Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 14773-14800 [2016-06182]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Dated: March 14, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99510–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http:// www.npfmc.org/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: [FR Doc. 2016–06183 Filed 3–17–16; 8:45 am] Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150916863–6211–02] RIN 0648–XE202 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; closures. AGENCY: NMFS announces final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2016 and 2017 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Effective from 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action are available from http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2015, as well as the SAFE reports for previous years, are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it under the MagnusonStevens Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all groundfish species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)). This final rule specifies the TAC at 2.0 million mt for both 2016 and 2017. NMFS also must specify apportionments of TAC, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, and prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21; seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC; Amendment 80 allocations; and Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii). The final harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 26 of this action satisfy these requirements. Section 679.20(c)(3)(i) further requires NMFS to consider public comment on the proposed annual TACs (and apportionments thereof) and PSC allowances, and to publish final harvest specifications in the Federal Register. The proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications and PSC allowances for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI were published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76425). Comments were invited and accepted through January 8, 2016. NMFS received two letters of comment on the proposed harvest specifications with fourteen substantive comments. These comments are summarized and responded to in the ‘‘Response to Comments’’ section of this rule. NMFS consulted with the Council on the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during the December 2015 Council meeting in Anchorage, AK. After considering public comments, as well as biological and economic data that were available at the Council’s December meeting, NMFS implements the final 2016 and 2017 harvest SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14773 specifications as recommended by the Council. Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Harvest Specifications The final ABC levels for Alaska groundfish are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and overfishing levels (OFLs) involves sophisticated statistical analyses of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available while Tier 6 represents the lowest. In December 2015, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Advisory Panel (AP), and Council reviewed current biological and harvest information about the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council’s Plan Team compiled and presented this information in the final 2015 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the BSAI ecosystem and the economic condition of groundfish fisheries off Alaska. NMFS notified the public and asked for review of the 2015 SAFE report in the notice of proposed harvest specifications. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommended an OFL and ABC for each species or species category at the November 2015 Plan Team meeting. In December 2015, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the Plan Team’s recommendations. The final TAC recommendations were based on the ABCs as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the sum of the TACs within the required OY range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million mt. As required by annual catch limit rules for all fisheries (74 FR 3178, January 16, 2009), none of the Council’s recommended TACs for 2016 or 2017 exceeds the final 2016 or 2017 ABCs for any species category. The Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) approves the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications as recommended by the Council. NMFS finds that the Council’s recommended OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy and E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14774 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2015 SAFE report that was approved by the Council. Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications On November 30, 2015, the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (State), established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the BS. The action by the State required a downward adjustment of the 240,000 mt proposed 2016 and 2017 Bering Sea subarea Pacific cod TAC because the combined TAC and GHL was greater than the proposed ABC of 255,000 mt. The maximum permissible TAC after subtraction of the GHL is 238,680 mt for the BS. The BOF for the State established a GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the AI. The action by the State does not require a downward adjustment of the proposed Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TAC because the combined TAC and GHL, 17,600 mt, is less than the proposed ABC. At its June 2015 meeting, the Council recommended reductions to the BSAI halibut PSC limits by 21 percent through Amendment 111 to the FMP. A notice of availability associated with those recommendations was published on October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66486). The specific reductions are 25 percent for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent for non-trawl fisheries. NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111. Upon implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits under this action will be superseded by Amendment 111 and reduced. Changes From the Proposed 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for the BSAI The Council’s recommendations for the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (80 FR 76425, December 9, 2015) were based largely on information contained in the 2014 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries. Through the proposed harvest specifications, NMFS notified the public that these harvest specifications could change, as the Council would consider information contained in the final 2015 SAFE report, recommendations from the Plan Team, SSC, and AP committees, and public testimony when making its recommendations for final harvest specifications at the December 2015 Council meeting. NMFS further notified the public that, as required by the FMP and its implementing regulations, the sum of the TACs must be within the OY range of 1.4 million and 2.0 million mt. Information contained in the 2015 SAFE reports indicates biomass changes for several groundfish species from the 2014 SAFE reports. The 2015 report was made available for public review during the public comment period for the proposed harvest specifications. At the December 2015 Council meeting, the SSC recommended the 2016 and 2017 ABCs for many species based on the best and most recent information contained in the 2015 SAFE reports. This recommendation resulted in an ABC sum total for all BSAI groundfish species in excess of 2 million mt for both 2016 and 2017. Based on the SSC ABC recommendations and the 2015 SAFE reports, the Council recommends increasing Bering Sea pollock by 30,000 mt in 2016 and 30,643 in 2017. In terms of percentage, the largest increases in TACs were for Bogoslof area pollock and BSAI squid. These increases were to account for higher incidental catch needs than were specified in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. The changes to TAC between the proposed and final harvest specifications are based on the most recent scientific and economic information and are consistent with the FMP, regulatory obligations, and harvest strategy as described in the proposed harvest specifications. These changes are compared in Table 1A. Table 1 lists the Council’s recommended final 2016 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ reserve amounts of the BSAI groundfish; and Table 2 lists the Council’s recommended final 2017 OFL, ABC, TAC, ITAC, and CDQ reserve amounts of the BSAI groundfish. NMFS concurs in these recommendations. The final 2016 and 2017 TAC recommendations for the BSAI are within the OY range established for the BSAI and do not exceed the ABC for any species or species group. The apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. TABLE 1—FINAL 2016 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Species Area ITAC 2 OFL Pollock 4 .............................. Pacific cod 5 ........................ asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish ............................. Yellowfin sole ...................... Greenland turbot ................. Arrowtooth flounder ............. Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole ............................ Flathead sole 6 .................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish 7 ..................... Pacific ocean perch ............ VerDate Sep<11>2014 BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Bogoslof ............................. BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00086 ABC TAC 3,910,000 39,075 31,906 390,000 23,400 1,304 1,766 228,100 4,194 n/a n/a 94,035 11,100 165,900 79,562 49,000 17,414 40,529 2,090,000 32,227 23,850 255,000 17,600 1,151 1,557 211,700 3,462 2,673 789 80,701 9,500 161,000 66,250 41,000 13,061 33,320 1,340,000 19,000 500 238,680 12,839 1,151 1,557 144,000 2,873 2,673 200 14,000 5,000 57,100 21,000 14,500 2,500 31,900 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 1,206,000 17,100 500 213,141 11,465 950 1,265 128,592 2,442 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 50,990 18,753 12,325 2,125 28,143 CDQ 3 134,000 1,900 0 25,539 1,374 158 263 15,408 n/a 286 0 1,498 0 6,110 2,247 0 0 n/a Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14775 TABLE 1—FINAL 2016 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Species Area OFL ABC ITAC 2 TAC CDQ 3 Skates ................................. Sculpins ............................... Sharks ................................. Squids ................................. Octopuses ........................... BS ....................................... EAI ...................................... CAI ..................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS/EAI ................................ CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BS/EAI ................................ CAI ..................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,689 693 n/a n/a 690 1,667 n/a n/a 104,749 n/a n/a n/a 50,215 52,365 1,363 6,912 3,452 8,353 7,916 7,355 9,696 11,960 561 179 382 518 1,250 695 555 90,340 30,832 27,216 32,292 42,134 39,725 1,022 5,184 2,589 8,000 7,900 7,000 9,000 4,500 300 100 200 200 875 325 550 55,000 28,500 16,000 10,500 26,000 4,500 125 1,500 400 6,800 7,055 6,251 8,037 3,825 255 85 170 170 744 276 468 49,115 25,451 14,288 9,377 22,100 3,825 106 1,275 340 0 845 749 963 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5,885 3,050 1,712 1,124 0 0 0 0 0 TOTAL ......................... ............................................. 5,324,080 3,236,662 2,000,000 1,791,97 197,225 Northern rockfish ................. Rougheye rockfish 8 ............ Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish 9 ................... Atka mackerel ..................... 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and Amendment 80 species, 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnotes 3 and 5). 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt) is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is reduced by 6.4 percent from the Bering Sea subarea ABC to account for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest level in State waters of the Bering Sea subarea. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the Aleutian Islands subarea ABC to account for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea. 6 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 7 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 8 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 9 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.) TABLE 1A—COMPARISON OF FINAL 2016 AND 2017 WITH PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH IN THE BSAI [Amounts are in metric tons] asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Species Area1 Pollock ................................... BS .................. AI ................... Bogoslof ........ BS .................. AI ................... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI .............. BS .................. AI ................... BSAI .............. Pacific cod ............................. Sablefish ................................ Yellowfin sole ........................ Greenland turbot ................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 2016 proposed TAC 2016 final TAC 1,340,000 19,000 500 238,680 12,839 1,151 1,557 144,000 2,673 200 14,000 PO 00000 2016 difference from proposed 1,310,000 19,000 100 240,000 9,422 1,211 1,637 149,000 2,448 200 22,000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4700 30,000 0 400 ¥1,320 3,417 ¥60 ¥80 ¥5,000 225 0 ¥8,000 Sfmt 4700 2016 percentage difference from proposed 2.3 0.0 400.0 ¥0.5 36.3 ¥5.0 ¥4.9 ¥3.4 9.2 0.0 ¥36.4 2017 final TAC 1,340,643 19,000 500 238,680 12,839 1,052 1,423 144,000 2,673 200 14,000 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 2017 proposed TAC 1,310,000 19,000 100 240,000 9,422 1,211 1,637 149,000 2,448 200 22,000 18MRR1 2017 difference from proposed 30,643 0 400 ¥1,320 3,417 ¥159 ¥214 ¥5,000 225 0 ¥8,000 2017 percentage difference from proposed 2.3 0.0 400.0 ¥0.5 36.3 ¥13.1 ¥13.1 ¥3.4 9.2 0.0 ¥36.4 14776 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1A—COMPARISON OF FINAL 2016 AND 2017 WITH PROPOSED 2016 AND 2017 TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH IN THE BSAI—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 percentage difference from proposed 2016 difference from proposed 2016 proposed TAC 2016 final TAC 2017 final TAC 2017 percentage difference from proposed 2017 difference from proposed 2017 proposed TAC Species Area1 Kamchatka flounder .............. Rock sole .............................. Flathead sole ......................... Alaska plaice ......................... Other flatfish .......................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Skates ................................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squid ..................................... Octopuses ............................. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BS .................. EAI ................. CAI ................ WAI ................ BSAI .............. BS/EAI ........... CAI/WAI ......... BSAI .............. BS .................. AI ................... EAI/BS ........... CAI ................ WAI ................ BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. BSAI .............. 5,000 57,100 21,000 14,500 2,500 8,000 7,900 7,000 9,000 4,500 100 200 200 325 550 28,500 16,000 10,500 26,000 4,500 125 1,500 400 6,500 69,250 24,250 18,500 3,620 8,021 7,970 7,000 9,000 3,250 149 200 250 325 555 27,317 17,000 10,500 25,700 4,700 125 400 400 ¥1,500 ¥12,150 ¥3,250 ¥4,000 ¥1,120 ¥21 ¥70 0 0 1,250 ¥49 0 ¥50 0 ¥5 1,183 ¥1,000 0 300 ¥200 0 1,100 0 ¥23.1 ¥17.5 ¥13.4 ¥21.6 ¥30.9 ¥0.3 ¥0.9 0.0 0.0 38.5 ¥32.9 0.0 ¥20.0 0.0 ¥0.9 4.3 ¥5.9 0.0 1.2 ¥4.3 0.0 275.0 0.0 5,000 57,100 21,000 14,500 2,500 7,953 7,537 7,000 9,000 4,500 100 200 200 325 550 28,500 16,000 10,500 26,000 4,500 125 1,500 400 6,500 69,250 24,250 18,500 3,620 8,021 7,970 7,000 9,000 3,250 149 200 250 325 555 27,317 17,000 10,500 25,700 4,700 125 400 400 ¥1,500 ¥12,150 ¥3,250 ¥4,000 ¥1,120 ¥68 ¥433 0 0 1,250 ¥49 0 ¥50 0 ¥5 1,183 ¥1,000 0 300 ¥200 0 1,100 0 ¥23.1 ¥17.5 ¥13.4 ¥21.6 ¥30.9 ¥0.8 ¥5.4 0.0 0.0 38.5 ¥32.9 0.0 ¥20.0 0.0 ¥0.9 4.3 ¥5.9 0.0 1.2 ¥4.3 0.0 275.0 0.0 TOTAL ............................ BSAI .............. 2,000,000 2,000,000 0 0.0 2,000,000 2,000,000 0 0.0 Northern rockfish ................... Rougheye rockfish ................ Shortraker rockfish ................ Other rockfish ........................ Atka mackerel ....................... 1 Bering Sea subarea (BS), Aleutian Islands subarea (AI), Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI), Eastern Aleutian District (EAI), Central Aleutian District (CAI), and Western Aleutian District (WAI). TABLE 2—FINAL 2017 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 Species Area ITAC 2 OFL Pollock 4 .............................. Pacific cod 5 ........................ Sablefish ............................. Yellowfin sole ...................... Greenland turbot ................. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Arrowtooth flounder ............. Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole ............................ Flathead sole 6 .................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish 7 ..................... Pacific ocean perch ............ Northern rockfish ................. Rougheye rockfish 8 ............ Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish 9 ................... Atka mackerel ..................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Bogoslof ............................. BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... EAI ...................................... CAI ..................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... EBS/EAI ............................. CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... EAI/BS ................................ CAI ..................................... 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00088 ABC TAC 3,540,000 44,455 31,906 412,000 23,400 1,241 1,681 219,200 7,416 n/a n/a 84,156 11,700 149,400 77,544 46,800 17,414 38,589 n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,085 855 n/a n/a 690 1,667 n/a n/a 99,490 n/a n/a 2,019,000 36,664 23,850 255,000 17,600 1,052 1,423 203,500 6,132 4,734 1,398 72,216 10,000 145,000 64,580 39,100 13,061 31,724 7,953 7,537 7,002 9,232 11,468 694 216 478 518 1,250 695 555 85,840 29,296 25,860 1,340,643 19,000 500 238,680 12,839 1,052 1,423 144,000 2,873 2,673 200 14,000 5,000 57,100 21,000 14,500 2,500 31,490 7,953 7,537 7,000 9,000 4,500 300 100 200 200 875 325 550 55,000 28,500 16,000 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 1,206,579 17,100 500 213,141 11,465 447 302 128,592 2,442 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 50,990 18,753 12,325 2,125 27,779 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 255 85 170 170 744 276 468 49,115 25,451 14,288 CDQ 3 134,064 1,900 0 25,539 1,374 39 27 15,408 n/a 286 0 1,498 0 6,110 2,247 0 0 n/a 0 806 749 963 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5,885 3,050 1,712 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14777 TABLE 2—FINAL 2017 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 Species Area OFL ABC ITAC 2 TAC CDQ 3 Skates ................................. Sculpins ............................... Sharks ................................. Squids ................................. Octopuses ........................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... n/a 47,674 52,365 1,363 6,912 3,452 30,684 39,943 39,725 1,022 5,184 2,589 10,500 26,000 4,500 125 1,500 400 9,377 22,100 3,825 106 1,275 340 1,124 0 0 0 0 0 TOTAL ......................... ............................................. 4,935,455 3,128,135 2,000,000 1,790,446 196,895 1 These asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and Amendment 80 species, 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnotes 3 and 5). 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: Inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt) is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is reduced by 6.4 percent from the Bering Sea subarea ABC to account for the State of Alaska’s (State) guideline harvest level in State waters of the Bering Sea subarea. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the Aleutian Islands subarea ABC to account for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea. 6 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 7 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 8 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 9 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.) Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species, except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish for the fixed-gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocations of sablefish and 10.7 percent of the Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 percent of the TAC for Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require that 10 percent of the BSAI VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 pollock TACs be allocated to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA (see § 679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ allocations by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS allocates a pollock ICA of 4.0 percent of the BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2015. During this 16-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 16-year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS establishes a pollock ICA of 2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC after subtracting the 10-percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental PO 00000 Frm 00089 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2015. During this 13-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 13-year average of 8 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS allocates ICAs of 5,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 3,500 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of WAI Pacific ocean perch, 75 mt of CAI Pacific ocean perch, 200 mt of EAI Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt of WAI Atka mackerel, 75 mt of CAI Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of EAI and BS subarea Atka mackerel TAC after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICA allowances are based on NMFS’ examination of the incidental catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2015. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species category that contributed to the non-specified E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14778 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations supplemented from the non-specified reserve because U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the full TAC allocations. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(b)(3), NMFS is apportioning the amounts shown in reserves during the year, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). The Regional Administrator has determined that the ITACs specified for the species listed in Table 1 need to be Table 3 from the non-specified reserve to increase the ITAC for shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ sharks, and octopuses by 15 percent of the TAC in 2016 and 2017. TABLE 3—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENT OF RESERVES TO ITAC CATEGORIES [Amounts are in metric tons] Species-area or subarea 2016 reserve amount 2016 ITAC 2016 final ITAC 2017 reserve amount 2017 ITAC 2017 final ITAC Shortraker rockfish-BSAI ......................... Rougheye rockfish-BS/EAI ...................... Rougheye rockfish-CAI/WAI .................... Other rockfish-Bering Sea subarea ......... Other rockfish-Aleutian Islands subarea .. Sharks ...................................................... Octopuses ................................................ 170 85 170 276 468 106 340 30 15 30 49 82 19 60 200 100 200 325 550 125 400 170 85 170 276 468 106 340 30 15 30 49 82 19 60 200 100 200 325 550 125 400 Total .................................................. 1,615 285 1,900 1,615 285 1,900 Allocation of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that the BS subarea pollock TAC be apportioned, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 4.0 percent for the ICA, as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (C/P) sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10), and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1) (§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)). The AI-directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the AI subarea, the total A season apportionment of the TAC is less than or equal to 40 percent of the ABC and the remainder of the TAC is allocated to the B season. Tables 4 and 5 list these 2016 and 2017 amounts. The Steller sea lion protection measure final rule (79 FR 70286, November 25, 2014) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541, see § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6). In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding BS subarea pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with C/P sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA C/Ps and AFA CVs in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA C/Ps not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector. Tables 4 and 5 list the 2016 and 2017 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 21 through 26 list the AFA C/P and CV harvesting sideboard limits. The tables for the pollock allocations to the BS subarea inshore pollock cooperatives and open access sector will be posted on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Tables 4 and 5 also list seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Tables 4 and 5 list these 2016 and 2017 amounts by sector. TABLE 4—FINAL 2016 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA)1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 A season1 Area and sector 2016 Allocations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES A season DFA Bering Sea subarea TAC 1 .............................. CDQ DFA ......................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................. AFA Inshore ..................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................... Catch by C/Ps .......................................... Catch by CVs 3 ......................................... Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ................................... AFA Motherships ............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 1,340,000 134,000 48,240 578,880 463,104 423,740 39,364 2,316 115,776 Frm 00090 Fmt 4700 SCA Harvest limit 2 n/a 53,600 n/a 231,552 185,242 169,496 15,746 926 46,310 Sfmt 4700 2016 B season1 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM n/a 37,520 n/a 162,086 129,669 n/a n/a n/a 32,417 18MRR1 B season DFA n/a 80,400 n/a 347,328 277,862 254,244 23,618 1,389 69,466 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14779 TABLE 4—FINAL 2016 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA)1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 A season1 Area and sector 2016 Allocations 2016 B season1 SCA Harvest limit 2 A season DFA B season DFA Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................... Total Bering Sea DFA ..................................... 202,608 347,328 1,157,760 n/a n/a 463,104 n/a n/a 324,173 n/a n/a 694,656 Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC 1 ....................... CDQ DFA ......................................................... ICA ................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................. Area harvest limit 7 541 ............................................................ 542 ............................................................ 543 ............................................................ 32,227 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a n/a 760 1,200 10,931 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 3,769 9,668 4,834 1,611 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................... 500 n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector—50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)—40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery. 2 In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/processors. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/ processors sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector. NOTE: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 5–FINAL 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 A season 1 Area and sector 2017 Allocations 2017 B season 1 SCA Harvest limit 2 A season DFA B season DFA asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Bering Sea subarea TAC 1 .............................. CDQ DFA ......................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................. AFA Inshore ..................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................... Catch by C/Ps .......................................... Catch by CVs 3 ......................................... Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ................................... AFA Motherships ............................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................... Total Bering Sea DFA ..................................... 1,340,643 134,064 48,263 579,158 463,326 423,943 39,383 2,317 115,832 202,705 347,495 1,158,316 n/a 53,626 n/a 231,663 185,330 169,577 15,753 927 46,333 n/a n/a 463,326 n/a 37,538 n/a 162,164 129,731 n/a n/a n/a 32,433 n/a n/a 324,328 n/a 80,439 n/a 347,495 277,996 254,366 23,630 1,390 69,499 n/a n/a 694,989 Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC 1 ....................... CDQ DFA ......................................................... ICA ................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................. Area harvest limit 7 541 ............................................................ 542 ............................................................ 543 ............................................................ 36,664 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a n/a 760 1,200 12,706 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 1,994 10,999 5,500 1,833 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00091 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14780 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 5–FINAL 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 A season 1 Area and sector 2017 Allocations SCA Harvest limit 2 A season DFA Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................... 500 2017 B season 1 n/a B season DFA n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector—50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)—40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery. 2 In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/ processors sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector. NOTE: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and nontrawl gear sector (Tables 6 and 7). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the EAI and the BS subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS approves, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel ITAC in the EAI and BS subarea to the jig gear sector in 2015 and 2016. This percentage is applied to the Atka mackerel TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divide the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. Tables 6 and 7 list these 2016 and 2017 Atka mackerel seasons, area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2017 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. TABLE 6—FINAL 2016 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCE, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ....................................................................... CDQ reserve ......................................................... n/a ......................................................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... Total ...................................................................... Total ...................................................................... ICA ........................................................................ Jig 6 ....................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00092 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 28,500 3,050 1,525 n/a 1,525 n/a 1,000 122 18MRR1 Central Aleutian District 5 16,000 1,712 856 514 856 514 75 0 Western Aleutian District 10,500 1,124 562 337 562 337 40 0 14781 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 6—FINAL 2016 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCE, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 BSAI trawl limited access ..................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... Total ...................................................................... A ........................................................................... B ........................................................................... Total 6 ................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... B ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... Total 6 ................................................................... A ........................................................................... Critical Habitat ...................................................... B ........................................................................... Habitat .................................................................. Amendment 80 sectors ......................................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ............................ Alaska Seafood Cooperative ................................ 2,433 1,216 n/a 1,216 n/a 21,895 10,948 10,948 12,349 6,175 n/a 6,175 n/a 9,546 4,773 n/a 4,773 n/a Western Aleutian District Central Aleutian District 5 1,421 711 426 711 426 12,792 6,396 6,396 7,615 3,808 2,285 3,808 2,285 5,177 2,589 1,553 2,589 1,553 0 0 0 0 0 9,337 4,668 4,668 5,742 2,871 1,723 2,871 1,723 3,595 1,798 1,079 1,798 1,079 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10 and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of critical habitat; (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 7—FINAL 2017 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATION OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 Allocation by area Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ................................................................. CDQ reserve ................................................... n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ B ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ B ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... B ..................................................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES ICA .................................................................. Jig 6 ................................................................. BSAI trawl limited access ............................... Amendment 80 sectors 7 ................................. Eastern Aleutian District/ Bering Sea 5 28,500 3,050 1,525 n/a 1,525 n/a 1,000 122 2,433 1,216 n/a 1,216 n/a 21,895 10,948 10,948 Central Aleutian District 5 16,000 1,712 856 514 856 514 75 0 1,421 711 426 711 426 12,792 6,396 6,396 Western Aleutian District 5 10,500 1,124 562 337 562 337 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 9,337 4,668 4,668 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14782 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10 and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of critical habitat; (a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. 7 The 2017 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in December 2016. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and AI TAC to the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. However, if the nonCDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear; 2.0 percent to hook-and-line and pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA); 0.2 percent to hook-andline CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA; 48.7 percent to hook-andline C/P; 8.4 percent to pot CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA; 1.5 percent to pot C/Ps; 2.3 percent to AFA trawl C/Ps; 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl C/Ps; and 22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2016 and 2017, the Regional Administrator establishes an ICA of 500 mt based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2015 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2016 and 2017. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 3,379 mt. The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Tables 8 and 9, and are based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(A) and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 8—FINAL 2016 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Share of gear sector total 2016 Share of sector total n/a ............... n/a ............... n/a ............... n/a ............... n/a ............... n/a ............... n/a ............... 100 .............. 60.8 ............. n/a ............... n/a ............... 48.7 ............. ..................... 0.2 ............... 238,680 ......... 25,539 ........... 213,141 ......... 12,839 ........... 1,374 ............. 11,465 ........... 3,379 ............. 224,606 ......... 136,561 ......... 500 ................ 136,061 ......... n/a ................. ....................... n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. n/a ................. 108,983 ......... ....................... 448 ................ n/a ...................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ..................... n/a ...................................................... n/a ...................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ..................... n/a ...................................................... n/a ...................................................... n/a ...................................................... n/a ...................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B) ..................... n/a ...................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 .................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,581 53,402 228 ..................... 1.5 ............... ..................... 8.4 ............... ..................... 2 .................. ....................... n/a ................. ....................... n/a ................. ....................... n/a ................. ....................... 3,357 ............. ....................... 18,798 ........... ....................... 4,476 ............. Jun 10–Dec 31 .................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................... n/a ...................................................... 219 1,712 1,645 9,587 9,211 n/a 22.1 ............. 49,638 ........... n/a ................. Jan 20–Apr 1 ..................................... 36,732 Gear sector Percent asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES BS TAC .............................................. BS CDQ ............................................. BS non-CDQ TAC ............................. AI TAC ............................................... AI CDQ .............................................. AI non-CDQ TAC ............................... Western Aleutian Island Limit ............ Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 .............. Total hook-and-line/pot gear ............. Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ..................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ............... Hook-and-line catcher/processor ....... Hook-and-line catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA. Pot catcher/processor ........................ Pot catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA ......... Catcher vessel < 60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessel .......................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2016 Seasonal apportionment Seasons E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Amount 14783 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 8—FINAL 2016 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI PACIFIC COD TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Gear sector Percent AFA trawl catcher/processor ............. Amendment 80 .................................. Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ......... Alaska Seafood Cooperative ............. Jig ...................................................... ..................... ..................... 2.3 ............... ..................... ..................... 13.4 ............. ..................... ..................... n/a ............... ..................... ..................... n/a ............... ..................... ..................... 1.4 ............... ..................... ..................... 2016 Share of gear sector total 2016 Share of sector total ....................... ....................... 5,166 ............. ....................... ....................... 30,097 ........... ....................... ....................... n/a ................. ....................... ....................... n/a ................. ....................... ....................... 3,144 ............. ....................... ....................... ....................... ....................... n/a ................. ....................... ....................... n/a ................. ....................... ....................... 4,751 ............. ....................... ....................... 25,346 ........... ....................... ....................... n/a ................. ....................... ....................... 2016 Seasonal apportionment Seasons Apr 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ..................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ..................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ..................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 .................................. Jan 20–Apr 1 ..................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ..................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 .................................. Jan 1–Apr 30 ..................................... Apr 30–Aug 31 .................................. Aug 31–Dec 31 .................................. Amount 5,460 7,446 3,874 1,291 0 22,573 7,524 0 3,563 1,188 0 19,010 6,337 0 1,887 629 629 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after the subtraction of CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2016 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 9—FINAL 2017 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Gear sector BS TAC .................................................... BS CDQ ................................................... BS non-CDQ TAC ................................... AI TAC ..................................................... AI CDQ .................................................... AI non-CDQ TAC ..................................... Western Aleutian Island Limit .................. Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 ..................... Total hook-and-line/pot gear .................... Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ........................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ...................... Hook-and-line catcher/processor ............. Hook-and-line catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA. Pot catcher/processor .............................. Pot catcher vessel ≥ 60 ft LOA ............... Catcher vessel < 60 ft LOA using hookand-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessel ................................ AFA trawl catcher/processor ................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 2017 Share of gear sector total 2017 Share of sector total n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... n/a ......... 60.8 ....... n/a ......... n/a ......... 48.7 ....... ............... 0.2 ......... 238,680 25,539 213,141 12,839 1,374 11,465 3,379 224,606 136,561 500 136,061 n/a .................... n/a n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... 108,983 ............ .......................... 448 ................... n/a ........................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .......................... n/a ........................................................... n/a ........................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .......................... n/a ........................................................... n/a ........................................................... n/a ........................................................... n/a ........................................................... see § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B) .......................... n/a ........................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ....................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .......................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,581 53,402 228 ............... 1.5 ......... ............... 8.4 ......... ............... 2 ............ .................... n/a .................... n/a .................... n/a .......................... 3,357 ................ .......................... 18,798 .............. .......................... 4,476 ................ Jun 10–Dec 31 ....................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ........................................ Jan 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ........................................ n/a ........................................................... 219 1,712 1,645 9,587 9,211 n/a 22.1 ....... ............... ............... 2.3 ......... ............... ............... 13.4 ....... ............... ............... 1.4 ......... ............... ............... 49,638 .................... .................... 5,166 .................... .................... 30,097 .................... .................... 3,144 .................... .................... n/a .................... .......................... .......................... n/a .................... .......................... .......................... n/a .................... .......................... .......................... n/a .................... .......................... .......................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .......................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ......................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .......................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ......................................... Jan 20–Apr 1 .......................................... Apr 1–Jun 10 .......................................... Jun 10–Dec 31 ....................................... Jan 1–Apr 30 .......................................... Apr 30–Aug 31 ....................................... Aug 31–Dec 31 ....................................... 36,732 5,460 7,446 3,874 1,291 0 22,573 7,524 0 1,887 629 629 Percent Amendment 80 ........................................ Jig ............................................................ 2017 Seasonal apportionment Seasons Amount 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after the subtraction of CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14784 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2017 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Sablefish Gear Allocation Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of the sablefish TAC for the BS and AI subareas between trawl and hook-and-line or pot gear sectors. Gear allocations of the TAC for the BS subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-andline or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of the hook-andline and pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the non-specified reserves, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be assigned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries will be limited to the 2016 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries will reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries will remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 10 lists the 2016 and 2017 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 10—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Percent of TAC Subarea and gear 2016 Share of TAC 2016 ITAC 2016 CDQ Reserve 2017 Share of TAC 2017 ITAC 2017 CDQ Reserve Bering Sea: Trawl 1 ............................................... Hook-and-line/pot gear 2 ................... 50 50 576 576 489 460 43 115 526 n/a 447 n/a 39 n/a Total ........................................... 100 1,151 950 158 526 447 39 Aleutian Islands: Trawl 1 ............................................... Hook-and-line/pot gear 2 ................... 25 75 389 1,168 331 934 29 234 356 n/a 302 n/a 27 n/a Total ........................................... 100 1,557 1,265 263 356 302 27 1 Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtracting these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants. The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the AI Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TAC between the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in accordance with Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and § 679.91. The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. Tables 11 and 12 list the 2016 and 2017 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 11—FINAL 2016 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Pacific ocean perch asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sector Eastern Aleutian District TAC .................................................................................. CDQ ................................................................................. ICA ................................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ................................................ Amendment 80 ................................................................. Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ....................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00096 7,900 845 200 685 6,169 3,271 Fmt 4700 Central Aleutian District Western Aleutian District 7,000 749 75 618 5,558 2,947 Sfmt 4700 Flathead sole 9,000 963 10 161 7,866 4,171 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 21,000 2,247 5,000 0 13,753 1,411 18MRR1 57,100 6,110 6,000 0 44,990 11,129 144,000 15,408 3,500 14,979 110,113 43,748 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14785 TABLE 11—FINAL 2016 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Pacific ocean perch Sector Eastern Aleutian District Alaska Seafood Cooperative ........................................... Central Aleutian District 2,898 Flathead sole 2,611 3,695 Yellowfin sole BSAI Western Aleutian District Rock sole BSAI BSAI 12,342 33,861 66,365 Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 12—FINAL 2017 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Pacific ocean perch Sector Eastern Aleutian District TAC .................................................................................. CDQ ................................................................................. ICA ................................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ................................................ Amendment 80 1 .............................................................. Central Aleutian District 7,537 806 200 653 5,877 Flathead sole 7,002 749 75 618 5,560 9,000 963 10 161 7,866 Yellowfin sole BSAI Western Aleutian District Rock sole BSAI BSAI 21,000 2,247 5,000 0 13,753 57,100 6,110 6,000 0 44,990 144,000 15,408 3,500 14,979 110,113 1 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. NMFS will publish 2017 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in December 2016. Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 13 lists the 2016 and 2017 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 13—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 ABC SURPLUS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] 2016 Flathead sole asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sector ABC .......................................................... TAC .......................................................... ABC surplus ............................................. ABC reserve ............................................. CDQ ABC reserve ................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 1 ................................................... Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 1 .. 2016 Rock sole 2016 Yellowfin sole 2017 Flathead sole 2017 Rock sole 2017 Yellowfin sole 66,250 21,000 45,250 45,250 4,842 40,408 161,100 57,100 104,000 104,000 11,128 92,872 211,700 144,000 67,700 67,700 7,244 60,456 64,580 21,000 43,580 43,580 4,663 38,917 145,000 57,100 87,900 87,900 9,405 78,495 203,500 144,000 59,500 59,500 6,367 53,134 4,145 36,263 22,974 69,898 24,019 36,437 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14786 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Reductions to the BSAI halibut PSC limits are expected to be implemented in 2016, pending Secretarial approval of Amendment 111 and the effective date of publication of a final rule. On implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits under this action will be superseded by Amendment 111 and reduced. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and (e)(2), the 2016 and 2017 BSAI halibut mortality limits are 3,675 mt for trawl fisheries and 900 mt for the nontrawl fisheries. Sections 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and 679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes apportioning the non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery categories. Tables 15 and 16 list the fishery bycatch allowances for the trawl fisheries, and Table 17 lists the fishery bycatch allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consulting with the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the IFQ program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 2015, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was approximately 38,149 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of about 3 mt. The 2015 jig gear fishery harvested about 29 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS estimates the jig gear sector will have a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Section 679.21(f)(2) annually allocates portions of either 47,591 or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past catch performance and on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector participates in an approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector, as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2016, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000 and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery as stated in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements, 2016 allocations, and reports at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/bycatch/ default.htm when they become available. Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2016 and 2017 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, to the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program, and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2016 and 2017 nonChinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494 nonChinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSC limit for the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent from each trawl gear PSC limit PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Based on the 2015 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated to be at 18.6 million red king crabs, which is above the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 46.5 million lbs (21,092 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the 2016 and 2017 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance of more than 8.4 million king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of less than 55 million lb (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS red king crab bycatch limit to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC limit, based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. In December 2015, the Council recommended and NMFS concurs that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC limit within the RKCSS (Table 15). Based on 2015 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 329 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2016 and 2017 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 270 million and less than 400 million animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit is set at 0.1133 percent of the BS abundance index minus 150,000 crab. Based on the 2015 survey estimate of 4.288 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 4,708,314 animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern BS herring biomass. The best estimate of 2016 and 2017 herring biomass is 263,098 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on spawning location estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit for 2016 and 2017 is E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 2,361 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 14 and 15. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2015 PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limit to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries are listed in Table 10. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iv) and § 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 18. PSC cooperative quota assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives is not allocated to specific fishery categories. In 2016, there are no vessels in the Amendment 80 limited access sector. The 2017 PSC allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(B) requires NMFS to apportion each trawl PSC limit not assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives into PSC bycatch allowances for seven specified fishery categories. Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors in order to maximize the ability of the fleet 14787 to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors to be considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected start of fishing effort, and (6) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS approves the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 15 and 16 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria. TABLE 14—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS PSC species and Non-trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ2 area1 Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI ...................... Herring (mt) BSAI .................................... Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 .............. C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ....................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ............... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ............... Non-trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ2 900 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 832 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Total trawl PSC 3,675 2,631 97,000 4,708,314 830,000 2,520,000 Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ2 CDQ PSQ reserve2 3,349 n/a 86,621 4,204,524 741,190 2,250,360 393 n/a 10,379 503,790 88,810 269,640 Amendment 80 sector3 BSAI trawl limited access fishery 2,325 n/a 43,293 2,066,524 312,115 532,660 875 n/a 26,489 1,351,334 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) allocates 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and § 679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocates 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits by 150 mt for halibut mortality and 20 percent for crab. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 Section TABLE 15—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI Fishery Categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Yellowfin sole ................................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 ............................................................................................................................ Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ............................................................................. Rockfish ........................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ....................................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ..................................................................................................................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2,3 .......................................................................................................................... Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ................................................................................................ 179 29 19 13 40 2,151 199 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC ........................................................................................................................................................ 2,631 97,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than pelagic trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. 4 In December 2015 the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14788 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 16—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access fisheries Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ..................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .............................................................. Pacific cod ............................................................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ..................................................... 167 0 0 5 453 250 23,338 0 0 0 2,954 197 1,273,886 0 0 2,104 54,298 21,046 293,234 0 0 0 50,816 4,235 1,005,879 0 0 849 42,424 4,242 Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC ............................................... 875 26,489 1,351,334 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 ‘‘Other TABLE 17—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BY CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES [Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI] Catcher/ processor Catcher vessel Non-trawl fisheries Seasons All Non-Trawl Pacific cod .......................................................... Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total ......................... Groundfish pot and jig ........................................ Sablefish hook-and-line ...................................... Total Pacific cod ................................................ January 1–June 10 ............................................ June 10–August 15 ............................................ August 15–December 31 ................................... May 1–December 31 ......................................... n/a ...................................................................... n/a ...................................................................... 760 455 190 115 n/a n/a n/a 15 10 3 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 58 Exempt. Exempt. Total for all non-trawl PSC ......................... n/a ...................................................................... n/a n/a 833 Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 18—FINAL 2016 PROHIBITED SPECIES BY CATCH ALLOWANCE FOR THE BSAI AMENDMENT 80 COOPERATIVES Prohibited species and zones 1 Cooperative Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ........................................... Alaska Seafood Cooperative ............................................... Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 632 1,693 12,459 30,834 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ 650,551 1,415,973 C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 82,136 229,979 Zone 2 137,369 395,291 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMR) To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, DMRs, and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. The DMRs are based on the best information available, including information contained in the annual SAFE report. NMFS is implementing the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18). The IPHC and the Council developed these DMRs for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. Long-term average DMRs were not available for some fisheries, so rates from the most recent years were used. For the skate, sculpin, shark, squid, and octopus target PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 fisheries, where not enough halibut mortality data are available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in the Pacific cod fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default rate. The IPHC and Council staff will analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation from the mean. A discussion of the DMRs and how they are established is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 19 lists the 2016 and 2017 DMRs. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14789 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 19—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Gear Fishery Non-CDQ hook-and-line ............................................................. Greenland turbot ........................................................................ Other species.1 ........................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. Rockfish ...................................................................................... Alaska plaice .............................................................................. Arrowtooth flounder .................................................................... Atka mackerel ............................................................................. Flathead sole .............................................................................. Greenland turbot ........................................................................ Kamchatka flounder ................................................................... Non-pelagic pollock .................................................................... Pelagic pollock ............................................................................ Other flatfish 2 ............................................................................. Other species.1 ........................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. Rockfish ...................................................................................... Rock sole .................................................................................... Sablefish ..................................................................................... Yellowfin sole ............................................................................. Other species.1 ........................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. Atka mackerel ............................................................................. Arrowtooth flounder .................................................................... Flathead sole .............................................................................. Kamchatka flounder ................................................................... Non-pelagic pollock .................................................................... Pelagic pollock ............................................................................ Pacific cod .................................................................................. Greenland turbot ........................................................................ Rockfish ...................................................................................... Rock sole .................................................................................... Yellowfin sole ............................................................................. Greenland turbot ........................................................................ Pacific cod .................................................................................. Pacific cod .................................................................................. Sablefish ..................................................................................... Non-CDQ trawl ........................................................................... Non-CDQ Pot ............................................................................. CDQ trawl ................................................................................... CDQ hook-and-line ..................................................................... CDQ pot ...................................................................................... 11 9 9 9 66 84 82 72 82 84 81 88 63 66 66 83 86 66 84 9 9 82 84 79 84 86 90 87 89 70 86 85 10 10 1 41 1 ‘‘Other species’’ includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 2 ‘‘Other asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Directed Fishing Closures In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator may establish a DFA for a species or species group if the Regional Administrator determines that any allocation or apportionment of a target species has been or will be reached. If the Regional Administrator establishes a DFA, and that allowance is or will be reached before the end of the fishing year, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing for that species or species group in the specified subarea or district (see § 697.20(d)(1)(iii)). Similarly, pursuant to § 679.21(e), if the Regional Administrator determines that a fishery category’s bycatch allowance of halibut, red king crab, C. bairdi crab, or C. opilio crab for a specified area has been reached, the Regional Administrator will prohibit directed fishing for each species in that category in the specified area. Based on historic catch patterns and anticipated fishing activity, the Regional Administrator has determined that the groundfish allocation amounts in Table 20 will be necessary as incidental catch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. Consequently, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species and species groups in Table 20 as zero. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for these sectors and species in the specified areas effective at 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. Also, for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, bycatch allowances of halibut, red king crab, C. bairdi crab, and C. opilio crab listed in Table 20 are insufficient to support directed fisheries. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.21(e)(7), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for these sectors and fishery categories in the specified areas effective at 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. TABLE 20—2016 AND 2017 DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES 1 [Groundfish and halibut amounts are in metric tons. Crab amounts are in number of animals] 2016 Incidental catch allowance Area Sector Species Bogoslof District ......................................... All .............................................................. Pollock ....................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00101 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 500 2017 Incidental catch allowance 500 14790 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 20—2016 AND 2017 DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES 1—Continued [Groundfish and halibut amounts are in metric tons. Crab amounts are in number of animals] 2016 Incidental catch allowance 2017 Incidental catch allowance Area Sector Species Aleutian Islands subarea ........................... All .............................................................. Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea ......... Non-amendment 80, CDQ, and BSAI trawl limited access. All .............................................................. Non-amendment 80, CDQ, and BSAI trawl limited access. Non-amendment 80, CDQ, and BSAI trawl limited access. ICA pollock ................................................ ‘‘Other rockfish’’ 2 ...................................... ICA Atka mackerel .................................... 2,400 550 1,000 2,400 550 1,000 Rougheye rockfish .................................... ICA Pacific ocean perch ........................... 100 200 100 200 ICA Atka mackerel .................................... 75 75 ICA Pacific ocean perch ........................... ICA Atka mackerel .................................... 75 40 75 40 ICA Pacific ocean perch ........................... Rougheye rockfish .................................... Pacific ocean perch ................................... ‘‘Other rockfish’’ 2 ...................................... ICA pollock ................................................ Northern rockfish ....................................... Shortraker rockfish .................................... Skates ....................................................... Sculpins ..................................................... Sharks ....................................................... Squids ....................................................... Octopuses ................................................. ICA Pacific cod .......................................... ICA flathead sole ....................................... ICA rock sole ............................................. ICA yellowfin sole ...................................... 10 200 6,800 325 48,240 3,825 200 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 500 5,000 6,000 3,500 10 200 6,760 325 48,263 3,825 200 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 500 5,000 6,000 3,500 Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish—halibut mortality, red king crab Zone 1, C. opilio COBLZ, C. bairdi Zone 1 and 2. Turbot/arrowtooth/sablefish—halibut mortality, red king crab Zone 1, C. opilio COBLZ, C. bairdi Zone 1 and 2. Rockfish—red king crab Zone 1 ............... 0 0 0 0 0 0 Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea ......... Eastern Aleutian District ............................ Central Aleutian District ............................. Western Aleutian District ........................... Non-amendment 80, CDQ and BSAI trawl limited access. Western and Central Aleutian Districts ..... Bering Sea subarea ................................... All .............................................................. All .............................................................. Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands ............... All .............................................................. Hook-and-line and pot gear ...................... Non-amendment 80 and CDQ .................. Non-amendment 80, CDQ, and BSAI trawl limited access. BSAI trawl limited access ......................... 1 Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679. 2 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. Closures implemented under the final 2015 and 2016 BSAI harvest specifications for groundfish (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) remain effective under authority of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, and are posted at the following Web sites: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/cm/ info_bulletins/ and http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries_ reports/reports/. While these closures are in effect, the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a fishing trip. These closures to directed fishing are in addition to closures and prohibitions found at 50 CFR part 679. Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA C/Ps to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock directed fishery. These restrictions are set out as ‘‘sideboard’’ limits on catch. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 21 lists the 2016 and 2017 AFA C/P sideboard limits. All harvest of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA C/Ps, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 21. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA C/Ps by CVs will not be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps. TABLE 21—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 LISTED BSAI AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSOR GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Sablefish trawl ................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Area/season Retained catch BS .............. AI ................ 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Total catch 8 0 PO 00000 Frm 00102 497 145 Fmt 4700 Ratio of retained catch to total catch 0.016 0 Sfmt 4700 2016 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps 1 2016 AFA C/P sideboard limit 489 331 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 8 0 18MRR1 2017 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps1 447 302 2017 AFA C/P sideboard limit 7 0 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14791 TABLE 21—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 LISTED BSAI AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSOR GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Atka mackerel .................. Rock sole ......................... Greenland turbot ............. Arrowtooth flounder ......... Kamchatka flounder ........ Flathead sole ................... Alaska plaice ................... Other flatfish .................... Pacific ocean perch ......... Northern rockfish ............. Shortraker rockfish .......... Rougheye rockfish ........... Other rockfish .................. Skates .............................. Sculpins ........................... Sharks ............................. Squids .............................. Octopuses ....................... Area/season Retained catch Central AI A season 2. Central AI B season 2. Western AI A season 2. Western AI B season 2. BSAI ........... BS .............. AI ................ BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BS .............. Eastern AI .. Central AI ... Western AI BSAI ........... BSAI ........... EBS/EAI ..... CAI/WAI ..... BS .............. AI ................ BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... BSAI ........... Total catch Ratio of retained catch to total catch 2016 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps 1 2016 AFA C/P sideboard limit 2017 ITAC available to trawl C/Ps1 2017 AFA C/P sideboard limit n/a n/a 0.115 7,144 822 8,000 920 n/a n/a 0.115 7,144 822 8,000 920 n/a n/a 0.2 4,688 938 5,250 1,050 n/a n/a 0.2 4,688 938 5,250 1,050 6,317 121 23 76 76 1,925 14 3,058 12 125 3 54 91 50 50 50 18 22 553 553 553 73 553 169,362 17,305 4,987 33,987 33,987 52,755 9,438 52,298 4,879 6,179 5,698 13,598 13,040 2,811 2,811 2,811 621 806 68,672 68,672 68,672 3,328 68,672 0.037 0.007 0.005 0.002 0.002 0.036 0.001 0.058 0.002 0.02 0.001 0.004 0.007 0.018 0.018 0.018 0.029 0.027 0.008 0.008 0.008 0.022 0.008 50,990 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 18,753 12,325 2,125 6,800 7,055 6,251 8,037 3,825 200 100 200 325 550 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 1,887 16 1 24 9 675 12 123 14 141 6 32 27 4 2 4 9 15 177 31 1 28 3 50,990 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 18,753 12,325 2,125 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 200 100 200 325 550 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 1,887 16 1 24 9 675 12 123 14 135 6 32 27 4 2 4 9 15 177 31 1 28 3 1 Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). 2 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 of part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA C/Ps. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 22 that are caught by listed AFA C/Ps participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps. Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA C/Ps once a 2016 or 2017 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 22 is reached. Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA C/Ps while fishing for pollock will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES TABLE 22—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 BSAI AFA LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS Ratio of PSC catch to total PSC PSC species and area 1 Halibut mortality BSAI .................................................................................................................. Red king crab zone 1 .................................................................................................................. C. opilio (COBLZ) ........................................................................................................................ C. bairdi Zone 1 ........................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00103 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM n/a 0.007 0.153 0.14 18MRR1 2016 and 2017 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 86,621 4,204,524 741,190 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher/ processor sideboard limit 2 286 606 643,292 103,767 14792 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 22—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 BSAI AFA LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS— Continued Ratio of PSC catch to total PSC PSC species and area 1 C. bairdi Zone 2 ........................................................................................................................... 1 Refer 2016 and 2017 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 0.05 2,250,360 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher/ processor sideboard limit 2 112,518 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 2 Halibut AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery September 14, 2007). Tables 23 and 24 list the 2016 and 2017 AFA CV sideboard limits. All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits listed in Table 23. cooperatives in the pollock directed fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes a formula for setting AFA CV groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, TABLE 23—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Amounts are in metric tons] Ratio of 1995– 1997 AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 2016 initial TAC 1 2016 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits 2017 initial TAC 1 2017 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits Species/gear Fishery by area/season Pacific cod/Jig gear ............................. Pacific cod/Hook-and-line CV ≥ 60 feet LOA. BSAI .................................................... BSAI Jan 1–Jun 10 ............................. 0 0.0006 n/a 228 0 0 n/a 228 0 0 BSAI BSAI BSAI BSAI Jun 10–Dec 31 .......................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ............................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ........................... .................................................... 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 219 9,587 9,211 4,476 0 6 6 3 219 9,587 9,211 4,476 0 6 6 3 BSAI Jan 20–Apr 1 ............................. BSAI Apr 1–Jun 10 ............................. BSAI Jun 10–Nov 1 ............................ BS ....................................................... AI ......................................................... Eastern AI/BS Jan 1–Jun 10 .............. Eastern AI/BS Jun 10–Nov 1 .............. Central AI Jan 1–Jun 10 ..................... Central AI Jun 10–Nov 1 .................... Western AI Jan 1–Jun 10 ................... Western AI Jun 10–Nov 1 .................. BSAI .................................................... BS ....................................................... AI ......................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BS ....................................................... BS ....................................................... Eastern AI ........................................... Central AI ............................................ Western AI .......................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... EBS/EAI .............................................. CAI/WAI .............................................. BS ....................................................... AI ......................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... BSAI .................................................... 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 0.0906 0.0645 0.0032 0.0032 0.0001 0.0001 0 0 0.0341 0.0645 0.0205 0.069 0.069 0.0441 0.0441 0.0505 0.1 0.0077 0.0025 0 0.0084 0.0037 0.0037 0.0037 0.0048 0.0095 0.0541 0.0541 0.0541 0.3827 0.0541 36,732 5,460 7,446 489 331 12,725 12,725 7,144 7,144 4,688 4,688 50,990 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 12,325 2,125 18,753 6,800 7,055 6,251 8,037 3,825 200 100 200 325 550 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 31,623 4,701 6,410 44 21 41 41 1 1 0 0 1,739 147 3 821 293 544 94 947 680 54 16 0 32 1 0 1 2 5 1,196 207 7 488 22 36,732 5,460 7,446 447 302 12,725 12,725 7,144 7,144 4,688 4,688 50,990 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 12,325 2,125 18,753 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 200 100 200 325 550 22,100 3,825 125 1,275 400 31,623 4,701 6,410 40 19 41 41 1 1 0 0 1,739 147 3 821 293 544 94 947 676 52 16 0 32 1 0 1 2 5 1,196 207 7 488 22 Pacific cod pot gear CV ...................... Pacific cod CV < 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Pacific cod trawl gear CV .................... Sablefish trawl gear ............................. Atka mackerel ...................................... Rock sole ............................................. Greenland turbot ................................. Arrowtooth flounder ............................. Kamchatka flounder ............................ Alaska plaice ....................................... Other flatfish ........................................ Flathead sole ....................................... Pacific ocean perch ............................. Northern rockfish ................................. Shortraker rockfish .............................. Rougheye rockfish ............................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Other rockfish ...................................... Skates .................................................. Sculpins ............................................... Sharks ................................................. Squids .................................................. Octopuses ........................................... 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, and rock sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00104 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 24 that are caught by AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery for groundfish other than pollock will accrue against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA CVs. Sections 679.21(d)(7) and 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA CVs once a 2016 or 2017 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 24 is reached. The PSC that is caught by 14793 AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in the BSAI will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/ Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). TABLE 24—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut ............................................................. 2016 and 2017 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 2016 and 2017 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.299 0.168 0.33 0.186 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 86,621 4,204,524 741,190 2,250,360 887 2 101 228 0 2 5 25,900 706,360 244,593 418,567 Pacific cod trawl ............................................. Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot .................... Yellowfin sole total ......................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 4 ........... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth/sablefish 5 ......... Rockfish .......................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 6 ........... n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. Red king crab Zone 1 ..................................... C. opilio COBLZ .............................................. C. bairdi Zone 1 .............................................. C. bairdi Zone 2 .............................................. 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). 3 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 5 Arrowtooth for PSC monitoring includes Kamchatka flounder. 6 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. 2 Target AFA Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel Sideboard Directed Fishing Closures Based on historical catch patterns, the Regional Administrator has determined that many of the AFA C/P and CV sideboard limits listed in Tables 25 and 26 are necessary as incidental catch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iv), the Regional Administrator establishes the sideboard limits listed in Tables 25 and 26 as DFAs. Because many of these DFAs will be reached before the end of 2016, the Regional Administrator has determined, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), that NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by listed AFA C/Ps for the species in the specified areas set out in Table 25, and directed fishing by nonexempt AFA CVs for the species in the specified areas set out in Table 26. TABLE 25—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR SIDEBOARD DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Area Gear types Sablefish trawl .................................................. BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BS .................................................................... Eastern AI ........................................................ Central AI ......................................................... Western AI ....................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. EBS/EAI ........................................................... CAI/WAI ........................................................... BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. 2017 Sideboard limit 8 0 1,887 17 1 24 9 12 123 675 14 141 6 32 27 4 2 4 9 15 177 7 0 1,887 16 1 24 9 12 123 675 14 135 6 32 27 4 2 4 9 15 177 trawl ............. trawl ............. all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ Rock sole ......................................................... Greenland turbot .............................................. Arrowtooth flounder .......................................... Kamchatka flounder ......................................... Alaska plaice .................................................... Other flatfish 2 ................................................... Flathead sole ................................................... Pacific ocean perch ......................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 2016 Sideboard limit Northern rockfish .............................................. Shortraker rockfish ........................................... Rougheye rockfish ........................................... Other rockfish 3 ................................................. Skates .............................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00105 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14794 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 25—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSOR SIDEBOARD DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Area Sculpins ............................................................ Sharks .............................................................. Squids .............................................................. Octopuses ........................................................ BSAI BSAI BSAI BSAI Gear types ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. all all all all 2016 Sideboard limit 2017 Sideboard limit 31 1 28 3 31 1 28 3 ................ ................ ................ ................ 1 Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679. flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut, Alaska plaice, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 3 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. 2 ‘‘Other TABLE 26—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL SIDEBOARD DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Area Gear types .......................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. 2016 Sideboard limit 2017 Sideboard limit 0 0 12 12 3 3 0 44 21 82 2 0 147 3 821 293 544 94 947 1,739 680 54 16 0 32 1 0 1 2 5 1,196 207 7 488 22 0 40 19 82 2 0 147 3 821 293 544 94 947 1,739 676 52 16 0 32 1 0 1 2 5 1,196 207 7 488 22 hook-and-line CV ≥ 60 feet LOA. pot CV ≥ 60 feet LOA. hook-and-line or pot CV < 60 feet LOA. jig ................ trawl ............ trawl ............. all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ all ................ BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. Sablefish .......................................................... Atka mackerel .................................................. Greenland turbot .............................................. Arrowtooth flounder .......................................... Kamchatka flounder ......................................... Alaska plaice .................................................... Other flatfish 2 ................................................... Flathead sole ................................................... Rock sole ......................................................... Pacific ocean perch ......................................... Northern rockfish .............................................. Shortraker rockfish ........................................... Rougheye rockfish ........................................... Other rockfish 3 ................................................. Skates .............................................................. Sculpins ............................................................ Sharks .............................................................. Squids .............................................................. Octopuses ........................................................ BSAI ................................................................. BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... Eastern AI/BS .................................................. Central AI ......................................................... Western AI ....................................................... BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BS .................................................................... Eastern AI ........................................................ Central AI ......................................................... Western AI ....................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BS/EAI ............................................................. CAI/WAI ........................................................... BS .................................................................... AI ..................................................................... BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. BSAI ................................................................. 1 Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679. flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut, Alaska plaice, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder. 3 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 2 ‘‘Other Response to Comments NMFS received two letters with fourteen substantive comments during the public comment period for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 proposed BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. No changes were made to the final rule in response to comment letters received. NMFS’ response to the PO 00000 Frm 00106 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 public comments on the proposed BSAI groundfish harvest specifications is provided below. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Comment 1: The allocation of the sablefish TAC between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea should be revised to match the allocation percentages used to apportion the Aleutian Islands sablefish TAC. That would mean that the Bering Sea sablefish TAC would be allocated 25 percent to trawl gear and 75 percent to hook-and-line or pot gear, rather than allocating 50 percent of the Bering Sea sablefish TAC to each gear category. Doing so would decrease the adverse impacts, such as bycatch and habitat damage, that trawl gear would have in the Bering Sea sablefish fishery. Response: The allocation of the BSAI sablefish TACs between trawl gear and hook-and-line gear or pot gear is required by regulations at § 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv). Revising these allocations is outside of the scope of this action. Comment 2: The use of trawl gear to catch sablefish in the BSAI results in the bycatch of other species and destruction of habitat. Response: Trawl gear is a legal gear type in the BSAI for a variety of groundfish species. Pelagic and nonpelagic trawl gears are authorized under both the FMP and regulations at 50 CFR part 679. Additionally, most of the sablefish harvested in the BSAI is caught by hook-and-line or pot gear, not trawl gear. The catch reports on the Alaska Region’s Web site show that from 2010 through 2015 the highest trawl catch was 18 percent of the Bering Sea trawl gear TAC compared to hookand-line or pot gear at 63 percent of the Bering Sea hook-and-line or pot gear TAC (see https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries-catchlandings). The Council and NMFS have taken a variety of measures to control the use of trawl gear and the impacts of trawl gear on non-target species and habitat. Examples of the former include prohibiting the use of trawl gear or certain types of trawl gear in some groundfish fisheries and requiring that the trawl sweeps of nonpelagic trawl gear be elevated a minimum distance off the sea floor (75 FR 61642, October 6, 2010). The Council and NMFS have also established a variety of restrictions and prohibitions associated with bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries, including prohibitions against directing fishing for some species, as well as regulations designed to minimize the bycatch of prohibited species by trawl gear. Examples of habitat conservation measures include identifying essential fish habitat and establishing geographic area closures to trawl gear. The use of trawl gear in the BSAI groundfish VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 fisheries is consistent with the National Standards 1 and 5 of the MagnusonStevens Act, which require the prevention of overfishing while achieving optimum yield from each fishery and consideration of efficiency in the use of fish resources. Comment 3: The Council made a good start toward minimizing halibut bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries by reducing halibut PSC limits through the BSAI FMP Amendment 111. However, the Council and NMFS need to take additional action to achieve further bycatch reduction to comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements. Response: The Council and NMFS are committed to minimizing halibut bycatch in the BSAI consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act obligations to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable and to achieve, on a continuing basis, optimum yield from the groundfish fisheries. Pursuant to section 3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP, the Secretary, after consultation with the Council, considers the following information when evaluating measures to minimize halibut bycatch in the BSAI fisheries: 1. Estimated change in halibut biomass and stock condition; 2. potential impacts on halibut stocks and fisheries; 3. potential impacts on groundfish fisheries; 4. estimated bycatch mortality during prior years; 5. expected halibut bycatch mortality; 6. methods available to reduce halibut bycatch mortality; 7. the cost of reducing halibut bycatch mortality; and 8. other biological and socioeconomic factors that affect the appropriateness of a specific bycatch mortality limit in terms of FMP objectives. Pursuant to section 3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP, annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries are established in regulations and may be amended by regulatory amendment. NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111. The Council and NMFS will continue to evaluate the need to implement additional measures to minimize halibut bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act obligations. In evaluating the need for further halibut bycatch reduction measures, the Council and NMFS must balance, for example, National Standard 9 obligations to minimize halibut bycatch to the extent practicable with National Standard 1 obligations to PO 00000 Frm 00107 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14795 achieve optimum yield from the BSAI groundfish fisheries on a continuing basis, and National Standard 8 obligations to minimize adverse economic consequences on fishing communities to the extent practicable. Comment 4: Halibut bycatch or PSC levels differ among the various groundfish fisheries. NMFS should take into consideration halibut bycatch rates associated with the groundfish fisheries when establishing groundfish harvest limits. Response: NMFS interprets this comment as requesting NMFS to establish TACs based on the relative rates of halibut PSC use among the groundfish fisheries and that groundfish fisheries with higher bycatch rates should receive lower TAC amounts. NMFS disagrees that setting TACs based on halibut bycatch rates would necessarily minimize halibut bycatch to the extent practicable. Annual BSAIwide Pacific halibut bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries are established in regulations. Therefore, while reducing the TAC in a particular fishery may limit halibut bycatch in that target fishery, sectors have the ability to target other species and may encounter higher halibut bycatch rates in those fisheries. Thus, fishing sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit as a result. In addition, it is important for multispecies trawl fisheries to have several options for target species to allow this sector to avoid target fisheries with high halibut bycatch rates. Setting a TAC so low that the directed fishery cannot open limits the ability of sectors to move between target fisheries to avoid high halibut bycatch rates. As described previously in this rule, NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111. Comment 5: The Council approved a TAC for arrowtooth flounder that was 600% higher than the TAC recommended by the AP. Arrowtooth flounder has the highest average halibut bycatch mortality rate of all target groundfish fisheries. Had the Council followed the AP’s arrowtooth flounder TAC recommendation, the TACs could have resulted in higher overall wholesale values and optimum yield for both the groundfish and halibut fisheries. Response: The AP’s TAC recommendations were higher than the Council’s for pollock (34,392 mt), yellowfin sole (6,000 mt), Pacific ocean perch (724 mt), and Atka mackerel (4,500 mt). NMFS has determined that E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14796 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations the Council ultimately recommended TACs that more efficiently utilized fishery resources. The Council considered halibut bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries and the importance of the fishery resources to the fishing communities, while also achieving optimum yield in the groundfish fisheries within the statutory 2 million metric ton limit. As described in response to Comment 4, a significant reduction in the arrowtooth flounder TACs would likely have little impact on minimizing halibut bycatch. Annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries are established in regulations. While significantly reducing the arrowtooth flounder TAC would prevent opening the directed fishery for arrowtooth flounder and would limit halibut bycatch in that fishery, such action would not necessarily minimize halibut bycatch. For example, if a reduced arrowtooth flounder TAC prevents this directed fishery from opening, multispecies trawl sectors that typically target arrowtooth flounder have the ability to target other species. However, the multispecies trawl fishery would have fewer targeting options and a limited ability to move between target fisheries to avoid high halibut PSC in seasons and areas with higher halibut bycatch rates. Thus, the multispecies trawl sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit notwithstanding significant reductions in the arrowtooth flounder TAC. Further, eliminating the opportunity to target arrowtooth flounder may jeopardize continued optimum yield in the groundfish fisheries because the multispecies trawl fishery may be closed early if it is unable to avoid halibut bycatch and reaches the halibut PSC limits during seasons and areas with higher halibut bycatch rates. The Council recognized that some of the AP’s TAC recommendations, including arrowtooth flounder, would not be sufficient to allow for a directed fishery or support incidental catch in other fisheries. In 2015, more than 5,000 mt of arrowtooth flounder was taken in targets other than arrowtooth flounder in the BSAI. At the AP’s arrowtooth flounder TAC recommendation of 2,000 mt, all of the TAC would be taken in other fisheries, NMFS would not open directed fishing for arrowtooth, and would be required to prohibit retention of arrowtooth flounder. This would require regulatory discards of arrowtooth flounder when the TAC was reached. Despite prohibiting retention, the incidental catch of arrowtooth flounder would still exceed 2,000 mt, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 unless catch in the target fisheries with the highest arrowtooth flounder incidental catch (pollock, Pacific cod, and yellowfin sole) were also greatly curtailed. Curtailment of these fisheries may jeopardize continued optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. The Council set the arrowtooth TAC at 14,000 mt to acknowledge that arrowtooth flounder is targeted as part of the annual fishing plan for some of the fleet. Also, arrowtooth flounder is an important ecosystem component as a predator and may impact the biomass of other species. The 2014 arrowtooth flounder stock assessment indicates that nearly half of the adult diet is comprised of juvenile pollock (47%) followed by adult pollock (19%), and euphausiids (9%). The Ecosystem Considerations chapter states predation by arrowtooth flounder has exceeded cannibalism as the largest source of predation mortality of age-1 pollock since 2007. Comment 6: At their October 2015 meeting, the Council stated that it would consider halibut bycatch in making TAC recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest specifications. However, the Council failed to consider halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries when it ultimately made TAC recommendations. Therefore, NMFS’ acceptance of the Council’s recommended TACs for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest specifications would be arbitrary, capricious, and irrational. Response: As stated in responses to Comments 4 and 5, the Council did consider halibut bycatch in various groundfish fisheries in making TAC recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Also, the Council considered the potential effects of groundfish harvest on directed halibut fisheries and the health of the halibut resource, while also recognizing a shared responsibility to maintain the viability of halibut commercial, sport, and personal use fisheries, and the communities dependent on them. Halibut was one of many bycatch species that the Council balanced with the groundfish TACs, and the arrowtooth flounder fishery received the greatest percentage decrease of any species from the proposed harvest specifications. Also, the Council acknowledged the voluntary efforts in 2015 by the Amendment 80 sector to reduce halibut PSC. Comment 7: The proposed groundfish harvest specifications stated that the proposed OFL, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending completion of the final 2015 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for final PO 00000 Frm 00108 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during its December Council meeting. This statement is an admission that the proposed rule is a placeholder. Therefore, the proposed groundfish harvest specifications failed to give adequate public notice and an opportunity for public comment and do not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. Response: The proposed 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications provided adequate notice and opportunity for the public to comment consistent with obligations under the Administrative Procedure Act. NMFS published the Council’s recommended TACs from the October 2015 meeting in the proposed harvest specifications. NMFS explained in the preamble to the proposed harvest specifications that some of the final harvest specifications could differ from the proposed specifications. The preamble stated that changes to the proposed BSAI harvest specifications in the final rule would likely be based on updated scientific information included in the 2015 SAFE, Groundfish Plan Team recommendations, information from the December 2015 Scientific and Statistical Committee and Advisory Panel meetings, public testimony, and relevant written comment. The preamble to the proposed BSAI groundfish harvest specifications also stated that the Council could recommend changes to the proposed harvest specifications if warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range. Finally, the preamble stated that changes in groundfish biomass trends could affect the Council’s recommended final harvest specifications, but that the groundfish harvest specifications must comply with governing statutes, regulations, and the FMP. Based on information provided in the proposed harvest specifications, interested members of the public were aware of issues involved in establishing the final harvest specification levels and therefore had adequate notice of information relevant to the final harvest specifications. The public has had the opportunity to comment on all parts of this process. Comment 8: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 obligations to achieve optimum yield. The AP’s groundfish TAC recommendations would be far more responsive to the Magnuson-Stevens Act National E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Standard 1 because they could have resulted in higher estimated overall wholesale values to the groundfish sector, as well as higher quotas and value in the directed halibut fishery. Response: As mentioned in the response to Comments 4 and 5, the AP’s TAC recommendations are not guaranteed to lower halibut PSC. Also, while in a single year it may be more profitable overall to shift the fisheries to pollock and Atka mackerel, this could significantly reduce revenues or force out of business those fishermen and vessels from the flatfish sector. In years of lower pollock and Atka mackerel abundance, the absence of these vessels could create far smaller groundfish catches, and on a continuing basis create harvests below the optimum yield. Comment 9: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 3. The groundfish and halibut stocks are clearly interrelated in the Bering Sea ecosystem, as is evident by the high bycatch rates in certain groundfish species, which disproportionately impacts the directed halibut fishermen. Response: NMFS interprets this comment as suggesting that NMFS should manage halibut as a unit or in close coordination with the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS does not directly manage halibut or halibut fisheries through the implementation of the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. NMFS implements the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Actions taken by the Council to manage halibut fisheries are developed under the authority of the Halibut Act, and National Standard 3 of the MagnusonStevens Act does not apply. Section 5.2.1 of the FMP describes that the IPHC manages the Pacific halibut stocks in its jurisdiction through regulations implementing the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 U.S.C. 773– 773k). Halibut is not managed under the FMP. However the Council and NMFS manage halibut bycatch limits under the FMP and believe that treatment of halibut as a prohibited species is appropriate. Under the MagnusonStevens Act, it is the Council’s responsibility to recommend management measures that minimize halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries to the extent practicable. As described previously in this rule, NMFS expects to publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 pending Secretarial approval of a final rule to implement Amendment 111 and the effective date of the final rule. Comment 10: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with National Standard 4 obligations to ensure allocations are fair and equitable. The AP’s recommended TACs would have achieved a far more equitable allocation of the halibut resource as a whole. Response: NMFS interprets this comment as suggesting that the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with National Standard 4 because lower groundfish TACs for specific fisheries would have reduced halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries and more fairly reallocated the unused halibut to the directed halibut fishery. NMFS disagrees. NMFS does not allocate halibut through the groundfish harvest specifications. As described in response to Comment 3, Section 3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP requires that annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries be established in regulations and may be amended by regulatory amendment. The halibut PSC limits are not an allocation of halibut bycatch in the groundfish fishery. Rather, the halibut PSC limits impose an absolute limit on the amount of halibut bycatch that may be caught in the trawl and non-trawl groundfish fisheries. NMFS uses the halibut PSC limits to minimize the amount of halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries to the extent practicable. Further, as described in response to Comment 4, a reduction in groundfish TACs would likely have little impact on reducing halibut bycatch. For example, while significantly reducing the arrowtooth flounder TAC might limit halibut bycatch in that fishery, sectors targeting arrowtooth flounder have the ability to target other species. These sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit notwithstanding reductions in the TACs. Therefore, the AP’s recommended TACs would not likely result in reduced halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries or increase the availability of halibut for directed halibut users. Comment 11: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with MagnusonStevens Act National Standard 5. The AP’s recommended TACs optimize harvest by the groundfish sector and PSC reduction. Response: NMFS has determined that the 2016 and 2017 groundfish harvest specifications are consistent with National Standard 5. National Standard 5 requires the conservation and PO 00000 Frm 00109 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14797 management measures shall, where practicable, consider efficiency in the utilization of fishery resources. The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications establish groundfish harvest limits that result in as efficient a fishery as is practicable. The BSAI harvest specifications allow for the combined groundfish fisheries to harvest up to the statutory 2 million metric ton OY limit with the least amount of regulatory discards and economic waste as is practicable. NMFS interprets this Comment 11 as suggesting that the AP’s recommended TAC reductions for some groundfish species and increases in TACs for other groundfish species would have resulted in greater halibut PSC reduction and greater efficiency in the utilization of the BSAI groundfish and halibut fisheries. NMFS disagrees. While the AP’s recommended TACs would have resulted in different distributions of gains and burdens among the various BSAI groundfish sectors, the AP’s recommended TACs would not have resulted in an increase in efficiency of the groundfish and halibut fisheries. Although significant TAC reductions in some groundfish species would have allowed for increases in TACs for other groundfish species, the AP’s recommended TACs would likely have increased costs for some fisheries and resulted in increased regulatory discards. For example, if NMFS implemented the AP’s arrowtooth flounder TAC recommendation, NMFS would not open directed fishing for arrowtooth and would reserve the 2,000 mt arrowtooth TAC for incidental take in other directed fisheries. Incidental take of arrowtooth in other fisheries would likely reach the 2,000 mt TAC early in the fishing season. Pursuant to § 679.20(d)(2), NMFS would require that arrowtooth flounder be treated as a prohibited species for the remainder of the year, and incidental catch arrowtooth flounder would be required to be discarded. Further, as stated in response to Comments 4 and 5, the AP’s recommended TAC reductions would not contribute to the objective of reducing halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries. While significant TAC reductions in particular fisheries may limit halibut bycatch in those target fisheries, sectors have the ability to target other species and may encounter higher halibut bycatch rates in those fisheries. Thus, fishing sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit. For the forgoing reasons, NMFS has determined that the Council’s recommended BSAI E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14798 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations groundfish TACs provide for as efficient a fishery as is practicable. Comment 12: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with MagnusonStevens Act National Standard 6 obligations to take into account contingencies in the fisheries and fishery resources. The BSAI halibut fishery and dependent halibut fishermen and communities are facing an extraordinary situation with low halibut quotas that threaten their participation in the fisheries. National Standard 6 requires an FMP to be flexible and responsive to such variations. The BSAI groundfish harvest specifications do not take this contingency into account. Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications do take this contingency into account. Some of the largest TAC reductions from the proposed rule are in the flatfish fisheries, with arrowtooth flounder having the highest percentage reduction. However, further reducing flatfish TACs could prevent flatfish fishermen from adapting to variations in their fisheries. As stated in previous responses to comments, potentially significantly reducing revenues or forcing out of business fishermen that are dependent on flatfish could jeopardize achieving optimum yield if variations in the pollock biomass produce lower available pollock TACs. Comment 13: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with MagnusonStevens Act National Standard 8 obligations to take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities, their sustained participation in those fisheries, and minimization of adverse impacts on such communities to the extent practicable. The sustained participation of St. Paul and other Bering Sea communities in the halibut fishery is clearly in jeopardy. The AP’s recommendation demonstrated practicable allocations of groundfish TACs that would be consistent with National Standard 8 and could result in higher economic value to the groundfish sector. Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest specifications are consistent with National Standard 8. The impact of the BSAI groundfish fisheries, and in particular the arrowtooth flounder fishery, on halibut bycatch mortality was one of the many environmental and socioeconomic considerations that the Council evaluated in making the TAC recommendations for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. In recommending the final TACs for all VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 groundfish fisheries, the Council took into account the importance of both the halibut and groundfish fisheries to communities that depend on them. The Council evaluated the burdens groundfish fishery communities would experience from significant TAC reductions with the benefits of such TAC reductions that would flow to the communities that rely on directed halibut fisheries. NMFS determined that significant TAC reductions in some groundfish fisheries would likely adversely impact communities dependent on groundfish fisheries, potentially increase halibut PSC use, and would provide little benefit to the communities that depend on the halibut resources. Comment 14: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with MagnusonStevens Act National Standard 9 obligations to minimize bycatch and to minimize mortality of such bycatch. The AP’s recommended TACs showed a practicable way to minimize halibut bycatch, resulting in the potential for over 840,000 pounds of savings. Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications are consistent with National Standard 9. As described in several previous comments, NMFS disagrees that the AP’s recommended TACs would have minimized halibut bycatch. The AP’s recommended TAC reductions would have resulted in increased bycatch and regulatory discards of some groundfish species, and potentially increased halibut PSC use. For example, the AP’s arrowtooth flounder TAC would have required the regulatory discard of large amounts of arrowtooth flounder and hindered the ability of some fishermen to reduce halibut bycatch. Further, the Council also considered bycatch of other prohibited species such as salmon, crab, and herring in various groundfish fisheries. The Council and NMFS are committed to minimizing bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act obligations to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable and to achieve, on a continuing basis, optimum yield from the groundfish fisheries. As described in responses to previous comments, NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111 and the publication of the final rule. Classification NMFS has determined that these final harvest specifications are consistent PO 00000 Frm 00110 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 with the FMP and with the MagnusonStevens Act and other applicable laws. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. NMFS prepared an EIS that covers this action (see ADDRESSES) and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the EIS. In January 2016, NMFS prepared a Supplemental Information Report (SIR) for this action. Copies of the EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The EIS found no significant environmental consequences of this action and its alternatives. The SIR evaluates the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish harvest specifications. An SEIS should be prepared if (1) the agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns; or (2) significant new circumstances or information exist relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)). After reviewing the information contained in the SIR and SAFE reports, the Regional Administrator has determined that (1) approval of the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, which were set according to the preferred harvest strategy in the EIS, do not constitute a change in the action; and (2) there are no significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the action or its impacts. Additionally, the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications will result in environmental impacts within the scope of those analyzed and disclosed in the EIS. Therefore, supplemental NEPA documentation is not necessary to implement the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that, when an agency promulgates a final rule under section 553 of Title 5 of the United States Code, after being required by that section, or any other law, to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency shall prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA). Section 604 describes the required contents of a FRFA: (1) A statement of the need for, and objectives of, the rule; (2) a statement of the significant issues raised by the public comments in E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations response to the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a statement of the assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made in the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration in response to the proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a description of and an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule will apply or an explanation of why no such estimate is available; (5) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities which will be subject to the requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report or record; (6) a description of the steps the agency has taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which affect the impact on small entities was rejected. A description of this action, its purpose, and its legal basis are contained at the beginning of the preamble to this final rule and are not repeated here. NMFS published the proposed rule on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76425). The rule was accompanied by an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), which was summarized in the proposed rule. The comment period closed on January 8, 2016. No comments were received on the IRFA. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that receive allocations of groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI, and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters, during the annual harvest specifications process. These directly regulated entities include the groundfish CVs and C/Ps active in these areas. Direct allocations of groundfish are also made to certain organizations, including the CDQ groups, AFA C/P and inshore CV sectors, Aleut Corporation, and Amendment 80 cooperatives. These entities are, therefore, also considered directly regulated. The Small Business Administration has established size standards for all major industry sectors in the United States. A business primarily involved in VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $20.5 million, for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The IRFA estimates the number of harvesting vessels that are considered small entities, but these estimates may overstate the number of small entities because (1) some vessels may also be active as tender vessels in the salmon fishery, fish in areas other than Alaska and the West Coast, or generate revenue from other non-fishing sources; and (2) all affiliations are not taken into account, especially if the vessel has affiliations not tracked in available data (i.e., ownership of multiple vessel or affiliation with processors) and may be misclassified as a small entity. Because some catcher vessels and catcher/processors meet this size standard, they are considered to be small entities for the purposes of this analysis. The estimated directly regulated small entities include approximately 190 catcher vessels, two catcher/processors, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or crab rationalization cooperatives, and, since under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $20.5 million’’ threshold, they are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. Thus, the estimate of 190 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $446,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.31 million for small pot vessels, and $2.28 million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/ processors is confidential; however, in 2014, NMFS estimates that there are two catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less than $20.5. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements. The significant alternatives were those considered as alternative harvest strategies when the Council selected its preferred harvest strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These included the following: • Alternative 1: Set TAC to produce fishing mortality rates, F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TAC is constrained by the OY established in the FMPs. This is equivalent to setting TAC to produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible ABC, as PO 00000 Frm 00111 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14799 constrained by OY. The term ‘‘maxFABC’’ refers to the maximum permissible value of FABC under Amendment 56 to the groundfish FMPs. Historically, the TAC has been set at or below the ABC; therefore, this alternative represents a likely upper limit for setting the TAC within the OY and ABC limits. • Alternative 3: For species in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, set TAC to produce F equal to the most recent 5-year average actual F. For species in Tiers 4, 5, and 6, set TAC equal to the most recent 5-year average actual catch. For stocks with a high level of scientific information, TAC would be set to produce harvest levels equal to the most recent 5-year average actual fishing mortality rates. For stocks with insufficient scientific information, TAC would be set equal to the most recent 5-year average actual catch. This alternative recognizes that for some stocks, catches may fall well below ABC, and recent average F may provide a better indicator of actual F than FABC does. • Alternative 4: (1) Set TAC for rockfish species in Tier 3 at F75%. Set TAC for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M. Set spatially explicit TAC for shortraker and rougheye rockfish in the BSAI. (2) Taking the rockfish TAC as calculated above, reduce all other TAC by a proportion that does not vary across species, so that the sum of all TAC, including rockfish TAC, is equal to the lower bound of the area OY (1,400,000 mt in the BSAI). This alternative sets conservative and spatially explicit TAC for rockfish species that are long-lived and late to mature, and sets conservative TAC for the other groundfish species. • Alternative 5: Set TAC at zero. Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative chosen by the Council: Set TAC that fall within the range of ABC recommended through the Council harvest specifications process and TACs recommended by the Council. Under this scenario, F is set equal to a constant fraction of maxFABC. The recommended fractions of maxFABC may vary among species or stocks, based on other considerations unique to each. This is the method for determining TAC that has been used in the past. Alternatives 1, 3, 4, and 5 do not meet the objectives of this action, although they have a smaller adverse economic impact on small entities than the preferred alternative. The Council rejected these alternatives as harvest strategies in 2006, and the Secretary of Commerce did so in 2007. Alternative 1 would lead to TAC limits whose sum exceeds the fishery OY, which is set out in statute and the FMP. As shown in E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14800 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Table 1 and Table 2, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 would be 3,236,662 and 3,143,135 million mt, respectively. Both of these are substantially in excess of the fishery OY for the BSAI. This result would be inconsistent with the objectives of this action, in that it would violate the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004, Public Law 108–199, Section 803(c), and the FMP for the BSAI groundfish fishery, which both set a 2 million mt maximum harvest for BSAI groundfish. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years’ worth of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the most recent 5 years’ worth of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is also inconsistent with the objectives of this action, because it does not take into account the most recent biological information for this fishery. Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species to reduce TAC from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end. This result would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size could be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain, and NMFS has no confidence that they would be sufficient to offset the volume decreases and leave revenues unchanged. Thus, this action would have an adverse economic impact on small entities, compared to the preferred alternative. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities. Impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the EIS (see ADDRESSES). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this rule, because delaying this rule is contrary to the public interest. Plan Team review occurred in November 2015, and Council consideration and recommendations occurred in December 2015. Accordingly, NMFS’ review could not begin until after the December 2015 Council meeting, and after the public had time to comment on the proposed action. If this rule’s effectiveness is delayed, fisheries that might otherwise remain open under these rules may prematurely close based on the lower VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 TACs established in the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). If implemented immediately, this rule would allow these fisheries to continue fishing without worrying about a potential closure because the new TAC limits are higher than the ones under which they are currently fishing. Certain fisheries, such as those for pollock and Pacific cod are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. Other fisheries, such as those for flatfish, rockfish, skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses, are critical as directed fisheries and as incidental catch in other fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating the final TAC limits in these fisheries would cause confusion in the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards. Determining which fisheries may close is impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open ones, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries and causing them to close at an accelerated pace. Additionally, in fisheries subject to declining sideboards, delaying this rule’s effectiveness could allow some vessels to inadvertently reach or exceed their new sideboard levels. Because sideboards are intended to protect traditional fisheries in other sectors, allowing one sector to exceed its new sideboards by delaying this rule’s effectiveness would effectively reduce the available catch for sectors without sideboard limits. Moreover, the new TAC and sideboard limits protect the fisheries from being overfished. Thus, the delay is contrary to the public interest in protecting traditional fisheries and fish stocks. If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 19, 2016, which is the start of the 2016 Pacific halibut season as specified by the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. Delayed effectiveness of this action would result in confusion for sablefish harvesters and economic harm from unnecessary discard of sablefish that are caught along with Pacific halibut, as both hookand-line sablefish and Pacific halibut PO 00000 Frm 00112 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 are managed under the same IFQ program. Immediate effectiveness of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications will allow the sablefish IFQ fishery to begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. Also, immediate effectiveness of this action is required to provide consistent management and conservation of fishery resources based on the best available scientific information. This is particularly true of those species that have lower 2016 ABC and TAC limits than those established in the 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). Immediate effectiveness also would give the fishing industry the earliest possible opportunity to plan and conduct its fishing operations with respect to new information about TAC limits. Therefore, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Small Entity Compliance Guide This final rule is a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule’s primary purpose is to announce the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications and prohibited species bycatch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the BSAI. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits and associated management measures for groundfish during the 2016 and 2017 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the FMP. This action directly affects all fishermen who participate in the BSAI fisheries. The specific amounts of OFL, ABC, TAC, and PSC are provided in tables to assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register and information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: March 14, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–06182 Filed 3–17–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 53 (Friday, March 18, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14773-14800]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06182]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 150916863-6211-02]
RIN 0648-XE202


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for 
Groundfish

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

ACTION: Final rule; closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications and 
prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fishery of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2016 
and 2017 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). The intended effect of this 
action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI 
in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Effective from 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 18, 
2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest 
Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of 
Decision (ROD), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and 
the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this 
action are available from http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 
2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the 
groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2015, as well as the 
SAFE reports for previous years, are available from the North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, 
Anchorage, AK 99510-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web 
site at http://www.npfmc.org/.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the FMP and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The 
Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear 
at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all groundfish 
species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 
2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)). This final 
rule specifies the TAC at 2.0 million mt for both 2016 and 2017. NMFS 
also must specify apportionments of TAC, prohibited species catch (PSC) 
allowances, and prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by 
Sec.  679.21; seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka 
mackerel TAC; Amendment 80 allocations; and Community Development Quota 
(CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii). The final 
harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 26 of this action 
satisfy these requirements.
    Section 679.20(c)(3)(i) further requires NMFS to consider public 
comment on the proposed annual TACs (and apportionments thereof) and 
PSC allowances, and to publish final harvest specifications in the 
Federal Register. The proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications and 
PSC allowances for the groundfish fishery of the BSAI were published in 
the Federal Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76425). Comments were 
invited and accepted through January 8, 2016. NMFS received two letters 
of comment on the proposed harvest specifications with fourteen 
substantive comments. These comments are summarized and responded to in 
the ``Response to Comments'' section of this rule. NMFS consulted with 
the Council on the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during 
the December 2015 Council meeting in Anchorage, AK. After considering 
public comments, as well as biological and economic data that were 
available at the Council's December meeting, NMFS implements the final 
2016 and 2017 harvest specifications as recommended by the Council.

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Harvest Specifications

    The final ABC levels for Alaska groundfish are based on the best 
available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected 
biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, 
and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. In 
general, the development of ABCs and overfishing levels (OFLs) involves 
sophisticated statistical analyses of fish populations. The FMP 
specifies a series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts based on 
the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 
1 represents the highest level of information quality available while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest.
    In December 2015, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), 
Advisory Panel (AP), and Council reviewed current biological and 
harvest information about the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. 
The Council's Plan Team compiled and presented this information in the 
final 2015 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated 
November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the 
latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and 
other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available 
information on the BSAI ecosystem and the economic condition of 
groundfish fisheries off Alaska. NMFS notified the public and asked for 
review of the 2015 SAFE report in the notice of proposed harvest 
specifications. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommended 
an OFL and ABC for each species or species category at the November 
2015 Plan Team meeting.
    In December 2015, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the Plan Team's 
recommendations. The final TAC recommendations were based on the ABCs 
as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, 
including maintaining the sum of the TACs within the required OY range 
of 1.4 million to 2.0 million mt. As required by annual catch limit 
rules for all fisheries (74 FR 3178, January 16, 2009), none of the 
Council's recommended TACs for 2016 or 2017 exceeds the final 2016 or 
2017 ABCs for any species category. The Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary) approves the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications as 
recommended by the Council. NMFS finds that the Council's recommended 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy 
and

[[Page 14774]]

the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2015 
SAFE report that was approved by the Council.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest 
Specifications

    On November 30, 2015, the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a 
regulatory body for the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game 
(State), established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters 
between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea 
(BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the BS. The action 
by the State required a downward adjustment of the 240,000 mt proposed 
2016 and 2017 Bering Sea subarea Pacific cod TAC because the combined 
TAC and GHL was greater than the proposed ABC of 255,000 mt. The 
maximum permissible TAC after subtraction of the GHL is 238,680 mt for 
the BS. The BOF for the State established a GHL in State waters in the 
Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod 
ABC for the AI. The action by the State does not require a downward 
adjustment of the proposed Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TAC 
because the combined TAC and GHL, 17,600 mt, is less than the proposed 
ABC.
    At its June 2015 meeting, the Council recommended reductions to the 
BSAI halibut PSC limits by 21 percent through Amendment 111 to the FMP. 
A notice of availability associated with those recommendations was 
published on October 29, 2015 (80 FR 66486). The specific reductions 
are 25 percent for Amendment 80 cooperatives, 15 percent for BSAI trawl 
limited access fisheries, 20 percent for CDQ fisheries, and 15 percent 
for non-trawl fisheries. NMFS will publish regulations implementing 
trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon 
approval by the Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111. 
Upon implementation of the reductions, the 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC 
limits under this action will be superseded by Amendment 111 and 
reduced.

Changes From the Proposed 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for the 
BSAI

    The Council's recommendations for the proposed 2016 and 2017 
harvest specifications (80 FR 76425, December 9, 2015) were based 
largely on information contained in the 2014 SAFE report for the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries. Through the proposed harvest specifications, NMFS 
notified the public that these harvest specifications could change, as 
the Council would consider information contained in the final 2015 SAFE 
report, recommendations from the Plan Team, SSC, and AP committees, and 
public testimony when making its recommendations for final harvest 
specifications at the December 2015 Council meeting. NMFS further 
notified the public that, as required by the FMP and its implementing 
regulations, the sum of the TACs must be within the OY range of 1.4 
million and 2.0 million mt.
    Information contained in the 2015 SAFE reports indicates biomass 
changes for several groundfish species from the 2014 SAFE reports. The 
2015 report was made available for public review during the public 
comment period for the proposed harvest specifications. At the December 
2015 Council meeting, the SSC recommended the 2016 and 2017 ABCs for 
many species based on the best and most recent information contained in 
the 2015 SAFE reports. This recommendation resulted in an ABC sum total 
for all BSAI groundfish species in excess of 2 million mt for both 2016 
and 2017. Based on the SSC ABC recommendations and the 2015 SAFE 
reports, the Council recommends increasing Bering Sea pollock by 30,000 
mt in 2016 and 30,643 in 2017. In terms of percentage, the largest 
increases in TACs were for Bogoslof area pollock and BSAI squid. These 
increases were to account for higher incidental catch needs than were 
specified in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. The 
changes to TAC between the proposed and final harvest specifications 
are based on the most recent scientific and economic information and 
are consistent with the FMP, regulatory obligations, and harvest 
strategy as described in the proposed harvest specifications. These 
changes are compared in Table 1A.
    Table 1 lists the Council's recommended final 2016 OFL, ABC, TAC, 
initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ reserve amounts of the BSAI groundfish; and 
Table 2 lists the Council's recommended final 2017 OFL, ABC, TAC, ITAC, 
and CDQ reserve amounts of the BSAI groundfish. NMFS concurs in these 
recommendations. The final 2016 and 2017 TAC recommendations for the 
BSAI are within the OY range established for the BSAI and do not exceed 
the ABC for any species or species group. The apportionment of TAC 
amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

    TABLE 1--Final 2016 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ Reserve
                                                        Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                               2016
                  Species                               Area             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\...............................  BS..........................       3,910,000       2,090,000       1,340,000       1,206,000         134,000
                                            AI..........................          39,075          32,227          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                            Bogoslof....................          31,906          23,850             500             500               0
Pacific cod \5\...........................  BS..........................         390,000         255,000         238,680         213,141          25,539
                                            AI..........................          23,400          17,600          12,839          11,465           1,374
Sablefish.................................  BS..........................           1,304           1,151           1,151             950             158
                                            AI..........................           1,766           1,557           1,557           1,265             263
Yellowfin sole............................  BSAI........................         228,100         211,700         144,000         128,592          15,408
Greenland turbot..........................  BSAI........................           4,194           3,462           2,873           2,442             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           2,673           2,673           2,272             286
                                            AI..........................             n/a             789             200             170               0
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................          94,035          80,701          14,000          11,900           1,498
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................          11,100           9,500           5,000           4,250               0
Rock sole.................................  BSAI........................         165,900         161,000          57,100          50,990           6,110
Flathead sole \6\.........................  BSAI........................          79,562          66,250          21,000          18,753           2,247
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          49,000          41,000          14,500          12,325               0
Other flatfish \7\........................  BSAI........................          17,414          13,061           2,500           2,125               0
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BSAI........................          40,529          33,320          31,900          28,143             n/a

[[Page 14775]]

 
                                            BS..........................             n/a           8,353           8,000           6,800               0
                                            EAI.........................             n/a           7,916           7,900           7,055             845
                                            CAI.........................             n/a           7,355           7,000           6,251             749
                                            WAI.........................             n/a           9,696           9,000           8,037             963
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          14,689          11,960           4,500           3,825               0
Rougheye rockfish \8\.....................  BSAI........................             693             561             300             255               0
                                            BS/EAI......................             n/a             179             100              85               0
                                            CAI/WAI.....................             n/a             382             200             170               0
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................             690             518             200             170               0
Other rockfish \9\........................  BSAI........................           1,667           1,250             875             744               0
                                            BS..........................             n/a             695             325             276               0
                                            AI..........................             n/a             555             550             468               0
Atka mackerel.............................  BSAI........................         104,749          90,340          55,000          49,115           5,885
                                            BS/EAI......................             n/a          30,832          28,500          25,451           3,050
                                            CAI.........................             n/a          27,216          16,000          14,288           1,712
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          32,292          10,500           9,377           1,124
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          50,215          42,134          26,000          22,100               0
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................          52,365          39,725           4,500           3,825               0
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................           1,363           1,022             125             106               0
Squids....................................  BSAI........................           6,912           5,184           1,500           1,275               0
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................           3,452           2,589             400             340               0
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL.................................  ............................       5,324,080       3,236,662       2,000,000        1,791,97         197,225
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and Amendment 80 species, 15 percent of each TAC is
  put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80
  species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnotes 3 and 5).
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland
  turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ``other
  rockfish,'' skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent)
  and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore--50
  percent; catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships--10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands
  subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400
  mt) is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery.
\5\ The BS Pacific cod TAC is reduced by 6.4 percent from the Bering Sea subarea ABC to account for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest
  level in State waters of the Bering Sea subarea. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the Aleutian Islands subarea ABC to account for
  the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea.
\6\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\7\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin
  sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice.
\8\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\9\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and
  rougheye rockfish.
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian
  district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.)


                        Table 1A--Comparison of Final 2016 and 2017 With Proposed 2016 and 2017 Total Allowable Catch in the BSAI
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             2016                                                2017
                                                                   2016         2016      percentage                   2017         2017      percentage
            Species                  Area\1\       2016 final    proposed    difference   difference   2017 final    proposed    difference   difference
                                                      TAC          TAC          from         from         TAC          TAC          from         from
                                                                              proposed     proposed                               proposed     proposed
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.......................  BS..............    1,340,000    1,310,000       30,000          2.3    1,340,643    1,310,000       30,643          2.3
                                AI..............       19,000       19,000            0          0.0       19,000       19,000            0          0.0
                                Bogoslof........          500          100          400        400.0          500          100          400        400.0
Pacific cod...................  BS..............      238,680      240,000       -1,320         -0.5      238,680      240,000       -1,320         -0.5
                                AI..............       12,839        9,422        3,417         36.3       12,839        9,422        3,417         36.3
Sablefish.....................  BS..............        1,151        1,211          -60         -5.0        1,052        1,211         -159        -13.1
                                AI..............        1,557        1,637          -80         -4.9        1,423        1,637         -214        -13.1
Yellowfin sole................  BSAI............      144,000      149,000       -5,000         -3.4      144,000      149,000       -5,000         -3.4
Greenland turbot..............  BS..............        2,673        2,448          225          9.2        2,673        2,448          225          9.2
                                AI..............          200          200            0          0.0          200          200            0          0.0
Arrowtooth flounder...........  BSAI............       14,000       22,000       -8,000        -36.4       14,000       22,000       -8,000        -36.4

[[Page 14776]]

 
Kamchatka flounder............  BSAI............        5,000        6,500       -1,500        -23.1        5,000        6,500       -1,500        -23.1
Rock sole.....................  BSAI............       57,100       69,250      -12,150        -17.5       57,100       69,250      -12,150        -17.5
Flathead sole.................  BSAI............       21,000       24,250       -3,250        -13.4       21,000       24,250       -3,250        -13.4
Alaska plaice.................  BSAI............       14,500       18,500       -4,000        -21.6       14,500       18,500       -4,000        -21.6
Other flatfish................  BSAI............        2,500        3,620       -1,120        -30.9        2,500        3,620       -1,120        -30.9
Pacific ocean perch...........  BS..............        8,000        8,021          -21         -0.3        7,953        8,021          -68         -0.8
                                EAI.............        7,900        7,970          -70         -0.9        7,537        7,970         -433         -5.4
                                CAI.............        7,000        7,000            0          0.0        7,000        7,000            0          0.0
                                WAI.............        9,000        9,000            0          0.0        9,000        9,000            0          0.0
Northern rockfish.............  BSAI............        4,500        3,250        1,250         38.5        4,500        3,250        1,250         38.5
Rougheye rockfish.............  BS/EAI..........          100          149          -49        -32.9          100          149          -49        -32.9
                                CAI/WAI.........          200          200            0          0.0          200          200            0          0.0
Shortraker rockfish...........  BSAI............          200          250          -50        -20.0          200          250          -50        -20.0
Other rockfish................  BS..............          325          325            0          0.0          325          325            0          0.0
                                AI..............          550          555           -5         -0.9          550          555           -5         -0.9
Atka mackerel.................  EAI/BS..........       28,500       27,317        1,183          4.3       28,500       27,317        1,183          4.3
                                CAI.............       16,000       17,000       -1,000         -5.9       16,000       17,000       -1,000         -5.9
                                WAI.............       10,500       10,500            0          0.0       10,500       10,500            0          0.0
Skates........................  BSAI............       26,000       25,700          300          1.2       26,000       25,700          300          1.2
Sculpins......................  BSAI............        4,500        4,700         -200         -4.3        4,500        4,700         -200         -4.3
Sharks........................  BSAI............          125          125            0          0.0          125          125            0          0.0
Squid.........................  BSAI............        1,500          400        1,100        275.0        1,500          400        1,100        275.0
Octopuses.....................  BSAI............          400          400            0          0.0          400          400            0          0.0
                               -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL.....................  BSAI............    2,000,000    2,000,000            0          0.0    2,000,000    2,000,000            0          0.0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Bering Sea subarea (BS), Aleutian Islands subarea (AI), Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI), Eastern Aleutian District (EAI),
  Central Aleutian District (CAI), and Western Aleutian District (WAI).


    Table 2--Final 2017 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ Reserve
                                                        Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                               2017
                  Species                               Area             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\...............................  BS..........................       3,540,000       2,019,000       1,340,643       1,206,579         134,064
                                            AI..........................          44,455          36,664          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                            Bogoslof....................          31,906          23,850             500             500               0
Pacific cod \5\...........................  BS..........................         412,000         255,000         238,680         213,141          25,539
                                            AI..........................          23,400          17,600          12,839          11,465           1,374
Sablefish.................................  BS..........................           1,241           1,052           1,052             447              39
                                            AI..........................           1,681           1,423           1,423             302              27
Yellowfin sole............................  BSAI........................         219,200         203,500         144,000         128,592          15,408
Greenland turbot..........................  BSAI........................           7,416           6,132           2,873           2,442             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           4,734           2,673           2,272             286
                                            AI..........................             n/a           1,398             200             170               0
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................          84,156          72,216          14,000          11,900           1,498
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................          11,700          10,000           5,000           4,250               0
Rock sole.................................  BSAI........................         149,400         145,000          57,100          50,990           6,110
Flathead sole \6\.........................  BSAI........................          77,544          64,580          21,000          18,753           2,247
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          46,800          39,100          14,500          12,325               0
Other flatfish \7\........................  BSAI........................          17,414          13,061           2,500           2,125               0
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BSAI........................          38,589          31,724          31,490          27,779             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           7,953           7,953           6,760               0
                                            EAI.........................             n/a           7,537           7,537           6,731             806
                                            CAI.........................             n/a           7,002           7,000           6,251             749
                                            WAI.........................             n/a           9,232           9,000           8,037             963
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          14,085          11,468           4,500           3,825               0
Rougheye rockfish \8\.....................  BSAI........................             855             694             300             255               0
                                            EBS/EAI.....................             n/a             216             100              85               0
                                            CAI/WAI.....................             n/a             478             200             170               0
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................             690             518             200             170               0
Other rockfish \9\........................  BSAI........................           1,667           1,250             875             744               0
                                            BS..........................             n/a             695             325             276               0
                                            AI..........................             n/a             555             550             468               0
Atka mackerel.............................  BSAI........................          99,490          85,840          55,000          49,115           5,885
                                            EAI/BS......................             n/a          29,296          28,500          25,451           3,050
                                            CAI.........................             n/a          25,860          16,000          14,288           1,712

[[Page 14777]]

 
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          30,684          10,500           9,377           1,124
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          47,674          39,943          26,000          22,100               0
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................          52,365          39,725           4,500           3,825               0
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................           1,363           1,022             125             106               0
Squids....................................  BSAI........................           6,912           5,184           1,500           1,275               0
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................           3,452           2,589             400             340               0
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL.................................  ............................       4,935,455       3,128,135       2,000,000       1,790,446         196,895
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and Amendment 80 species, 15 percent of each TAC is
  put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80
  species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC (see footnotes 3 and 5).
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, and Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland
  turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ``other
  rockfish,'' skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses are not allocated to the CDQ program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent)
  and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: Inshore--50
  percent; catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships--10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands
  subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400
  mt) is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery.
\5\ The BS Pacific cod TAC is reduced by 6.4 percent from the Bering Sea subarea ABC to account for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest
  level in State waters of the Bering Sea subarea. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the Aleutian Islands subarea ABC to account for
  the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea.
\6\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\7\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin
  sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice.
\8\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\9\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and
  rougheye rockfish.
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BS = Bering Sea subarea, AI = Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI = Eastern Aleutian
  district, CAI = Central Aleutian district, WAI = Western Aleutian district.)

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

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species, except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot 
gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-
specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires that NMFS 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of 
sablefish for the fixed-gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires that NMFS allocate 7.5 percent of the 
trawl gear allocations of sablefish and 10.7 percent of the Bering Sea 
Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ 
reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires that NMFS allocate 10.7 
percent of the TAC for Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean 
perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the 
CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require 
that 10 percent of the BSAI pollock TACs be allocated to the pollock 
CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District 
pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA (see Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With 
the exception of the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, 
the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ allocations by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS allocates a pollock 
ICA of 4.0 percent of the BS subarea pollock TAC after subtracting the 
10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS' examination of 
the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ 
vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2015. 
During this 16-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a 
low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 16-
year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS establishes a pollock ICA of 
2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC after subtracting the 10-percent CDQ 
DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS' examination of the pollock 
incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in 
target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2015. During this 
13-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 
percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 13-year average 
of 8 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS allocates ICAs of 
5,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 3,500 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of WAI Pacific ocean perch, 75 mt of CAI Pacific ocean 
perch, 200 mt of EAI Pacific ocean perch, 40 mt of WAI Atka mackerel, 
75 mt of CAI Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of EAI and BS subarea Atka 
mackerel TAC after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICA 
allowances are based on NMFS' examination of the incidental catch in 
other target fisheries from 2003 through 2015.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species category that contributed to the non-
specified

[[Page 14778]]

reserves during the year, provided that such apportionments do not 
result in overfishing (see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)). The Regional 
Administrator has determined that the ITACs specified for the species 
listed in Table 1 need to be supplemented from the non-specified 
reserve because U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to 
catch the full TAC allocations. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  
679.20(b)(3), NMFS is apportioning the amounts shown in Table 3 from 
the non-specified reserve to increase the ITAC for shortraker rockfish, 
rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' sharks, and octopuses by 15 
percent of the TAC in 2016 and 2017.

                                        Table 3--Final 2016 and 2017 Apportionment of Reserves to ITAC Categories
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           2016 reserve     2016 final                     2017 reserve     2017 final
                 Species-area or subarea                     2016 ITAC        amount           ITAC          2017 ITAC        amount           ITAC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish-BSAI................................             170              30             200             170              30             200
Rougheye rockfish-BS/EAI................................              85              15             100              85              15             100
Rougheye rockfish-CAI/WAI...............................             170              30             200             170              30             200
Other rockfish-Bering Sea subarea.......................             276              49             325             276              49             325
Other rockfish-Aleutian Islands subarea.................             468              82             550             468              82             550
Sharks..................................................             106              19             125             106              19             125
Octopuses...............................................             340              60             400             340              60             400
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................           1,615             285           1,900           1,615             285           1,900
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that the BS subarea pollock TAC 
be apportioned, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 
4.0 percent for the ICA, as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor (C/P) sector, and 10 
percent to the mothership sector. In the BS subarea, 40 percent of the 
DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10), and 60 percent 
of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)). The AI-directed pollock fishery allocation to the 
Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea 
after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and 2,400 mt 
for the ICA (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(ii)). In the AI subarea, the 
total A season apportionment of the TAC is less than or equal to 40 
percent of the ABC and the remainder of the TAC is allocated to the B 
season. Tables 4 and 5 list these 2016 and 2017 amounts.
    The Steller sea lion protection measure final rule (79 FR 70286, 
November 25, 2014) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season 
(January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541, see Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6). In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest 
limit is no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In 
Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent 
of the Aleutian Islands ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest 
limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific 
requirements regarding BS subarea pollock allocations. First, it 
requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the C/P sector be 
available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels (CVs) with C/P sector 
endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative 
contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA C/Ps and AFA 
CVs in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA C/Ps not listed 
in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the 
pollock allocated to the C/P sector. Tables 4 and 5 list the 2016 and 
2017 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 21 through 26 list the AFA C/P 
and CV harvesting sideboard limits. The tables for the pollock 
allocations to the BS subarea inshore pollock cooperatives and open 
access sector will be posted on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    Tables 4 and 5 also list seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  679.22(a)(7)(vii), is 
limited to no more than 28 percent of the annual DFA before 12:00 noon, 
April 1, as provided in Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock 
SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to 
each sector's allocated percentage of the DFA. Tables 4 and 5 list 
these 2016 and 2017 amounts by sector.

          TABLE 4--Final 2016 Allocations of Pollock TACS to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA)\1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     2016 A season\1\                 2016 B season\1\
                                                                                       -----------------------------------------------------------------
                         Area and sector                            2016 Allocations                           SCA Harvest  limit
                                                                                            A season DFA               \2\              B season DFA
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC \1\......................................             1,340,000                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................               134,000                53,600                37,520                80,400
ICA \1\.........................................................                48,240                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
AFA Inshore.....................................................               578,880               231,552               162,086               347,328
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................................               463,104               185,242               129,669               277,862
    Catch by C/Ps...............................................               423,740               169,496                   n/a               254,244
    Catch by CVs \3\............................................                39,364                15,746                   n/a                23,618
    Unlisted C/P Limit \4\......................................                 2,316                   926                   n/a                 1,389
AFA Motherships.................................................               115,776                46,310                32,417                69,466

[[Page 14779]]

 
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................................               202,608                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................................               347,328                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA............................................             1,157,760               463,104               324,173               694,656
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................................                32,227                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC \1\................................                19,000                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................                 1,900                   760                   n/a                 1,140
ICA.............................................................                 2,400                 1,200                   n/a                 1,200
Aleut Corporation...............................................                14,700                10,931                   n/a                 3,769
Area harvest limit \7\
    541.........................................................                 9,668                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
    542.........................................................                 4,834                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
    543.........................................................                 1,611                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................................                   500                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as
  a DFA as follows: inshore sector--50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)--40 percent, and mothership sector--10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1).
  Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10
  percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is
  allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery.
\2\ In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors shall be available for harvest
  only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/processors.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the
  catcher/processors sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ
  pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ
  pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area
  542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are
  not apportioned by season or sector.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


          Table 5-Final 2017 Allocations of Pollock TACS to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     2017 A season \1\                2017 B season \1\
                                                                                       -----------------------------------------------------------------
                         Area and sector                            2017 Allocations                            SCA Harvest limit
                                                                                            A season DFA               \2\              B season DFA
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC \1\......................................             1,340,643                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................               134,064                53,626                37,538                80,439
ICA \1\.........................................................                48,263                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
AFA Inshore.....................................................               579,158               231,663               162,164               347,495
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................................               463,326               185,330               129,731               277,996
    Catch by C/Ps...............................................               423,943               169,577                   n/a               254,366
    Catch by CVs \3\............................................                39,383                15,753                   n/a                23,630
    Unlisted C/P Limit \4\......................................                 2,317                   927                   n/a                 1,390
AFA Motherships.................................................               115,832                46,333                32,433                69,499
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................................               202,705                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................................               347,495                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA............................................             1,158,316               463,326               324,328               694,989
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................................                36,664                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC \1\................................                19,000                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................................                 1,900                   760                   n/a                 1,140
ICA.............................................................                 2,400                 1,200                   n/a                 1,200
Aleut Corporation...............................................                14,700                12,706                   n/a                 1,994
Area harvest limit \7\
    541.........................................................                10,999                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
    542.........................................................                 5,500                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
    543.........................................................                 1,833                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 14780]]

 
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................................                   500                   n/a                   n/a                   n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as
  a DFA as follows: inshore sector--50 percent, catcher/processor sector (C/P)--40 percent, and mothership sector--10 percent. In the BS subarea, 40
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 60 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1).
  Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10
  percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is
  allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery.
\2\ In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the
  catcher/processors sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ
  pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ
  pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area
  542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are
  not apportioned by season or sector.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector and non-trawl gear sector (Tables 6 and 7). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to part 679 
and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent 
of the EAI and the BS subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may be allocated to 
vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended 
annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the 
anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council 
recommended, and NMFS approves, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka 
mackerel ITAC in the EAI and BS subarea to the jig gear sector in 2015 
and 2016. This percentage is applied to the Atka mackerel TAC after 
subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig 
gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limit Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to this part and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to no 
more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and 
equally divide the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at 
Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires that the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller 
sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to this part and located in Areas 541, 
542, and 543.
    Tables 6 and 7 list these 2016 and 2017 Atka mackerel seasons, area 
allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2017 allocations for Atka 
mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited 
access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for 
participation in the program by November 1, 2016.

  Table 6--Final 2016 Seasonal and Spatial Allowance, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance and
                             Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  2016 Allocation by area
                                                                          --------------------------------------
                                                                             Eastern      Central
                Sector \1\                        Season \2\ \3\ \4\         Aleutian     Aleutian     Western
                                                                            District/     District     Aleutian
                                                                            Bering Sea      \5\        District
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.......................................  n/a..........................       28,500       16,000       10,500
CDQ reserve...............................  Total........................        3,050        1,712        1,124
                                            A............................        1,525          856          562
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a          514          337
                                            B............................        1,525          856          562
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a          514          337
ICA.......................................  Total........................        1,000           75           40
Jig \6\...................................  Total........................          122            0            0

[[Page 14781]]

 
BSAI trawl limited access.................  Total........................        2,433        1,421            0
                                            A............................        1,216          711            0
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a          426            0
                                            B............................        1,216          711            0
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a          426            0
Amendment 80 sectors......................  Total........................       21,895       12,792        9,337
                                            A............................       10,948        6,396        4,668
                                            B............................       10,948        6,396        4,668
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative.............  Total \6\....................       12,349        7,615        5,742
                                            A............................        6,175        3,808        2,871
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a        2,285        1,723
                                            B............................        6,175        3,808        2,871
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a        2,285        1,723
Alaska Seafood Cooperative................  Total \6\....................        9,546        5,177        3,595
                                            A............................        4,773        2,589        1,798
                                            Critical Habitat.............          n/a        1,553        1,079
                                            B............................        4,773        2,589        1,798
                                             Habitat.....................          n/a        1,553        1,079
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear
  allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679
  and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10 and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of critical habitat; (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B
  seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more
  than 65 percent of ABC.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation
  is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


 Table 7--Final 2017 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance, and
                              Amendment 80 Allocation of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              2017 Allocation by area
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern
              Sector \1\                   Season \2\ \3\ \4\        Aleutian         Central         Western
                                                                     District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                                  Bering Sea \5\   District \5\    District \5\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...................................  n/a.....................          28,500          16,000          10,500
CDQ reserve...........................  Total...................           3,050           1,712           1,124
                                        A.......................           1,525             856             562
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             514             337
                                        B.......................           1,525             856             562
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             514             337
ICA...................................  Total...................           1,000              75              40
Jig \6\...............................  Total...................             122               0               0
BSAI trawl limited access.............  Total...................           2,433           1,421               0
                                        A.......................           1,216             711               0
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             426               0
                                        B.......................           1,216             711               0
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             426               0
Amendment 80 sectors \7\..............  Total...................          21,895          12,792           9,337
                                        A.......................          10,948           6,396           4,668
                                        B.......................          10,948           6,396           4,668
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear
  allocation, and ICAs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679
  and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.

[[Page 14782]]

 
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10 and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of critical habitat; (a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B
  seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more
  than 65 percent of ABC.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation
  is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
\7\ The 2017 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access
  sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1,
  2016. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in December 2016.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

 Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for 
Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and AI TAC to 
the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. However, if the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be 
reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ 
directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in 
the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ 
program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear; 2.0 percent 
to hook-and-line and pot CVs less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall 
(LOA); 0.2 percent to hook-and-line CVs greater than or equal to 60 ft 
(18.3 m) LOA; 48.7 percent to hook-and-line C/P; 8.4 percent to pot CVs 
greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA; 1.5 percent to pot C/Ps; 
2.3 percent to AFA trawl C/Ps; 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl C/Ps; and 
22.1 percent to trawl CVs. The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot 
sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC 
allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2016 and 2017, the 
Regional Administrator establishes an ICA of 500 mt based on 
anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries.
    The ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is 
established in Table 33 to part 679 and Sec.  679.91. The 2017 
allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives 
and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until 
eligible participants apply for participation in the program by 
November 1, 2016.
    The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to 
disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7) and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific 
cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next 
seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2015 stock assessment, the Regional 
Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 
26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2016 and 2017. NMFS will 
first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod 
ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by 
multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 by the 
remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, the Area 
543 harvest limit is 3,379 mt.
    The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the 2016 and 
2017 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Tables 8 and 9, and are based on 
the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(A) and the seasonal 
allowances of Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

                                   Table 8--Final 2016 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI Pacific Cod TAC
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                     2016 Seasonal apportionment
            Gear sector                      Percent           2016 Share of gear     2016 Share of sector ---------------------------------------------
                                                                  sector total               total                 Seasons                 Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BS TAC.............................  n/a...................  238,680...............  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
BS CDQ.............................  n/a...................  25,539................  n/a..................  see Sec.               n/a
                                                                                                             679.20(a)(7)(i)(B).
BS non-CDQ TAC.....................  n/a...................  213,141...............  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
AI TAC.............................  n/a...................  12,839................  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
AI CDQ.............................  n/a...................  1,374.................  n/a..................  see Sec.               n/a
                                                                                                             679.20(a)(7)(i)(B).
AI non-CDQ TAC.....................  n/a...................  11,465................  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
Western Aleutian Island Limit......  n/a...................  3,379.................  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\.........  100...................  224,606...............  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear.......  60.8..................  136,561...............  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\..........  n/a...................  500...................  n/a..................  see Sec.               n/a
                                                                                                             679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B).
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total........  n/a...................  136,061...............  n/a..................  n/a..................  n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processor....  48.7..................  n/a...................  108,983..............  Jan 1-Jun 10.........  55,581
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Dec 31........  53,402
Hook-and-line catcher vessel >= 60   0.2...................  n/a...................  448..................  Jan 1-Jun 10.........  228
 ft LOA.
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Dec 31........  219
Pot catcher/processor..............  1.5...................  n/a...................  3,357................  Jan 1-Jun 10.........  1,712
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Sept 1-Dec 31........  1,645
Pot catcher vessel >= 60 ft LOA....  8.4...................  n/a...................  18,798...............  Jan 1-Jun 10.........  9,587
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Sept 1-Dec 31........  9,211
Catcher vessel < 60 ft LOA using     2.....................  n/a...................  4,476................  n/a..................  n/a
 hook-and-line or pot gear.
Trawl catcher vessel...............  22.1..................  49,638................  n/a..................  Jan 20-Apr 1.........  36,732

[[Page 14783]]

 
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 1-Jun 10.........  5,460
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Nov 1.........  7,446
AFA trawl catcher/processor........  2.3...................  5,166.................  n/a..................  Jan 20-Apr 1.........  3,874
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 1-Jun 10.........  1,291
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Nov 1.........  0
Amendment 80.......................  13.4..................  30,097................  n/a..................  Jan 20-Apr 1.........  22,573
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 1-Jun 10.........  7,524
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Nov 1.........  0
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative......  n/a...................  n/a...................  4,751................  Jan 20-Apr 1.........  3,563
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 1-Jun 10.........  1,188
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Dec 31........  0
Alaska Seafood Cooperative.........  n/a...................  n/a...................  25,346...............  Jan 20-Apr 1.........  19,010
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 1-Jun 10.........  6,337
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Jun 10-Dec 31........  0
Jig................................  1.4...................  3,144.................  n/a..................  Jan 1-Apr 30.........  1,887
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Apr 30-Aug 31........  629
                                     ......................  ......................  .....................  Aug 31-Dec 31........  629
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after the subtraction of
  CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a
  BSAI allowance remains.
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot
  sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2016 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


               Table 9--Final 2017 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI Pacific Cod TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  2017 Share                       2017 Seasonal apportionment
                                                   of gear      2017 Share of  ---------------------------------
         Gear sector                Percent         sector      sector total
                                                    total                           Seasons           Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BS TAC.......................  n/a.............      238,680  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
BS CDQ.......................  n/a.............       25,539  n/a.............  see Sec.         n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i
                                                                                 )(B).
BS non-CDQ TAC...............  n/a.............      213,141  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
AI TAC.......................  n/a.............       12,839  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
AI CDQ.......................  n/a.............        1,374  n/a.............  see Sec.         n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i
                                                                                 )(B).
AI non-CDQ TAC...............  n/a.............       11,465  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
Western Aleutian Island Limit  n/a.............        3,379  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\...  n/a.............      224,606  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear.  60.8............      136,561  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\....  n/a.............          500  n/a.............  see Sec.         n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i
                                                                                 i)(B).
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total..  n/a.............      136,061  n/a.............  n/a............  n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/         48.7............          n/a  108,983.........  Jan 1-Jun 10...  55,581
 processor.
                               ................  ...........  ................  Jun 10-Dec 31..  53,402
Hook-and-line catcher vessel   0.2.............          n/a  448.............  Jan 1-Jun 10...  228
 >= 60 ft LOA.
                               ................  ...........  ................  Jun 10-Dec 31..  219
Pot catcher/processor........  1.5.............          n/a  3,357...........  Jan 1-Jun 10...  1,712
                               ................  ...........  ................  Sept 1-Dec 31..  1,645
Pot catcher vessel >= 60 ft    8.4.............          n/a  18,798..........  Jan 1-Jun 10...  9,587
 LOA.
                               ................  ...........  ................  Sept 1-Dec 31..  9,211
Catcher vessel < 60 ft LOA     2...............          n/a  4,476...........  n/a............  n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessel.........  22.1............       49,638  n/a.............  Jan 20-Apr 1...  36,732
                               ................  ...........  ................  Apr 1-Jun 10...  5,460
                               ................  ...........  ................  Jun 10-Nov 1...  7,446
AFA trawl catcher/processor..  2.3.............        5,166  n/a.............  Jan 20-Apr 1...  3,874
                               ................  ...........  ................  Apr 1-Jun 10...  1,291
                               ................  ...........  ................  Jun 10-Nov 1...  0
Amendment 80.................  13.4............       30,097  n/a.............  Jan 20-Apr 1...  22,573
                               ................  ...........  ................  Apr 1-Jun 10...  7,524
                               ................  ...........  ................  Jun 10-Dec 31..  0
Jig..........................  1.4.............        3,144  n/a.............  Jan 1-Apr 30...  1,887
                               ................  ...........  ................  Apr 30-Aug 31..  629
                               ................  ...........  ................  Aug 31-Dec 31..  629
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI
  Pacific cod TACs, after the subtraction of CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached,
  then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains.

[[Page 14784]]

 
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC
  allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator approves an ICA of 500 mt for 2017
  based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of the 
sablefish TAC for the BS and AI subareas between trawl and hook-and-
line or pot gear sectors. Gear allocations of the TAC for the BS 
subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line 
or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 
percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of 
the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ 
reserve. Additionally, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 
percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the non-
specified reserves, established under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be 
assigned to the CDQ reserve. The Council recommended that only trawl 
sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for 
the hook-and-line gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota 
(IFQ) fisheries will be limited to the 2016 fishing year to ensure 
those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ 
fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries will reduce the 
potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The 
sablefish IFQ fisheries will remain closed at the beginning of each 
fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish 
IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 10 lists the 2016 and 2017 gear 
allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                    Table 10--Final 2016 and 2017 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACS
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Percent of   2016 Share                 2016 CDQ    2017 Share                 2017 CDQ
                       Subarea and gear                            TAC         of TAC     2016 ITAC     Reserve       of TAC     2017 ITAC     Reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl \1\................................................           50          576          489           43          526          447           39
    Hook-and-line/pot gear \2\...............................           50          576          460          115          n/a          n/a          n/a
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total................................................          100        1,151          950          158          526          447           39
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl \1\................................................           25          389          331           29          356          302           27
    Hook-and-line/pot gear \2\...............................           75        1,168          934          234          n/a          n/a          n/a
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total................................................          100        1,557        1,265          263          356          302           27
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC
  after the subtracting these reserves.
\2\ For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by
  CDQ participants. The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year.
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

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

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TAC between the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access 
sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA 
for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl 
gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in accordance with Tables 33 and 34 to part 679 and 
Sec.  679.91.
    The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2016. Tables 11 and 12 list the 2016 and 2017 
allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock 
sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

 Table 11--Final 2016 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment
  80 Allocations of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin
                                                    Sole TACS
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Pacific ocean perch             Flathead    Rock  sole   Yellowfin
                                   ---------------------------------------     sole    -------------     sole
              Sector                  Eastern      Central      Western   -------------             ------------
                                      Aleutian     Aleutian     Aleutian                    BSAI
                                      District     District     District       BSAI                      BSAI
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...............................        7,900        7,000        9,000       21,000       57,100      144,000
CDQ...............................          845          749          963        2,247        6,110       15,408
ICA...............................          200           75           10        5,000        6,000        3,500
BSAI trawl limited access.........          685          618          161            0            0       14,979
Amendment 80......................        6,169        5,558        7,866       13,753       44,990      110,113
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative.....        3,271        2,947        4,171        1,411       11,129       43,748

[[Page 14785]]

 
Alaska Seafood Cooperative........        2,898        2,611        3,695       12,342       33,861       66,365
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.



 Table 12--Final 2017 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment
  80 Allocations of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin
                                                    Sole TACS
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Pacific ocean perch             Flathead    Rock  sole   Yellowfin
                                   ---------------------------------------     sole    -------------     sole
              Sector                  Eastern      Central      Western   -------------             ------------
                                      Aleutian     Aleutian     Aleutian                    BSAI
                                      District     District     District       BSAI                      BSAI
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...............................        7,537        7,002        9,000       21,000       57,100      144,000
CDQ...............................          806          749          963        2,247        6,110       15,408
ICA...............................          200           75           10        5,000        6,000        3,500
BSAI trawl limited access.........          653          618          161            0            0       14,979
Amendment 80 \1\..................        5,877        5,560        7,866       13,753       44,990      110,113
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited
  access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November
  1, 2016. NMFS will publish 2017 Amendment 80 allocations when they become available in December 2016.
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves 
minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each 
Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each 
cooperatives' quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share 
units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective 
species. Table 13 lists the 2016 and 2017 ABC surplus and ABC reserves 
for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

 Table 13--Final 2016 and 2017 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole,
                                                              Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2016 Flathead                  2016 Yellowfin   2017 Flathead                  2017 Yellowfin
                         Sector                                sole       2016 Rock sole       sole            sole       2017 Rock sole       sole
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.....................................................          66,250         161,100         211,700          64,580         145,000         203,500
TAC.....................................................          21,000          57,100         144,000          21,000          57,100         144,000
ABC surplus.............................................          45,250         104,000          67,700          43,580          87,900          59,500
ABC reserve.............................................          45,250         104,000          67,700          43,580          87,900          59,500
CDQ ABC reserve.........................................           4,842          11,128           7,244           4,663           9,405           6,367
Amendment 80 ABC reserve................................          40,408          92,872          60,456          38,917          78,495          53,134
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 \1\..............           4,145          22,974          24,019             n/a             n/a             n/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 \1\.................          36,263          69,898          36,437             n/a             n/a             n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until
  eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016.


[[Page 14786]]

PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Section 679.21(e) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Reductions to the 
BSAI halibut PSC limits are expected to be implemented in 2016, pending 
Secretarial approval of Amendment 111 and the effective date of 
publication of a final rule. On implementation of the reductions, the 
2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits under this action will be superseded 
by Amendment 111 and reduced. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iv) and 
(e)(2), the 2016 and 2017 BSAI halibut mortality limits are 3,675 mt 
for trawl fisheries and 900 mt for the non-trawl fisheries. Sections 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) and 679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocate 326 mt of the 
trawl halibut mortality limit and 7.5 percent, or 67 mt, of the non-
trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Section 679.21(e)(4)(i) authorizes apportioning the non-trawl 
halibut PSC limit into PSC bycatch allowances among six fishery 
categories. Tables 15 and 16 list the fishery bycatch allowances for 
the trawl fisheries, and Table 17 lists the fishery bycatch allowances 
for the non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from 
the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consulting with the 
Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-
and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for 
the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig 
gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery 
and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the IFQ program requires 
legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear 
if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is 
holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part 679). In 2015, 
total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 
approximately 38,149 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality 
of about 3 mt.
    The 2015 jig gear fishery harvested about 29 mt of groundfish. Most 
vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage 
requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut 
bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates the jig gear sector will have a negligible amount of halibut 
bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the 
low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released.
    Section 679.21(f)(2) annually allocates portions of either 47,591 
or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on 
past catch performance and on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive 
plan agreements are formed. If an AFA sector participates in an 
approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreement, then NMFS 
will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no Chinook salmon bycatch 
incentive plan agreement is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its 
performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), then NMFS will allocate 
a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector, as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). In 2016, the Chinook salmon 
PSC limit is 60,000 and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are 
seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season 
pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season 
pollock fishery as stated in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The basis for 
these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing 
management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). 
NMFS publishes the approved Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan 
agreements, 2016 allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm when 
they become available.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(viii) specifies 700 fish as the 2016 and 2017 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(i) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, 
to the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program, and allocates the remaining 
647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(e)(1)(vii) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2016 and 
2017 non-Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational 
Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(3)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, 
or 4,494 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ program, 
and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as 
the PSC limit for the non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 
10.7 percent from each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ 
reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program.
    Based on the 2015 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated to be at 18.6 million red king crabs, which is 
above the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective 
spawning biomass is estimated at 46.5 million lbs (21,092 mt). Based on 
the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the 2016 and 2017 PSC 
limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This 
limit derives from the mature female abundance of more than 8.4 million 
king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of less than 55 
million lb (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS red 
king crab bycatch limit to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC limit, 
based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red 
king crab bycatch. In December 2015, the Council recommended and NMFS 
concurs that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of 
the red king crab PSC limit within the RKCSS (Table 15).
    Based on 2015 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) 
abundance is estimated at 329 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set 
out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2016 and 2017 C. bairdi 
crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 
2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. bairdi abundance was 
estimated to be greater than 270 million and less than 400 million 
animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater 
than 290 million animals and less than 400 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab 
(C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit is set at 0.1133 
percent of the BS abundance index minus 150,000 crab. Based on the 2015 
survey estimate of 4.288 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab 
PSC limit is 4,708,314 animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern BS herring biomass. The best estimate of 
2016 and 2017 herring biomass is 263,098 mt. This amount was developed 
by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on spawning location 
estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit for 2016 and 2017 is

[[Page 14787]]

2,361 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 14 and 15.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2015 PSC limits assigned to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in 
Table 35 to part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limit to CDQ 
PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access 
fisheries are listed in Table 10. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iv) 
and Sec.  679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 sector are then further allocated to 
Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 
18. PSC cooperative quota assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives is not 
allocated to specific fishery categories. In 2016, there are no vessels 
in the Amendment 80 limited access sector. The 2017 PSC allocations 
between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access 
sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for 
participation in the program by November 1, 2016. Section 
679.21(e)(3)(i)(B) requires NMFS to apportion each trawl PSC limit not 
assigned to Amendment 80 cooperatives into PSC bycatch allowances for 
seven specified fishery categories.
    Section 679.21(e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting with the 
Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the 
BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors in 
order to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available 
groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors to be considered 
are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal 
distribution of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a 
seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected 
variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected start of 
fishing effort, and (6) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments 
on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS approves the 
seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 15 and 16 to maximize harvest 
among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of 
PSC based on the above criteria.

 Table 14--Final 2016 and 2017 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, The Cdq Program, Amendment 80, and the Bsai Trawl
                                                                 Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Non-trawl    Non-trawl
                                                                   PSC          PSC                    Trawl PSC                 Amendment    BSAI trawl
                   PSC species and area\1\                      remaining    remaining   Total trawl   remaining     CDQ PSQ         80        limited
                                                                after CDQ    after CDQ       PSC       after CDQ    reserve\2\   sector\3\      access
                                                                  PSQ\2\       PSQ\2\                    PSQ\2\                                fishery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI..................................          900          832        3,675        3,349          393        2,325          875
Herring (mt) BSAI............................................          n/a          n/a        2,631          n/a          n/a          n/a          n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1...............................          n/a          n/a       97,000       86,621       10,379       43,293       26,489
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ....................................          n/a          n/a    4,708,314    4,204,524      503,790    2,066,524    1,351,334
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1..............................          n/a          n/a      830,000      741,190       88,810      312,115      348,285
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2..............................          n/a          n/a    2,520,000    2,250,360      269,640      532,660    1,053,394
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
\2\ Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(2) allocates 326 mt of the trawl halibut mortality limit and Sec.   679.21(e)(4)(i)(A) allocates 7.5 percent, or 67 mt,
  of the non-trawl halibut mortality limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of
  each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits by 150 mt for halibut mortality and 20 percent for crab. These reductions are
  not apportioned to other gear types or sectors.
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


 Table 15--Final 2016 and 2017 Herring and Red King Crab Savings Subarea
        Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Red king
                                                  Herring        crab
              Fishery Categories                 (mt) BSAI    (animals)
                                                                Zone 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole................................          179          n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish \1\....           29          n/a
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka           19          n/a
 flounder/sablefish...........................
Rockfish......................................           13          n/a
Pacific cod...................................           40          n/a
Midwater trawl pollock........................        2,151          n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species \2,3\.....          199          n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic               n/a       24,250
 trawl gear \4\...............................
                                               -------------------------
    Total trawl PSC...........................        2,631       97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder,
  flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and
  yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than pelagic trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ``other
  species'' fishery category.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins,
  sharks, squids, and octopuses.
\4\ In December 2015 the Council recommended that the red king crab
  bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be
  limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 14788]]


  Table 16--Final 2016 and 2017 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 Prohibited species and area \1\
                                                ----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Red king                   C. bairdi (animals)
      BSAI trawl limited  access fisheries         Halibut        crab      C. opilio  -------------------------
                                                  mortality    (animals)    (animals)
                                                  (mt) BSAI      Zone 1       COBLZ        Zone 1       Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole.................................          167       23,338    1,273,886      293,234    1,005,879
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish \2\.....            0            0            0            0            0
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka             0            0            0            0            0
 flounder/sablefish............................
Rockfish April 15-December 31..................            5            0        2,104            0          849
Pacific cod....................................          453        2,954       54,298       50,816       42,424
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species \3\........          250          197       21,046        4,235        4,242
                                                ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC........          875       26,489    1,351,334      348,285    1,053,394
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth
  flounder.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


      Table 17--Final 2016 and 2017 Halibut Prohibited Species by Catch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
                                          [Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Catcher/     Catcher
        Non-trawl fisheries                  Seasons          processor      vessel          All Non-Trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod........................  Total Pacific cod.....          760           15  n/a
                                     January 1-June 10.....          455           10  n/a
                                     June 10-August 15.....          190            3  n/a
                                     August 15-December 31.          115            2  n/a
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total....  May 1-December 31.....          n/a          n/a  58
Groundfish pot and jig.............  n/a...................          n/a          n/a  Exempt.
Sablefish hook-and-line............  n/a...................          n/a          n/a  Exempt.
                                                            ----------------------------------------------------
    Total for all non-trawl PSC....  n/a...................          n/a          n/a  833
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


        Table 18--Final 2016 Prohibited Species by Catch Allowance for the BSAI Amendment 80 Cooperatives
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Prohibited species and zones \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Cooperative                Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
                                  mortality (mt)     (animals)       (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI           Zone 1           COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative...             632          12,459         650,551          82,136         137,369
Alaska Seafood Cooperative......           1,693          30,834       1,415,973         229,979         395,291
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMR)

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut bycatch rates, DMRs, 
and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut 
bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. The 
DMRs are based on the best information available, including information 
contained in the annual SAFE report.
    NMFS is implementing the halibut DMRs developed and recommended by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council for 
the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 
2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 14, 15, 16, 17, 
and 18). The IPHC and the Council developed these DMRs for the 2016 and 
2017 BSAI fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. 
Long-term average DMRs were not available for some fisheries, so rates 
from the most recent years were used. For the skate, sculpin, shark, 
squid, and octopus target fisheries, where not enough halibut mortality 
data are available, the mortality rate of halibut caught in the Pacific 
cod fishery for that gear type was recommended as a default rate. The 
IPHC and Council staff will analyze observer data annually and 
recommend changes to the DMRs when a fishery DMR shows large variation 
from the mean. A discussion of the DMRs and how they are established is 
available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 19 lists the 2016 and 
2017 DMRs.

[[Page 14789]]



  Table 19--Final 2016 and 2017 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates
                              for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Halibut
                                                              discard
               Gear                        Fishery        mortality rate
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-CDQ hook-and-line.............  Greenland turbot....              11
                                    Other species.\1\...               9
                                    Pacific cod.........               9
                                    Rockfish............               9
Non-CDQ trawl.....................  Alaska plaice.......              66
                                    Arrowtooth flounder.              84
                                    Atka mackerel.......              82
                                    Flathead sole.......              72
                                    Greenland turbot....              82
                                    Kamchatka flounder..              84
                                    Non-pelagic pollock.              81
                                    Pelagic pollock.....              88
                                    Other flatfish \2\..              63
                                    Other species.\1\...              66
                                    Pacific cod.........              66
                                    Rockfish............              83
                                    Rock sole...........              86
                                    Sablefish...........              66
                                    Yellowfin sole......              84
Non-CDQ Pot.......................  Other species.\1\...               9
                                    Pacific cod.........               9
CDQ trawl.........................  Atka mackerel.......              82
                                    Arrowtooth flounder.              84
                                    Flathead sole.......              79
                                    Kamchatka flounder..              84
                                    Non-pelagic pollock.              86
                                    Pelagic pollock.....              90
                                    Pacific cod.........              87
                                    Greenland turbot....              89
                                    Rockfish............              70
                                    Rock sole...........              86
                                    Yellowfin sole......              85
CDQ hook-and-line.................  Greenland turbot....              10
                                    Pacific cod.........              10
CDQ pot...........................  Pacific cod.........               1
                                    Sablefish...........              41
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other species'' includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and
  octopuses.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut
  (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, flathead sole, Greenland
  turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth
  flounder.

Directed Fishing Closures

    In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional 
Administrator may establish a DFA for a species or species group if the 
Regional Administrator determines that any allocation or apportionment 
of a target species has been or will be reached. If the Regional 
Administrator establishes a DFA, and that allowance is or will be 
reached before the end of the fishing year, NMFS will prohibit directed 
fishing for that species or species group in the specified subarea or 
district (see Sec.  697.20(d)(1)(iii)). Similarly, pursuant to Sec.  
679.21(e), if the Regional Administrator determines that a fishery 
category's bycatch allowance of halibut, red king crab, C. bairdi crab, 
or C. opilio crab for a specified area has been reached, the Regional 
Administrator will prohibit directed fishing for each species in that 
category in the specified area.
    Based on historic catch patterns and anticipated fishing activity, 
the Regional Administrator has determined that the groundfish 
allocation amounts in Table 20 will be necessary as incidental catch to 
support other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2016 and 2017 
fishing years. Consequently, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), 
the Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species and 
species groups in Table 20 as zero. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for these 
sectors and species in the specified areas effective at 1200 hrs, 
A.l.t., March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. 
Also, for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, bycatch allowances of 
halibut, red king crab, C. bairdi crab, and C. opilio crab listed in 
Table 20 are insufficient to support directed fisheries. Therefore, in 
accordance with Sec.  679.21(e)(7), NMFS is prohibiting directed 
fishing for these sectors and fishery categories in the specified areas 
effective at 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, 
A.l.t., December 31, 2017.

                              Table 20--2016 and 2017 Directed Fishing Closures \1\
           [Groundfish and halibut amounts are in metric tons. Crab amounts are in number of animals]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       2016            2017
                                                                                    Incidental      Incidental
               Area                         Sector                Species              catch           catch
                                                                                     allowance       allowance
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bogoslof District.................  All..................  Pollock..............             500             500

[[Page 14790]]

 
Aleutian Islands subarea..........  All..................  ICA pollock..........           2,400           2,400
                                                           ``Other rockfish''                550             550
                                                            \2\.
Eastern Aleutian District/Bering    Non-amendment 80,      ICA Atka mackerel....           1,000           1,000
 Sea.                                CDQ, and BSAI trawl
                                     limited access.
Eastern Aleutian District/Bering    All..................  Rougheye rockfish....             100             100
 Sea.
Eastern Aleutian District.........  Non-amendment 80,      ICA Pacific ocean                 200             200
                                     CDQ, and BSAI trawl    perch.
                                     limited access.
Central Aleutian District.........  Non-amendment 80,      ICA Atka mackerel....              75              75
                                     CDQ, and BSAI trawl
                                     limited access.
                                                           ICA Pacific ocean                  75              75
                                                            perch.
Western Aleutian District.........  Non-amendment 80, CDQ  ICA Atka mackerel....              40              40
                                     and BSAI trawl
                                     limited access.
                                                           ICA Pacific ocean                  10              10
                                                            perch.
Western and Central Aleutian        All..................  Rougheye rockfish....             200             200
 Districts.
Bering Sea subarea................  All..................  Pacific ocean perch..           6,800           6,760
                                                           ``Other rockfish''                325             325
                                                            \2\.
                                                           ICA pollock..........          48,240          48,263
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands...  All..................  Northern rockfish....           3,825           3,825
                                                           Shortraker rockfish..             200             200
                                                           Skates...............          22,100          22,100
                                                           Sculpins.............           3,825           3,825
                                                           Sharks...............             125             125
                                                           Squids...............           1,275           1,275
                                                           Octopuses............             400             400
                                    Hook-and-line and pot  ICA Pacific cod......             500             500
                                     gear.
                                    Non-amendment 80 and   ICA flathead sole....           5,000           5,000
                                     CDQ.
                                                           ICA rock sole........           6,000           6,000
                                    Non-amendment 80,      ICA yellowfin sole...           3,500           3,500
                                     CDQ, and BSAI trawl
                                     limited access.
                                    BSAI trawl limited     Rock sole/flathead                  0               0
                                     access.                sole/other flatfish--
                                                            halibut mortality,
                                                            red king crab Zone
                                                            1, C. opilio COBLZ,
                                                            C. bairdi Zone 1 and
                                                            2.
                                                           Turbot/arrowtooth/                  0               0
                                                            sablefish--halibut
                                                            mortality, red king
                                                            crab Zone 1, C.
                                                            opilio COBLZ, C.
                                                            bairdi Zone 1 and 2.
                                                           Rockfish--red king                  0               0
                                                            crab Zone 1.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679.
\2\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern
  rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish.

    Closures implemented under the final 2015 and 2016 BSAI harvest 
specifications for groundfish (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) remain 
effective under authority of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications, and are posted at the following Web sites: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/cm/info_bulletins/ and http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries_reports/reports/. While these 
closures are in effect, the maximum retainable amounts at Sec.  
679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a fishing trip. These 
closures to directed fishing are in addition to closures and 
prohibitions found at 50 CFR part 679.

Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA C/Ps to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock 
directed fishery. These restrictions are set out as ``sideboard'' 
limits on catch. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in 
detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA 
(67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, 
September 14, 2007). Table 21 lists the 2016 and 2017 AFA C/P sideboard 
limits.
    All harvest of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA C/Ps, 
whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from 
the sideboard limits in Table 21. However, groundfish sideboard species 
that are delivered to listed AFA C/Ps by CVs will not be deducted from 
the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps.

                     Table 21--Final 2016 and 2017 Listed BSAI American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processor Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             1995-1997
                                                              ---------------------------------------  2016 ITAC                 2017 ITAC
                                                                                           Ratio of    available   2016 AFA C/   available   2017 AFA C/
           Target species                   Area/season          Retained                  retained   to trawl C/    P side-    to trawl C/    P side-
                                                                  catch     Total catch    catch to      Ps \1\    board limit      Ps1      board limit
                                                                                         total catch
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish trawl.....................  BS.....................            8          497        0.016          489            8          447            7
                                      AI.....................            0          145            0          331            0          302            0

[[Page 14791]]

 
Atka mackerel.......................  Central AI A season \2\          n/a          n/a        0.115        7,144          822        8,000          920
                                      Central AI B season \2\          n/a          n/a        0.115        7,144          822        8,000          920
                                      Western AI A season \2\          n/a          n/a          0.2        4,688          938        5,250        1,050
                                      Western AI B season \2\          n/a          n/a          0.2        4,688          938        5,250        1,050
Rock sole...........................  BSAI...................        6,317      169,362        0.037       50,990        1,887       50,990        1,887
Greenland turbot....................  BS.....................          121       17,305        0.007        2,272           16        2,272           16
                                      AI.....................           23        4,987        0.005          170            1          170            1
Arrowtooth flounder.................  BSAI...................           76       33,987        0.002       11,900           24       11,900           24
Kamchatka flounder..................  BSAI...................           76       33,987        0.002        4,250            9        4,250            9
Flathead sole.......................  BSAI...................        1,925       52,755        0.036       18,753          675       18,753          675
Alaska plaice.......................  BSAI...................           14        9,438        0.001       12,325           12       12,325           12
Other flatfish......................  BSAI...................        3,058       52,298        0.058        2,125          123        2,125          123
Pacific ocean perch.................  BS.....................           12        4,879        0.002        6,800           14        6,760           14
                                      Eastern AI.............          125        6,179         0.02        7,055          141        6,731          135
                                      Central AI.............            3        5,698        0.001        6,251            6        6,251            6
                                      Western AI.............           54       13,598        0.004        8,037           32        8,037           32
Northern rockfish...................  BSAI...................           91       13,040        0.007        3,825           27        3,825           27
Shortraker rockfish.................  BSAI...................           50        2,811        0.018          200            4          200            4
Rougheye rockfish...................  EBS/EAI................           50        2,811        0.018          100            2          100            2
                                      CAI/WAI................           50        2,811        0.018          200            4          200            4
Other rockfish......................  BS.....................           18          621        0.029          325            9          325            9
                                      AI.....................           22          806        0.027          550           15          550           15
Skates..............................  BSAI...................          553       68,672        0.008       22,100          177       22,100          177
Sculpins............................  BSAI...................          553       68,672        0.008        3,825           31        3,825           31
Sharks..............................  BSAI...................          553       68,672        0.008          125            1          125            1
Squids..............................  BSAI...................           73        3,328        0.022        1,275           28        1,275           28
Octopuses...........................  BSAI...................          553       68,672        0.008          400            3          400            3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the
  TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
\2\ The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA
  catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC
  specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District.

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 of part 679 establish a 
formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA C/Ps. The 
basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final 
rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007).
    PSC species listed in Table 22 that are caught by listed AFA C/Ps 
participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue 
against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA C/Ps. 
Section 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for 
groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA C/Ps once a 2016 or 2017 
PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 22 is reached.
    Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA C/Ps while fishing for 
pollock will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified 
for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories under Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(iv).

       Table 22--Final 2016 and 2017 BSAI AFA Listed Catcher/Processor Prohibited Species Sideboard Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   2016 and 2017
                                                                                   PSC available   2016 and 2017
                                                                   Ratio of PSC      to trawl      AFA catcher/
                    PSC species and area \1\                      catch to total   vessels after     processor
                                                                        PSC       subtraction of     sideboard
                                                                                      PSQ \2\        limit \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality BSAI..........................................             n/a             n/a             286
Red king crab zone 1............................................           0.007          86,621             606
C. opilio (COBLZ)...............................................           0.153       4,204,524         643,292
C. bairdi Zone 1................................................            0.14         741,190         103,767

[[Page 14792]]

 
C. bairdi Zone 2................................................            0.05       2,250,360         112,518
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

 AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA CVs to engage in 
directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect 
participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the pollock 
directed fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes a formula for setting 
AFA CV groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for 
these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules 
implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 
2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Tables 23 and 
24 list the 2016 and 2017 AFA CV sideboard limits.
    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
CVs, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted 
from the 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits listed in Table 23.

                          Table 23--Final 2016 and 2017 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          Ratio of 1995-                     2016 AFA                        2017 AFA
                                                                            1997 AFA CV    2016 initial   catcher vessel   2017 initial   catcher vessel
               Species/gear                    Fishery by area/season     catch to 1995-      TAC \1\        sideboard        TAC \1\        sideboard
                                                                             1997 TAC                         limits                          limits
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod/Jig gear......................  BSAI........................               0             n/a               0             n/a               0
Pacific cod/Hook-and-line CV >= 60 feet     BSAI Jan 1-Jun 10...........          0.0006             228               0             228               0
 LOA.
                                            BSAI Jun 10-Dec 31..........          0.0006             219               0             219               0
Pacific cod pot gear CV...................  BSAI Jan 1-Jun 10...........          0.0006           9,587               6           9,587               6
                                            BSAI Sept 1-Dec 31..........          0.0006           9,211               6           9,211               6
Pacific cod CV < 60 feet LOA using hook-    BSAI........................          0.0006           4,476               3           4,476               3
 and-line or pot gear.
Pacific cod trawl gear CV.................  BSAI Jan 20-Apr 1...........          0.8609          36,732          31,623          36,732          31,623
                                            BSAI Apr 1-Jun 10...........          0.8609           5,460           4,701           5,460           4,701
                                            BSAI Jun 10-Nov 1...........          0.8609           7,446           6,410           7,446           6,410
Sablefish trawl gear......................  BS..........................          0.0906             489              44             447              40
                                            AI..........................          0.0645             331              21             302              19
Atka mackerel.............................  Eastern AI/BS Jan 1-Jun 10..          0.0032          12,725              41          12,725              41
                                            Eastern AI/BS Jun 10-Nov 1..          0.0032          12,725              41          12,725              41
                                            Central AI Jan 1-Jun 10.....          0.0001           7,144               1           7,144               1
                                            Central AI Jun 10-Nov 1.....          0.0001           7,144               1           7,144               1
                                            Western AI Jan 1-Jun 10.....               0           4,688               0           4,688               0
                                            Western AI Jun 10-Nov 1.....               0           4,688               0           4,688               0
Rock sole.................................  BSAI........................          0.0341          50,990           1,739          50,990           1,739
Greenland turbot..........................  BS..........................          0.0645           2,272             147           2,272             147
                                            AI..........................          0.0205             170               3             170               3
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................           0.069          11,900             821          11,900             821
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................           0.069           4,250             293           4,250             293
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          0.0441          12,325             544          12,325             544
Other flatfish............................  BSAI........................          0.0441           2,125              94           2,125              94
Flathead sole.............................  BS..........................          0.0505          18,753             947          18,753             947
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BS..........................             0.1           6,800             680           6,760             676
                                            Eastern AI..................          0.0077           7,055              54           6,731              52
                                            Central AI..................          0.0025           6,251              16           6,251              16
                                            Western AI..................               0           8,037               0           8,037               0
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          0.0084           3,825              32           3,825              32
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................          0.0037             200               1             200               1
Rougheye rockfish.........................  EBS/EAI.....................          0.0037             100               0             100               0
                                            CAI/WAI.....................          0.0037             200               1             200               1
Other rockfish............................  BS..........................          0.0048             325               2             325               2
                                            AI..........................          0.0095             550               5             550               5
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          0.0541          22,100           1,196          22,100           1,196
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................          0.0541           3,825             207           3,825             207
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................          0.0541             125               7             125               7
Squids....................................  BSAI........................          0.3827           1,275             488           1,275             488
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................          0.0541             400              22             400              22
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, and rock sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that
  species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).


[[Page 14793]]

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 24 that are caught by 
AFA CVs participating in any groundfish fishery for groundfish other 
than pollock will accrue against the 2016 and 2017 PSC sideboard limits 
for the AFA CVs. Sections 679.21(d)(7) and 679.21(e)(3)(v) authorize 
NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for 
AFA CVs once a 2016 or 2017 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 24 is 
reached. The PSC that is caught by AFA CVs while fishing for pollock in 
the BSAI will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified 
for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other 
species'' fishery categories under Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(iv).

  Table 24--Final 2016 and 2017 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   2016 and 2017
                                                                    AFA catcher      PSC limit     2016 and 2017
                                         Target fishery category    vessel PSC         after        AFA catcher
       PSC species and area \1\                    \2\               sideboard    subtraction of    vessel PSC
                                                                    limit ratio    PSQ reserves      sideboard
                                                                                        \3\          limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut...............................  Pacific cod trawl.......             n/a             n/a             887
                                        Pacific cod hook-and-                n/a             n/a               2
                                         line or pot.
                                        Yellowfin sole total....             n/a             n/a             101
                                        Rock sole/flathead sole/             n/a             n/a             228
                                         other flatfish \4\.
                                        Greenland turbot/                    n/a             n/a               0
                                         arrowtooth/sablefish
                                         \5\.
                                        Rockfish................             n/a             n/a               2
                                        Pollock/Atka mackerel/               n/a             n/a               5
                                         other species \6\.
Red king crab Zone 1..................  n/a.....................           0.299          86,621          25,900
C. opilio COBLZ.......................  n/a.....................           0.168       4,204,524         706,360
C. bairdi Zone 1......................  n/a.....................            0.33         741,190         244,593
C. bairdi Zone 2......................  n/a.....................           0.186       2,250,360         418,567
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(e)(3)(iv).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth
  flounder.
\5\ Arrowtooth for PSC monitoring includes Kamchatka flounder.
\6\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses.

AFA Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel Sideboard Directed Fishing 
Closures

    Based on historical catch patterns, the Regional Administrator has 
determined that many of the AFA C/P and CV sideboard limits listed in 
Tables 25 and 26 are necessary as incidental catch to support other 
anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. 
In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv), the Regional Administrator 
establishes the sideboard limits listed in Tables 25 and 26 as DFAs. 
Because many of these DFAs will be reached before the end of 2016, the 
Regional Administrator has determined, in accordance with Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii), that NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by listed 
AFA C/Ps for the species in the specified areas set out in Table 25, 
and directed fishing by non-exempt AFA CVs for the species in the 
specified areas set out in Table 26.

    Table 25--Final 2016 and 2017 American Fisheries Act Listed Catcher/Processor Sideboard Directed Fishing
                                                  Closures \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  2016 Sideboard  2017 Sideboard
              Species                        Area                Gear types            limit           limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish trawl...................  BS...................  trawl................               8               7
                                    AI...................  trawl................               0               0
Rock sole.........................  BSAI.................  all..................           1,887           1,887
Greenland turbot..................  BS...................  all..................              17              16
                                    AI...................  all..................               1               1
Arrowtooth flounder...............  BSAI.................  all..................              24              24
Kamchatka flounder................  BSAI.................  all..................               9               9
Alaska plaice.....................  BSAI.................  all..................              12              12
Other flatfish \2\................  BSAI.................  all..................             123             123
Flathead sole.....................  BSAI.................  all..................             675             675
Pacific ocean perch...............  BS...................  all..................              14              14
                                    Eastern AI...........  all..................             141             135
                                    Central AI...........  all..................               6               6
                                    Western AI...........  all..................              32              32
Northern rockfish.................  BSAI.................  all..................              27              27
Shortraker rockfish...............  BSAI.................  all..................               4               4
Rougheye rockfish.................  EBS/EAI..............  all..................               2               2
                                    CAI/WAI..............  all..................               4               4
Other rockfish \3\................  BS...................  all..................               9               9
                                    AI...................  all..................              15              15
Skates............................  BSAI.................  all..................             177             177

[[Page 14794]]

 
Sculpins..........................  BSAI.................  all..................              31              31
Sharks............................  BSAI.................  all..................               1               1
Squids............................  BSAI.................  all..................              28              28
Octopuses.........................  BSAI.................  all..................               3               3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut, Alaska plaice, flathead sole,
  Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder.
\3\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern
  rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish.


   Table 26--Final 2016 and 2017 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Sideboard Directed Fishing Closures \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  2016 Sideboard  2017 Sideboard
              Species                        Area                Gear types            limit           limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    BSAI.................  hook-and-line CV >=                 0               0
                                                            60 feet LOA.
                                    BSAI.................  pot CV >= 60 feet LOA              12              12
                                    BSAI.................  hook-and-line or pot                3               3
                                                            CV < 60 feet LOA.
                                    BSAI.................  jig..................               0               0
Sablefish.........................  BS...................  trawl................              44              40
                                    AI...................  trawl................              21              19
Atka mackerel.....................  Eastern AI/BS........  all..................              82              82
                                    Central AI...........  all..................               2               2
                                    Western AI...........  all..................               0               0
Greenland turbot..................  BS...................  all..................             147             147
                                    AI...................  all..................               3               3
Arrowtooth flounder...............  BSAI.................  all..................             821             821
Kamchatka flounder................  BSAI.................  all..................             293             293
Alaska plaice.....................  BSAI.................  all..................             544             544
Other flatfish \2\................  BSAI.................  all..................              94              94
Flathead sole.....................  BSAI.................  all..................             947             947
Rock sole.........................  BSAI.................  all..................           1,739           1,739
Pacific ocean perch...............  BS...................  all..................             680             676
                                    Eastern AI...........  all..................              54              52
                                    Central AI...........  all..................              16              16
                                    Western AI...........  all..................               0               0
Northern rockfish.................  BSAI.................  all..................              32              32
Shortraker rockfish...............  BSAI.................  all..................               1               1
Rougheye rockfish.................  BS/EAI...............  all..................               0               0
                                    CAI/WAI..............  all..................               1               1
Other rockfish \3\................  BS...................  all..................               2               2
                                    AI...................  all..................               5               5
Skates............................  BSAI.................  all..................           1,196           1,196
Sculpins..........................  BSAI.................  all..................             207             207
Sharks............................  BSAI.................  all..................               7               7
Squids............................  BSAI.................  all..................             488             488
Octopuses.........................  BSAI.................  all..................              22              22
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Maximum retainable amounts may be found in Table 11 to 50 CFR part 679.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut, Alaska plaice, flathead sole,
  Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, Kamchatka flounder, and arrowtooth flounder.
\3\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern
  rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and rougheye rockfish.

Response to Comments

    NMFS received two letters with fourteen substantive comments during 
the public comment period for the proposed BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications. No changes were made to the final rule in response to 
comment letters received. NMFS' response to the public comments on the 
proposed BSAI groundfish harvest specifications is provided below.

[[Page 14795]]

    Comment 1: The allocation of the sablefish TAC between trawl gear 
and hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea should be revised to 
match the allocation percentages used to apportion the Aleutian Islands 
sablefish TAC. That would mean that the Bering Sea sablefish TAC would 
be allocated 25 percent to trawl gear and 75 percent to hook-and-line 
or pot gear, rather than allocating 50 percent of the Bering Sea 
sablefish TAC to each gear category. Doing so would decrease the 
adverse impacts, such as bycatch and habitat damage, that trawl gear 
would have in the Bering Sea sablefish fishery.
    Response: The allocation of the BSAI sablefish TACs between trawl 
gear and hook-and-line gear or pot gear is required by regulations at 
Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv). Revising these allocations is outside 
of the scope of this action.
    Comment 2: The use of trawl gear to catch sablefish in the BSAI 
results in the bycatch of other species and destruction of habitat.
    Response: Trawl gear is a legal gear type in the BSAI for a variety 
of groundfish species. Pelagic and non-pelagic trawl gears are 
authorized under both the FMP and regulations at 50 CFR part 679. 
Additionally, most of the sablefish harvested in the BSAI is caught by 
hook-and-line or pot gear, not trawl gear. The catch reports on the 
Alaska Region's Web site show that from 2010 through 2015 the highest 
trawl catch was 18 percent of the Bering Sea trawl gear TAC compared to 
hook-and-line or pot gear at 63 percent of the Bering Sea hook-and-line 
or pot gear TAC (see https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries-catch-landings).
    The Council and NMFS have taken a variety of measures to control 
the use of trawl gear and the impacts of trawl gear on non-target 
species and habitat. Examples of the former include prohibiting the use 
of trawl gear or certain types of trawl gear in some groundfish 
fisheries and requiring that the trawl sweeps of nonpelagic trawl gear 
be elevated a minimum distance off the sea floor (75 FR 61642, October 
6, 2010). The Council and NMFS have also established a variety of 
restrictions and prohibitions associated with bycatch in the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries, including prohibitions against directing fishing 
for some species, as well as regulations designed to minimize the 
bycatch of prohibited species by trawl gear. Examples of habitat 
conservation measures include identifying essential fish habitat and 
establishing geographic area closures to trawl gear. The use of trawl 
gear in the BSAI groundfish fisheries is consistent with the National 
Standards 1 and 5 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which require the 
prevention of overfishing while achieving optimum yield from each 
fishery and consideration of efficiency in the use of fish resources.
    Comment 3: The Council made a good start toward minimizing halibut 
bycatch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries by reducing halibut PSC limits 
through the BSAI FMP Amendment 111. However, the Council and NMFS need 
to take additional action to achieve further bycatch reduction to 
comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements.
    Response: The Council and NMFS are committed to minimizing halibut 
bycatch in the BSAI consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act obligations to 
minimize bycatch to the extent practicable and to achieve, on a 
continuing basis, optimum yield from the groundfish fisheries. Pursuant 
to section 3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP, the Secretary, after consultation with 
the Council, considers the following information when evaluating 
measures to minimize halibut bycatch in the BSAI fisheries:

    1. Estimated change in halibut biomass and stock condition;
    2. potential impacts on halibut stocks and fisheries;
    3. potential impacts on groundfish fisheries;
    4. estimated bycatch mortality during prior years;
    5. expected halibut bycatch mortality;
    6. methods available to reduce halibut bycatch mortality;
    7. the cost of reducing halibut bycatch mortality; and
    8. other biological and socioeconomic factors that affect the 
appropriateness of a specific bycatch mortality limit in terms of 
FMP objectives.

    Pursuant to section 3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP, annual BSAI-wide Pacific 
halibut bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries 
are established in regulations and may be amended by regulatory 
amendment. NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-
trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the 
Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111.
    The Council and NMFS will continue to evaluate the need to 
implement additional measures to minimize halibut bycatch in the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act obligations. 
In evaluating the need for further halibut bycatch reduction measures, 
the Council and NMFS must balance, for example, National Standard 9 
obligations to minimize halibut bycatch to the extent practicable with 
National Standard 1 obligations to achieve optimum yield from the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries on a continuing basis, and National Standard 8 
obligations to minimize adverse economic consequences on fishing 
communities to the extent practicable.
    Comment 4: Halibut bycatch or PSC levels differ among the various 
groundfish fisheries. NMFS should take into consideration halibut 
bycatch rates associated with the groundfish fisheries when 
establishing groundfish harvest limits.
    Response: NMFS interprets this comment as requesting NMFS to 
establish TACs based on the relative rates of halibut PSC use among the 
groundfish fisheries and that groundfish fisheries with higher bycatch 
rates should receive lower TAC amounts. NMFS disagrees that setting 
TACs based on halibut bycatch rates would necessarily minimize halibut 
bycatch to the extent practicable. Annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut 
bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries are 
established in regulations. Therefore, while reducing the TAC in a 
particular fishery may limit halibut bycatch in that target fishery, 
sectors have the ability to target other species and may encounter 
higher halibut bycatch rates in those fisheries. Thus, fishing sectors 
may still reach the halibut PSC limit as a result. In addition, it is 
important for multispecies trawl fisheries to have several options for 
target species to allow this sector to avoid target fisheries with high 
halibut bycatch rates. Setting a TAC so low that the directed fishery 
cannot open limits the ability of sectors to move between target 
fisheries to avoid high halibut bycatch rates. As described previously 
in this rule, NMFS will publish regulations implementing trawl and non-
trawl BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the 
Secretary of a final rule to implement Amendment 111.
    Comment 5: The Council approved a TAC for arrowtooth flounder that 
was 600% higher than the TAC recommended by the AP. Arrowtooth flounder 
has the highest average halibut bycatch mortality rate of all target 
groundfish fisheries. Had the Council followed the AP's arrowtooth 
flounder TAC recommendation, the TACs could have resulted in higher 
overall wholesale values and optimum yield for both the groundfish and 
halibut fisheries.
    Response: The AP's TAC recommendations were higher than the 
Council's for pollock (34,392 mt), yellowfin sole (6,000 mt), Pacific 
ocean perch (724 mt), and Atka mackerel (4,500 mt). NMFS has determined 
that

[[Page 14796]]

the Council ultimately recommended TACs that more efficiently utilized 
fishery resources. The Council considered halibut bycatch in the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries and the importance of the fishery resources to the 
fishing communities, while also achieving optimum yield in the 
groundfish fisheries within the statutory 2 million metric ton limit.
    As described in response to Comment 4, a significant reduction in 
the arrowtooth flounder TACs would likely have little impact on 
minimizing halibut bycatch. Annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut bycatch 
mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries are established 
in regulations. While significantly reducing the arrowtooth flounder 
TAC would prevent opening the directed fishery for arrowtooth flounder 
and would limit halibut bycatch in that fishery, such action would not 
necessarily minimize halibut bycatch.
    For example, if a reduced arrowtooth flounder TAC prevents this 
directed fishery from opening, multispecies trawl sectors that 
typically target arrowtooth flounder have the ability to target other 
species. However, the multispecies trawl fishery would have fewer 
targeting options and a limited ability to move between target 
fisheries to avoid high halibut PSC in seasons and areas with higher 
halibut bycatch rates. Thus, the multispecies trawl sectors may still 
reach the halibut PSC limit notwithstanding significant reductions in 
the arrowtooth flounder TAC. Further, eliminating the opportunity to 
target arrowtooth flounder may jeopardize continued optimum yield in 
the groundfish fisheries because the multispecies trawl fishery may be 
closed early if it is unable to avoid halibut bycatch and reaches the 
halibut PSC limits during seasons and areas with higher halibut bycatch 
rates.
    The Council recognized that some of the AP's TAC recommendations, 
including arrowtooth flounder, would not be sufficient to allow for a 
directed fishery or support incidental catch in other fisheries. In 
2015, more than 5,000 mt of arrowtooth flounder was taken in targets 
other than arrowtooth flounder in the BSAI. At the AP's arrowtooth 
flounder TAC recommendation of 2,000 mt, all of the TAC would be taken 
in other fisheries, NMFS would not open directed fishing for 
arrowtooth, and would be required to prohibit retention of arrowtooth 
flounder. This would require regulatory discards of arrowtooth flounder 
when the TAC was reached. Despite prohibiting retention, the incidental 
catch of arrowtooth flounder would still exceed 2,000 mt, unless catch 
in the target fisheries with the highest arrowtooth flounder incidental 
catch (pollock, Pacific cod, and yellowfin sole) were also greatly 
curtailed. Curtailment of these fisheries may jeopardize continued 
optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries.
    The Council set the arrowtooth TAC at 14,000 mt to acknowledge that 
arrowtooth flounder is targeted as part of the annual fishing plan for 
some of the fleet. Also, arrowtooth flounder is an important ecosystem 
component as a predator and may impact the biomass of other species. 
The 2014 arrowtooth flounder stock assessment indicates that nearly 
half of the adult diet is comprised of juvenile pollock (47%) followed 
by adult pollock (19%), and euphausiids (9%). The Ecosystem 
Considerations chapter states predation by arrowtooth flounder has 
exceeded cannibalism as the largest source of predation mortality of 
age-1 pollock since 2007.
    Comment 6: At their October 2015 meeting, the Council stated that 
it would consider halibut bycatch in making TAC recommendations for the 
final 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest specifications. However, the Council 
failed to consider halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries when it 
ultimately made TAC recommendations. Therefore, NMFS' acceptance of the 
Council's recommended TACs for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest 
specifications would be arbitrary, capricious, and irrational.
    Response: As stated in responses to Comments 4 and 5, the Council 
did consider halibut bycatch in various groundfish fisheries in making 
TAC recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications. Also, the Council considered the potential effects of 
groundfish harvest on directed halibut fisheries and the health of the 
halibut resource, while also recognizing a shared responsibility to 
maintain the viability of halibut commercial, sport, and personal use 
fisheries, and the communities dependent on them. Halibut was one of 
many bycatch species that the Council balanced with the groundfish 
TACs, and the arrowtooth flounder fishery received the greatest 
percentage decrease of any species from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Also, the Council acknowledged the voluntary efforts in 
2015 by the Amendment 80 sector to reduce halibut PSC.
    Comment 7: The proposed groundfish harvest specifications stated 
that the proposed OFL, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending 
completion of the final 2015 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications during 
its December Council meeting. This statement is an admission that the 
proposed rule is a placeholder. Therefore, the proposed groundfish 
harvest specifications failed to give adequate public notice and an 
opportunity for public comment and do not comply with the 
Administrative Procedure Act.
    Response: The proposed 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications provided adequate notice and opportunity for the public 
to comment consistent with obligations under the Administrative 
Procedure Act. NMFS published the Council's recommended TACs from the 
October 2015 meeting in the proposed harvest specifications. NMFS 
explained in the preamble to the proposed harvest specifications that 
some of the final harvest specifications could differ from the proposed 
specifications. The preamble stated that changes to the proposed BSAI 
harvest specifications in the final rule would likely be based on 
updated scientific information included in the 2015 SAFE, Groundfish 
Plan Team recommendations, information from the December 2015 
Scientific and Statistical Committee and Advisory Panel meetings, 
public testimony, and relevant written comment. The preamble to the 
proposed BSAI groundfish harvest specifications also stated that the 
Council could recommend changes to the proposed harvest specifications 
if warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management 
uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order 
to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range. Finally, the 
preamble stated that changes in groundfish biomass trends could affect 
the Council's recommended final harvest specifications, but that the 
groundfish harvest specifications must comply with governing statutes, 
regulations, and the FMP. Based on information provided in the proposed 
harvest specifications, interested members of the public were aware of 
issues involved in establishing the final harvest specification levels 
and therefore had adequate notice of information relevant to the final 
harvest specifications. The public has had the opportunity to comment 
on all parts of this process.
    Comment 8: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications 
are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 
obligations to achieve optimum yield. The AP's groundfish TAC 
recommendations would be far more responsive to the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act National

[[Page 14797]]

Standard 1 because they could have resulted in higher estimated overall 
wholesale values to the groundfish sector, as well as higher quotas and 
value in the directed halibut fishery.
    Response: As mentioned in the response to Comments 4 and 5, the 
AP's TAC recommendations are not guaranteed to lower halibut PSC. Also, 
while in a single year it may be more profitable overall to shift the 
fisheries to pollock and Atka mackerel, this could significantly reduce 
revenues or force out of business those fishermen and vessels from the 
flatfish sector. In years of lower pollock and Atka mackerel abundance, 
the absence of these vessels could create far smaller groundfish 
catches, and on a continuing basis create harvests below the optimum 
yield.
    Comment 9: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications 
are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 3. The 
groundfish and halibut stocks are clearly interrelated in the Bering 
Sea ecosystem, as is evident by the high bycatch rates in certain 
groundfish species, which disproportionately impacts the directed 
halibut fishermen.
    Response: NMFS interprets this comment as suggesting that NMFS 
should manage halibut as a unit or in close coordination with the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries. NMFS does not directly manage halibut or halibut 
fisheries through the implementation of the 2016 and 2017 BSAI 
groundfish harvest specifications. NMFS implements the BSAI groundfish 
harvest specifications under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
Actions taken by the Council to manage halibut fisheries are developed 
under the authority of the Halibut Act, and National Standard 3 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act does not apply. Section 5.2.1 of the FMP describes 
that the IPHC manages the Pacific halibut stocks in its jurisdiction 
through regulations implementing the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 
1982 (16 U.S.C. 773-773k).
    Halibut is not managed under the FMP. However the Council and NMFS 
manage halibut bycatch limits under the FMP and believe that treatment 
of halibut as a prohibited species is appropriate. Under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, it is the Council's responsibility to recommend management 
measures that minimize halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries to 
the extent practicable. As described previously in this rule, NMFS 
expects to publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI 
halibut PSC limit reductions in 2016, pending Secretarial approval of a 
final rule to implement Amendment 111 and the effective date of the 
final rule.
    Comment 10: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications are not consistent with National Standard 4 obligations 
to ensure allocations are fair and equitable. The AP's recommended TACs 
would have achieved a far more equitable allocation of the halibut 
resource as a whole.
    Response: NMFS interprets this comment as suggesting that the BSAI 
groundfish harvest specifications are not consistent with National 
Standard 4 because lower groundfish TACs for specific fisheries would 
have reduced halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries and more 
fairly reallocated the unused halibut to the directed halibut fishery. 
NMFS disagrees. NMFS does not allocate halibut through the groundfish 
harvest specifications. As described in response to Comment 3, Section 
3.6.2.1.4 of the FMP requires that annual BSAI-wide Pacific halibut 
bycatch mortality limits for trawl and non-trawl gear fisheries be 
established in regulations and may be amended by regulatory amendment. 
The halibut PSC limits are not an allocation of halibut bycatch in the 
groundfish fishery. Rather, the halibut PSC limits impose an absolute 
limit on the amount of halibut bycatch that may be caught in the trawl 
and non-trawl groundfish fisheries. NMFS uses the halibut PSC limits to 
minimize the amount of halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries to 
the extent practicable.
    Further, as described in response to Comment 4, a reduction in 
groundfish TACs would likely have little impact on reducing halibut 
bycatch. For example, while significantly reducing the arrowtooth 
flounder TAC might limit halibut bycatch in that fishery, sectors 
targeting arrowtooth flounder have the ability to target other species. 
These sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit notwithstanding 
reductions in the TACs. Therefore, the AP's recommended TACs would not 
likely result in reduced halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries or 
increase the availability of halibut for directed halibut users.
    Comment 11: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National 
Standard 5. The AP's recommended TACs optimize harvest by the 
groundfish sector and PSC reduction.
    Response: NMFS has determined that the 2016 and 2017 groundfish 
harvest specifications are consistent with National Standard 5. 
National Standard 5 requires the conservation and management measures 
shall, where practicable, consider efficiency in the utilization of 
fishery resources. The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications establish groundfish harvest limits that result in as 
efficient a fishery as is practicable. The BSAI harvest specifications 
allow for the combined groundfish fisheries to harvest up to the 
statutory 2 million metric ton OY limit with the least amount of 
regulatory discards and economic waste as is practicable.
    NMFS interprets this Comment 11 as suggesting that the AP's 
recommended TAC reductions for some groundfish species and increases in 
TACs for other groundfish species would have resulted in greater 
halibut PSC reduction and greater efficiency in the utilization of the 
BSAI groundfish and halibut fisheries. NMFS disagrees. While the AP's 
recommended TACs would have resulted in different distributions of 
gains and burdens among the various BSAI groundfish sectors, the AP's 
recommended TACs would not have resulted in an increase in efficiency 
of the groundfish and halibut fisheries. Although significant TAC 
reductions in some groundfish species would have allowed for increases 
in TACs for other groundfish species, the AP's recommended TACs would 
likely have increased costs for some fisheries and resulted in 
increased regulatory discards.
    For example, if NMFS implemented the AP's arrowtooth flounder TAC 
recommendation, NMFS would not open directed fishing for arrowtooth and 
would reserve the 2,000 mt arrowtooth TAC for incidental take in other 
directed fisheries. Incidental take of arrowtooth in other fisheries 
would likely reach the 2,000 mt TAC early in the fishing season. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(2), NMFS would require that arrowtooth 
flounder be treated as a prohibited species for the remainder of the 
year, and incidental catch arrowtooth flounder would be required to be 
discarded.
    Further, as stated in response to Comments 4 and 5, the AP's 
recommended TAC reductions would not contribute to the objective of 
reducing halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries. While significant 
TAC reductions in particular fisheries may limit halibut bycatch in 
those target fisheries, sectors have the ability to target other 
species and may encounter higher halibut bycatch rates in those 
fisheries. Thus, fishing sectors may still reach the halibut PSC limit. 
For the forgoing reasons, NMFS has determined that the Council's 
recommended BSAI

[[Page 14798]]

groundfish TACs provide for as efficient a fishery as is practicable.
    Comment 12: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National 
Standard 6 obligations to take into account contingencies in the 
fisheries and fishery resources. The BSAI halibut fishery and dependent 
halibut fishermen and communities are facing an extraordinary situation 
with low halibut quotas that threaten their participation in the 
fisheries. National Standard 6 requires an FMP to be flexible and 
responsive to such variations. The BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications do not take this contingency into account.
    Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications 
do take this contingency into account. Some of the largest TAC 
reductions from the proposed rule are in the flatfish fisheries, with 
arrowtooth flounder having the highest percentage reduction. However, 
further reducing flatfish TACs could prevent flatfish fishermen from 
adapting to variations in their fisheries. As stated in previous 
responses to comments, potentially significantly reducing revenues or 
forcing out of business fishermen that are dependent on flatfish could 
jeopardize achieving optimum yield if variations in the pollock biomass 
produce lower available pollock TACs.
    Comment 13: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National 
Standard 8 obligations to take into account the importance of fishery 
resources to fishing communities, their sustained participation in 
those fisheries, and minimization of adverse impacts on such 
communities to the extent practicable. The sustained participation of 
St. Paul and other Bering Sea communities in the halibut fishery is 
clearly in jeopardy. The AP's recommendation demonstrated practicable 
allocations of groundfish TACs that would be consistent with National 
Standard 8 and could result in higher economic value to the groundfish 
sector.
    Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI harvest specifications are 
consistent with National Standard 8. The impact of the BSAI groundfish 
fisheries, and in particular the arrowtooth flounder fishery, on 
halibut bycatch mortality was one of the many environmental and 
socioeconomic considerations that the Council evaluated in making the 
TAC recommendations for the 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications. In recommending the final TACs for all groundfish 
fisheries, the Council took into account the importance of both the 
halibut and groundfish fisheries to communities that depend on them. 
The Council evaluated the burdens groundfish fishery communities would 
experience from significant TAC reductions with the benefits of such 
TAC reductions that would flow to the communities that rely on directed 
halibut fisheries. NMFS determined that significant TAC reductions in 
some groundfish fisheries would likely adversely impact communities 
dependent on groundfish fisheries, potentially increase halibut PSC 
use, and would provide little benefit to the communities that depend on 
the halibut resources.
    Comment 14: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications are not consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act National 
Standard 9 obligations to minimize bycatch and to minimize mortality of 
such bycatch. The AP's recommended TACs showed a practicable way to 
minimize halibut bycatch, resulting in the potential for over 840,000 
pounds of savings.
    Response: The 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications 
are consistent with National Standard 9. As described in several 
previous comments, NMFS disagrees that the AP's recommended TACs would 
have minimized halibut bycatch. The AP's recommended TAC reductions 
would have resulted in increased bycatch and regulatory discards of 
some groundfish species, and potentially increased halibut PSC use.
    For example, the AP's arrowtooth flounder TAC would have required 
the regulatory discard of large amounts of arrowtooth flounder and 
hindered the ability of some fishermen to reduce halibut bycatch. 
Further, the Council also considered bycatch of other prohibited 
species such as salmon, crab, and herring in various groundfish 
fisheries. The Council and NMFS are committed to minimizing bycatch in 
the BSAI groundfish fisheries consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act 
obligations to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable and to 
achieve, on a continuing basis, optimum yield from the groundfish 
fisheries. As described in responses to previous comments, NMFS will 
publish regulations implementing trawl and non-trawl BSAI halibut PSC 
limit reductions in 2016, upon approval by the Secretary of a final 
rule to implement Amendment 111 and the publication of the final rule.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that these final harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable laws.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.
    NMFS prepared an EIS that covers this action (see ADDRESSES) and 
made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On 
February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the 
EIS. In January 2016, NMFS prepared a Supplemental Information Report 
(SIR) for this action. Copies of the EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action 
are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The EIS analyzes the 
environmental consequences of the groundfish harvest specifications and 
alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The EIS 
found no significant environmental consequences of this action and its 
alternatives. The SIR evaluates the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS 
(SEIS) for the 2016 and 2017 groundfish harvest specifications.
    An SEIS should be prepared if (1) the agency makes substantial 
changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental 
concerns; or (2) significant new circumstances or information exist 
relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action 
or its impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)). After reviewing the information 
contained in the SIR and SAFE reports, the Regional Administrator has 
determined that (1) approval of the 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications, which were set according to the preferred harvest 
strategy in the EIS, do not constitute a change in the action; and (2) 
there are no significant new circumstances or information relevant to 
environmental concerns and bearing on the action or its impacts. 
Additionally, the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications will result in 
environmental impacts within the scope of those analyzed and disclosed 
in the EIS. Therefore, supplemental NEPA documentation is not necessary 
to implement the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.
    Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that, when 
an agency promulgates a final rule under section 553 of Title 5 of the 
United States Code, after being required by that section, or any other 
law, to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency 
shall prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA).
    Section 604 describes the required contents of a FRFA: (1) A 
statement of the need for, and objectives of, the rule; (2) a statement 
of the significant issues raised by the public comments in

[[Page 14799]]

response to the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a statement of 
the assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any 
changes made in the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the 
response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration in response to the 
proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the 
proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a 
description of and an estimate of the number of small entities to which 
the rule will apply or an explanation of why no such estimate is 
available; (5) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping 
and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of 
the classes of small entities which will be subject to the requirement 
and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the 
report or record; (6) a description of the steps the agency has taken 
to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities 
consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including 
a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the 
alternative adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other 
significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which 
affect the impact on small entities was rejected.
    A description of this action, its purpose, and its legal basis are 
contained at the beginning of the preamble to this final rule and are 
not repeated here.
    NMFS published the proposed rule on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76425). 
The rule was accompanied by an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
(IRFA), which was summarized in the proposed rule. The comment period 
closed on January 8, 2016. No comments were received on the IRFA.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
receive allocations of groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the 
BSAI, and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters, during 
the annual harvest specifications process. These directly regulated 
entities include the groundfish CVs and C/Ps active in these areas. 
Direct allocations of groundfish are also made to certain 
organizations, including the CDQ groups, AFA C/P and inshore CV 
sectors, Aleut Corporation, and Amendment 80 cooperatives. These 
entities are, therefore, also considered directly regulated.
    The Small Business Administration has established size standards 
for all major industry sectors in the United States. A business 
primarily involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual gross receipts not in excess of $20.5 million, for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. The IRFA estimates the number of 
harvesting vessels that are considered small entities, but these 
estimates may overstate the number of small entities because (1) some 
vessels may also be active as tender vessels in the salmon fishery, 
fish in areas other than Alaska and the West Coast, or generate revenue 
from other non-fishing sources; and (2) all affiliations are not taken 
into account, especially if the vessel has affiliations not tracked in 
available data (i.e., ownership of multiple vessel or affiliation with 
processors) and may be misclassified as a small entity. Because some 
catcher vessels and catcher/processors meet this size standard, they 
are considered to be small entities for the purposes of this analysis.
    The estimated directly regulated small entities include 
approximately 190 catcher vessels, two catcher/processors, and six CDQ 
groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or crab rationalization 
cooperatives, and, since under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it 
is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the 
cooperative that must meet the ``under $20.5 million'' threshold, they 
are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. 
Thus, the estimate of 190 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of 
the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $446,000 for 
small hook-and-line vessels, $1.31 million for small pot vessels, and 
$2.28 million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/
processors is confidential; however, in 2014, NMFS estimates that there 
are two catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less than 
$20.5.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements.
    The significant alternatives were those considered as alternative 
harvest strategies when the Council selected its preferred harvest 
strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These included the 
following:
     Alternative 1: Set TAC to produce fishing mortality rates, 
F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TAC is constrained 
by the OY established in the FMPs. This is equivalent to setting TAC to 
produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible ABC, as 
constrained by OY. The term ``maxFABC'' refers to the maximum 
permissible value of FABC under Amendment 56 to the groundfish FMPs. 
Historically, the TAC has been set at or below the ABC; therefore, this 
alternative represents a likely upper limit for setting the TAC within 
the OY and ABC limits.
     Alternative 3: For species in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, set TAC 
to produce F equal to the most recent 5-year average actual F. For 
species in Tiers 4, 5, and 6, set TAC equal to the most recent 5-year 
average actual catch. For stocks with a high level of scientific 
information, TAC would be set to produce harvest levels equal to the 
most recent 5-year average actual fishing mortality rates. For stocks 
with insufficient scientific information, TAC would be set equal to the 
most recent 5-year average actual catch. This alternative recognizes 
that for some stocks, catches may fall well below ABC, and recent 
average F may provide a better indicator of actual F than FABC does.
     Alternative 4: (1) Set TAC for rockfish species in Tier 3 
at F75%. Set TAC for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M. Set 
spatially explicit TAC for shortraker and rougheye rockfish in the 
BSAI. (2) Taking the rockfish TAC as calculated above, reduce all other 
TAC by a proportion that does not vary across species, so that the sum 
of all TAC, including rockfish TAC, is equal to the lower bound of the 
area OY (1,400,000 mt in the BSAI). This alternative sets conservative 
and spatially explicit TAC for rockfish species that are long-lived and 
late to mature, and sets conservative TAC for the other groundfish 
species.
     Alternative 5: Set TAC at zero.
    Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative chosen by the Council: 
Set TAC that fall within the range of ABC recommended through the 
Council harvest specifications process and TACs recommended by the 
Council. Under this scenario, F is set equal to a constant fraction of 
maxFABC. The recommended fractions of maxFABC may vary among species or 
stocks, based on other considerations unique to each. This is the 
method for determining TAC that has been used in the past.
    Alternatives 1, 3, 4, and 5 do not meet the objectives of this 
action, although they have a smaller adverse economic impact on small 
entities than the preferred alternative. The Council rejected these 
alternatives as harvest strategies in 2006, and the Secretary of 
Commerce did so in 2007. Alternative 1 would lead to TAC limits whose 
sum exceeds the fishery OY, which is set out in statute and the FMP. As 
shown in

[[Page 14800]]

Table 1 and Table 2, the sum of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 would be 
3,236,662 and 3,143,135 million mt, respectively. Both of these are 
substantially in excess of the fishery OY for the BSAI. This result 
would be inconsistent with the objectives of this action, in that it 
would violate the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004, Public Law 
108-199, Section 803(c), and the FMP for the BSAI groundfish fishery, 
which both set a 2 million mt maximum harvest for BSAI groundfish.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years' worth of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for 
the most recent 5 years' worth of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 
through 6). This alternative is also inconsistent with the objectives 
of this action, because it does not take into account the most recent 
biological information for this fishery.
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species to reduce TAC from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, 
to its lower end. This result would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size 
could be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these 
increases is very uncertain, and NMFS has no confidence that they would 
be sufficient to offset the volume decreases and leave revenues 
unchanged. Thus, this action would have an adverse economic impact on 
small entities, compared to the preferred alternative.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also 
address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse 
economic impact on small entities.
    Impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities 
conducted under this rule are discussed in the EIS (see ADDRESSES).
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness for this rule, because delaying this rule is contrary to 
the public interest. Plan Team review occurred in November 2015, and 
Council consideration and recommendations occurred in December 2015. 
Accordingly, NMFS' review could not begin until after the December 2015 
Council meeting, and after the public had time to comment on the 
proposed action. If this rule's effectiveness is delayed, fisheries 
that might otherwise remain open under these rules may prematurely 
close based on the lower TACs established in the final 2015 and 2016 
harvest specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). If implemented 
immediately, this rule would allow these fisheries to continue fishing 
without worrying about a potential closure because the new TAC limits 
are higher than the ones under which they are currently fishing. 
Certain fisheries, such as those for pollock and Pacific cod are 
intensive, fast-paced fisheries. Other fisheries, such as those for 
flatfish, rockfish, skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses, are 
critical as directed fisheries and as incidental catch in other 
fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch 
the TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating the 
final TAC limits in these fisheries would cause confusion in the 
industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards. 
Determining which fisheries may close is impossible because these 
fisheries are affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in 
advance, including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, 
and market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a 
cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing up fishing vessels, 
allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open ones, increasing 
the fishing capacity in those open fisheries and causing them to close 
at an accelerated pace.
    Additionally, in fisheries subject to declining sideboards, 
delaying this rule's effectiveness could allow some vessels to 
inadvertently reach or exceed their new sideboard levels. Because 
sideboards are intended to protect traditional fisheries in other 
sectors, allowing one sector to exceed its new sideboards by delaying 
this rule's effectiveness would effectively reduce the available catch 
for sectors without sideboard limits. Moreover, the new TAC and 
sideboard limits protect the fisheries from being overfished. Thus, the 
delay is contrary to the public interest in protecting traditional 
fisheries and fish stocks.
    If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 19, 
2016, which is the start of the 2016 Pacific halibut season as 
specified by the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not 
begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. Delayed 
effectiveness of this action would result in confusion for sablefish 
harvesters and economic harm from unnecessary discard of sablefish that 
are caught along with Pacific halibut, as both hook-and-line sablefish 
and Pacific halibut are managed under the same IFQ program. Immediate 
effectiveness of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications will 
allow the sablefish IFQ fishery to begin concurrently with the Pacific 
halibut IFQ season. Also, immediate effectiveness of this action is 
required to provide consistent management and conservation of fishery 
resources based on the best available scientific information. This is 
particularly true of those species that have lower 2016 ABC and TAC 
limits than those established in the 2015 and 2016 harvest 
specifications (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). Immediate effectiveness 
also would give the fishing industry the earliest possible opportunity 
to plan and conduct its fishing operations with respect to new 
information about TAC limits. Therefore, NMFS finds good cause to waive 
the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    This final rule is a plain language guide to assist small entities 
in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule's primary 
purpose is to announce the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications 
and prohibited species bycatch allowances for the groundfish fisheries 
of the BSAI. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits and 
associated management measures for groundfish during the 2016 and 2017 
fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the FMP. 
This action directly affects all fishermen who participate in the BSAI 
fisheries. The specific amounts of OFL, ABC, TAC, and PSC are provided 
in tables to assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed 
fishing in the Federal Register and information bulletins released by 
the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed 
of such closures.

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

    Dated: March 14, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-06182 Filed 3-17-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P