collected biological data, specimens, and genetic samples. (B) No part of any prohibited species may be retained for personal use by a vessel owner or crew member, or by a first receiver or processing crew member. No part of any prohibited species may be allowed to reach commercial markets. (C) Prohibited species suitable for human consumption at landing must be handled and stored to preserve the quality. Priority in disposition must be given to the donation to surplus food collection and distribution system operated and established to assist in bringing donated food to nonprofit charitable organizations and individuals for the purpose of reducing hunger and meeting nutritional needs. (D) The first receiver must report all prohibited species landings on the electronic fish ticket and is responsible for maintaining records verifying the disposition of prohibited species. Records on catch disposition may include, but are not limited to: Receipts from charitable organizations that include the organization’s name and amount of catch donated; cargo manifests setting forth the origin, weight, and destination of all prohibited species; or disposal receipts identifying the recipient organization and amount disposed. Any such records must be maintained for a period not less than three years after the date of disposal and such records must be provided to OLE upon request. (ii) Protected Species handling and disposition. All protected species must be abandoned to NMFS or the US Fish and Wildlife Service or disposed of E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 239 / Monday, December 14, 2015 / Rules and Regulations consistent with paragraphs (g)(3)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section. No part of any protected species may be retained for personal use by a vessel owner or crew member, or by a first receiver or processing crew member. No part of any protected species may be allowed to reach commercial markets. (A) Eulachon and green sturgeon. Must be sorted and reported by species on electronic fish tickets and state landing receipts and may not be reported in unspecified categories. Whole body specimens of green sturgeon must be retained, frozen, stored separately by delivery, and labeled with the vessel name, electronic fish ticket number, and date of landing. Arrangements for transferring the specimens must be made by contacting NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center at 831–420–3903 within 72 hours after the completion of the offload. (B) Seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles. Albatross must reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 541– 867–4558 extension 237 or 503–231– 6179) as soon as possible and directions for surrendering must be followed. Marine mammals and sea turtles must be reported to NMFS as soon as possible (206–526–6550) and directions for surrendering or disposal must be followed. Whole body specimens must labeled with the vessel name, electronic fish ticket number, and date of landing. Whole body specimens must be kept frozen or on ice until arrangements for surrendering or disposing are completed. Unless directed otherwise, after reporting is completed, seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles may be disposed by incinerating, rendering, composting, or returning the carcasses to sea. * * * * * (j) * * * (2) * * * (viii) Pacific whiting IFQ trips. Immediately following weighing of the total catch and prior to processing or transport away from the point of landing, the catch must be sorted to the species groups specified at § 660.130(d) and all catch other than the target species (groundfish and non groundfish species) must be accurately weighed and the weight of non-target species deducted from the total catch weight to derive the weight of a single predominant species. Catch from a Pacific whiting IFQ trip may be sorted after weighing and the weight of a single predominant species determined by deducting the weight of all other species from the total weight of the landing, provided that: (A) The unsorted catch is weighed on a bulk weighing scale in compliance VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:45 Dec 11, 2015 Jkt 238001 with equipment requirements at § 660.15(c); (B) All catch (groundfish and nongroundfish species) in the landing other than the single predominant species is reweighed on a scale in compliance with equipment requirements at § 660.15(c) and the reweighed catch is deducted from the total weight of the landing; (C) The catch is sorted to the species groups specified at § 660.130(d) prior to processing or transport away from the point of landing; and (D) Prohibited species are sorted by species, counted, and weighed. * * * * * ■ 12. In § 660.405, revise paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows: § 660.405 Prohibitions. (a) In addition to the general prohibitions specified in § 600.725 of this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to do any of the following, except as otherwise authorized under this part: * * * * * [FR Doc. 2015–31363 Filed 12–11–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 140918791–4999–02] RIN 0648–XE354 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; reallocation. AGENCY: NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from catcher vessels using trawl gear to vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska management area (GOA). This action is necessary to allow the 2015 total allowable catch of Pacific cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA to be harvested. DATES: Effective December 10, 2015, through 2400 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 77275 NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Alaska exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. Regulations governing sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR part 680. The 2015 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) specified for catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA is 18,933 metric tons (mt), as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015). The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) has determined that catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA will not be able to harvest 2,000 mt of the 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(12)(ii)(B), the Regional Administrator has also determined that vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA currently have the capacity to harvest this excess allocation and reallocates 2,000 mt to vessels using pot gear. The harvest specifications for Pacific cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA included in the final 2015 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2014) are revised as follows: 16,933 mt for catcher vessels using trawl gear and 14,660 mt for vessels using pot gear. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the reallocation of Pacific cod specified from catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA to vessels using pot E:\FR\FM\14DER1.SGM 14DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 239 (Monday, December 14, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 77267-77275]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31363]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 140703553-5999-02]
RIN 0648-BE29


Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Midwater Trawl 
Requirements

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule clarifies the regulatory requirements for 
vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Fishery Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program. This action is 
needed to eliminate inconsistencies and reduce confusion in the current 
regulations. For vessels targeting Pacific whiting, the action 
clarifies that the retention of prohibited and protected species is 
allowed until landing. The disposition of prohibited and protected 
species is specified consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Fishery Management Plan (groundfish FMP), the Pacific Coast Salmon 
Fishery Management Plan (salmon FMP), and other applicable law.

DATES: Effective January 13, 2016.

ADDRESSES: NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(FRFA), which is summarized in the Classification section of this final 
rule. NMFS also prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA) for the proposed rule (Published in the Federal Register on 
August 27, 2015; 80 FR 52015). Copies of the IRFA, FRFA and the Small 
Entity Compliance Guide are available from William W. Stelle, Jr., 
Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way 
NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070; or by phone at 206-526-6150. Copies of the 
Small Entity Compliance Guide are available on the West Coast Region's 
Web site at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Becky Renko, 206-526-6110; (fax) 206-
526-6736; becky.renko@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action amends the Pacific Coast 
groundfish fishery regulations to eliminate redundancies and 
inconsistencies relating to the use of midwater trawl gear in the 
Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program (Shorebased IFQ Program). 
The action is consistent with policy decisions that the Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council) made during the implementation of a trawl 
catch share program under Amendment 20 to the groundfish FMP.
    Midwater trawl gear has primarily been used to target Pacific 
whiting, but can also be used to target other groundfish species. Since 
implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program in 2011, midwater trawl 
gear has been increasingly used to target non-whiting groundfish north 
of 40[deg]10' north latitude. South of 40[deg]10' north latitude 
midwater trawling has been allowed year round in waters deeper than 150 
fathoms (fm) for all target species.
    In anticipation of the trawl catch share program, groundfish 
regulations were restructured on October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60868). When 
the Shorebased IFQ Program was implemented, the midwater Pacific 
whiting shorebased fishery and the bottom trawl fishery were merged to 
create a single Shorebased IFQ fishery. Many of the pre-IFQ fishery 
management measures relating to time and area management were retained 
in the regulations for use in the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, 
integrating pre-IFQ regulations with new regulations for the Shorebased 
IFQ Program resulted in inconsistencies and numerous unclear and 
confusing management restrictions relating to the use of midwater trawl 
gear.
    This final rule revises groundfish regulations to clarify that 
midwater trawl gear is required for vessels targeting Pacific whiting 
during the primary season north of 40[deg]10' north latitude, and that 
midwater trawl gear is allowed for vessels targeting non-whiting 
species during the Pacific whiting Shorebased IFQ Program primary 
season. Restrictions that allow midwater trawl to only be used by 
vessels participating in the Pacific whiting Shorebased IFQ fishery are 
removed. The regulations are revised to clarify that vessels using 
midwater trawl gear, regardless of the target species, are exempt from 
the trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) restrictions in the area 
north of 40[deg]10' north latitude during the dates of the Pacific 
whiting primary season. These changes allow vessels using midwater 
trawl gear north of 40[deg]10' north latitude to declare either 
``limited entry midwater trawl, non-whiting shorebased IFQ'' or 
``limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ'' 
consistent with the target strategy. This action is expected to add 
clarity to the regulations.
    This action also revises the definition of ``Pacific whiting IFQ 
trip'' consistent with Appendix E of the groundfish FMP, which details 
the Final Preferred Alternative adopted under Amendment 20, and which 
is consistent with the Environmental Impact Statement analysis 
conducted in support of Amendment 20. Appendix E defines non-whiting 
landings as those with less than 50 percent Pacific whiting by weight.
    Groundfish management includes restrictions on the retention of 
certain non-groundfish species, including prohibited and protected 
species. Prohibited species include all salmonids, Pacific halibut, and 
Dungeness crab off Oregon and Washington. Protected species include 
marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, and species such as green 
sturgeon and eulachon, which are listed under the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA). Generally, prohibited species must be returned to the sea as 
soon as practicable with a minimum of injury. An exception to the 
retention restrictions is made for tagged fish, or when retention is 
authorized by other applicable law. Pacific halibut may be retained 
until landing by vessels in the Pacific whiting fishery that do not 
sort the catch at sea only pursuant to NMFS donation regulations. 
Amendment 10 to the groundfish FMP and Amendment 12 to the salmon FMP 
were revised to allow salmon bycatch to be retained until landing in 
cases where the Council determines it is beneficial to the

[[Page 77268]]

management of the groundfish and salmon resources. Under a program 
approved by the Council and NMFS, salmon remain a prohibited species; 
and, at a minimum, the requirements must allow for accurate monitoring 
of the retained salmon and must not provide incentives for fishers to 
increase salmon bycatch or allow salmon to reach commercial markets.
    With implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program, a maximized 
retention provision was added to the groundfish regulations for vessels 
in the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery. However, the provision did not 
address the retention of prohibited species other than Pacific halibut, 
nor did it establish handling and disposition requirements for 
prohibited species. For consistency with the salmon FMP and Pacific 
halibut regulations, provisions for the retention and disposition of 
prohibited species are added by this final rule. In addition, general 
definitions at 50 CFR 660.11 are revised to add a definition for 
protected species, and handling and disposition requirements are 
established in the regulations.
    Minor changes, as detailed in the preamble of the proposed rule, 
are made throughout the regulations. These minor changes are being made 
for consistency between the different subparts of groundfish 
regulations, for clarity, and to remove redundant regulatory text.

Response to Comments

    NMFS received one comment letter on the proposed rule (80 FR 52015, 
August 27, 2015) from a business representing fishermen engaged in the 
whiting and non-whiting midwater trawl fisheries. The comment is 
addressed here:
    Comment 1: The commenter indicated that the scope of action was too 
narrow and should be expanded to allow the use of midwater trawl gear 
to harvest non-whiting species within the Rockfish Conservation Area 
(RCA) south of 40[deg]10' north latitude. Target species for midwater 
trawling (widow and yellowtail rockfish) are found in the area south of 
40[deg]10' north latitude. The commenter indicated that the current 
prohibition on non-whiting midwater trawling within or shoreward of the 
RCA south of 40[deg]10' north latitude is an artifact of old management 
regulations and is no longer necessary.
    Response: Regulatory provisions to allow non-whiting midwater trawl 
gear south of 40[deg]10' north latitude were implemented in 2005. The 
intent of the allowance was to provide for a chilipepper rockfish 
fishery without impacting bocaccio, an overfished species. At its 
September 2015 meeting, the Council considered updating the gear 
regulations for the Shorebased IFQ program, including allowing non-
whiting midwater trawl gear south of 40[deg]10' north latitude. Further 
consideration of gear changes is scheduled for the Council's March 2016 
meeting. Because this action revises regulations consistent with policy 
decisions made during the implementation of the trawl catch share 
program under Amendment 20 to the groundfish FMP, revisions to update 
gear provisions are not within the scope considered and are therefore 
inappropriate for this action and best addressed through future Council 
action.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes to the regulatory text from the proposed rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the MSA, NMFS has 
determined that this final rule is consistent with the Groundfish FMP, 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    Pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
NMFS has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in 
support of this action. The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised 
by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS' response to those 
comments, relevant analysis contained in the action and its EA, and a 
summary of the analyses in this rule. A copy of the analyses and the EA 
are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA was 
published in the proposed rule for this action and is not repeated 
here. A description of why this action was considered, the objectives 
of, and the legal basis for this rule is contained in the preamble to 
the proposed rule and this final rule and is not repeated here.
    The rule modifies midwater trawl restrictions for vessels 
participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program under the authority of the 
groundfish FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The rule would amend the 
regulations to remove redundancies and inconsistencies relative to the 
use of midwater trawl gear, and would add provisions to fully implement 
``maximized retention'' allowances for vessels targeting Pacific 
whiting. Maximized retention encourages full retention of all catch 
while recognizing that minor discard events may occur. Only one comment 
was received on the proposed rule (See Response to Comments section 
above.) That comment did not raise any issues or concerns related to 
the IRFA or economic issues more generally. No changes were made to 
this final rule as a result of the comment.
    Two alternatives, each with sub-options, were considered.

Alternative 1--No Action

     North of 40[deg]10' north latitude midwater trawl gear may 
be used by vessels with a ``Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific 
whiting shorebased IFQ'' declaration after the start of the primary 
season. Vessels may use midwater trawl gear to target Pacific whiting 
and non-whiting if the vessel also fishes in the Pacific whiting 
fishery.
     There is no requirement to target or land Pacific whiting 
on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip.
     Vessels with a ``Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific 
whiting shorebased IFQ'' declaration may fish within the RCAs after the 
start of the primary season.
     Other than Pacific Halibut, prohibited species and 
protected species retention until landing is prohibited.
     Vessels North of 40[deg]10' north latitude may carry 
multiple types of midwater gear and both whiting and non-whiting target 
strategies are allowed on the same trip, however the vessel must have a 
valid ``Limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ'' 
declaration.

Alternative 2 (Preferred)--Eliminate Redundancies and Inconsistencies 
in Regulations Regarding the Use of Midwater Trawl Gear

     Midwater trawl gear will be allowed for all target species 
with a valid declaration for either ``limited entry midwater trawl, 
non-whiting shorebased IFQ'' or ``limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific 
whiting shorebased IFQ.'' Non-whiting vessels would not be obligated to 
also target Pacific whiting.
     A Pacific whiting IFQ trip must be 50 percent or more 
whiting by weight at landing.
     Midwater trawl gear will be allowed within the trawl RCAs 
and EFH conservation areas for all target species.
     For vessels targeting Pacific whiting on ``maximized 
retention'' trips, prohibited and protected species must be retained 
until landing.
     The disposition of salmon would be specified such that it 
is consistent with salmon FMP.
     The disposition of Pacific halibut and Dungeness crab 
would be specified

[[Page 77269]]

so they are consistent with Pacific halibut regulations and state 
regulations.
     The disposition of protected species would be consistent 
with the current biological opinions.
     North of 40[deg]10' north latitude, vessels will be 
allowed to carry multiple types of midwater gear, but:
    Alternative 2 Sub-option A (preferred): Allow only one target 
strategy (whiting or non-whiting) on a trip.
    Alternative 2 Sub-option B: Allow both whiting and non-whiting 
target strategies on the same trip. However, ``maximized retention'' 
would not be allowed if the landed catch was greater than 50 percent 
non-whiting species.
    Under No Action, it is unclear whether vessels using midwater trawl 
north of 40[deg]10' north latitude must submit a declaration for 
``limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ'' even 
if they intend to target non-whiting species. Alternative 2 results in 
a low positive impact over No Action as it removes the prohibition that 
restricts midwater trawl to the Pacific whiting fishery north of 
40[deg]10' north latitude and allows for the use of either midwater 
trawl declaration. Alternative 2 would improve tracking of activity 
relative to time/area restrictions and the specific target strategy. 
Aligning the declaration with the activity could allow for a more 
surgical management response that can be clearly understood by 
harvesters.
    Under No Action, Pacific whiting trips would not be defined. 
Alternative 2 defines Pacific whiting trips as trips with landings that 
are 50 percent or more Pacific whiting by weight. Alternative 2 is not 
expected to have a measureable effect on the vast majority of midwater 
trawl trips targeting Pacific whiting. Only a small number of vessels 
may have reduced flexibility under Alternative 2 sub-option A (one 
target strategy per trip) because a vessel operator cannot change the 
target fishing strategy after they leave port. However, sub-option A is 
most similar to how harvesters currently operate. Either sub-option 
provides clarity and eliminates inconsistencies, making the regulations 
less complicated for harvesters and easier to enforce. Revising the 
groundfish regulations for clarity under Alternative 2 is expected to 
provide more equitable opportunity for non-whiting vessels north of 
40[deg]10' north latitude as it is clear they do not need to also fish 
for Pacific whiting.
    Time/Area restrictions under No Action include Rockfish 
Conservation Areas (RCAs), Klamath River conservation zone, Columbia 
River conservation zone, Ocean Salmon Conservation Zones (OSCZs), 
Bycatch Reduction Areas (BRAs), the Eureka area 100 fm restriction, 
prohibition on night fishing south of 42[deg]00' north latitude, and 
the Pacific whiting primary seasons. These restrictions were initially 
implemented to reduce incidental catch of Chinook salmon in the Pacific 
whiting fisheries. The Klamath River conservation zone, Columbia River 
conservation zone, OSCZs, and the prohibition on night fishing are 
specific to the targeting of Pacific whiting and would remain linked to 
the targeting of whiting under both No Action and Alternative 2. The 
impacts of No Action on the closed areas are neutral as no changes 
would be made to reduce the confusion by fishermen or enforcement about 
prohibited or allowed activities. Because widow rockfish were 
historically targeted at night with low bycatch, Alternative 2 
revisions would clearly state that the prohibition on night fishing 
does not apply to non-whiting targeting. BRAs have evolved since their 
initial implementation in 2007 when they applied specifically to the 
targeting of whiting. Since 2013, the BRAs have been considered a tool 
for use in the Pacific whiting sectors (all midwater trawl). 
Alternative 2 revisions would clearly state that the BRAs and RCA 
exemptions apply to all midwater trawl. Providing clarification on how 
time/area restrictions relate to specific target fishing activity under 
Alternative 2 is expected to reduce regulatory complexity and eliminate 
contradictory regulations. Changes under Alternative 2 are expected to 
be beneficial to the harvesters, managers, and enforcement.
    Maximized retention is allowed under No Action. However, supporting 
regulations would not be added to reduce confusion regarding the 
landing of maximized retention catch for non-whiting target strategies. 
Provisions would not be added to allow the retention of prohibited 
species under No Action. The socio-economic impacts of managing under 
No Action are neutral, providing that restrictions on the retention of 
prohibited species continue to be unenforced. Alternative 2 would 
revise the regulations to clearly state that maximized retention would 
only be allowed for trips targeting Pacific whiting, consistent with 
the provisions of Amendment 20. Because of relatively low bycatch by 
vessels targeting Pacific whiting, maximized retention allows sorting 
to be delayed until landing. Because whiting flesh deteriorates rapidly 
once the fish are caught, whiting must be minimally handled and 
immediately chilled to maintain the flesh quality. Allowing Pacific 
whiting shoreside vessels to retain unsorted catch benefits harvesters 
by enabling whiting quality to be maintained. Under Alternative 2, 
provisions would be added to allow Pacific whiting vessels to retain 
otherwise prohibited species until landing. Non-whiting vessels would 
have to continue to sort prohibited and protected species at sea. Some 
non-whiting landings under maximized retention have had a greater 
variety in bycatch than is typically seen in Pacific whiting landings 
and have been landed at first receivers with only one catch monitor. 
Long offloads associated with sorting and weighing non-whiting 
maximized retention catch has resulted in offload time exceeding the 
catch monitor's allowed work hours in a 24 hour period. Alternative 2 
would also provide clarification on the disposition of protected 
species for maximized retention landings. Revisions to the maximized 
retention requirements under Alternative 2 are expected to reduce 
regulatory complexity and eliminate contradictory regulations, 
benefiting harvesters.
    Under No Action, Pacific whiting trips would continue to be 
undefined and no protocols for handling or disposing of prohibited or 
protected species would be defined. The impacts of No Action are 
neutral, as first receivers would use current methods to identify 
maximized retention deliveries and determine how to handle and dispose 
of prohibited and protected species. Defining Pacific whiting trips 
under Alternative 2 should make it easier for first receivers/
processors to identify which trips are classified as ``maximized 
retention'' such that it would be more clear which groundfish 
regulations apply. Alternative 2 specifies handling and disposition of 
prohibited and protected species. Clear protocols for the disposition 
of prohibited catch should reduce complexity and confusion for first 
receivers/processors. Currently, provisions that affect the disposition 
of prohibited or protected species exist in various federal 
regulations, non-groundfish FMPs, and ESA biological opinions. 
Clarifying these provisions in the groundfish regulations will reduce 
complexity in the requirements for disposition and handling of 
maximized retention catch and result in a low positive benefit to first 
receivers/processors. First receivers are currently taking salmon and 
grinding and processing the fish into fish meal and/or providing edible 
fish to food pantries, soup kitchens, or other non-profit

[[Page 77270]]

organizations. In some states, state agencies have assisted in the 
transfer of fish to food banks, but this assistance is being withdrawn. 
However, NMFS concludes that these new regulations do not impose any 
significant burden on first receivers as they are consistent with 
current first receiver practices and with prior practices established 
under the 2007-2010 whiting EFPs.
    This action will clarify the regulatory requirements for vessels 
using midwater trawl gear in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Shorebased Individual Fishery Quota Program. This action is needed to 
eliminate inconsistencies and confusion in the current regulations. For 
vessels targeting Pacific whiting, the action would clarify that the 
retention of prohibited and protected species is allowed until landing. 
The disposition of prohibited and protected species would be specified 
consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, 
the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan, and other applicable 
law.
    The NMFS Guidelines for Economic Analysis of Fishery Management 
Actions suggest two criteria to consider in determining the 
significance of regulatory impacts, namely, disproportionality and 
profitability. As this final rule is intended to clarify the 
regulations, available information does not indicate that there will be 
a significant impact in terms of disproportionality and profitability 
when comparing small versus large businesses. Copies of the Small 
Entity Compliance Guide prepared for this final rule are available on 
the West Coast Region's Web site at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/.
    This final rule contains a new collection of information 
requirement subject to review under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) 
which was approved by OMB under collection 0648-0619. The public 
reporting burden for first receivers to retain records showing the 
disposition of prohibited and protected species is estimated to average 
1 minute per response.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.
    Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this action is consistent with 
policy decisions that the Council made during the implementation of 
Amendment 20 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, 
which was developed after meaningful consultation and collaboration 
with tribal officials from the area covered by the groundfish FMP. 
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the 
voting members of the Pacific Council must be a representative of an 
Indian tribe with federally recognized fishing rights from the area of 
the Council's jurisdiction. The proposed regulations do not have a 
direct effect on the tribes. This rule eliminates redundancies and 
inconsistencies with state law relative to the use of midwater trawl 
gear and does not have a direct effect on tribes.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries.

    Dated: December 7, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  660.11:
0
a. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ``Protected species'';
0
b. Remove the definition of ``Trawl fishery''; and
0
c. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ``Trawl fishery or 
Limited entry trawl fishery''.
    The additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.11  General definitions.

* * * * *
    Protected species means those species, other than prohibited 
species, that are protected under Federal law, including species listed 
under the Endangered Species Act, marine mammals protected under the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act, and bird species protected under the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Species that are both protected and 
prohibited are considered prohibited species for purposes of this part.
* * * * *
    Trawl fishery or Limited entry trawl fishery means the groundfish 
limited entry trawl fishery referred to in subparts C and D, which is 
composed of vessels registered to a limited entry permit with a trawl 
endorsement and vessels registered to an MS permit. The trawl fishery 
is comprised of the following sectors: Catcher/Processor, Mothership, 
and Shorebased IFQ. The trawl fishery does not include the non-
groundfish trawl fisheries, which are all within the open access 
fishery.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.12, revise paragraphs (a)(1), (10), and (11) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.12  General groundfish prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) Retain any prohibited or protected species caught by means of 
fishing gear authorized under this subpart, unless otherwise 
authorized. Except as otherwise authorized, prohibited and protected 
species must be returned to the sea as soon as practicable with a 
minimum of injury when caught and brought on board.
* * * * *
    (10) Transfer fish to another vessel at sea unless the vessel 
transferring fish is participating in the MS Coop or C/P Coop Programs.
    (11) Fail to remove all fish from the vessel at landing (defined in 
Sec.  660.11) and prior to beginning a new fishing trip, except for 
processing vessels participating in the MS Coop or C/P Coop Programs.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  660.55, revise paragraphs (c)(1)(i)(A) through (C) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  660.55  Allocations.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Darkblotched rockfish. Allocate 9 percent or 25 mt, whichever 
is greater, of the total trawl allocation of darkblotched rockfish to 
the Pacific whiting fishery (MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ 
sectors). The distribution of allocation of darkblotched to each of 
these sectors will be done pro rata relative to the sector's allocation 
of the commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting. After 
deducting allocations for the Pacific whiting fishery, the remaining 
trawl allocation is allocated to the Shorebased IFQ sector.
    (B) Pacific Ocean Perch (POP). Allocate 17 percent or 30 mt, 
whichever is greater, of the total trawl allocation of POP to the 
Pacific whiting fishery (MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ 
sector). The distribution of POP to each sector will be done pro rata 
relative to the sector's allocation of the commercial harvest guideline 
for Pacific whiting. After deducting allocations for the Pacific 
whiting fishery, the remaining

[[Page 77271]]

trawl allocation is allocated to Shorebased IFQ sector.
    (C) Widow rockfish. Allocate 52 percent of the total trawl 
allocation of widow rockfish to the Pacific whiting fishery if the 
stock is under rebuilding, or 10 percent of the total trawl allocation 
or 500 mt of the trawl allocation, whichever is greater, if the stock 
is rebuilt. The distribution of the trawl allocation of widow to each 
sector will be done pro rata relative to the sector's allocation of the 
commercial harvest guideline for Pacific whiting. After deducting 
allocations for the Pacific whiting sectors, the remaining trawl 
allocation is allocated to Shorebased IFQ sector.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  660.60, revise paragraphs (c)(3)(i) and (d) and remove and 
reserve paragraph (e).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  660.60  Specifications and management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Depth-based management measures. Depth-based management 
measures, particularly closed areas known as Groundfish Conservation 
Areas, may be implemented in any fishery sector that takes groundfish 
directly or incidentally. Depth-based management measures are set using 
specific boundary lines that approximate depth contours with latitude/
longitude waypoints found at Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.74. Depth-
based management measures and closed areas may be used for the 
following conservation objectives: To protect and rebuild overfished 
stocks; to prevent the overfishing of any groundfish species by 
minimizing the direct or incidental catch of that species; or to 
minimize the incidental harvest of any protected or prohibited species 
taken in the groundfish fishery. Depth-based management measures and 
closed areas may be used for the following economic objectives: To 
extend the fishing season; for the commercial fisheries, to minimize 
disruption of traditional fishing and marketing patterns; for the 
recreational fisheries, to spread the available catch over a large 
number of anglers; to discourage target fishing while allowing small 
incidental catches to be landed; and to allow small fisheries to 
operate outside the normal season. BRAs may be implemented as an 
automatic action in the Pacific whiting fishery consistent with 
paragraph (d)(1) of this section. BRAs may be implemented as a routine 
action for vessels using midwater groundfish trawl gear consistent with 
the purposes for implementing depth-based management and the setting of 
closed areas as described in this paragraph.
* * * * *
    (d) Automatic actions. Automatic management actions may be 
initiated by the NMFS Regional Administrator or designee without prior 
public notice, opportunity to comment, or a Council meeting. These 
actions are nondiscretionary, and the impacts must have been taken into 
account prior to the action. Unless otherwise stated, a single notice 
will be published in the Federal Register making the action effective 
if good cause exists under the APA to waive notice and comment.
    (1) Automatic actions are used to:
    (i) Close the MS or C/P sector when that sector's Pacific whiting 
allocation is reached, or is projected to be reached. The MS sector 
non-coop fishery may be closed by automatic action when the Pacific 
whiting or non-whiting allocation to the non-coop fishery has been 
reached or is projected to be reached.
    (ii) Close one or both MS and C/P sectors when a non-whiting 
groundfish species with allocations is reached or projected to be 
reached.
    (iii) Reapportion unused allocations of non-whiting groundfish 
species between the MS and C/P sectors.
    (iv) Reapportion the unused portion of the tribal allocation of 
Pacific whiting to the MS sector, C/P sector, and Shorebased IFQ 
sector.
    (v) Implement the Ocean Salmon Conservation Zone, described at 
Sec.  660.131, when NMFS projects the Pacific whiting fishery and the 
tribal whiting fishery combined will take in excess of 11,000 Chinook 
within a calendar year.
    (vi) Implement BRAs, described at Sec.  660.131, when NMFS projects 
a sector-specific allocation will be reached before the sector's 
whiting allocation.
    (2) Automatic actions are effective when actual notice is sent by 
NMFS identifying the effective time and date. Actual notice to fishers 
and processors will be by email, Internet 
www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/fishery_management/groundfish/public_notices/recent_public_notices.html), phone, letter, 
or press release. Allocation reapportionments will be followed by 
publication in the Federal Register, in which public comment will be 
sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  660.100, revise the first sentence to read as follows:


Sec.  660.100  Purpose and scope.

    This subpart applies to the Pacific coast groundfish limited entry 
trawl fishery. * * *

0
7. In Sec.  660.111:
0
a. Remove the definition for ``Catcher/Processor Coop Program or C/P 
Coop Program'';
0
b. Add definition for ``Catcher/Processor Coop Program or C/P Coop 
sector'';
0
c. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ``Maximized retention'';
0
d. Revise the definition for ``Mothership Coop Program or MS Coop 
Program'';
0
e. Add a definition for ``Mothership Coop Program or MS Coop sector'';
0
f. Add in alphabetical order a definition for ``Pacific whiting 
fishery''; and
0
g. Revise the definitions for ``Pacific whiting IFQ fishery,'' 
``Pacific whiting IFQ trip,'' and ``Shorebased IFQ Program''.
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.111  Trawl fishery--definitions.

* * * * *
    Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program or C/P sector, refers to the 
fishery described at Sec.  660.160, subpart D. The C/P Coop Program is 
composed of vessels registered to a limited entry permit with a C/P 
endorsement and a valid declaration for limited entry, midwater trawl, 
Pacific whiting catcher/processor sector.
* * * * *
    Maximized retention means a vessel retains all catch from a trip 
until landing, subject to the specifications of this subpart.
* * * * *
    Mothership (MS) Coop Program or MS sector refers to the fishery 
described at Sec.  660.150, subpart D, and includes both the coop and 
non-coop fisheries. The MS Coop Program is composed of motherships with 
MS permits and catcher vessels registered to a limited entry permit 
with an MS/CV endorsement and a valid declaration for limited entry, 
midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector. The MS Coop Program 
also includes vessels registered to a limited entry permit without an 
MS/CV endorsement if the vessel is authorized to harvest the MS 
sector's allocation and has a valid declaration for limited entry, 
midwater trawl, Pacific whiting mothership sector.
* * * * *
    Pacific whiting fishery refers to the Pacific whiting primary 
season fisheries described at Sec.  660.131. The Pacific

[[Page 77272]]

whiting fishery is composed of vessels participating in the C/P Coop 
Program, the MS Coop Program, or the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery.
    Pacific whiting IFQ fishery is composed of vessels on Pacific 
whiting IFQ trips.
    Pacific whiting IFQ trip means a trip in which a vessel uses 
midwater groundfish trawl gear during the dates of the Pacific whiting 
primary season to target Pacific whiting, and Pacific whiting 
constitutes 50 percent or more of the catch by weight at landing as 
reported on the state landing receipt. Vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ 
trips must have a valid declaration for limited entry midwater trawl, 
Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ.
* * * * *
    Shorebased IFQ Program or Shorebased IFQ sector, refers to the 
fishery described at Sec.  660.140, subpart D, and includes all vessels 
on IFQ trips.
* * * * *

0
8. In Sec.  660.112, revise paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(1)(viii) through 
(x), and (b)(2)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.112  Trawl fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) Sorting, retention, and disposition. (i) Fail to sort, retain, 
discard, or dispose of catch consistent with the requirements specified 
at Sec. Sec.  660.130(d), 660.140 (b)(2)(iii) and (viii), 660.140(g), 
and 660.140(j)(2).
    (ii) Fail to sort, retain, discard, or dispose of prohibited and 
protected species from maximized retention landings consistent with the 
requirements specified at Sec.  660.140(g)(3).
    (iii) Retain for personal use or allow to reach commercial markets 
any part of any prohibited or protected species.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (viii) Fish on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip with a gear other than 
midwater groundfish trawl gear.
    (ix) Fish on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip without a valid declaration 
for limited entry midwater trawl, Pacific whiting shorebased IFQ.
    (x) Use midwater groundfish trawl gear Pacific whiting IFQ fishery 
primary season dates as specified at Sec.  660.131(b).
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Fail to sort or dispose of catch received from an IFQ trip in 
accordance with the requirements of Sec. Sec.  660.130(d) and 
660.140(g)(3).
* * * * *

0
9. In Sec.  660.130:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a), (c)(3), and (c)(4)(i)(A) through (E);
0
b. Remove paragraph (c)(4)(i)(F);
0
c. Revise paragraphs (d)(2)(i), (d)(3), (e) introductory text, and 
(e)(4)(i) and (ii); and
0
d. Add paragraphs (e)(6) and (7).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.130  Trawl fishery--management measures.

    (a) General. This section applies to the limited entry trawl 
fishery. Most species taken in the limited entry trawl fishery will be 
managed with quotas (see Sec.  660.140), allocations or set-asides (see 
Sec.  660.150 or Sec.  660.160), or cumulative trip limits (see trip 
limits in Tables 1 (North) and 1 (South) of this subpart), size limits 
(see Sec.  660.60 (h)(5), subpart C), seasons (see Pacific whiting at 
Sec.  660.131(b), subpart D), gear restrictions (see paragraph (b) of 
this section) and closed areas (see paragraph (e) of this section and 
Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.79, subpart C). The limited entry trawl 
fishery has gear requirements and harvest limits that differ by the 
type of groundfish trawl gear on board and the area fished. Groundfish 
vessels operating south of Point Conception must adhere to CCA 
restrictions (see paragraph (e)(1) of this section and Sec.  660.70, 
subpart C). The trip limits in Tables 1 (North) and 1 (South) of this 
subpart applies to vessels participating in the limited entry trawl 
fishery and may not be exceeded. Federal commercial groundfish 
regulations are not intended to supersede any more restrictive state 
commercial groundfish regulations relating to federally-managed 
groundfish.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) Fishing with midwater groundfish trawl gear. (i) North of 
40[deg]10' N. lat., midwater groundfish trawl gear is required for 
Pacific whiting fishery vessels; midwater groundfish trawl gear is 
allowed for vessels targeting non-whiting species during the Pacific 
whiting primary season for the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery. Also see 
restrictions on the use of midwater groundfish trawl gear within the 
RCAs north of 40[deg]10' N. lat. at Sec.  660.130(e)(4)(i).
    (ii) South of 40[deg]10' N. lat., midwater groundfish trawl gear is 
prohibited shoreward of the RCA boundaries and permitted seaward of the 
RCA boundaries.
    (4) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) A vessel may not have both groundfish trawl gear and non-
groundfish trawl gear onboard simultaneously. A vessel may not have 
both bottom groundfish trawl gear and midwater groundfish trawl gear 
onboard simultaneously. A vessel may have more than one type of limited 
entry bottom trawl gear on board, either simultaneously or 
successively, during a cumulative limit period. A vessel may have more 
than one type of midwater groundfish trawl gear on board, either 
simultaneously or successively, during a cumulative limit period.
    (B) If a vessel fishes exclusively with large or small footrope 
trawl gear during an entire cumulative limit period, the vessel is 
subject to the small or large footrope trawl gear cumulative limits and 
that vessel must fish seaward of the RCA boundaries during that limit 
period.
    (C) If a vessel fishes exclusively with selective flatfish trawl 
gear during an entire cumulative limit period, then the vessel is 
subject to the selective flatfish trawl gear-cumulative limits during 
that limit period, regardless of whether the vessel is fishing 
shoreward or seaward of the RCA boundaries.
    (D) If more than one type of bottom groundfish trawl gear 
(selective flatfish, large footrope, or small footrope) is on board, 
either simultaneously or successively, at any time during a cumulative 
limit period, then the most restrictive cumulative limit associated 
with the bottom groundfish trawl gear on board during that cumulative 
limit period applies for the entire cumulative limit period, regardless 
of whether the vessel is fishing shoreward or seaward of the RCA.
    (E) If a vessel fishes both north and south of 40[deg]10' N. lat. 
with any type of small footrope gear onboard the vessel at any time 
during the cumulative limit period, the most restrictive trip limit 
associated with the gear on board applies for that trip and will count 
toward the cumulative trip limit for that gear (See crossover 
provisions at Sec.  660.120.)
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) First receivers. Fish landed at IFQ first receivers (including 
shoreside processing facilities and buying stations that intend to 
transport catch for processing elsewhere) must be sorted, prior to 
first weighing after offloading from the vessel and prior to transport 
away from the point of landing, with the following exception: Catch 
from a Pacific whiting IFQ trip may be sorted after weighing as 
specified at Sec.  660.140(j)(2).
* * * * *
    (3) Sorting requirements for the MS Coop and the C/P Coop Programs. 
(i)

[[Page 77273]]

Processing vessels in the MS and C/P Coop Programs may use a bulk 
weighing scale in compliance with the equipment requirement at Sec.  
660.15(b) to derive an accurate total catch weight prior to sorting. 
Immediately following weighing of the total catch, the catch must be 
sorted to the species groups specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this 
section and all catch of-groundfish and non-groundfish species must be 
accurately accounted for and the weight of all catch other than a 
single predominant species deducted from the total catch weight to 
derive the weight of a single predominant species.
    (ii) If sorting occurs on a catcher vessel in the MS Coop Program, 
the catch must not be discarded from the vessel and the vessel must not 
mix catch from hauls until the observer has sampled the catch.
    (e) Groundfish conservation areas (GCAs) applicable to trawl 
vessels. A GCA, a type of closed area, is a geographic area defined by 
coordinates expressed in degrees of latitude and longitude. The 
latitude and longitude coordinates of the GCA boundaries are specified 
at Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.74. A vessel that is fishing within a 
GCA listed in this paragraph (e) with trawl gear authorized for use 
within a GCA may not have any other type of trawl gear on board the 
vessel. The following GCAs apply to vessels participating in the 
limited entry trawl fishery. Additional closed areas that specifically 
apply to vessels using midwater groundfish trawl gear are described at 
Sec.  660.131(c).
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (i) Operating a vessel with groundfish trawl gear onboard within a 
trawl RCA is prohibited, except for the purpose of continuous transit, 
or under the following conditions when the vessel has a valid 
declaration for the allowed fishing:
    (A) Midwater groundfish trawl gear may be used within the RCAs 
north of 40[deg]10' N. lat. by vessels targeting Pacific whiting or 
non-whiting during the applicable Pacific whiting primary season.
    (B) Vessels fishing with demersal seine gear between 38[deg] N. 
lat. and 36[deg] N. lat. shoreward of a boundary line approximating the 
100 fm (183 m) depth contour as defined at Sec.  660.73, subpart C, may 
have groundfish trawl gear onboard.
    (ii) Trawl vessels may transit through an applicable GCA, with or 
without groundfish on board, provided all groundfish trawl gear is 
stowed either: Below deck; or if the gear cannot readily be moved, in a 
secured and covered manner, detached from all towing lines, so that it 
is rendered unusable for fishing; or remaining on deck uncovered if the 
trawl doors are hung from their stanchions and the net is disconnected 
from the doors. These restrictions do not apply to vessels allowed to 
fish within the trawl RCA under paragraph (e)(4)(i) of this section.
* * * * *
    (6) Bycatch reduction areas (BRAs). Vessels using midwater 
groundfish trawl gear during the applicable Pacific whiting primary 
season may be prohibited from fishing shoreward of a boundary line 
approximating the 75 fm (137 m), 100 fm (183 m) or 150 fm (274 m) depth 
contours.
    (7) Eureka management area midwater trawl trip limits. No more than 
10,000-lb (4,536 kg) of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed, 
or landed by a vessel that, at any time during a fishing trip, fished 
with midwater groundfish trawl gear in the fishery management area 
shoreward of the 100 fm (183 m) depth contour in the Eureka management 
area.

0
10. In Sec.  660.131, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (b)(2) 
introductory text, (b)(2)(i) and (ii), (b)(2)(iii) introductory text, 
(b)(3) introductory text, (b)(3)(ii), (c) introductory text, (c)(4), 
(d), and (h)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.131  Pacific whiting fishery management measures.

    (a) General. This section applies to the MS sector, the C/P sector, 
the Pacific whiting IFQ fishery, and Shorebased IFQ vessels targeting 
Pacific whiting under trip limits outside the Pacific whiting primary 
season.
    (b) Pacific whiting primary seasons and Pacific whiting trip 
limits--(1) Pacific whiting fishery primary seasons. (i) For the 
Pacific whiting IFQ fishery, the primary season is the period(s) of the 
large-scale Pacific whiting target fishery conducted after the primary 
season start date.
    (ii) For the C/P sector, the primary season is the period(s) when 
catching and at-sea processing are allowed (after the season closes, 
at-sea processing of any fish already on board the processing vessel is 
allowed to continue).
    (iii) For vessels delivering to motherships, the primary season is 
the period(s) when catching and at-sea processing is allowed for the MS 
sector (after the season closes, at-sea processing of any fish already 
on board the processing vessel is allowed to continue).
    (2) Different primary season start dates. North of 40[deg]30' N. 
lat., different primary season starting dates may be established for 
the C/P Coop Program, the MS Coop Program, and the Pacific whiting IFQ 
fishery for vessels delivering to IFQ first receivers north of 42[deg] 
N. lat. and vessels delivering to IFQ first receivers between 42[deg] 
and 40[deg]30' N. lat.
    (i) Procedures. The Pacific whiting primary seasons north of 
40[deg]30' N. lat. generally will be established according to the 
procedures of the PCGFMP for developing and implementing harvest 
specifications and apportionments. The season opening dates remain in 
effect unless changed.
    (ii) Criteria. The start of a Pacific whiting primary season may be 
changed based on a recommendation from the Council and consideration of 
the following factors, if applicable: Size of the harvest guidelines 
for whiting and bycatch species; age/size structure of the whiting 
population; expected harvest of bycatch and prohibited species; 
availability and stock status of prohibited species; expected 
participation by catchers and processors; the period between when 
catcher vessels make annual processor obligations and the start of the 
fishery; environmental conditions; timing of alternate or competing 
fisheries; industry agreement; fishing or processing rates; and other 
relevant information.
    (iii) Primary whiting season start dates and duration. After the 
start of a primary season for a sector of the Pacific whiting fishery, 
the primary season remains open for that sector until the sector 
allocation of whiting or non-whiting groundfish (with allocations) is 
reached or projected to be reached and the primary season for that 
sector is closed by NMFS. The starting dates for the primary seasons 
are as follows:
* * * * *
    (3) Pacific whiting trip limits. For Shorebased IFQ Program vessels 
targeting Pacific whiting outside the primary season, the ``per trip'' 
limit for whiting is announced in Table 1 of this subpart. The per-trip 
limit is a routine management measure under Sec.  660.60(c). This trip 
limit includes any whiting caught shoreward of 100 fm (183 m) in the 
Eureka management-area. The per-trip limit for other groundfish species 
are announced in Table 1 (North) and Table 1 (South) of this subpart 
and apply as follows:
* * * * *
    (ii) If a vessel on a Pacific whiting IFQ trip harvests a 
groundfish species other than whiting for which there is a midwater 
trip limit, then that vessel may also harvest up to another footrope-
specific limit for that species during any

[[Page 77274]]

cumulative limit period that overlaps the start or close of the primary 
season.
    (c) Closed areas. Vessels fishing during the Pacific whiting 
primary seasons shall not target Pacific whiting with midwater 
groundfish trawl gear in the following portions of the fishery 
management area:
* * * * *
    (4) Bycatch reduction areas (BRAs). Bycatch reduction area closures 
specified at Sec.  660.130(e) may be implemented inseason through 
automatic action when NMFS projects that a Pacific whiting sector will 
exceed an allocation for a non-whiting groundfish species specified for 
that sector before the sector's whiting allocation is projected to be 
reached.
    (d) Eureka management area trip limits. Trip landing or frequency 
limits may be established, modified, or removed under Sec.  660.60 or 
this paragraph, specifying the amount of Pacific whiting that may be 
taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any time 
during a fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area shoreward 
of the 100 fathom (183 m) contour in the Eureka management area. Unless 
otherwise specified, no more than 10,000-lb (4,536 kg) of whiting may 
be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any 
time during a fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area 
shoreward of the 100 fm (183 m) contour in the Eureka management area.
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (2) The reapportionment of surplus whiting will be made by actual 
notice under the automatic action authority provided at Sec.  
660.60(d)(1).
* * * * *

0
11. In Sec.  660.140, revise paragraph (a) introductory text, (b)(2)(i) 
through (iii), (g), and (j)(2)(viii) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.140  Shorebased IFQ Program.

* * * * *
    (a) General. The regulations in this section apply to the 
Shorebased IFQ Program. The Shorebased IFQ Program includes a system of 
transferable QS for most groundfish species or species groups, IBQ for 
Pacific halibut, and trip limits or set-asides for the remaining 
groundfish species or species groups. NMFS will issue a QS permit to 
eligible participants and will establish a QS account for each QS 
permit owner to track the amount of QS or IBQ and QP or IBQ pounds 
owned by that owner. QS permit owners may own QS or IBQ for IFQ 
species, expressed as a percent of the allocation to the Shorebased IFQ 
Program for that species. NMFS will issue QP or IBQ pounds to QS permit 
owners, expressed in pounds, on an annual basis, to be deposited in the 
corresponding QS account. NMFS will establish a vessel account for each 
eligible vessel owner participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program, 
which is independent of the QS permit and QS account. In order to use 
QP or IBQ pounds, a QS permit owner must transfer the QP or IBQ pounds 
from the QS account into the vessel account for the vessel to which the 
QP or IBQ pounds is to be assigned. Harvests of IFQ species may only be 
delivered to an IFQ first receiver with a first receiver site license. 
In addition to the requirements of this section, the Shorebased IFQ 
Program is subject to the following groundfish regulations of subparts 
C and D:
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Ensure that all catch removed from a vessel making an IFQ 
delivery is weighed on a scale or scales meeting the requirements 
described in Sec.  660.15(c).
    (ii) Ensure that all catch is landed, sorted, and weighed in 
accordance with a valid catch monitoring plan as described in Sec.  
660.140(f)(3)(iii).
    (iii) Ensure that all catch is sorted, prior to first weighing, as 
specified at Sec.  660.130(d) and consistent with Sec.  
660.140(j)(2)(viii).
* * * * *
    (g) Retention and disposition requirements--(1) General. Shorebased 
IFQ Program vessels may discard IFQ species/species groups, provided 
such discards are accounted for and deducted from QP in the vessel 
account. With the exception of vessels on Pacific whiting IFQ trips 
engaged in maximized retention, prohibited and protected species must 
be discarded at sea; Pacific halibut must be discarded as soon as 
practicable and the discard mortality must be accounted for and 
deducted from IBQ pounds in the vessel account. Non-IFQ species and 
non-groundfish species may be discarded at sea. The sorting of catch, 
the weighing and discarding of any IBQ and IFQ species, and the 
retention of IFQ species must be monitored by the observer.
    (2) Maximized retention for Pacific whiting IFQ trips. Vessels on 
Pacific whiting IFQ trips may engage in maximized retention. Maximized 
retention allows for the discard minor operational amounts of catch at 
sea if the observer has accounted for the discard. Vessels engaged in 
maximized retention must retain prohibited species until landing. 
Protected species may be retained until landing except as provided 
under paragraph (g)(3) of this section. Pacific halibut must be 
accounted for and deducted from IBQ pounds in the vessel account.
    (3) Disposition of prohibited species and protected species in 
maximized retention landings--(i) Prohibited species handling and 
disposition. To ensure compliance with fishery regulations at 50 CFR 
part 300, subparts E and F, and part 600, subpart H; with the Pacific 
Salmon Fishery Management Plan; and with the Pacific Halibut Catch 
Share Plan; the handling and disposition of all prohibited species in 
maximized retention landings are the responsibility of the first 
receiver and must be consistent with the following requirements:
    (A) Any prohibited species landed at first receivers must not be 
transferred, processed, or mixed with another landing until the catch 
monitor has: recorded the number and weight of salmon by species; 
inspected all prohibited species for tags or marks; and, collected 
biological data, specimens, and genetic samples.
    (B) No part of any prohibited species may be retained for personal 
use by a vessel owner or crew member, or by a first receiver or 
processing crew member. No part of any prohibited species may be 
allowed to reach commercial markets.
    (C) Prohibited species suitable for human consumption at landing 
must be handled and stored to preserve the quality. Priority in 
disposition must be given to the donation to surplus food collection 
and distribution system operated and established to assist in bringing 
donated food to nonprofit charitable organizations and individuals for 
the purpose of reducing hunger and meeting nutritional needs.
    (D) The first receiver must report all prohibited species landings 
on the electronic fish ticket and is responsible for maintaining 
records verifying the disposition of prohibited species. Records on 
catch disposition may include, but are not limited to: Receipts from 
charitable organizations that include the organization's name and 
amount of catch donated; cargo manifests setting forth the origin, 
weight, and destination of all prohibited species; or disposal receipts 
identifying the recipient organization and amount disposed. Any such 
records must be maintained for a period not less than three years after 
the date of disposal and such records must be provided to OLE upon 
request.
    (ii) Protected Species handling and disposition. All protected 
species must be abandoned to NMFS or the US Fish and Wildlife Service 
or disposed of

[[Page 77275]]

consistent with paragraphs (g)(3)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section. No 
part of any protected species may be retained for personal use by a 
vessel owner or crew member, or by a first receiver or processing crew 
member. No part of any protected species may be allowed to reach 
commercial markets.
    (A) Eulachon and green sturgeon. Must be sorted and reported by 
species on electronic fish tickets and state landing receipts and may 
not be reported in unspecified categories. Whole body specimens of 
green sturgeon must be retained, frozen, stored separately by delivery, 
and labeled with the vessel name, electronic fish ticket number, and 
date of landing. Arrangements for transferring the specimens must be 
made by contacting NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center at 831-420-
3903 within 72 hours after the completion of the offload.
    (B) Seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles. Albatross must 
reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 541-867-4558 extension 
237 or 503-231-6179) as soon as possible and directions for 
surrendering must be followed. Marine mammals and sea turtles must be 
reported to NMFS as soon as possible (206-526-6550) and directions for 
surrendering or disposal must be followed. Whole body specimens must 
labeled with the vessel name, electronic fish ticket number, and date 
of landing. Whole body specimens must be kept frozen or on ice until 
arrangements for surrendering or disposing are completed. Unless 
directed otherwise, after reporting is completed, seabirds, marine 
mammals, and sea turtles may be disposed by incinerating, rendering, 
composting, or returning the carcasses to sea.
* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (viii) Pacific whiting IFQ trips. Immediately following weighing of 
the total catch and prior to processing or transport away from the 
point of landing, the catch must be sorted to the species groups 
specified at Sec.  660.130(d) and all catch other than the target 
species (groundfish and non groundfish species) must be accurately 
weighed and the weight of non-target species deducted from the total 
catch weight to derive the weight of a single predominant species. 
Catch from a Pacific whiting IFQ trip may be sorted after weighing and 
the weight of a single predominant species determined by deducting the 
weight of all other species from the total weight of the landing, 
provided that:
    (A) The unsorted catch is weighed on a bulk weighing scale in 
compliance with equipment requirements at Sec.  660.15(c);
    (B) All catch (groundfish and non-groundfish species) in the 
landing other than the single predominant species is reweighed on a 
scale in compliance with equipment requirements at Sec.  660.15(c) and 
the reweighed catch is deducted from the total weight of the landing;
    (C) The catch is sorted to the species groups specified at Sec.  
660.130(d) prior to processing or transport away from the point of 
landing; and
    (D) Prohibited species are sorted by species, counted, and weighed.
* * * * *

0
12. In Sec.  660.405, revise paragraph (a) introductory text to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.405  Prohibitions.

    (a) In addition to the general prohibitions specified in Sec.  
600.725 of this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to do any of the 
following, except as otherwise authorized under this part:
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2015-31363 Filed 12-11-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P