Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 81773-81784 [2015-32884]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Dated: December 23, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. 6147, fax: 206–526–6736, or email: gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: [FR Doc. 2015–32826 Filed 12–30–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140904754–5188–02] RIN 0648–BF63 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015–2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures. AGENCY: This final rule announces inseason changes to management measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. This document also announces a prohibition on the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm (274 m) depth contour via automatic action, with actual notice (by phone and email) to participants, at noon local time, November 26, 2015 in order to reduce the risk of exceeding the canary rockfish annual catch limit (ACL). DATES: This final rule is effective January 1, 2016. The depth restrictions for midwater trawl gear were made through automatic action, and are published in the Federal Register as soon as practicable after they are issued. The depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear, which was announced by actual notice (by phone and email) prior to implementation, is applicable from noon local time, November 26, 2015 through midnight local time, December 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew, phone: 206–526– tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 Electronic Access This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Copies of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Groundfish Specifications and Management Measures for 2015– 2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter are available from Donald McIsaac, Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503–820–2280. Background The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council)—in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California—recommended changes to groundfish management measures at its November 13–19, 2015, meeting. Specifically, the Council recommended a revised schedule of trip limits for big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program for 2016. This rule revises big skate trip limits consistent with the Council’s November recommendations. Before 2015, big skate was managed as a component stock within the Other Fish complex. The big skate overfishing limit (OFL) estimate, along with the estimated OFLs for the other species in the complex, contributed to the OFL specified in regulation for the Other Fish complex. Species managed in complexes do not have OFLs specified in regulation. The Council recommended, and NMFS approved, the designation of big skate as an ecosystem component species, beginning in 2015 (80 FR 12567, March 10, 2015). As described in the inseason action that implemented trip limits for big skate in 2015 (80 FR 31858, June 4, 2015), new information available during 2015 indicated that harvest of big skate was much higher than anticipated and was approaching or exceeding the 2014 estimated OFL contribution. The Council recommended, and NMFS implemented, trip limits on June 1, 2015, to reduce impacts to big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program. Trip limits for big skate were further adjusted on August 14, 2015, after review of updated fishery information and best available information regarding discard mortality of big skate (80 FR 50212, August 19, 2015). As part of the ongoing development of the 2017–2018 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81773 specifications, the Council is reconsidering whether big skate should be reclassified because the species may not be appropriate as an ecosystem component species. At its November meeting, the Council considered updated fishery information and further refined big skate trip limits for the second year of the biennial cycle. The Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) continued analysis of available fishery data to estimate and project catch of big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program under different trip limit scenarios. The Council considered an apparent seasonal fluctuation in both frequency and magnitude of big skate landings, with higher catch in the summer and lower catch in the winter. The Council also considered feedback from individuals in the Shorebased IFQ Program regarding catch patterns and targeting practices. The Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing, the following big skate trip limits in the Shorebased IFQ Program, beginning January 1, 2016: 5,000 lbs/2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for Period 1; 25,000 pounds/2 months (11,340 kg/2 months) for Period 2; 30,000 pounds/2 months (13,608 kg/2 months) for Period 3; 35,000 pounds/2 months (15,876 kg/2 months) for Period 4; 10,000 pounds/2 months (4,536 kg/2 months) for Period 5; and 5,000 pounds/ 2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for Period 6. Best estimates indicate that total mortality of big skate through the end of 2016 under this trip limit structure would be 450 mt, 91 mt lower than the estimated 2016 OFL of 541 mt and 44 mt lower than the estimated 2016 ABC of 494 mt. Depth Restriction via Actual Notice in the Shorebased IFQ Program Subsequent to the November Council meeting, higher than anticipated catch of canary rockfish occurred in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS took automatic action to impose a depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program, applicable at noon local time, November 26, 2015. This rule serves as notification of the November 26, 2015 automatic action. The Shorebased IFQ Program may be restricted or closed, as determined necessary by the Regional Administrator, as a result of projected overages within the Shorebased IFQ Program, the Mothership Coop Program, or the Catcher/Processor Coop Program. As of November 24, 2015, the Shorebased IFQ Program was projected to exceed the total quota pounds available to the sector (2015 allocation, plus surplus carryover from 2014) if E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 81774 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations current harvest levels continued and without management action. At noon, on November 26, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) prohibited the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of 2015, shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fathom depth contour (150 fm line). This bycatch reduction measure was taken as an automatic action, per regulations at 50 CFR 660.140(a)(3), to reduce potential impacts on canary rockfish, an overfished species subject to rebuilding requirements under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. NMFS provided actual notice of the closure to participants by phone and email. In addition, NMFS posted on the West Coast Region’s internet site to provide notice to the affected fishers. Implementation of the prohibition on using midwater trawl gear (cease fishing) shoreward of the 150 fm line was effective 22 hours after the Public Notice, to allow for additional time for the public to become aware of the change in depth restrictions. The Shorebased IFQ Program has a 2015 allocation of 43.26 mt of canary rockfish (with surplus carryover pounds from 2014: 47.28 mt). Higher than anticipated catch of canary rockfish occurred in the Shorebased IFQ Program by vessels using midwater trawl gear, exceeding the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation. Midwater trawl gear has been responsible for an increasing proportion of the annual canary rockfish landings in the Shorebased IFQ Program and data from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center shelf-slope bottom trawl survey indicates that canary rockfish are distributed overwhelmingly shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm depth contour. Therefore, NMFS implemented a depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program to reduce the risk of exceeding the total amount of canary rockfish available the Shorebased IFQ Program, total trawl allocation, and the canary rockfish ACL, through the end of the year. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Technical Edits LEFG and OA Sablefish Trip Limits Regulatory changes published in this rule also clarify, but do not revise, sablefish trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 36° N. lat. The 2016 sablefish ACL is higher than in 2015 and the Council recommended and NMFS implemented a schedule of slightly higher trip limits for the second year of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 the biennial period, as described in the January 6, 2015 proposed rule (80 FR 687) and implemented in Tables 2 North and 2 South, Subpart E and Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F (80 FR 12567, March 10, 2015). Because of the format of these tables, the higher 2016 trip limits were published in the footnotes, anticipating that an inseason for January 1, 2016 would incorporate movement of those trip limits from the footnote to the body of the table. This formatting change does not revise the 2016 sablefish trip limits for non-IFQ fisheries north of 36° N. lat. that were described and implemented through notice and comment rulemaking. Accordingly, this rule modifies Tables 2 North and 2 South, Subpart E and Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F by moving the schedule of 2016 trip limits, unchanged, from footnotes into the body of the tables. Classification This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best available information. This document also serves as notice of an automatic action, based on the best available information. Both are consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations. This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and (d), and 660.140(a)(3) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, during business hours. NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on the revisions to groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that the regulatory changes in this final rule may become effective January 1, 2016. New analysis regarding projected catch of big skate was presented to the Council at its November 2015 meeting. At that meeting, the Council recommended that these changes to big skate trip limits be implemented January 1, 2016, which is the start of the second year of the biennial cycle and the beginning of a cumulative limit period in the commercial groundfish fishery off the West Coast. These restrictions to the amount of landings must be implemented at the start of a cumulative limit period to allow PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 fishermen in the Shorebased IFQ Program an opportunity to continue harvesting big skate, but at a level that will not exceed the new, lower trip limit that will be imposed in January 2016. The trip limits recommended by the Council and implemented by NMFS in this action are anticipated to keep catch of big skate below its estimated OFL, if implemented on January 1. If the recommended limits are not in place January 1, more restrictive measures may be necessary later in the year to keep catch of big skate below its estimated OFL. There was not sufficient time after the November meeting, when the new information was available, to undergo proposed and final rulemaking before January 1. The depth restrictions in the Shorebased IFQ Program implemented by the Regional Administrator via actual notice are intended to reduce the risk of exceeding the trawl allocation and the 2015 ACL of canary rockfish. The closed area implemented by this rule needed to be in effect during the remainder of the 2015 fishery to shift midwater trawl effort in the Shorebased IFQ Program into deeper waters where they are less likely to catch canary rockfish. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this depth restriction was impracticable because NMFS had insufficient time to provide prior notice and the opportunity for public comment between the time the information about catch of canary rockfish became available and when restrictions were determined to be necessary to reduce the risk of further exceeding the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation, and also reduce the risk of exceeding the 2015 canary rockfish trawl allocation and the ACL. Failure to respond with a depth restriction in a timely manner to reduce the amount by which the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation for canary rockfish was exceeded would be contrary to the public interest, as it may have required more restrictive measures, perhaps even closure of the fishery, if higher than anticipated harvest of canary rockfish continued. For the actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would prevent NMFS from managing fisheries using the best available science to prevent overfishing in accordance with the PCGFMP and applicable law. Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would impair achievement of the PCGFMP goals and objectives of managing for appropriate harvest levels while providing for year- E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations round fishing and marketing opportunities. Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Dated: December 24, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries. 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. Tables 1 North and 1 South to part 660, subpart D, are revised to read as follows: ■ tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81775 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 81776 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Table 1 (North) to Part 660, Subpart D -- Limited Entry Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Landing Allowances for non-IFQ Species and Pacific Whiting North of 40°1 0' N. Lat. This table describes Rockfish Conservation Areas for vessels using groundfish trawl gear. This table describes incidental landing allowances for vessels registered to a Federal limited entry trawl permit and using groundfish trawl or groundfish non-trawl gears to harvest individual fishing quota (IFQ) species. Other Limits and Requirements Apply-- Read§ 660.10- § 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA)1/: MAR-APR MAY-JUN I I shore- JUL-AUG SEP-OCT I I shore- 200 fm m odified 21 200 fm line 11 r 1 North of 48'1 0' N. lat. 2 48'10' N. lat.- 45°46' N. lat. 45'46' N. lat.- 40•10' N. lat. NOV-DEC I I shore- shore - 200 fm 100 fm line 11 - 150 fm line 11 3 01012016 100 fm line11 - modified21 200 fm line11 shore- 150 fm line11 line 11 modified21 200 fm line11 line 11 Selective flatfish trawl gear is required shoreward of the RCA; all bottom trawl gear (large footrope, selective flatfish trawl, and small footrope trawl gear) is permitted seaward of the RCA Large footrope and small footrope trawl gears (except for selective flatfish trawl gear) are prohibited shoreward of the RCA Midwater trawl gear is permitted only for vessels participating in the primary whiting season. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish non-trawl gears, under gear switching provisions at § 660.140, are subject to the limited entry groundfish trawl fishery landing allowances in this table, regardless of the type of fishing gear used. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish non-trawl gears, under gear switching provisions at§ 660.140, are subject to the limited entry fixed gear non-trawl RCA, as described in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E. -1 )> m r- See§ 660.60, § 660.130, and§ 660.140 for Additional Gear, Trip Limit, and Conservation Area Requirements and Restrictions. See§§ 660.70-660.74 and§§ 660.76-660.79 for Conservation Area Descriptions and Coordinates (including RCAs, YRCA, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). m State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictive than federal trip limits, particularly in waters off Oregon and California. ...J. Minor Nearshore Rockfish & Black 4 rockfish 300 lb/ month 0 midwater trawl 6 7 large & small footrope gear Before the primary whiting season: CLOSED.-- During the primary season: mid-water trawl permitted in the RCA See §660.131 for season and trip limit details. -- Mer the primary whiting season: CLOSED. Before the primary whiting season: 20,000 lb/trip. -- During the primary season: 10,000 lb/trip. -- Mer the primary whiting season: 10,000 lb/trip. I B Cabezon41 9 I I North of 46°16' N. lat. 10 I I I 35,000 lb/2 months 10,000 lb/2 months :::r 5,000 lb/2 months Unlimited 46°16' N. lat.- 40°10' N. lat. 50 lb/month 11 Shortbelly Unlimited 12 Spiny dogfish 60,000 lb/ month 5,000 lb/2 months 13 Big skate 25,000 lb/2 months 30,000 lb/2 months 14 Longnose skate 15 Other Fish ... .... z 5 Whiting 31 Unlimited Unlimited 41 I I I I I I I I 1/ The Rockfish Conservation kea is an area closed to fishing by particular gear types, bounded by lines specifically defined by latitude and longitude !coordinates set out at~~ 660.71-660.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours, and the boundarv lines that define the RCA may close areas !that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to the RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA, or operate in the IRCA for any purpose other than transiting. 2/ The "modified" fathom lines are modified to exclude certain petrale sole areas from the RCA 3/ As specificed at §660.131(d), when fishing in the Eureka kea, no more than 10,000 lb of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a vessel that, at any time during the fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area shoreward of 100 fm contour. 41 "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling, leopard shark, and cabezon in Washington VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.000</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 follows: PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.001</GPH> 3. Tables 2 North and 2 South to part 660, subpart E, are revised to read as ■ 81777 81778 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations ~ 0::: ou I I MAY-JUN JUL-AUG SEP-OCT I I I Other limits and requirements apply-- Read §§660.10 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB I Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA)11 : I I MAR-APR I I I shoreline - 100 1m line 11 North of 46 "16' N. lat. 1 1012016 NOV-DEC 2 46.16' N.lat.- 42"00' N.lat. 30 fm line11 - 100 fm line11 3 42"00' N.lat.- 40.10' N.lat. 30 fm line11 - 100 fm line11 See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictiw than Federal trip limits or seasons, particularly in waters off Oregon and Galifomia. Min or Slope Rockfish" & Darkblotched rockfish 4 5 Pacific ocean perch 6 4,000 lb/2 months Sable fish 1,800 lb/2 months 1,275 lb/week, not to exceed 3,375 lb/ 2 months 7 Longspine thomyhead 8 Shortspine thornyhead -1 10,000 lb/2 months I 2,000 lb/2 months )> 2,500 lb/2 months m 9 ~ 11 ~ 5,000 lb/ month Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry flounder, Other Flatfish 31 13 14 15 South of 42' N. lat., when fishing for "other flatfish," vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks, which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line, are not subject to the RCAs. Whiting 10,000 lb/trip 16 Minor Shelf Rockfish", Shortbelly, Widow & Yellowtail rockfish 200 lb/ month 17 Canary rockfish CLOSED 18 Yelloweye rockfish CLOSED 19 Min or Nearshore Rockfish & Black rockfish r m ~ z 0 ""' :::r 20 21 5,000 lb/2 months, no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish or blue rockfish 41 North of 42"00' N. lat. 42"00' N.lat.- 40.10' N.lat. 22 Pacific cod 24 200 lb/2 months Lingcod 51 23 6,000 lb/2 months, of which no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish 8,500 lb/ 2 months, of which no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish Spiny dogfish 6001b/ month 1,200 lb/ 2 months I 200 lb/ month 1,000 lb/2 months 200,000 lb/ 2 months I 150,000 lb/ 2 months 100,000 lb/2 months 25 Longnose skate Unlimited 26 Other Fish"& Cabezon in Oregon and California Unlimited fishi~g pa~icular gelr I ~ounded Jy ~efined b~ I 11 The Rockfish Conservation Area is an area closed to by types, lines sJecifically latitude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71-660.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours (with the exception of the 20-fm I I depth contour boundary south of 42" N. lat.), and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA or operate in the RCA for any purpose 21 Bocaccio, chilipepper and cowcod are included in the trip limits for Mnor Shelf Rockfish and splitnose rockfish is included in the [~rip limits for Mnor Slope Rockfish. 1. [ J _I .1 I I I .I I I 3/ "Other flatfish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. 4/Forblahkrockfish north ofCapeAiava (48'09.50' N.lat.), and between Destruction Is. (47'40' N.lat.) and LeadbetterPnt. (46'38.17' N.lat.), there is an additional limit of 100 lb or 30 percent by weight of all fish on board, whichever is greater, per vessel, per fishing trip. 51 The minimum size limit for lingcod is 22 inches (56 em) total length North of 42" N. lat. and 24 inches (61 em) total length South of 42" N. lat. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.002</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 6/ "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling, leopard shark, and cabezon in Washington. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. 81779 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Table 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E --Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear South of 40.10' N. lat. Other limits and requirements apply-- Read §§660.10 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB I MAR-APR I MAY-JUN I Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA)11 : 40'10' N.lat.- 34.27' N.lat. 1 I I I I I I SEP-OCT JUL-AUG I NOV-DEC 1012016 I 30 fm line11 - 150 fm line11 South of 34'27' N. lat. 2 I I I 60 fm line 11 - 150 fm line 11 (also applies around islands) See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictiw than Federal trip limits or seasons, particular1y in waters off Oregon and California. 3 4 Splitnose rockfish 5 40,000 lb/2 months, of which no more than 1,375 lb may be blackgill rockfish Min or Slope rockfish 21 & Darkblotched rockfish I 40,000 lb/2 months, of which no more than 1,600 lb Sablefish 6 7 South of 36'oo· N. lat. Longspine thomyhead Shortspine thornyhead 40.10' N.lat.- 34.27' N.lat. 9 10 11 12 -1 1,275 lb/week, not to exceed 3,3751b/2 months 40.10' N.lat.- 36'oo· N.lat. 8 )> [D 2,000 lb/ week 10,000 lb/2 months I 2,000 lb/2 months ~ 14 ~ Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry flounder, Other Flatfish 31 r2,500 lb/2 months 3,000 lb/2 months South of 34.27' N. lat. ~ 17 may be blackgill rockfish 40,000 lb/2 months 5,000 lb/ month South of 42' N. lat., when fishing for "other flatfish," vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks, which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line, are not subject to the RCAs. ~ - (/) 18 Whiting 19 10,000 lb/trip Minor Shelf Rockfish 21, Shortbelly, Widow rockfish (including Bocaccio and Chilipepper between 40.10'- 34.27' N. lat.) 20 40.10' N.lat.- 34.27' N.lat. 21 South of 34.27' N. lat. Minor sheW rockfish, shortbelly, widow rockfish, bocaccio & chilipepper: 2,500 lb/2 months, of which no more than 500 lb may be any species other than chilipepper. 4,000 lb/2 CLOSED 4,000 lb/2 months months 40.10' N.lat.- 34.27' N.lat. 0 s:::: Chilipepper included under minor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, widow rockfish and bocaccio limits - - See above 22 I Chilipepper 23 24 I :::r 2,000 lb/2 months, this opportunity only available seaward of the non-trawl RCA South of 34.27' N. lat. 25 Canary rockfish 26 Yelloweye rockfish CLOSED 27 Cowcod CLOSED 28 Bronzespotted rockfish Bocaccio CLOSED 30 31 VerDate Sep<11>2014 CLOSED 40.10' N.lat.- 34.27' N.lat. Bocaccio included under Mnor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, widow rockfish & chilipepper limits - - See above South of 34.27' N. lat. 750 lb/ 2 months 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 I Frm 00043 CLOSED Fmt 4700 I Sfmt 4725 750 lb/ 2 months E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.003</GPH> 29 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES m Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 4. Tables 3 North and 3 South to part 660, subpart F, are revised to read as tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 follows: PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.004</GPH> 81780 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Table 3 (North) to Part 660, Subpart F -- Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears North of 40"10' N. lat. Jother lim its and requirements apply-- Read §§660.1 0 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : I MAR-APR I I I I I 01012016 MAY-JUN I JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC I I I I I I I shoreline -100fm line" North of 46"16' N. lat. 1 81781 2 46.16' N. lat.- 42"00' N. lat. 301m line 11 -100fm line11 3 42"00' N. lat. - 40"10' N. lat. 301m line 11 -100fm line11 See §§660.60, 660.330 and 660.333 for additional gear, trip linit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictiw than Federal trip limits or seasons, particular1y in waters off Oregon and California. 5 Minor Slope Rockfish" & Darkblotched rockfish Pacific ocean perch 6 Sablefish 7 Shortpine thornyheads and longspine thornyheads 4 8 9 ---w____11_ 12 100 lbl month )> m CLOSED r m 3,000 lb/ month, no more than 300 lb of which may be species other than Pacific sanddabs. Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry flounder, Other Flatfish" South of 42' N. lat., when fishing for "other flatfish,'' vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks, which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to the RCAs. Whiting 300 lbl month 16 Minor Shelf Rockfish", Shortbelly, Widow & Yellowtail rockfish Canary rockfish 17 Yelloweye rockfish 18 200 lbl month CLOSED ""' 42"00' N. lat.- 40.10' N. lat. :::r 5,000 lb/2 months, no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish North of 42"00' N. lat. 20 . . . IB,OOO ,lb/2 lb of which may beno more months, of which than species 8,500 lb/2 months, ofwh1ch no more than 1,200 lb ofwh1ch may be spec1es 1 200 other than black rockfish other than black rockfish 21 Pacific cod 23 I 100 lbl month Lingcod" 22 Spiny dogfish 0 CLOSED 19 w z Minor Nearshore Rockfish & Black rockfish 15 1100 lb/ month 600 lbl month 1,000 lb/2 months 200,000 lb/2 months I 150,000 lb/2 months I Longnose skate Unlimited 25 Other Fish" & Cabazon in Oregon and California 100,000 lb/2 months Unlimited VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.005</GPH> 24 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES -1 300 lb/ day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,000 lb, not to exceed 2,000 lb/2 months 13 14 Per trip, no more than 25% of weight of the sablefish landed 81782 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations I Table 3 (North). Continued I 26 JAN-FEB I I I MAR-APR I I I MAY-JUN I I I JUL-AUG I I I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC -1 SALMON TROLL (subject to RCAs Wlen retaining all species of groundfish, except for yello!Mail rockfish and lingcod, as described belo~ )> m 27 28 rm Salmon trollers may retain and land up to 1 lb of yellowtail rockfish for ewry 2 lbs of salmon landed, with a cumulatiw limit of 200 lb/month, both within and outside of the RCA. This limit is within the 200 lb per month combined limit for minor shelf rockfish, widow rockfish and yellowtail rockfish, and not in addition to that limit. Salmon trollers may retain and land up to 1 lingcod per 15 Chinook per trip, plus 1 lingcod per trip, up to a trip limit of 10 lingcod, on a trip where any fishing occurs within the RCA. This limit only applies during times when lingcod retention is allowed, and is not "CLOSED." This limit is within the per month limit for lingcod described in the table abow, and not in addition to that limit. All groundfish species are subject to the open access limits, seasons, size limits and RCA restrictions listed in the table abow, unless otherwise stated here. North w ... z PINK SHRIMP NON-GROUNDFISH TRAWL (not subject to RCAs) 0 :::r Effective April 1 -October 31: Groundfish: 500 lb/day, multiplied by the number of days of the trip, not to exceed 1,500 lb/trip. 29 The following sublimits also apply and are counted toward the owrall 500 lb/day and 1,500 lb/trip groundfish limits: lingcod 300 lb/month (minimum 24 inch size limit); sablefish 2,000 lb/month; canary, thomyheads and yelloweye rockfish are PROHIBilED. All other groundfish species taken are managed under the owrall 500 lb/day and 1,500 lb/trip groundfish limits. Landings of these species count toward the per day and per trip groundfish limits and do not haw species-specific limits. The amount of groundfish landed may not exceed the amount of pink shrimp landed. North n 0 :::::1 rot c. I I I I I I I I I I 1/ The Rockfish Conservation Area is an area closed to fishing by particular gear types, bounded by lines specifically defined by latitude and longitude coordinates set out at §§ 660. 71-<360.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours (with the exception of the 20-fm depth contour boundary south of 42" N. lat.), and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA, or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting. 21 Bocacfio, chilipepper and cowcod rockfishes are included in the trip lim its for Minor Jhe~ Rociish. Splitnose rockfish is included in the trip limits for minor slope rockfish. 31 "Other flatfish" are defined at § 660.11 and include butter sole, cur~in sole, flathead sole, Pac~ic sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. 41 For black rockfish north of Cape Alava (48°09.50' N. lat.), and between Destruction Is. (47"40' N. lat.) and Leadbetter Pnt. (46°38.17' N. lat.), [there is an additional lim it of 100 lbs or 30 percent by weight of all fish on board, whichever is greater, per vessel, per fishing trip. 5/The minimum size limit for lingcod is 22 inches (56 em) t . lat. and 24 inches (61 em) total length South of 42" N. lat. I I I I I VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 I I I ER31DE15.006</GPH> I 6/ "Other fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling, leopard shark, and cabezon in WashingtT To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the nurrber of pounds in one kilogram tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES I Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Table 3I~South) to Part 660, Subpart F --Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and T~ip Other limits and requirements apply-- Read §§660.1 0 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB I MAR-APR I MAY-JUN Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : 1 2 I I I South of 34'27' N. lat. I 40' 10' N. lat. - 34'27' N. lat. Limiti for Opi" Accest Gears south of40°10' 1 N. lat. o1012016 I JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC I I 81783 I I I I I 30 fm line"- 150 fm line" 60 fm line 11 -150 fm line 11 (also applies around islands) See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictiw than Federal trip limits or seasons, particularly in waters off Oregon and California. 10,000 lbl 2 months, of which no more than 4751b may bel10,000 lb/2 months, of which no more than 550 lb may be blackgill rockfish blackgill rockfish -1 200 lbl month )> 40.10' N. lat. - 36.00' N. lat. 300 lb/ day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,000 lb, not to exceed 2,000 lb/2 months South of 36·DO' N. lat. 300 lb/ day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,600 lb, not to exceed 3,200 lb/2 months r- m 3 4 Splitnose rockfish Sablefish 5 6 7 Shortpine thornyheads and longspine thornyheads 8 9 South of 34"27' N. lat. ~ --4--___!L_ ~ 15 16 17 18 3,000 lb/ month, no more than 300 lb of which may be species other than Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry flounder, Other Flatfish" I South of 34"27' N. lat. 1500 lb/2 months I tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 27 VerDate Sep<11>2014 CLOSED I 200 lb/2 months s:::: I 300 lb/ 2 months I CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED 40.10' N. lat. - 34.27' N. lat. 200 lbl 2 months South of 34"27' N. lat. 250 lbl 2 months Jkt 238001 0 1500 lb/2 months Canary rockfish Yelloweye rockfish Cowcod Bronzespotted rockfish Bocaccio 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 en ::::r Minor Shelf Rockfish", Shortbelly, Widow rockfish and Chilipepper 40.10' N. lat. - 34.27' N. lat. 300 lbl 2 months 25 sanddabs. 300 lbl month Whiting 19 26 Pac~ic South of 42" N. lat., when fishing for "other flatfish,'' vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks, which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to the RCAs. 20 21 22 23 24 w CLOSED 50 lb/ day, no more than 1,000 lb/2 months 40.10' N. lat. - 34.27' N. lat. 10 OJ PO 00000 I I CLOSED Frm 00047 I 100 lb/2 months I Fmt 4700 I 200 lb/ 2 months 250 lbl 2 months Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.007</GPH> Minor Slope Rockfish" & Darkblotched rockfish 81784 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2015 / Rules and Regulations [FR Doc. 2015–32884 Filed 12–30–15; 8:45 am] VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Dec 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 ER31DE15.008</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–P

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 251 (Thursday, December 31, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 81773-81784]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-32884]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 140904754-5188-02]
RIN 0648-BF63


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and 
Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures.

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SUMMARY: This final rule announces inseason changes to management 
measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which 
is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan 
(PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant 
groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. This 
document also announces a prohibition on the use of midwater trawl gear 
in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program shoreward of 
the boundary line approximating the 150 fm (274 m) depth contour via 
automatic action, with actual notice (by phone and email) to 
participants, at noon local time, November 26, 2015 in order to reduce 
the risk of exceeding the canary rockfish annual catch limit (ACL).

DATES: This final rule is effective January 1, 2016. The depth 
restrictions for midwater trawl gear were made through automatic 
action, and are published in the Federal Register as soon as 
practicable after they are issued. The depth restriction for vessels 
using midwater trawl gear, which was announced by actual notice (by 
phone and email) prior to implementation, is applicable from noon local 
time, November 26, 2015 through midnight local time, December 31, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew, phone: 206-526-6147, 
fax: 206-526-6736, or email: gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access

    This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the 
Federal Register Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov. 
Background information and documents are available at the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. 
Copies of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the 
Groundfish Specifications and Management Measures for 2015-2016 and 
Biennial Periods Thereafter are available from Donald McIsaac, 
Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 
NE Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503-820-2280.

Background

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council)--in coordination 
with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, 
Oregon, and California--recommended changes to groundfish management 
measures at its November 13-19, 2015, meeting. Specifically, the 
Council recommended a revised schedule of trip limits for big skate in 
the Shorebased IFQ Program for 2016. This rule revises big skate trip 
limits consistent with the Council's November recommendations.
    Before 2015, big skate was managed as a component stock within the 
Other Fish complex. The big skate overfishing limit (OFL) estimate, 
along with the estimated OFLs for the other species in the complex, 
contributed to the OFL specified in regulation for the Other Fish 
complex. Species managed in complexes do not have OFLs specified in 
regulation. The Council recommended, and NMFS approved, the designation 
of big skate as an ecosystem component species, beginning in 2015 (80 
FR 12567, March 10, 2015). As described in the inseason action that 
implemented trip limits for big skate in 2015 (80 FR 31858, June 4, 
2015), new information available during 2015 indicated that harvest of 
big skate was much higher than anticipated and was approaching or 
exceeding the 2014 estimated OFL contribution. The Council recommended, 
and NMFS implemented, trip limits on June 1, 2015, to reduce impacts to 
big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program. Trip limits for big skate were 
further adjusted on August 14, 2015, after review of updated fishery 
information and best available information regarding discard mortality 
of big skate (80 FR 50212, August 19, 2015). As part of the ongoing 
development of the 2017-2018 specifications, the Council is 
reconsidering whether big skate should be reclassified because the 
species may not be appropriate as an ecosystem component species.
    At its November meeting, the Council considered updated fishery 
information and further refined big skate trip limits for the second 
year of the biennial cycle. The Council's Groundfish Management Team 
(GMT) continued analysis of available fishery data to estimate and 
project catch of big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program under 
different trip limit scenarios. The Council considered an apparent 
seasonal fluctuation in both frequency and magnitude of big skate 
landings, with higher catch in the summer and lower catch in the 
winter. The Council also considered feedback from individuals in the 
Shorebased IFQ Program regarding catch patterns and targeting 
practices.
    The Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing, the following 
big skate trip limits in the Shorebased IFQ Program, beginning January 
1, 2016: 5,000 lbs/2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for Period 1; 25,000 
pounds/2 months (11,340 kg/2 months) for Period 2; 30,000 pounds/2 
months (13,608 kg/2 months) for Period 3; 35,000 pounds/2 months 
(15,876 kg/2 months) for Period 4; 10,000 pounds/2 months (4,536 kg/2 
months) for Period 5; and 5,000 pounds/2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for 
Period 6. Best estimates indicate that total mortality of big skate 
through the end of 2016 under this trip limit structure would be 450 
mt, 91 mt lower than the estimated 2016 OFL of 541 mt and 44 mt lower 
than the estimated 2016 ABC of 494 mt.

Depth Restriction via Actual Notice in the Shorebased IFQ Program

    Subsequent to the November Council meeting, higher than anticipated 
catch of canary rockfish occurred in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS 
took automatic action to impose a depth restriction for vessels using 
midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program, applicable at noon 
local time, November 26, 2015. This rule serves as notification of the 
November 26, 2015 automatic action.
    The Shorebased IFQ Program may be restricted or closed, as 
determined necessary by the Regional Administrator, as a result of 
projected overages within the Shorebased IFQ Program, the Mothership 
Coop Program, or the Catcher/Processor Coop Program. As of November 24, 
2015, the Shorebased IFQ Program was projected to exceed the total 
quota pounds available to the sector (2015 allocation, plus surplus 
carryover from 2014) if

[[Page 81774]]

current harvest levels continued and without management action. At 
noon, on November 26, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
prohibited the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program 
for the remainder of 2015, shoreward of the boundary line approximating 
the 150 fathom depth contour (150 fm line). This bycatch reduction 
measure was taken as an automatic action, per regulations at 50 CFR 
660.140(a)(3), to reduce potential impacts on canary rockfish, an 
overfished species subject to rebuilding requirements under the 
Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. NMFS provided 
actual notice of the closure to participants by phone and email. In 
addition, NMFS posted on the West Coast Region's internet site to 
provide notice to the affected fishers. Implementation of the 
prohibition on using midwater trawl gear (cease fishing) shoreward of 
the 150 fm line was effective 22 hours after the Public Notice, to 
allow for additional time for the public to become aware of the change 
in depth restrictions.
    The Shorebased IFQ Program has a 2015 allocation of 43.26 mt of 
canary rockfish (with surplus carryover pounds from 2014: 47.28 mt). 
Higher than anticipated catch of canary rockfish occurred in the 
Shorebased IFQ Program by vessels using midwater trawl gear, exceeding 
the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation. Midwater trawl gear has 
been responsible for an increasing proportion of the annual canary 
rockfish landings in the Shorebased IFQ Program and data from the 
Northwest Fisheries Science Center shelf-slope bottom trawl survey 
indicates that canary rockfish are distributed overwhelmingly shoreward 
of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm depth contour.
    Therefore, NMFS implemented a depth restriction for vessels using 
midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program to reduce the risk of 
exceeding the total amount of canary rockfish available the Shorebased 
IFQ Program, total trawl allocation, and the canary rockfish ACL, 
through the end of the year.

Technical Edits

LEFG and OA Sablefish Trip Limits

    Regulatory changes published in this rule also clarify, but do not 
revise, sablefish trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear and open 
access fisheries north of 36[deg] N. lat. The 2016 sablefish ACL is 
higher than in 2015 and the Council recommended and NMFS implemented a 
schedule of slightly higher trip limits for the second year of the 
biennial period, as described in the January 6, 2015 proposed rule (80 
FR 687) and implemented in Tables 2 North and 2 South, Subpart E and 
Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F (80 FR 12567, March 10, 2015). 
Because of the format of these tables, the higher 2016 trip limits were 
published in the footnotes, anticipating that an inseason for January 
1, 2016 would incorporate movement of those trip limits from the 
footnote to the body of the table. This formatting change does not 
revise the 2016 sablefish trip limits for non-IFQ fisheries north of 
36[deg] N. lat. that were described and implemented through notice and 
comment rulemaking. Accordingly, this rule modifies Tables 2 North and 
2 South, Subpart E and Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F by moving 
the schedule of 2016 trip limits, unchanged, from footnotes into the 
body of the tables.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures, based on the best available information. 
This document also serves as notice of an automatic action, based on 
the best available information. Both are consistent with the PCGFMP and 
its implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and 
(d), and 660.140(a)(3) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 
12866.
    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available 
for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, during business hours.
    NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on 
the revisions to groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) 
because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the 
public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to 
waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), 
so that the regulatory changes in this final rule may become effective 
January 1, 2016.
    New analysis regarding projected catch of big skate was presented 
to the Council at its November 2015 meeting. At that meeting, the 
Council recommended that these changes to big skate trip limits be 
implemented January 1, 2016, which is the start of the second year of 
the biennial cycle and the beginning of a cumulative limit period in 
the commercial groundfish fishery off the West Coast. These 
restrictions to the amount of landings must be implemented at the start 
of a cumulative limit period to allow fishermen in the Shorebased IFQ 
Program an opportunity to continue harvesting big skate, but at a level 
that will not exceed the new, lower trip limit that will be imposed in 
January 2016. The trip limits recommended by the Council and 
implemented by NMFS in this action are anticipated to keep catch of big 
skate below its estimated OFL, if implemented on January 1. If the 
recommended limits are not in place January 1, more restrictive 
measures may be necessary later in the year to keep catch of big skate 
below its estimated OFL. There was not sufficient time after the 
November meeting, when the new information was available, to undergo 
proposed and final rulemaking before January 1.
    The depth restrictions in the Shorebased IFQ Program implemented by 
the Regional Administrator via actual notice are intended to reduce the 
risk of exceeding the trawl allocation and the 2015 ACL of canary 
rockfish. The closed area implemented by this rule needed to be in 
effect during the remainder of the 2015 fishery to shift midwater trawl 
effort in the Shorebased IFQ Program into deeper waters where they are 
less likely to catch canary rockfish. Prior notice and opportunity for 
public comment on this depth restriction was impracticable because NMFS 
had insufficient time to provide prior notice and the opportunity for 
public comment between the time the information about catch of canary 
rockfish became available and when restrictions were determined to be 
necessary to reduce the risk of further exceeding the 2015 Shorebased 
IFQ Program allocation, and also reduce the risk of exceeding the 2015 
canary rockfish trawl allocation and the ACL. Failure to respond with a 
depth restriction in a timely manner to reduce the amount by which the 
2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation for canary rockfish was exceeded 
would be contrary to the public interest, as it may have required more 
restrictive measures, perhaps even closure of the fishery, if higher 
than anticipated harvest of canary rockfish continued.
    For the actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording the 
time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment 
would prevent NMFS from managing fisheries using the best available 
science to prevent overfishing in accordance with the PCGFMP and 
applicable law.
    Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place 
that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would 
impair achievement of the PCGFMP goals and objectives of managing for 
appropriate harvest levels while providing for year-

[[Page 81775]]

round fishing and marketing opportunities.
    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to 
waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: December 24, 2015.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, 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. Tables 1 North and 1 South to part 660, subpart D, are revised to 
read as follows:
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

[[Page 81776]]

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[[Page 81777]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.001

0
3. Tables 2 North and 2 South to part 660, subpart E, are revised to 
read as follows:

[[Page 81778]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.002


[[Page 81779]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.003


[[Page 81780]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.004

0
4. Tables 3 North and 3 South to part 660, subpart F, are revised to 
read as follows:

[[Page 81781]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.005


[[Page 81782]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.006


[[Page 81783]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.007


[[Page 81784]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR31DE15.008

[FR Doc. 2015-32884 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P