International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Fishing Restrictions for the Area of Overlap Between the Convention Areas of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, 80741-80744 [2015-32581]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Proposed Rules Distance operated (miles) Up to and including Over 200 300 400 500 ............ ............ ............ ............ Maximum allowance (minutes) 300 400 500 No limit 15 20 25 30 § 1040.4 Calculation of quarterly on-time performance. In any given calendar quarter, on-time performance shall be calculated as a percentage using the following formula: (a) The denominator shall be the number of trains that operated during that calendar quarter, excluding any train not operating from its scheduled origin to its scheduled destination; and (b) The numerator shall be the number of trains included in the denominator that also satisfy the definition of ‘‘on-time performance,’’ as set forth in §§ 1040.2 and 1040.3. [FR Doc. 2015–32411 Filed 12–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 150924885–5999–01] RIN 0648–BF38 International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Fishing Restrictions for the Area of Overlap Between the Convention Areas of the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS hereby proposes regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Recommendation C– 12–11 of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Recommendation C–12–11 revises the management regime for the area of overlapping jurisdiction between the IATTC and the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). These proposed regulations provide that the management measures of the IATTC would no longer apply in mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:06 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 the area of overlapping jurisdiction, with the exception of regulations governing the IATTC Regional Vessel Register. This action is necessary for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC. Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be submitted in writing by January 27, 2016. DATES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0158, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docket Detail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0158, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0158’’ in the comments. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2015–0158 or by contacting the Regional Administrator, William W. Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast Region, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA 98115–0070, or Regional Administrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS, West Coast Region, 562–980–4036. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 80741 Background on the IATTC The United States is a member of the IATTC, which was established under the 1949 Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. The full text of the 1949 Convention is available at: http://www.iattc.org/PDFFiles/ IATTC_convention_1949.pdf. The IATTC consists of 21 member nations and four cooperating nonmember nations and facilitates scientific research into, as well as the conservation and management of, highly migratory species of fish in the IATTC Convention Area. The IATTC Convention Area is defined as waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by 50° N. latitude, 150° W. longitude, and 50° S. latitude. The IATTC has maintained a scientific research and fishery monitoring program for many years, and regularly assesses the status of tuna and billfish stocks in the EPO to determine appropriate catch limits and other measures deemed necessary to promote sustainable fisheries and prevent the overexploitation of these stocks. International Obligations of the United States Under the Convention As a Contracting Party to the 1949 Convention and a member of the IATTC, the United States is legally bound to implement decisions of the IATTC. The Tuna Conventions Act (16 U.S.C. 951– 962), as amended on November 5, 2015, by Title II of Public Law 114–81, provides that the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and, with respect to enforcement measures, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, may promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the United States international obligations under the Convention, including recommendations and decisions adopted by the IATTC. The Secretary’s authority to promulgate such regulations has been delegated to NMFS. Area of Overlap Recommendation In 2004, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean entered into force. The Convention’s area of application (WCPFC Convention Area) overlaps with the IATTC Convention Area. The two convention areas overlap in the Pacific Ocean waters within a rectangular area bounded by 50° S. latitude, 150° W. E:\FR\FM\28DEP1.SGM 28DEP1 80742 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Proposed Rules longitude, 130° W. longitude, and 4° S. latitude (‘‘Area of Overlap’’). The IATTC and WCPFC recognized the need to clarify the management measures in the Area of Overlap, and the IATTC adopted Recommendation C– 12–11 (IATTC—WCPFC Overlap Area) at its 84th meeting in October 2012. Recommendation C–12–11 sets forth specific provisions for management of the Area of Overlap. Specifically, Recommendation C–12–11 calls for each flag State member, if it is a member of both organizations, to decide whether IATTC or WCPFC conservation and management measures will apply to vessels listed in the registers of both organizations while fishing in the Area of Overlap. In December 2012, the WCPFC adopted a nearly identical decision. The record of the WCPFC’s decision can be found at paragraph 80 in the Summary Report for the Ninth Regular Session of the WCPFC, which is available at: https://www.wcpfc.int/ system/files/WCPFC9-Summary-Reportfinal.pdf. NMFS Proposal As stated above, the United States is a member of the IATTC. The United States is also a member of the WCPFC, and implements WCPFC decisions under the authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act; 16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.). Currently, both the U.S. regulations that implement the decisions of the IATTC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart C) and the regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart O) apply in the Area of Overlap. Rather than apply one Commission’s measures to an individual vessel or gear type and the other Commission’s measures to another vessel or gear type, NMFS proposes to apply the WCPFC’s management measures to the entire U.S. fleet. NMFS proposes this application of the regulations because each Commission develops a comprehensive and selfcontained package of management measures to address similar conservation objectives. If one set of management measures were applied to some vessels and another set to others, management would fail to address the conservation objectives of either Commission. NMFS proposes that the decisions of the WCPFC, rather than those of the IATTC, apply in the Area of Overlap because the U.S. fisheries impacted by this rulemaking occur mostly in the WCPFC Convention Area. In other words, the impacted fisheries are subject to regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, in most of their fishing grounds. Being subject to only this set of regulations when fishing inside the Area of Overlap—rather than being subject to only the IATTC-related regulations in that area—would provide more uniform regulations for these fisheries. Alternatively, NMFS also welcomes public input on alternatives to this rule, i.e., such as requiring U.S. vessels to adhere to some or all conservation measures of the IATTC, rather than those of the WCPFC, in the Area of Overlap. Depending on the input received, the final rule might be adjusted accordingly. U.S. vessels do not fish in the Area of Overlap often, but the two gear types that have fished in the Area of Overlap since 2008 are troll vessels that harvest South Pacific albacore and purse seine vessels that harvest tropical tuna. The majority of the South Pacific albacore troll fishery occurs in the WCPFC Convention Area outside the Area of Overlap (i.e., west of 150° W.), and some fishing has occurred in the Area of Overlap (Table 1). These fisheries are described in the Classification section below. TABLE 1—NUMBER OF U.S. TROLL VESSELS (i.e., VESSELS) AND DAYS FISHED BY VESSELS (i.e., VESSEL DAYS) IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN FOR SOUTH PACIFIC ALBACORE FROM 2008 TO 2014 (DATA PROVIDED BY NMFS SOUTHWEST FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER) [Data for 2013 and 2014 are considered preliminary] East of 130° W. Year vessels 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... — 0 3 0 6 0 0 Area of overlap vesseldays vesseldays vessels — 0 7 0 17 0 0 3 4 5 3 9 0 7 93 17 58 7 152 0 116 West of 150° W. vesseldays vessels 3 4 6 6 9 6 8 162 180 339 310 378 325 503 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS — indicates data are for fewer than three vessels. Although under this proposed rule, regulations implementing WCPFC decisions would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap, NMFS also proposes that regulations in 50 CFR 300.22 that pertain to the IATTC Regional Vessel Register would still apply with respect to U.S. vessels that are used to fish in the Area of Overlap. NMFS proposes that IATTC Regional Vessel Register regulations continue to apply so that the United States can continue to fulfill its obligations under the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:06 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 in the Area of Overlap. The IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used as a mechanism to implement AIDCP provisions, including vessel assessment fees, observer coverage, and authorization for the active status of purse seine vessels. Therefore, the IATTC Regional Vessel Register requirements that include the cost associated with vessel assessment fees would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap. In addition, the United States is obligated to manage U.S. purse seine well volume capacity in the IATTC Convention Area within the limits PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 established by the IATTC, and the IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used for this purpose. Similarly, the IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used to manage the one-trip option for U.S. purse seine vessels licensed under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty for fishing trips that do not exceed 90 days in duration. Proposed Regulations for Area of Overlap This proposed rule would implement Recommendation C–12–11 and establish that, in the Area of Overlap, the E:\FR\FM\28DEP1.SGM 28DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS regulations that implement the decisions of the IATTC at 50 CFR part 300, subpart C, would not apply; however, regulations pertaining to the IATTC Regional Vessel Register at 50 CFR 300.22(b) would still apply. The decisions of the WCPFC as implemented by NMFS regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap. Under this proposed rule, the definition of the IATTC Convention Area would be revised into two parts: (1) include the Area of Overlap in the definition of the IATTC Convention Area for the purpose of IATTC Regional Vessel Register regulations at 50 CFR 300.22(b), and (2) exclude the Area of Overlap in the definition of the Convention Area for the purpose of regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart C. Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Tuna Conventions Act and other applicable laws. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Additionally, although there are no new collection-of-information requirements associated with this action that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, existing collection-ofinformation requirements still apply under the following Control Numbers: (1) 0648–0596, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements under the WCPFC; (2) 0648–0595, WCPFC Vessel Information Family of Forms; (3) 0648– 0649, Transshipment Requirements under the WPCFC; and (4) 0648–0204, West Coast Region Family of Forms. 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 the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), the Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rationale for the certification is provided in the following paragraphs. As described in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION above, the proposed regulations would implement Recommendation C–12–11 adopted by the IATTC at its October 2012 meeting. Recommendation C–12–11 calls for each VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:06 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 flag State member, if it is a member of both organizations, to decide whether IATTC or WCPFC conservation and management measures will apply to vessels listed in the registers of both organizations while fishing in the Area of Overlap. Currently, both the U.S. regulations that implement the decisions of the IATTC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart C) and the regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart O) apply in the Area of Overlap. This proposed rule would provide that the regulations that implement management measures of the IATTC would no longer apply in the Area of Overlap, with the exception of regulations governing the IATTC Regional Vessel Register. The failure to promulgate the proposed action would continue to require the decisions of both the IATTC and WCPFC to apply in the Area of Overlap. Alternatively, the implementation of Recommendation C– 12–11 would establish the application of the measures of only one organization (i.e., the WCPFC) as opposed to both organizations (i.e., the WCPFC and the IATTC). On June 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule revising the small business size standards for several industries effective July 14, 2014 (79 FR 33467). The rule increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $19.0 million to $20.5 million, Shellfish Fishing from $5.0 million to $5.5 million, and Other Marine Fishing from $7.0 million to $7.5 million. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conducted its analysis for this action in light of the new size standards. NMFS considers all entities subject to this action to be small entities as defined by both the former, lower size standards and the revised size standards. The small entities that would be affected by the proposed action are all U.S. vessels that may fish for tuna or tuna-like species in the Area of Overlap; however, U.S. vessels do not fish for tuna or tuna-like species in the Area of Overlap often. Since 2008, no U.S. fishing vessel with pelagic longline gear has fished in the Area of Overlap. Two gear types that have fished in the Area of Overlap since 2008 are troll vessels that harvest South Pacific albacore and purse seine vessels that harvest tropical tunas. There are two components to the U.S. tuna purse seine fishery in the EPO: (1) purse seine vessels with at least 363 mt fish hold volume (class size 6 vessels) that are typically based in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), and (2) coastal purse seine vessels with PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 80743 smaller fish hold volume that are based on the U.S. West Coast. Because the coastal purse seine vessels do not typically fish south of the equator or on the high seas, this rule would likely only affect the size class 6 purse seine vessels. In recent years, most of the yellowfin, skipjack, and bigeye tuna catch in the EPO have been landed by size class 6 purse seine vessels. Estimates of exvessel revenues in this purse seine fishery in the IATTC Convention Area since 2005 are confidential and may not be publicly disclosed because of the small number of vessels in the fishery. In the Area of Overlap, no purse seine vessels fished from 2008 to 2010, fewer than three purse seine vessels fished in 2011 and 2012 (therefore, their landings and revenue are confidential), and no purse seine vessels fished in 2013 or 2014. As of November 2015, there are 22 size class 6 purse seine vessels on the IATTC Regional Vessel Register and 40 size class 6 purse seine vessels on the WCPFC Record of Fishing Vessels. For the purse seine fishery based in the WCPO, NMFS estimates that the average annual receipts over 2010 to 2012 for each purse seine vessel were less than the $20.5 million threshold for finfish harvesting businesses (the greatest was about $19 million) based on the catches of each vessel in the purse seine fleet during that period and indicative regional cannery prices developed by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (available online: https:// www.ffa.int/node/425#attachments). Since 2012, cannery prices have declined dramatically, so the vessels’ revenues in 2013 and 2014 have very likely declined as well. U.S. vessels that fish with troll gear in the Pacific Ocean can be described as part of the North Pacific albacore troll fishery and the South Pacific albacore troll fishery. As of November 2, 2015, there are 1,394 vessels with active Pacific Highly Migratory Species permits authorized to use troll gear. An average of 640 West Coast albacore trollers participated in the fishery from 2008 to 2014, with an average ex-vessel revenue of approximately $53,829 per vessel. The North Pacific albacore troll fishery occurs mostly in the IATTC Convention Area from April through November, while the South Pacific albacore troll fishery occurs almost exclusively in the WCPFC Convention Area from November through April. From 2008 to 2012, and in 2014, fewer than three U.S. West Coast trollers participated in the South Pacific albacore fishery and landed on the West Coast. In 2013, four West Coast trollers E:\FR\FM\28DEP1.SGM 28DEP1 80744 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS participated in the South Pacific albacore fishery and landed on the West Coast, with an ex-vessel revenue of about $275,000 per vessel. To estimate revenues, only data from vessels that landed on the West Coast were used. From 2008 to 2014, the number of U.S. trollers targeting South Pacific albacore in the Area of Overlap has ranged from three to nine vessels on an annual basis (Table 1). However, fishing activity in the Area of Overlap could change with ˜ ocean conditions such as El Nino Southern Oscillation events. This action will not increase the economic or record keeping and reporting burden on U.S. vessel owners and operators; but rather, the rule is expected to reduce the burden because affected vessels will only be required to follow the measures of one organization (i.e., the WCPFC) rather than both organizations (i.e., the WCPFC and the IATTC) in the Area of Overlap. For example, WCPFC regulations at § 300.223(a) establish a limit of 1,828 purse seine fishing days in the WCPFC Convention Area in the areas of high seas and U.S. EEZ between 20° N. latitude and 20° S. latitude (an area known as the ELAPS), which includes some of the Area of Overlap, for calendar year 2015. The limit was reached and a closure of the applicable area to purse seine fishing took effect June 15, 2015, and will remain in effect through December 31, 2015 (80 FR 32313). In contrast, the IATTC implementing regulations at § 300.25(f) provide that U.S. purse seine vessels select one of two options for 62-day closures in the IATTC Convention Area for 2015 and 2016. Under this proposed rule, vessel owners would not have to comply with both sets of purse seine closures in the Area of Overlap, only the WCPFC closure. In other instances, this regulation would remove duplicative regulations governing the U.S. fleet in the Area of Overlap. However, vessel owners and operators will still need to VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:06 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 comply with the IATTC Regional Vessel Register requirements, such as vessel assessment fees and observer coverage. In addition, this action is not expected to change the typical fishing practices of impacted vessels because the U.S. fisheries affected by this rulemaking occur mostly in the WCPFC Convention Area. In other words, the impacted fisheries are subject to regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, in most of their fishing grounds. Imposing only this set of regulations to vessels fishing inside the Area of Overlap would provide more uniform regulations for these fisheries. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the SBA’s June 20, 2013, and June 14, 2014, final rules (78 FR 37398 and 79 FR 33647, respectively), this certification was developed for this action using the SBA’s revised size standards. NMFS considers all entities subject to this action to be small entities as defined by both the former, lower size standards and the revised size standards. Because each affected vessel is a small business, this proposed action is considered to equally affect all of these small entities in the same manner. Based on the disproportionality and profitability analysis above, the proposed action, if adopted, will not have adverse or disproportional economic impact on these small business entities. Therefore, the proposed action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and was not prepared for this proposed rule. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300 Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, International organizations, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Dated: December 17, 2015. Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 300 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 300, subpart C, continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951 et seq. 2. In § 300.21, revise the definition for ‘‘Convention Area’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: ■ § 300.21 Definitions. * * * * * Convention Area or IATTC Convention Area means: (1) for the purpose of section 300.22(b) of this subpart, all waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by 50° N. latitude from the coast of North America to its intersection with 150° W. longitude, then 150° W. longitude to its intersection with 50° S. latitude, and then 50° S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South America; and (2) for the purpose of all other sections and paragraphs of this subpart, all waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by 50° N. latitude from the coast of North America to its intersection with 150° W. longitude, then 150° W. longitude to its intersection with 4° S. latitude, then 4° S. to its intersection with 130° W. longitude, then 130° W. longitude to its intersection with 50° S. latitude, and then 50° S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South America. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2015–32581 Filed 12–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\28DEP1.SGM 28DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 248 (Monday, December 28, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 80741-80744]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-32581]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 150924885-5999-01]
RIN 0648-BF38


International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Fishing 
Restrictions for the Area of Overlap Between the Convention Areas of 
the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central 
Pacific Fisheries Commission

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS hereby proposes regulations under the Tuna Conventions 
Act to implement Recommendation C-12-11 of the Inter-American Tropical 
Tuna Commission (IATTC). Recommendation C-12-11 revises the management 
regime for the area of overlapping jurisdiction between the IATTC and 
the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory 
Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). These 
proposed regulations provide that the management measures of the IATTC 
would no longer apply in the area of overlapping jurisdiction, with the 
exception of regulations governing the IATTC Regional Vessel Register. 
This action is necessary for the United States to satisfy its 
obligations as a member of the IATTC.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be 
submitted in writing by January 27, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0158, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0158, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS 
West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, 
Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0158'' in 
the comments.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by 
NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or 
individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be 
considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and 
will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov 
without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review and other supporting 
documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2015-0158 or by contacting the 
Regional Administrator, William W. Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast Region, 
7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA 98115-0070, or 
RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS, West Coast 
Region, 562-980-4036.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background on the IATTC

    The United States is a member of the IATTC, which was established 
under the 1949 Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American 
Tropical Tuna Commission. The full text of the 1949 Convention is 
available at: http://www.iattc.org/PDFFiles/IATTC_convention_1949.pdf.
    The IATTC consists of 21 member nations and four cooperating non-
member nations and facilitates scientific research into, as well as the 
conservation and management of, highly migratory species of fish in the 
IATTC Convention Area. The IATTC Convention Area is defined as waters 
of the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) within the area bounded by the west 
coast of the Americas and by 50[deg] N. latitude, 150[deg] W. 
longitude, and 50[deg] S. latitude. The IATTC has maintained a 
scientific research and fishery monitoring program for many years, and 
regularly assesses the status of tuna and billfish stocks in the EPO to 
determine appropriate catch limits and other measures deemed necessary 
to promote sustainable fisheries and prevent the overexploitation of 
these stocks.

International Obligations of the United States Under the Convention

    As a Contracting Party to the 1949 Convention and a member of the 
IATTC, the United States is legally bound to implement decisions of the 
IATTC. The Tuna Conventions Act (16 U.S.C. 951-962), as amended on 
November 5, 2015, by Title II of Public Law 114-81, provides that the 
Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and, 
with respect to enforcement measures, the Secretary of the Department 
of Homeland Security, may promulgate such regulations as may be 
necessary to carry out the United States international obligations 
under the Convention, including recommendations and decisions adopted 
by the IATTC. The Secretary's authority to promulgate such regulations 
has been delegated to NMFS.

Area of Overlap Recommendation

    In 2004, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of 
Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean 
entered into force. The Convention's area of application (WCPFC 
Convention Area) overlaps with the IATTC Convention Area. The two 
convention areas overlap in the Pacific Ocean waters within a 
rectangular area bounded by 50[deg] S. latitude, 150[deg] W.

[[Page 80742]]

longitude, 130[deg] W. longitude, and 4[deg] S. latitude (``Area of 
Overlap'').
    The IATTC and WCPFC recognized the need to clarify the management 
measures in the Area of Overlap, and the IATTC adopted Recommendation 
C-12-11 (IATTC--WCPFC Overlap Area) at its 84th meeting in October 
2012. Recommendation C-12-11 sets forth specific provisions for 
management of the Area of Overlap. Specifically, Recommendation C-12-11 
calls for each flag State member, if it is a member of both 
organizations, to decide whether IATTC or WCPFC conservation and 
management measures will apply to vessels listed in the registers of 
both organizations while fishing in the Area of Overlap. In December 
2012, the WCPFC adopted a nearly identical decision. The record of the 
WCPFC's decision can be found at paragraph 80 in the Summary Report for 
the Ninth Regular Session of the WCPFC, which is available at: https://www.wcpfc.int/system/files/WCPFC9-Summary-Report-final.pdf.

NMFS Proposal

    As stated above, the United States is a member of the IATTC. The 
United States is also a member of the WCPFC, and implements WCPFC 
decisions under the authority of the Western and Central Pacific 
Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act; 16 
U.S.C. 6901 et seq.). Currently, both the U.S. regulations that 
implement the decisions of the IATTC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart C) 
and the regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC (see 50 
CFR part 300, subpart O) apply in the Area of Overlap. Rather than 
apply one Commission's measures to an individual vessel or gear type 
and the other Commission's measures to another vessel or gear type, 
NMFS proposes to apply the WCPFC's management measures to the entire 
U.S. fleet. NMFS proposes this application of the regulations because 
each Commission develops a comprehensive and self-contained package of 
management measures to address similar conservation objectives. If one 
set of management measures were applied to some vessels and another set 
to others, management would fail to address the conservation objectives 
of either Commission.
    NMFS proposes that the decisions of the WCPFC, rather than those of 
the IATTC, apply in the Area of Overlap because the U.S. fisheries 
impacted by this rulemaking occur mostly in the WCPFC Convention Area. 
In other words, the impacted fisheries are subject to regulations that 
implement the decisions of the WCPFC at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, in 
most of their fishing grounds. Being subject to only this set of 
regulations when fishing inside the Area of Overlap--rather than being 
subject to only the IATTC-related regulations in that area--would 
provide more uniform regulations for these fisheries. Alternatively, 
NMFS also welcomes public input on alternatives to this rule, i.e., 
such as requiring U.S. vessels to adhere to some or all conservation 
measures of the IATTC, rather than those of the WCPFC, in the Area of 
Overlap. Depending on the input received, the final rule might be 
adjusted accordingly.
    U.S. vessels do not fish in the Area of Overlap often, but the two 
gear types that have fished in the Area of Overlap since 2008 are troll 
vessels that harvest South Pacific albacore and purse seine vessels 
that harvest tropical tuna. The majority of the South Pacific albacore 
troll fishery occurs in the WCPFC Convention Area outside the Area of 
Overlap (i.e., west of 150[deg] W.), and some fishing has occurred in 
the Area of Overlap (Table 1). These fisheries are described in the 
Classification section below.

   Table 1--Number of U.S. Troll Vessels (i.e., Vessels) and Days Fished by Vessels (i.e., Vessel Days) in the
  Pacific Ocean for South Pacific Albacore From 2008 to 2014 (Data Provided by NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science
                                                     Center)
                               [Data for 2013 and 2014 are considered preliminary]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 East of 130[deg] W.     Area of overlap     West of 150[deg] W.
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
                     Year                                   vessel-               vessel-               vessel-
                                                 vessels      days     vessels      days     vessels      days
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2008..........................................         --         --          3         93          3        162
2009..........................................          0          0          4         17          4        180
2010..........................................          3          7          5         58          6        339
2011..........................................          0          0          3          7          6        310
2012..........................................          6         17          9        152          9        378
2013..........................................          0          0          0          0          6        325
2014..........................................          0          0          7        116          8        503
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- indicates data are for fewer than three vessels.

Although under this proposed rule, regulations implementing WCPFC 
decisions would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap, NMFS also 
proposes that regulations in 50 CFR 300.22 that pertain to the IATTC 
Regional Vessel Register would still apply with respect to U.S. vessels 
that are used to fish in the Area of Overlap. NMFS proposes that IATTC 
Regional Vessel Register regulations continue to apply so that the 
United States can continue to fulfill its obligations under the 
Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) in 
the Area of Overlap. The IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used as a 
mechanism to implement AIDCP provisions, including vessel assessment 
fees, observer coverage, and authorization for the active status of 
purse seine vessels. Therefore, the IATTC Regional Vessel Register 
requirements that include the cost associated with vessel assessment 
fees would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap. In addition, the 
United States is obligated to manage U.S. purse seine well volume 
capacity in the IATTC Convention Area within the limits established by 
the IATTC, and the IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used for this 
purpose. Similarly, the IATTC Regional Vessel Register is used to 
manage the one-trip option for U.S. purse seine vessels licensed under 
the South Pacific Tuna Treaty for fishing trips that do not exceed 90 
days in duration.

Proposed Regulations for Area of Overlap

    This proposed rule would implement Recommendation C-12-11 and 
establish that, in the Area of Overlap, the

[[Page 80743]]

regulations that implement the decisions of the IATTC at 50 CFR part 
300, subpart C, would not apply; however, regulations pertaining to the 
IATTC Regional Vessel Register at 50 CFR 300.22(b) would still apply. 
The decisions of the WCPFC as implemented by NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 
part 300, subpart O, would continue to apply in the Area of Overlap. 
Under this proposed rule, the definition of the IATTC Convention Area 
would be revised into two parts: (1) include the Area of Overlap in the 
definition of the IATTC Convention Area for the purpose of IATTC 
Regional Vessel Register regulations at 50 CFR 300.22(b), and (2) 
exclude the Area of Overlap in the definition of the Convention Area 
for the purpose of regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart C.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed 
rule is consistent with the Tuna Conventions Act and other applicable 
laws.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    Additionally, although there are no new collection-of-information 
requirements associated with this action that are subject to the 
Paperwork Reduction Act, existing collection-of-information 
requirements still apply under the following Control Numbers: (1) 0648-
0596, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements under the WCPFC; (2) 
0648-0595, WCPFC Vessel Information Family of Forms; (3) 0648-0649, 
Transshipment Requirements under the WPCFC; and (4) 0648-0204, West 
Coast Region Family of Forms. 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 the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), the 
Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to 
the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration 
that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The 
rationale for the certification is provided in the following 
paragraphs.
    As described in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION above, the proposed 
regulations would implement Recommendation C-12-11 adopted by the IATTC 
at its October 2012 meeting. Recommendation C-12-11 calls for each flag 
State member, if it is a member of both organizations, to decide 
whether IATTC or WCPFC conservation and management measures will apply 
to vessels listed in the registers of both organizations while fishing 
in the Area of Overlap. Currently, both the U.S. regulations that 
implement the decisions of the IATTC (see 50 CFR part 300, subpart C) 
and the regulations that implement the decisions of the WCPFC (see 50 
CFR part 300, subpart O) apply in the Area of Overlap. This proposed 
rule would provide that the regulations that implement management 
measures of the IATTC would no longer apply in the Area of Overlap, 
with the exception of regulations governing the IATTC Regional Vessel 
Register.
    The failure to promulgate the proposed action would continue to 
require the decisions of both the IATTC and WCPFC to apply in the Area 
of Overlap. Alternatively, the implementation of Recommendation C-12-11 
would establish the application of the measures of only one 
organization (i.e., the WCPFC) as opposed to both organizations (i.e., 
the WCPFC and the IATTC).
    On June 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an 
interim final rule revising the small business size standards for 
several industries effective July 14, 2014 (79 FR 33467). The rule 
increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $19.0 million to 
$20.5 million, Shellfish Fishing from $5.0 million to $5.5 million, and 
Other Marine Fishing from $7.0 million to $7.5 million. The National 
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conducted its analysis for this action 
in light of the new size standards.
    NMFS considers all entities subject to this action to be small 
entities as defined by both the former, lower size standards and the 
revised size standards. The small entities that would be affected by 
the proposed action are all U.S. vessels that may fish for tuna or 
tuna-like species in the Area of Overlap; however, U.S. vessels do not 
fish for tuna or tuna-like species in the Area of Overlap often. Since 
2008, no U.S. fishing vessel with pelagic longline gear has fished in 
the Area of Overlap. Two gear types that have fished in the Area of 
Overlap since 2008 are troll vessels that harvest South Pacific 
albacore and purse seine vessels that harvest tropical tunas.
    There are two components to the U.S. tuna purse seine fishery in 
the EPO: (1) purse seine vessels with at least 363 mt fish hold volume 
(class size 6 vessels) that are typically based in the western and 
central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), and (2) coastal purse seine vessels with 
smaller fish hold volume that are based on the U.S. West Coast. Because 
the coastal purse seine vessels do not typically fish south of the 
equator or on the high seas, this rule would likely only affect the 
size class 6 purse seine vessels.
    In recent years, most of the yellowfin, skipjack, and bigeye tuna 
catch in the EPO have been landed by size class 6 purse seine vessels. 
Estimates of ex-vessel revenues in this purse seine fishery in the 
IATTC Convention Area since 2005 are confidential and may not be 
publicly disclosed because of the small number of vessels in the 
fishery. In the Area of Overlap, no purse seine vessels fished from 
2008 to 2010, fewer than three purse seine vessels fished in 2011 and 
2012 (therefore, their landings and revenue are confidential), and no 
purse seine vessels fished in 2013 or 2014.
    As of November 2015, there are 22 size class 6 purse seine vessels 
on the IATTC Regional Vessel Register and 40 size class 6 purse seine 
vessels on the WCPFC Record of Fishing Vessels. For the purse seine 
fishery based in the WCPO, NMFS estimates that the average annual 
receipts over 2010 to 2012 for each purse seine vessel were less than 
the $20.5 million threshold for finfish harvesting businesses (the 
greatest was about $19 million) based on the catches of each vessel in 
the purse seine fleet during that period and indicative regional 
cannery prices developed by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency 
(available online: https://www.ffa.int/node/425#attachments). Since 
2012, cannery prices have declined dramatically, so the vessels' 
revenues in 2013 and 2014 have very likely declined as well.
    U.S. vessels that fish with troll gear in the Pacific Ocean can be 
described as part of the North Pacific albacore troll fishery and the 
South Pacific albacore troll fishery. As of November 2, 2015, there are 
1,394 vessels with active Pacific Highly Migratory Species permits 
authorized to use troll gear. An average of 640 West Coast albacore 
trollers participated in the fishery from 2008 to 2014, with an average 
ex-vessel revenue of approximately $53,829 per vessel. The North 
Pacific albacore troll fishery occurs mostly in the IATTC Convention 
Area from April through November, while the South Pacific albacore 
troll fishery occurs almost exclusively in the WCPFC Convention Area 
from November through April.
    From 2008 to 2012, and in 2014, fewer than three U.S. West Coast 
trollers participated in the South Pacific albacore fishery and landed 
on the West Coast. In 2013, four West Coast trollers

[[Page 80744]]

participated in the South Pacific albacore fishery and landed on the 
West Coast, with an ex-vessel revenue of about $275,000 per vessel. To 
estimate revenues, only data from vessels that landed on the West Coast 
were used. From 2008 to 2014, the number of U.S. trollers targeting 
South Pacific albacore in the Area of Overlap has ranged from three to 
nine vessels on an annual basis (Table 1). However, fishing activity in 
the Area of Overlap could change with ocean conditions such as El 
Ni[ntilde]o Southern Oscillation events.
    This action will not increase the economic or record keeping and 
reporting burden on U.S. vessel owners and operators; but rather, the 
rule is expected to reduce the burden because affected vessels will 
only be required to follow the measures of one organization (i.e., the 
WCPFC) rather than both organizations (i.e., the WCPFC and the IATTC) 
in the Area of Overlap. For example, WCPFC regulations at Sec.  
300.223(a) establish a limit of 1,828 purse seine fishing days in the 
WCPFC Convention Area in the areas of high seas and U.S. EEZ between 
20[deg] N. latitude and 20[deg] S. latitude (an area known as the 
ELAPS), which includes some of the Area of Overlap, for calendar year 
2015. The limit was reached and a closure of the applicable area to 
purse seine fishing took effect June 15, 2015, and will remain in 
effect through December 31, 2015 (80 FR 32313). In contrast, the IATTC 
implementing regulations at Sec.  300.25(f) provide that U.S. purse 
seine vessels select one of two options for 62-day closures in the 
IATTC Convention Area for 2015 and 2016. Under this proposed rule, 
vessel owners would not have to comply with both sets of purse seine 
closures in the Area of Overlap, only the WCPFC closure. In other 
instances, this regulation would remove duplicative regulations 
governing the U.S. fleet in the Area of Overlap. However, vessel owners 
and operators will still need to comply with the IATTC Regional Vessel 
Register requirements, such as vessel assessment fees and observer 
coverage.
    In addition, this action is not expected to change the typical 
fishing practices of impacted vessels because the U.S. fisheries 
affected by this rulemaking occur mostly in the WCPFC Convention Area. 
In other words, the impacted fisheries are subject to regulations that 
implement the decisions of the WCPFC at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, in 
most of their fishing grounds. Imposing only this set of regulations to 
vessels fishing inside the Area of Overlap would provide more uniform 
regulations for these fisheries.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the SBA's June 20, 
2013, and June 14, 2014, final rules (78 FR 37398 and 79 FR 33647, 
respectively), this certification was developed for this action using 
the SBA's revised size standards. NMFS considers all entities subject 
to this action to be small entities as defined by both the former, 
lower size standards and the revised size standards. Because each 
affected vessel is a small business, this proposed action is considered 
to equally affect all of these small entities in the same manner. Based 
on the disproportionality and profitability analysis above, the 
proposed action, if adopted, will not have adverse or disproportional 
economic impact on these small business entities. Therefore, the 
proposed action would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. As a result, an Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and was not prepared 
for this proposed rule.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300

    Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, International 
organizations, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: December 17, 2015.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 300 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 300--INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 300, subpart C, continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 951 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  300.21, revise the definition for ``Convention Area'' in 
alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  300.21  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Convention Area or IATTC Convention Area means:
    (1) for the purpose of section 300.22(b) of this subpart, all 
waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast 
of the Americas and by 50[deg] N. latitude from the coast of North 
America to its intersection with 150[deg] W. longitude, then 150[deg] 
W. longitude to its intersection with 50[deg] S. latitude, and then 
50[deg] S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South 
America; and
    (2) for the purpose of all other sections and paragraphs of this 
subpart, all waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the 
west coast of the Americas and by 50[deg] N. latitude from the coast of 
North America to its intersection with 150[deg] W. longitude, then 
150[deg] W. longitude to its intersection with 4[deg] S. latitude, then 
4[deg] S. to its intersection with 130[deg] W. longitude, then 130[deg] 
W. longitude to its intersection with 50[deg] S. latitude, and then 
50[deg] S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South 
America.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2015-32581 Filed 12-24-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P