Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 14740-14773 [2016-06183]

Download as PDF 14740 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150818742–6210–02] RIN 0648–XE130 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; harvest specifications and closures. AGENCY: NMFS announces final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 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 Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. SUMMARY: Harvest specifications and closures are effective at 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 18, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. DATES: Electronic copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), and the Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS 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 GOA, dated November 2015, is 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. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone of the GOA under the Fishery Management SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. Upon consideration of public comment received under § 679.20(c)(1), NMFS must publish notice of final harvest specifications for up to two fishing years as annual target TAC, per § 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The final harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 30 of this document reflect the outcome of this process, as required at § 679.20(c). The proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA and Pacific halibut PSC limits were published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76405). Comments were invited and accepted through January 8, 2016. NMFS received two responses, containing five general categories of comments. A summary of the comments and NMFS’s responses is found in the Response to Comment section of this rule. In December 2015, NMFS consulted with the Council regarding the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. After considering public testimony, as well as biological and economic data that were available at the Council’s December 2015 meeting, NMFS is implementing the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, as recommended by the Council. For 2016, the sum of the TAC amounts is 590,809 mt. For 2017, the sum of the TAC amounts is 573,872 mt. Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications Removal of Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for Hook-and-Line Catcher/ Processors In May 2015, NMFS published a final rule implementing regulations associated with Amendment 45 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Amendment 45) PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Pursuant to § 680.22(e)(1)(ii), NMFS will permanently remove Pacific cod sideboard limits applicable to specified hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/P) in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas once it receives an affidavit affirming that all eligible participants in these regulatory areas recommend removal of the Crab Rationalization Program GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits. NMFS received an affidavit that all eligible fishery participants in the Western and Central GOA recommend removal of these sideboard limits. Therefore, NMFS is permanently removing the sideboard limits and does not establish 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod sideboard limits for the hook-and-line C/P sector. These sideboard limits have been removed from Tables 21 and 22 of this rule. Revise Maximum Retainable Amounts for Skates In December 2014, the Council took final action to reduce the maximum retainable amount (MRA) for skates in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). Per the Council’s recommendation, NMFS published a proposed rule to modify regulations that specify the MRA for skates in the GOA (80 FR 39734, July 10, 2015). An MRA is expressed as a percentage and is the maximum amount of a species closed to directed fishing (i.e., skate species) that may be retained on board a vessel relative to the retained amount of other groundfish species or halibut open for directed fishing (basis species). An MRA serves as a management tool to slow the harvest rates of incidental catch species and limit retention up to a maximum percentage of the amount of retained groundfish or halibut on board the vessel. NMFS has established a single MRA percentage for big skate (Raja binoculata), longnose skate (Raja rhina), and for all remaining skate species (Bathyraja spp.). The proposed rule would reduce the MRA for skates in the GOA from 20 percent to 5 percent. The reduced MRA would apply to all vessels directed fishing for groundfish or halibut in the GOA. NMFS anticipates that the proposed regulatory revisions associated with the skate MRA reduction will be effective in 2016. Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications In December 2015, the Council, its Advisory Panel (AP), and its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Council’s GOA Groundfish Plan Team and was presented in the draft 2015 SAFE report for the GOA 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 GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species group. The 2015 report was made available for public review during the public comment period for the proposed harvest specifications. In previous years, the greatest changes from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. At the November 2015 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to stock assessment models, and accompanying stock assessment estimates for all groundfish species and species groups that are included in the final 2015 SAFE report. The SSC reviewed this information at the December 2015 Council meeting. Changes from the proposed to the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications are discussed below. The final 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFL and ABC amounts for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the final 2016 and 2017 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. The final TAC recommendations were based on VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 the ABCs as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range of 116,000 to 800,000 mt. The Council recommended 2016 and 2017 TACs that are equal to ABCs for pollock, sablefish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky rockfish, rougheye rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, big skate, longnose skate, other skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in the GOA. The Council recommended TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are less than the ABCs for Pacific cod, shallowwater flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ‘‘other rockfish’’ in the Southeast Outside district, and Atka mackerel. The Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State of Alaska’s (State’s) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized fisheries. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ TAC in the Southeast Outside District (SEO) is set to reduce the amount of discards. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. The final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications approved by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) are unchanged from those recommended by the Council and are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy alternative in the EIS (see ADDRESSES). NMFS finds that the Council’s recommended OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of the groundfish stocks as described in the final 2015 SAFE report. NMFS also finds that the Council’s recommendations for OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the OY range. NMFS reviewed the Council’s recommended TAC specifications and apportionments, and approves these harvest specifications under 50 CFR 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types and sectors, processing sectors, and seasons is discussed below. Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The sums of the 2016 and 2017 ABCs are 727,684 mt and 708,629 mt, PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14741 respectively, which are higher in 2016 and 2017 than the 2015 ABC sum of 685,597 mt (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts NMFS’ apportionment of groundfish species is based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described below. The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2016 and 2017, the SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2015 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2016, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 6,358 mt, an increase of 1,575 mt from the 2015 PWS GHL of 4,783 mt. For 2017, the PWS pollock GHL is 6,264 mt, an increase of 1,481 mt from the 2015 PWS pollock GHL. The 2016 and 2017 pollock ABCs (247,952 mt and 244,280 mt, respectively) are then apportioned between the W/C/WYK management areas, as described below and detailed in Tables 1 and 2. Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be ‘‘apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)’’ rather than ‘‘ABCs.’’ This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC from one area to another pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL and ABC are not exceeded. NMFS establishes pollock TACs in the Western, Central, West Yakutat Regulatory Areas, and the Southeast Outside District of the GOA (see Tables 1 and 2). NMFS also establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14742 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations These apportionments are divided equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Tables 3 and 4 list these amounts. The 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s GHL for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council set the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 12,151 mt; (2) Central GOA, 12,328 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 2,196 mt. These amounts reflect the State’s 2016 and 2017 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the Western GOA ABC and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central ABCs. NMFS establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational sectors. The Pacific cod sector apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section of this preamble. The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Tables 7 and 8 list the final 2016 and 2017 allocations of sablefish TAC to hook-and-line and trawl gear in the GOA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Changes From the Proposed 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications in the GOA In October 2015, the Council’s recommendations for the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (80 FR 76405, December 9, 2015) were based largely on information contained in the final 2014 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see ADDRESSES). The Council proposed that the final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs established for the 2016 groundfish fisheries (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015) be used for the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, pending completion and review of the final 2015 SAFE report at its December 2015 meeting. As described previously, the SSC adopted the final 2016 and 2017 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations for 2016 and 2017. The final 2016 ABCs are higher than the proposed 2016 ABCs published in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (80 FR 76405, December 9, 2015) for pollock, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, big skate, sculpins, and octopuses. The final 2016 ABCs are lower than the proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs for Pacific cod, sablefish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky rockfish, longnose skate, other skates, and sharks. The final 2017 ABCs are higher than the proposed ABCs for shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, big skate, sculpins, and octopuses. The final 2017 ABCs are lower than the proposed ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, deepwater flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky rockfish, longnose skate, ‘‘other skates,’’ and sharks. For the remaining target species—Atka mackerel and squids—the Council recommended, and the Secretary approved, the final 2016 and 2017 ABCs that are the same as the proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs. Additional information explaining the changes between the proposed and final ABCs is included in the final 2015 SAFE report, which was not available when the Council made its proposed ABC and TAC recommendations in October 2015. At that time, the most recent stock assessment information was contained in the final 2014 SAFE report. The final 2015 SAFE report contains the PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 best and most recent scientific information on the condition of the groundfish stocks, as previously discussed in this preamble, and is available for review (see ADDRESSES). The Council considered the final 2015 SAFE report in December 2015 when it made recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. In the GOA, the total final 2016 TAC amount is 590,809 mt, an increase of less than one percent from the total proposed 2016 TAC amount of 590,161 mt. The total final 2017 TAC amount is 573,872 mt, a decrease of 3 percent from the total proposed 2017 TAC amount of 590,161 mt. The following table in this preamble summarizes the difference between the proposed and final TACs. Annual stock assessments incorporate a variety of new or revised inputs, such as survey data or catch information, as well as changes to the statistical models used to estimate a species’ biomass and population trend. Based on changes in the estimates of overall biomass made by stock assessment scientists for 2016 and 2017, as compared to the estimates previously made for 2015 and 2016, the greatest TAC increases are for shallow-water flatfish, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, big skate, and octopuses. Notable increases include those for octopuses and other rockfish. The increase in the octopus ABC and TAC is a result of the increased octopus biomass estimates derived from the 2015 GOA trawl survey. The catch of octopus in the survey was unusually large, with octopus present in more than 15 percent of the survey tows. The estimated octopus biomass for the octopus assemblage is an order of magnitude higher than previous estimates. The rougheye rockfish biomass increase is due to both an increase in the catch in the GOA trawl survey, as well the adoption of a revised statistical model incorporating improvements to growth estimation, and a number of other model changes. Based on changes in the estimates of biomass, the greatest decreases in TACs are for Pacific cod, sablefish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, northern rockfish, other skates, and sharks. Notable decreases in TAC include those for deep-water flatfish, rex sole, other skates, and sharks. The GOA trawl survey biomass for deep-water flatfish was the lowest on record. The last full assessment of rex sole was completed in 2011. Incorporating the 2015 trawl survey data and a number of changes to the assessment model resulted in a decrease to estimated biomass, and the corresponding rex sole ABC and TAC. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations The estimated biomass for other skates decreased due to a combination of the decrease in the survey biomass for other skates and a continue refinement of incorporating a random effects model in the other skates assessment model. Finally, the shark TAC decreased primarily due to the implementation of a random effects model for biomass estimation. For all other species and species groups, changes from the proposed to the final TACs are within plus or minus five percent of the proposed TACs. These TAC changes correspond to associated changes in the ABCs and TACs, as recommended by the SSC, AP, and Council. Additionally, based on the Council’s recommended changes in setting the TACs at amounts below ABCs, the greatest decreases in TACs are for shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and ‘‘other rockfish.’’ The Council believed, and NMFS concurs, that setting TACs for the three preceding flatfish species equal to ABCs would not reflect anticipated harvest levels accurately, as the Council and NMFS expect halibut PSC limits to 14743 constrain these fisheries in 2016 and 2017. Detailed information providing the basis for the changes described above is contained in the final 2015 SAFE report. The final TACs are based on the best scientific information available. These TACs are specified in compliance with the harvest strategy described in the proposed and final rules for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. The changes in TACs between the proposed rule and this final rule are compared in Table 1a. TABLE 1a—COMPARISON OF PROPOSED AND FINAL 2016 AND 2017 GOA TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentage] 2016 and 2017 proposed TAC Species 2016 Final TAC 2016 Final minus 2016 proposed TAC Percentage difference 2017 Final TAC 2017 Final minus 2017 proposed TAC Percentage difference Pollock .......................... Pacific cod .................... Sablefish ...................... Shallow-water flatfish ... Deep-water flatfish ....... Rex sole ....................... Arrowtooth flounder ...... Flathead sole ............... Pacific ocean perch ..... Northern rockfish .......... Shortraker rockfish ....... Dusky rockfish .............. Rougheye rockfish ....... Demersal shelf rockfish Thornyhead rockfish .... Other rockfish ............... Atka mackerel .............. Big skate ...................... Longnose skate ............ Other skates ................. Sculpins ........................ Sharks .......................... Squids .......................... Octopuses .................... 257,178 75,202 9,558 32,877 13,177 8,979 103,300 27,759 21,436 4,721 1,323 4,711 1,142 225 1,841 1,811 2,000 3,255 3,218 2,235 5,569 5,989 1,148 1,507 257,872 71,925 9,087 36,763 9,226 7,493 103,300 27,832 24,437 4,004 1,286 4,686 1,328 231 1,961 2,308 2,000 3,814 3,206 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 694 ¥3,277 ¥471 3,886 ¥3,951 ¥1,486 0 73 3,001 ¥717 ¥37 ¥25 186 6 120 497 0 559 ¥12 ¥316 22 ¥1,475 0 3,371 0 ¥4 ¥5 12 ¥30 ¥17 0 0 14 ¥15 ¥3 ¥1 16 3 7 27 0 17 0 ¥14 0 ¥25 0 224 254,200 62,150 8,307 34,855 9,281 7,507 103,300 27,850 24,189 3,768 1,286 4,284 1,325 231 1,961 2,308 2,000 3,814 3,206 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 ¥2,978 ¥13,052 ¥1,251 1,978 ¥3,896 ¥1,472 0 91 2,753 ¥953 ¥37 ¥427 183 6 120 497 0 559 ¥12 ¥316 22 ¥1,475 0 3,371 ¥1 ¥17 ¥13 6 ¥30 ¥16 0 0 13 ¥20 ¥3 ¥9 16 3 7 27 0 17 0 ¥14 0 ¥25 0 224 Total ...................... 590,161 590,809 648 0 573,872 ¥16,289 ¥3 The final 2016 and 2017 TAC recommendations for the GOA are within the OY range established for the GOA and do not exceed the ABC for any species or species group. Tables 1 and 2 list the final OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts for GOA groundfish for 2016 and 2017, respectively. TABLE 1—FINAL 2016 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Species Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ....................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 322,858 13,226 56,494 124,927 57,183 9,348 254,310 9,920 56,494 124,927 57,183 9,348 247,952 9,920 Total ........................................................ 336,084 264,230 257,872 W .................................................................... n/a 40,503 28,352 Pacific cod 3 .................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:58 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 OFL Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM ABC 18MRR1 TAC 14744 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1—FINAL 2016 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL ABC TAC C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 10,326 9,087 9,087 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 20,851 19,242 3,177 1,094 13,250 19,242 3,177 1,094 54,520 44,364 36,763 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 186 3,495 2,997 2,548 186 3,495 2,997 2,548 11,102 9,226 9,226 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,315 4,445 766 967 1,315 4,445 766 967 9,791 7,493 7,493 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a ........................ 28,183 107,981 37,368 12,656 14,500 75,000 6,900 6,900 219,430 186,188 103,300 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 11,027 20,211 2,930 852 8,650 15,400 2,930 852 42,840 35,020 27,832 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... W/C/WYK subtotal ......................................... SEO ................................................................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 26,313 2,118 2,737 17,033 2,847 22,617 1,820 2,737 17,033 2,847 22,617 1,820 28,431 24,437 24,437 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 457 3,547 4 457 3,547 ........................ 4,783 4,004 4,004 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 38 301 947 38 301 947 Total ........................................................ Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... 1,272 4,023 1,475 2,317 3,792 Total ........................................................ ...................................... 1,272 4,023 1,475 2,317 3,792 Total ........................................................ Pacific ocean n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Total ........................................................ perch 7 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... Total ........................................................ Flathead sole .................................................. 71,925 Total ........................................................ Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... 98,600 Total ........................................................ Rex sole .......................................................... 116,700 Total ........................................................ Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ 36,984 6,589 Total ........................................................ Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... 49,312 8,785 Total ........................................................ Sablefish 4 ....................................................... n/a n/a 1,715 1,286 1,286 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... n/a n/a 173 4,147 173 4,147 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14745 TABLE 1—FINAL 2016 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL ABC TAC WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skate 15 ...................................................... Longnose skate 16 ........................................... Other skates 17 ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopus ........................................................... Total ......................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 105 707 516 105 707 516 1,596 1,328 1,328 SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 364 n/a n/a n/a 231 291 988 682 231 291 988 682 2,615 1,961 1,961 W and C ......................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a 1,534 574 3,665 1,534 574 200 7,424 5,773 2,308 GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,700 908 1,850 1,056 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 5,086 3,814 3,814 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 61 2,513 632 61 2,513 632 Total ........................................................ Other rockfish 13 14 ........................................... 4,686 Total ........................................................ Demersal shelf ............................... Thornyhead rockfish ....................................... 4,686 Total ........................................................ rockfish 12 5,733 Total ........................................................ .......... 275 91 Total ........................................................ Rougheye and Blackspotted 275 91 Total ........................................................ rockfish 11 n/a n/a 4,274 3,206 3,206 ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. 2,558 7,338 6,020 1,530 6,504 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 ......................................................................... 892,964 727,684 590,809 GW GW GW GW GW asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-wide). 2 The aggregate pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas is apportioned among four statistical areas after deducting 2.5 percent of the ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 3. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod in the Eastern Regulatory Area is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 5 lists the final 2016 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gear in 2016. Table 7 lists the final 2016 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes the 4 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinis. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14746 15 ‘‘Big Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations skate’’ means Raja binoculata. 16 ‘‘Longnose skate’’ means Raja rhina. 17 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja spp. TABLE 2—FINAL 2017 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ....................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 289,937 13,226 55,657 123,078 56,336 9,209 250,544 9,920 55,657 123,078 56,336 9,209 244,280 9,920 Total ........................................................ 303,163 260,464 254,200 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 34,998 42,610 7,592 24,499 31,958 5,693 Total ........................................................ 100,800 85,200 62,150 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 3,466 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 3,466 Total ........................................................ 9,825 8,307 8,307 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 19,159 17,680 2,919 1,006 13,250 17,680 2,919 1,006 Total ........................................................ 50,220 40,764 34,855 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 187 3,516 3,015 2,563 187 3,516 3,015 2,563 Total ........................................................ 11,168 9,281 9,281 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,318 4,453 767 969 1,318 4,453 767 969 Total ........................................................ 9,810 7,507 7,507 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 28,659 109,804 37,999 12,870 14,500 75,000 6,900 6,900 Total ........................................................ 196,714 189,332 103,300 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 11,080 20,307 2,944 856 8,650 15,400 2,944 856 Total ........................................................ 43,060 35,187 27,850 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... W/C/WYK ....................................................... SEO ................................................................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 23,876 973 2,709 16,860 2,818 22,387 1,802 2,709 16,860 2,818 22,387 1,802 Total ........................................................ 28,141 24,189 24,189 Pacific cod 3 Sablefish 4 .................................................... ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Flathead sole .................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 OFL Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM ABC 18MRR1 TAC Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14747 TABLE 2—FINAL 2017 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Northern rockfish 8 ABC TAC Longnose skate 16 ........................................... skates 17 Other ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopus ........................................................... Total ......................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 38 301 947 38 301 947 1,715 1,286 1,286 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a 159 3,791 251 83 159 3,791 251 83 5,253 4,284 4,284 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 105 705 515 105 705 515 1,592 1,325 1,325 SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 364 n/a n/a n/a 231 291 988 682 231 291 988 682 2,615 1,961 1,961 W and C ......................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a 1,534 574 3,665 1,534 574 200 7,424 5,773 2,308 GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 4,700 908 1,850 1,056 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 5,086 3,814 3,814 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... n/a n/a n/a 61 2,513 632 61 2,513 632 Total ........................................................ Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skate 15 ...................................................... 3,768 Total ........................................................ Other rockfish 13 14 .......................................... 3,768 Total ........................................................ Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish ....................................... 4,501 Total ........................................................ Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... 430 3,338 ........................ Total ........................................................ .............................................. 430 3,338 4 Total ........................................................ Dusky rockfish10 ........................................ n/a n/a n/a Total ........................................................ rockfish 9 W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... Total ........................................................ Shortraker .......................................... OFL 4,274 3,206 3,206 ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. 2,558 7,338 6,020 1,530 6,504 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 ......................................................................... 815,875 708,629 573,872 GW GW GW GW GW asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-wide). 2 The aggregate pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas is apportioned among four statistical areas after deducting 2.5 percent of the ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 4. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod in the Eastern Regulatory Area is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 6 lists the final 2017 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is only allocated to trawl gear for 2017. Table 8 lists the final 2017 allocation of sablefish TACs to trawl gear. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14748 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes the 4 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinis. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 15 ‘‘Big skate’’ means Raja binoculata. 16 ‘‘Longnose skate’’ means Raja rhina. 17 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja spp. 8 ‘‘Northern Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposed reapportionment of all the reserves in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76405). NMFS did not receive any public comments on the proposed reapportionments. For the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, NMFS reapportioned, as proposed, all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. The TACs listed in Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionments of reserve amounts for these species and species groups. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. However, for 2016 and 2017, the Council recommended, and NMFS approves, averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the migration patterns and distribution of pollock, and the anticipated performance of the fishery, in that area during the A season for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. For the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 6 percent, 73 percent, and 21 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 6 percent, 85 percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 41 percent, 26 percent, and 33 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The pollock TACs in the WYK and SEO District of 9,348 mt and 9,920 mt, respectively, in 2016, and 9,209 mt and 9,920 mt, respectively, in 2017, are not allocated by season. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component. Tables 3 and 4 list the final 2016 and 2017 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14749 TABLE 3—FINAL 2016 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GOA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01] Season 1 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 2 A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 3,827 3,826 24,421 24,421 6.41% 6.41% 40.94% 40.94% 43,374 50,747 15,404 15,402 72.71% 85.07% 25.82% 25.82% 12,456 5,083 19,822 19,822 20.88% 8.52% 33.23% 33.23% 59,651 59,651 59,651 59,651 Annual Total .......... 56,494 ........................ 124,927 ........................ 57,183 ........................ 238,604 1 As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 2 The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. TABLE 4—FINAL 2017 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GOA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01] Season 1 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 2 A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 3,769 3,769 24,060 24,060 6.41% 6.41% 40.94% 40.94% 42,732 49,996 15,176 15,175 72.71% 85.07% 25.82% 25.82% 12,272 5,007 19,529 19,529 20.88% 8.52% 33.23% 33.23% 58,768 58,768 58,768 58,768 Annual Total .......... 55,657 ........................ 123,078 ........................ 56,336 ........................ 235,071 1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 2 The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA between the inshore and offshore components. NMFS allocates the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TAC based on these sector allocations annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern GOA; seasonally between vessels using jig gear, catcher vessels (CVs) using hookand-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the Western GOA; seasonally between vessels using jig gear, CVs less than 50 feet length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs greater than or equal to 50 feet length overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the Central GOA. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:59 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that NMFS determines is likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishery year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) that use jig gear before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (See Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 of 2 years. NMFS has evaluated the 2015 harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector as follows. NMFS allocates the jig sector 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This is the same amount as the 2015 jig sector allocation, because in 2015 this sector harvested less than 90 percent of the initial 2015 allocation. The 2016 and 2017 allocations include a base allocation of 1.5 percent, and an additional 2.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 and 2014 allocations in the Western GOA. NMFS also allocates the jig sector 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This is the same amount as the 2015 jig sector allocation, because in 2015 this sector harvested less than 90 percent of the initial 2015 allocation. The 2016 and 2017 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional increases in the Central GOA. Tables 5 and 6 list the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14750 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 5—FINAL 2016 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual allocation amount] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 992 383 5,417 10,506 657 10,397 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 595 192 2,982 7,579 246 5,417 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 397 192 2,435 2,927 410 4,979 Total ....................................................................... 28,352 60.00 17,011 40.00 11,341 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line < 50 CV ................................................. Hook-and-line ≥ 50 CV ................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV1 ..................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 370 5,347 2,456 1,869 15,226 1,537 10,180 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.14 2.00 17.83 222 3,411 2,054 1,504 7,738 734 6,528 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 148 1,936 402 365 7,487 804 3,652 Total ....................................................................... 36,984 60.00 22,190 40.00 14,794 Eastern GOA ........................................................................ 6,589 5,930 Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 659 Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) 1 Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,409 mt, of the annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 12). TABLE 6—FINAL 2017 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual allocation amount.] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) 857 331 4,681 9,078 567 8,984 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 514 165 2,577 6,549 213 4,681 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 343 165 2,104 2,530 355 4,303 Total ....................................................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 24,499 60.00 14,699 40.00 9,799 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line < 50 CV ................................................. Hook-and-line ≥ 50 CV ................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV 1 ..................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 320 4,620 2,122 1,615 13,156 1,328 8,797 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.14 2.00 17.83 192 2,947 1,775 1,299 6,687 634 5,641 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 128 1,673 347 316 6,470 694 3,156 Total ....................................................................... 31,958 60.00 19,175 40.00 12,783 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14751 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 6—FINAL 2017 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual allocation amount.] A Season Regulatory area and sector Annual allocation (mt) Eastern GOA ........................................................................ ........................ Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 5,124 569 5,693 1 Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,218 mt, of the annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table13). Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using Hook-andLine and Trawl Gear Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS approves the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. NMFS allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This action results in a 2016 allocation of 190 mt to trawl gear and 1,285 mt to hook-and-line gear in the WYK District, a 2016 allocation of 2,317 mt to hook-and-line gear in the SEO District, and a 2017 allocation of 173 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 7 lists the allocations of the 2016 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 8 lists the allocations of the 2017 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that this Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on recent sablefish survey information. The Council also recommended that only a trawl sablefish TAC be established for two years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins March 19, 2016, the Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis, rather than for two years, so that the best scientific information available could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. With the exception of the trawl allocations that were provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives, directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. TABLE 7—FINAL 2016 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS IN THE GOA AND ALLOCATIONS TO HOOK-AND-LINE AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central ......................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 1 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 1,272 4,023 1,475 2,317 1,017 3,218 1,285 2,317 255 805 190 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 9,087 7,837 1,250 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 1 The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 8—FINAL 2017 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS IN THE GOA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District Western ........................................................................................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Hook-and-line allocation TAC Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 1,163 18MRR1 n/a Trawl allocation 233 14752 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 8—FINAL 2017 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS IN THE GOA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/District Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Central ......................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 3,678 1,348 2,118 n/a n/a n/a 736 173 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 8,307 n/a 1,142 1 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 2 The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. Demersal Shelf Rockfish (DSR) The recommended 2016 and 2017 DSR TAC is 231 mt, and management of DSR is delegated to the State. The Alaska Board of Fish has apportioned the annual SEO District DSR TACs between the commercial fishery (84 percent) and the sport fishery (16 percent) after deductions were made for anticipated subsistence harvests (7 mt). This results in 2016 and 2017 allocations of 188 mt to the commercial fishery and 36 mt to the sport fishery. The State deducts estimates of incidental catch of DSR in the commercial halibut fishery and test fishery mortality from the DSR commercial fishery allocation. In 2015, this resulted in 32 mt being available for the directed commercial DSR fishery apportioned in one DSR district. The State estimated that there was not sufficient DSR quota available to have orderly fisheries in the three other DSR districts. DSR harvest in the halibut fishery is linked to the annual halibut catch limits; therefore the State can only estimate potential DSR incidental catch because halibut catch limits are established by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Federally permitted CVs using hook-and-line or jig gear fishing for groundfish and Pacific halibut in the SEO District of the GOA are required to retain all DSR (§ 679.20(j)). Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program These final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA include the various fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Central GOA Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary and secondary species, allows participants holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) in the Central GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish). Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the trawl halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deepwater species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d)), which includes 117 mt to the trawl CV sector and 74 mt to the trawl C/P sector. Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2016 and 2017. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it is the maximum percent of the TAC for that species. In 2015, the catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not increasing the entry level longline fishery 2016 and 2017 allocations in the Central GOA. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 9 lists the allocations of the 2016 and 2017 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percent of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES TABLE 9—FINAL 2016 AND INITIAL 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA Rockfish primary species 2016 and 2017 allocations Incremental increase in 2017 if ≥ 90% of 2016 allocation is harvested Pacific ocean perch .................................. Northern rockfish ...................................... Dusky rockfish .......................................... 5 metric tons ........................................... 5 metric tons ........................................... 30 metric tons ......................................... 5 metric tons ........................................... 5 metric tons ........................................... 20 metric tons ......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Up to maximum % of TAC 1% 2% 5% 14753 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of the rockfish primary species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Tables 10 and 11 list the final 2016 and 2017 allocations of rockfish primary species in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery and Rockfish CV and C/P Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also is setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 2,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 200 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these final harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and C/ P cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year, therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2016 and 2017 allocations in conjunction with these final harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/ central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1. TABLE 10—FINAL 2016 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance TAC Allocation to the entry level longline1 fishery TAC minus ICA Allocation to the Rockfish Cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 17,033 3,547 4,147 1,500 300 250 15,533 3,247 3,897 5 5 30 15,528 3,242 3,867 Total .............................................................................. 24,727 2,050 22,677 40 22,637 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. Cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives. TABLE 11—FINAL 2017 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance TAC Allocation to the entry level longline1 fishery TAC minus ICA Allocation to the Rockfish Cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 16,860 3,338 3,791 1,500 300 250 15,360 3,038 3,541 5 5 30 15,355 3,033 3,511 Total .............................................................................. 23,989 2,050 21,939 40 21,899 1 Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. 2 Rockfish Cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives. Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/ P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Tables 12 and 13 list the apportionments of the 2016 and 2017 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives. TABLE 12—FINAL 2016 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Pacific cod ........................................................ Sablefish .......................................................... Shortraker rockfish ........................................... Rougheye rockfish ........................................... Thornyhead rockfish ........................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:00 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Catcher vessel cooperatives Annual Central GOA TAC Rockfish secondary species PO 00000 Percentage of TAC 36,984 4,023 301 707 988 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.00 0.00 7.84 Sfmt 4700 Catcher/processor cooperatives Percentage of TAC 1,409 273 ............................ ............................ 77 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 0.00 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 18MRR1 Apportionment (mt) ............................ 141 120 416 262 14754 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 13—FINAL 2017 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Catcher vessel cooperatives Annual Central GOA TAC Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ........................................................ Sablefish .......................................................... Shortraker rockfish ........................................... Rougheye rockfish ........................................... Thornyhead rockfish ........................................ Percentage of TAC 31,958 3,678 301 705 988 Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.00 0.00 7.84 Section 679.21(d) establishes the annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-andline gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. Amendment 95 to the FMP (79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) implemented measures establishing GOA halibut PSC limits in Federal regulations and reducing the halibut PSC limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. These reductions are incorporated into the final 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits. For most gear and operational types, the halibut PSC limit reductions were phased-in over 3 years, beginning in 2014 and ending in 2016. The final reduction to PSC limits in 2016 will carry forward to 2017 and subsequent years. In December 2015, the Council incorporated these reductions into its recommended final PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 256 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the DSR fishery. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. Percentage of TAC 1,218 249 ............................ ............................ 77 The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-andline gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2016 and 2017. The Council recommended, and NMFS approves, these exemptions because (1) the pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a catcher vessel holds unused halibut IFQ (§ 679.7(f)(11)); (3) sablefish IFQ fishermen typically hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates that halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2015. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through December 12, 2015, is 1,409 mt for trawl gear and 213 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,622 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent Halibut PSC Limits Catcher/processor cooperatives Apportionment (mt) 0.00 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 ............................ 129 120 415 262 catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require the Council and NMFS to consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut; (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution; (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species; (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis; (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons; (6) expected actual start of fishing effort; and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. The Council considered information from the 2015 SAFE report, NMFS catch data, State of Alaska catch data, IPHC stock assessment and mortality data, and public testimony when apportioning the halibut PSC limits. NMFS concurs with the Council’s recommendations listed in Table 14, which show the final 2016 and 2017 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be deducted from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. TABLE 14—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent Season January 20–April 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 DSR Amount 27.5 Jkt 238001 469 PO 00000 Percent January 1–June 10. Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Amount 86 Sfmt 4700 Season 221 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM January 1–December 31. 18MRR1 Amount 9 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14755 TABLE 14—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS—Continued [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent Season April 1–July 1 ...... 20 341 July 1–September 1. September 1–October 1. October 1–December 31. 30 512 7.5 Total ............ DSR Amount 128 June 10–September 1. September 1–December 31. ............................ 15 256 ........................ 1,706 Percent Amount Season Amount 2 5 ............................ ........................ 12 31 ............................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ............................ ........................ ............................ ........................ ........................ ............................ ........................ ............................ ........................ 257 ............................ 9 1 The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during the fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and ‘‘other species’’ (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 15 lists the final 2016 and 2017 apportionments of halibut PSC trawl limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the shallowwater species fishery categories. Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/ P sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing with trawl gear for the remainder of the fishing year. TABLE 15—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENT OF PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC TRAWL LIMITS BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERY AND THE SHALLOW-WATER SPECIES FISHERY CATEGORIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Deep-water 1 Shallow-water Total January 20–April 1 ............................................................................................................. April 1–July 1 ...................................................................................................................... July 1–September 1 ........................................................................................................... September 1–October 1 ..................................................................................................... 384 85 171 128 85 .................... 256 .................. 341 .................. Any remainder 469 341 512 128 Subtotal January 20–October 1 .................................................................................. 768 682 .................. 1,450 October 1–December 312 .................................................................................................. ............................ ......................... 256 Total ..................................................................................................................... ............................ ......................... 1,706 1 Vessels asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fishery categories during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be apportioned between CVs and C/Ps in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here. PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Pursuant to § 679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC limit is apportioned between the CV and C/P sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the proportion of the Pacific cod biomass. Pacific cod is apportioned E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14756 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations among these two management areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as calculated in the 2015 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated information in the final 2015 SAFE report describes this distributional change, which is based on allocating ABC among regulatory areas on the basis of the three most recent stock surveys. The distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC has changed to 41 percent Western GOA, 50 percent Central GOA, and 9 percent Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent change in GOA Pacific cod distribution with respect to establishing the annual halibut PSC limits for the CV and C/P hook-and-line sectors. The annual halibut PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS apportions halibut PSC limits of 128 mt and 129 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-andline C/P sectors, respectively. Table 16 lists the final 2016 and 2017 apportionments of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors. No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-andline sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)). TABLE 16—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERIES’’ ANNUAL HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and-line sector 257 ............................. Catcher Vessel ......... 129 Catcher/Processor .... 128 Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition The IPHC annually assesses the abundance and potential yield of the Pacific halibut using all available data from the commercial and sport fisheries, other removals, and scientific surveys. Additional information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may be found in the IPHC’s 2015 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 2015), available on the IPHC Web site at www.iphc.int. The IPHC considered the 2015 Pacific halibut stock assessment at its January 2016 annual meeting when it set the 2016 commercial halibut fishery catch limits. Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Sector annual amount Seasonal percentage Season January 1–June 10 ....................................... June 10–September 1 .................................. September 1–December 31 ......................... January 1–June 10 ....................................... June 10–September 1 .................................. September 1–December 31 ......................... Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, discard mortality 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 GOA groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 14, 15 and 16). The IPHC developed these DMRs for the 2016 and 2017 GOA fisheries using the 10-year mean DMRs for those fisheries. Long- 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 111 3 15 110 3 15 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 17 lists the final 2016 and 2017 DMRs. TABLE 17—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Mortality rate (%) asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Gear Target fishery Hook-and-line .............................................................................. Other fisheries1 .......................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. Rockfish ..................................................................................... Arrowtooth flounder .................................................................... Deep-water flatfish ..................................................................... Flathead sole ............................................................................. Non-pelagic pollock .................................................................... Other fisheries1 .......................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. Trawl ........................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 10 10 10 76 62 67 58 62 62 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14757 TABLE 17—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Pot ............................................................................................... 1 Other Pelagic pollock ........................................................................... Rex sole ..................................................................................... Rockfish ..................................................................................... Sablefish .................................................................................... Shallow-water flatfish ................................................................. Other fisheries1 .......................................................................... Pacific cod .................................................................................. 65 72 65 59 66 15 15 fisheries includes all gear types for skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, octopuses, and hook-and-line sablefish. Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits Amendment 93 to the GOA FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in the directed pollock fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(6)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set at § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In addition, all salmon (regardless of species) taken in the pollock directed fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until the manager of a shoreside processor or stationary floating processor has accurately recorded the number of salmon by species in the eLandings groundfish landing report; and if an observer is present at the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch, the observer is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon (§ 679.21(h)(4)). Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps, 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl catcher vessels participating in the Central GOA asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Mortality rate (%) Target fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Rockfish Program, and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl catcher vessels not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program that are fishing for groundfish species other than pollock (§ 679.21(i)(3)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl catcher vessels not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limits its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a specified threshold amount in 2015, that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2016 Chinook salmon PSC limit (§ 679.21(i)(3)). In 2015, the trawl C/P sector did not exceed 3,120 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore the 2016 trawl C/ Ps Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 4,080 Chinook salmon. In 2015, the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector exceeded 2,340 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore the 2016 Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector limit will be 2,700 Chinook salmon. American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limitations on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of groundfish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/ Ps from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 groundfish landings from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. Tables 18 and 19 list the final 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Tables 18 and 19. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14758 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 18—FINAL 2016 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/ gear A Season, January 20– March 10. B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–October 1. D Season, October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season,1 January 1–June 10. B Season,2 September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, Shallow-water .......... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish ................................ Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skates .............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00070 Area/component Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC Final 2016 TACs Final 2016 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit Shumagin (610) .................... 0.6047 3,827 2,314 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 43,374 12,456 3,826 50,747 5,083 24,421 5,062 2,526 2,313 5,922 1,031 14,767 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 15,404 19,822 24,421 1,798 4,020 14,767 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 15,402 19,822 9,348 9,920 17,011 1,797 4,020 3,267 3,467 2,264 C ........................................... W .......................................... 0.0692 0.1331 22,190 11,341 1,536 1,509 C ........................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... 0.0692 0.0079 0.0078 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 0.0000 0.0647 0.0128 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 0.0036 0.0213 0.0009 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 0.0003 0.0277 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 0.0020 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 0.1699 0.0000 0.0309 0.0063 14,794 5,930 659 255 805 190 13,250 19,242 4,271 186 3,495 5,545 1,315 4,445 1,733 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,782 2,737 17,033 4,667 457 3,547 38 301 947 173 4,147 366 105 707 516 231 291 988 682 1,534 774 2,000 908 1,024 47 5 ........................ 52 8 207 1,130 54 ........................ 226 71 1 171 5 30 2,100 3 31 328 3 6 1,274 217 0 98 ........................ 7 10 0 ........................ 2 ........................ 17 6 0 8 28 19 261 ........................ 62 6 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14759 TABLE 18—FINAL 2016 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/ gear Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual 1 The 2 The ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Area/component C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 Final 2016 TACs 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 Final 2016 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 12 7 0 16 4 12 35 28 7 31 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. TABLE 19—FINAL 2017 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/ gear A Season, January 20– March 10. B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–October 1. D Season, October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season,1 January 1–June 10. B Season,2 September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, Shallow-water .......... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish ................................ Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Area/component Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Final 2017 TACs Final 2017 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit Shumagin (610) .................... 0.6047 3,769 2,279 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 4,987 2,489 2,279 5,835 1,015 14,549 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 15,176 19,529 24,060 1,771 3,960 14,549 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 15,175 19,529 9,209 9,920 14,699 1,771 3,960 3,219 3,467 1,956 C ........................................... W .......................................... 0.0692 0.1331 19,175 9,799 1,327 1,304 C ........................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... 0.0692 0.0079 0.0078 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 0.0000 0.0647 0.0128 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 0.0036 12,783 5,124 569 233 736 173 13,250 17,680 3,925 187 3,516 5,578 1,318 4,453 1,736 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 885 40 4 ........................ 47 8 207 1,038 49 ........................ 227 71 1 171 5 30 2,100 3 31 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14760 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 19—FINAL 2017 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Apportionments by season/ gear Species Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skates .............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual 1 The 2 The ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Area/component C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Final 2017 TACs 0.0213 0.0009 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 0.0003 0.0277 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 0.0020 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 0.1699 0.0000 0.0309 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 15,400 3,800 2,709 16,860 4,620 430 3,338 38 301 947 159 3,791 334 105 705 515 231 291 988 682 1,534 774 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 Final 2017 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 328 3 6 1,261 215 0 92 ........................ 7 10 0 ........................ 2 ........................ 17 6 0 8 28 19 261 ........................ 62 6 12 7 0 16 4 12 35 28 7 31 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)). Table 20 lists the final 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, respectively. The 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries categories proportionately incorporate reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments (see Table 14). TABLE 20—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ........................ January 20–April 1 .......................... 2 ........................ April 1–July 1 .................................. 3 ........................ July 1–September 1 ........................ 2016 and 2017 PSC limit 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 384 85 85 256 171 341 131 6 29 18 58 24 shallow-water .................................. deep-water ...................................... shallow-water .................................. deep-water ...................................... shallow-water .................................. deep-water ...................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14761 TABLE 20—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA—Continued [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Season dates Target fishery 4 ........................ September 1–October 1 ................. 5 ........................ October 1–December 31 ................ 2016 and 2017 PSC limit 2016 and 2017 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit 0.340 0.070 0.205 128 0 256 44 0 52 1,706 Season 362 shallow-water .................................. deep-water ...................................... all targets ........................................ Total: .......... Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to catch made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Tables 21 and 22 list the final 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. TABLE 21—FINAL 2016 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Area/component/ gear Season/gear A Season, January 20– March 10. B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–October 1. D Season, October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Pacific cod ............................. A Season,1 January 1–June 10. B Season 2 ............................ Jig Gear: June 10–December 31. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00073 Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Final 2016 TACs Final 2016 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0098 3,827 38 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 43,374 12,456 3,826 50,747 5,083 24,421 134 2 37 157 1 239 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 15,404 19,822 24,421 48 4 239 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W Jig ..................................... 0.0031 0.0002 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 15,402 19,822 9,348 9,920 17,011 48 4 ........................ ........................ ........................ W Hook-and-line CV ............. W Pot CV .............................. W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig ..................................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... W Jig ..................................... W Hook-and-line CV ............. 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0000 0.0004 17,011 17,011 17,011 17,011 22,190 22,190 22,190 22,190 22,190 11,341 11,341 7 1,696 133 12 ........................ 2 1,052 302 27 ........................ 5 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14762 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 21—FINAL 2016 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS— Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area/component/ gear Season/gear All other gears: September 1–December 31. Annual ................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skate ................................ Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skate ..................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish ................................ Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual 1 The 2 The ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00074 Final 2016 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit W Pot CV .............................. 0.0997 11,341 1,131 W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig ..................................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0110 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0005 0.0000 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 0.0000 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 0.0033 0.0000 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 11,341 11,341 14,794 14,794 14,794 14,794 14,794 5,930 659 255 805 190 13,250 19,242 4,271 186 3,495 5,545 1,315 4,445 1,733 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,782 2,737 17,033 4,667 457 3,547 38 301 947 173 4,147 366 105 707 516 231 291 988 682 1,534 774 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 88 8 ........................ 1 701 201 18 65 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 78 2 ........................ 1 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 6 8 ........................ 2 6 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 0 ........................ 0 0 1 0 ........................ ........................ 1 3 0 ........................ 1 7 3 5 ........................ ........................ 36 29 ........................ 2 40 ........................ 34 98 79 20 86 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Final 2016 TACs Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14763 TABLE 22—FINAL 2017 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Season/gear Area/component/gear A Season, January 20– March 10. B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–October 1. D Season, October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season 1 ............................ January 1–June 10 ............... B Season 2 ............................ Jig Gear: June 10–December 31. All other gears: ..................... September 1–December 31 Annual ................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Sablefish ................................ Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00075 Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Final 2017 TACs Final 2017 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W Jig ..................................... W Hook-and-line CV ............. W Pot CV .............................. W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig ..................................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... W Jig ..................................... W Hook-and-line CV ............. 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0000 0.0004 3,769 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 15,176 19,529 24,060 15,175 19,529 9,209 9,920 14,699 14,699 14,699 14,699 14,699 19,175 19,175 19,175 19,175 19,175 9,799 9,799 37 132 2 37 155 1 236 47 4 236 47 4 ........................ ........................ ........................ 6 1,466 115 10 ........................ 2 909 261 23 ........................ 4 W Pot CV .............................. W Pot C/P ............................. W Trawl CV .......................... C Jig ..................................... C Hook-and-line CV ............. C Pot CV .............................. C Pot C/P ............................. C Trawl CV ........................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0110 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0005 0.0000 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 9,799 9,799 9,799 12,783 12,783 12,783 12,783 12,783 5,125 569 233 736 173 13,250 17,680 3,925 187 3,516 5,578 1,318 4,453 1,736 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,800 2,709 16,860 4,620 430 3,338 38 301 947 159 3,791 334 977 76 7 ........................ 1 606 174 15 56 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 ........................ 78 2 1 - 2 6 ........................ 0 0 0 1 0 14764 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 22—FINAL 2017 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH HARVEST SIDEBOARD LIMITS— Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skate ................................ Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose ............................... skate ...................................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 1 The 2 The ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Final 2017 TACs 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 0.0000 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 0.0033 0.0000 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 105 705 515 231 291 988 682 1,534 774 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 Final 2017 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 1 3 0 ........................ 1 7 3 5 ........................ 36 29 2 40 34 98 79 20 86 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the West Yakutat district and Western GOA from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the West Yakutat district and Western GOA from July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access that portion of each sideboard limit that is not assigned to rockfish cooperatives. Tables 23 and 24 list the final 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program C/P sideboard limits in the West Yakutat district and the Western GOA. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat district are not displayed. TABLE 23—FINAL 2016 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HARVEST LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR IN THE WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT AND WESTERN GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery C/P sector (% of TAC) West Yakutat District ..................... Dusky rockfish ............................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Dusky rockfish ............................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Northern rockfish ........................... Confidential 1 ................................. Confidential 1 ................................. 72.3 ............................................... 50.6 ............................................... 74.3 ............................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Western GOA ................................ 1 Not Final 2016 TACs 275 2,847 173 2,737 457 Final 2016 C/P limit Confidential.1 Confidential.1 125. 1,385. 340. released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14765 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 24—FINAL 2017 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HARVEST LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR IN THE WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT AND WESTERN GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery C/P sector (% of TAC) West Yakutat District ..................... Dusky rockfish ............................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Dusky rockfish ............................... Pacific ocean perch ...................... Northern rockfish ........................... Confidential 1 ................................. Confidential 1 ................................. 72.3 ............................................... 50.6 ............................................... 74.3 ............................................... Western GOA ................................ 1 Not Final 2017 TACs Final 2017 C/P limit Confidential.1 Confidential.1 115. 1,371. 319. 251 2,818 159 2,709 430 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in cooperatives receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deepwater and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have optedout of the Rockfish Program in 2016, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboards and post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/ central-goa-rockfish-program. Table 25 lists the 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector. These halibut PSC limits proportionately incorporate reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated season apportionments (see Table 14). TABLE 25—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT MORTALITY LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) 2016 and 2017 halibut mortality limit (mt) Annual shallowwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deepwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Catcher/processor ........................ 0.10 2.50 1,706 2 43 Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC catch limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits listed in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004. Tables 26 and 27 list the final 2016 and 2017 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Tables 26 and 27. TABLE 26—FINAL 2016 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Species Area Pollock ................................... A Season, January 20–February 25. Shumagin (610) .................... 0.003 3,827 11 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... 0.002 0.002 43,374 12,456 87 25 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 2016 TAC (mt) 2016 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) Apportionments and allocations by season 14766 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 26—FINAL 2016 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS—Continued [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Area B Season, March 10–May 31 Species Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 3,826 50,747 5,083 24,421 11 101 10 73 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.002 0.002 0.003 15,404 19,822 24,421 31 40 73 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ W .......................................... 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 15,402 19,822 9,348 17,011 31 40 19 340 C ........................................... W .......................................... 0.044 0.020 22,190 11,341 976 227 C ........................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... W .......................................... WYK ...................................... 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 14,794 6,589 2,737 2,847 457 173 275 651 224 2,721 2,736 457 132 246 C Season, August 25–September 15. D Season, October 1–November 1. Pacific cod ............................. Annual ................................... A Season,1 January 1–June 10. B Season,2 September 1– December 31. Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... 1 The 2 The 2016 TAC (mt) 2016 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) Apportionments and allocations by season Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. TABLE 27—FINAL 2017 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Species Area Pollock ................................... A Season, January 20–February 25. Shumagin (610) .................... 0.003 3,769 11 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 85 25 11 100 10 72 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... 0.002 0.002 0.003 15,176 19,529 24,060 30 39 72 Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ W .......................................... 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 15,175 19,529 9,209 14,699 30 39 18 294 C ........................................... W .......................................... 0.044 0.020 19,175 9,799 844 196 C ........................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... WYK ...................................... W .......................................... W .......................................... 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 12,783 5,694 2,709 2,818 430 159 562 194 2,693 2,708 430 121 B Season, March 10–May 31 C Season, August 25–September 15. D Season, October 1–November 1. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Pacific cod ............................. Annual ................................... A Season,1 January 1–June 10. B Season,2 September 1– December 31. Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 2017 TAC (mt) 2017 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) Apportionments and allocations by season Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 14767 TABLE 27—FINAL 2017 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS—Continued [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Apportionments and allocations by season Species Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998– 2004 catch to TAC Area WYK ...................................... 0.896 2017 TAC (mt) 2017 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) 251 225 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Central GOA Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 28 lists the final 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. These halibut PSC limits proportionately incorporate the reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments (see Table 14). Additionally, residual amounts of a seasonal Amendment 80 sideboard halibut PSC limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)). TABLE 28—FINAL 2016 AND 2017 HALIBUT PSC LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit catch (ratio) 2016 and 2017 annual PSC limit (mt) 2016 and 2017 Amendment 80 vessel PSC limit Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ................... January 20–April 1 ...................... 2 ................... April 1–July 1 .............................. 3 ................... July 1–September 1 .................... 4 ................... September 1–October 1 .............. 5 ................... October 1–December 31 ............. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 ...................................................... ............................ ............................ 474 Total ...... Directed Fishing Closures Pursuant to § 679.20(d)(1)(i), if the Regional Administrator determines (1) that any allocation or apportionment of a target species or species group allocated or apportioned to a fishery will be reached; or (2) with respect to pollock and Pacific cod, that an allocation or apportionment to an inshore or offshore component or sector allocation will be reached, the Regional Administrator may establish a directed fishing allowance (DFA) for that species or species group. 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 GOA regulatory area or district (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iii)). The Regional Administrator has determined that the TACs for the species listed in Table 29 are necessary to account for the incidental catch of these species in other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. TABLE 29—2016 AND 2017 DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES IN THE GOA asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons] Target Area/component/gear Incidental catch amount and year (if amounts differ by year) Pollock .............................................................................. Sablefish 2 ......................................................................... all/offshore ....................................................................... all/trawl ............................................................................. not applicable.1 1,250 (2016), 1,142 (2017). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 14768 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 29—2016 AND 2017 DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES IN THE GOA—Continued [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons] Incidental catch amount and year (if amounts differ by year) Target Area/component/gear Pacific cod ........................................................................ Shortraker rockfish 2 ......................................................... Rougheye rockfish 2 ......................................................... Western, catcher/processor, trawl ................................... Central, catcher/processor, trawl ..................................... all ..................................................................................... all ..................................................................................... Thornyhead rockfish 2 ....................................................... Other rockfish ................................................................... Atka mackerel ................................................................... Big skate ........................................................................... Longnose skate ................................................................ Other skates ..................................................................... Sharks .............................................................................. Squids ............................................................................... Octopuses ........................................................................ all all all all all all all all all 1 Pollock ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... 657 (2016), 567 (2017). 1,537 (2016), 1,328 (2017). 1,286. 1,328 (2016). 1,325 (2017). 1,961. 2,308. 2,000. 3,814. 3,206. 1,919. 4,514. 1,148. 4,878. is closed to directed fishing in the GOA by the offshore component under § 679.20(a)(6)(i). not applicable to participants in cooperatives conducted under the Central GOA Rockfish Program. 2 Closures Consequently, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species or species groups listed in Table 29 as zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for those species, areas, gear types, and components in the GOA listed in Table 29. These closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. Section 679.64(b)(5) provides for management of AFA CV groundfish harvest limits and PSC bycatch limits using directed fishing closures and PSC closures according to procedures set out at §§ 679.20(d)(1)(iv), 679.21(d)(6), and 679.21(e)(3)(v). The Regional Administrator has determined that, in addition to the closures listed above, many of the non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits listed in Tables 18 and 19 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 sets the DFAs for the species and species groups in Table 30 at zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by nonexempt AFA CVs in the GOA for the species and specified areas listed in Table 30. These closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. TABLE 30—2016 AND 2017 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV SIDEBOARD DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES FOR ALL GEAR TYPES IN THE GOA [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons] Regulatory area/district Pacific cod .......................................................... Eastern ............................................................. Shallow-water flatfish ......................................... Deep-water flatfish ............................................. Rex sole ............................................................. Arrowtooth flounder ............................................ Flathead sole ...................................................... Pacific ocean perch ............................................ Northern rockfish ................................................ Dusky rockfish .................................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ...................................... Sculpins .............................................................. Squids ................................................................. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Species Eastern ............................................................. Western ............................................................ Eastern and Western ....................................... Eastern and Western ....................................... Eastern and Western ....................................... Western ............................................................ Western ............................................................ Entire GOA ....................................................... SEO District ..................................................... Entire GOA ....................................................... Entire GOA ....................................................... Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with § 680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Tables 21 and 22 are insufficient to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard DFA at zero mt, with the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 exception of Pacific cod pot CV sector apportionments in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA for all species and species groups listed in Tables 21 and 22, with the exception of the Pacific cod pot CV sector apportionments in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Incidental catch amount 47 (inshore) and 5 (offshore) [2016]. 40 (inshore) and 4 (offshore) [2017]. 54 in 2016, 49 in 2017. 0. 5 and 1. 3 and 30. 3 and 31. 6. 0. 2. 0. 35. 7. Closures implemented under the 2015 and 2016 GOA harvest specifications for groundfish (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015) remain effective under authority of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, and are posted at the following Web site: http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/ search. While these closures are in effect, the maximum retainable amounts E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 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. NMFS may implement other closures during the 2016 and 2017 fishing years as necessary for effective conservation and management. Comments and Responses NMFS received two comment letters containing five substantive comments during the public comment period on the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA. No changes were made to this final rule in response to the comment letters received. These comments are summarized and responded to below. Comment 1: Each commenter expressed general support for the GOA harvest specifications. Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments. Comment 2: The removal of catch limits, such as the Pacific cod sideboard limits established for hook-and-line C/ Ps, should not be implemented as described in the proposed GOA harvest specifications. Response: As described in the preamble of this notice and in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA (80 FR 76405, December 9, 2015), NMFS previously published a final rule implementing regulations associated with Amendment 45 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Amendment 45) (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Regulations implemented through Amendment 45 directly affect the harvest specifications process for establishing sideboard limits for a specific industry sector. Amendment 45 requires that NMFS permanently remove Pacific cod sideboard limits applicable to specified hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/P) in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas once it receives an affidavit affirming that all eligible participants in these regulatory areas recommend removal of the sideboard limits. NMFS received an affidavit that all eligible fishery participants in the Western and Central GOA recommend removal of these sideboard limits. By removing the Pacific cod sideboard limits for the hook-and-line C/P sector from Tables 21 and 22 of this rule, NMFS incorporates the regulatory changes made under Amendment 45 into this final rule. Comment 3: Hook-and-line gear has hazardous effects on local species and ecosystems. For example, if fishing line is lost or improperly discarded in the ocean, it will likely be consumed by a VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 wide variety of animals such as birds, marine mammals, and fish. Because Laysan albatross dive for their prey, increased fishing in hook-and-line fishery may increase the mortality of this species from entanglements. Response: Hook-and-line gear is a legal gear type in the Gulf of Alaska for Pacific cod and a variety of other species. Hook-and-line gear is authorized under both the FMP (available at http://www.npfmc.org/wpcontent/PDFdocuments/fmp/GOA/ GOAfmp.pdf) and regulations at 50 CFR part 679. NMFS monitors the catch of all federally-managed groundfish species in the GOA, by gear type, as part of its fisheries monitoring and catch accounting procedures. This catch information is incorporated into the annual SAFE reports prepared to assess the biomass and population trends for groundfish species (see ADDRESSES). The annual SAFE report includes an ‘‘Ecosystem Considerations’’ chapter that describes and discusses the latest trends associated with physical, environmental, ecosystem, and fisheries components of the GOA. The Plan Team, SSC, and Council use this information during the annual harvest specifications as it considers current and future environmental trends that may affect the TAC limits. NMFS regularly monitors the effects of hook-and-line fisheries and other commercial fisheries on marine mammal stocks. For example, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires NMFS to review marine mammal stock assessment reports annually for stocks designated as strategic, annually for stocks where there are significant new information available, and at least once every 3 years for all other stocks. Each marine mammal stock assessment includes, when available, estimates of annual human-caused mortality and serious injury from interactions with commercial fisheries and subsistence hunters. These data are used to evaluate the progress of each fishery towards achieving the MMPA’s goal of zero fishery-related mortality and serious injury of marine mammals. The most recent (2014) Alaska Marine Mammal stock assessment was released in August 2015 and can be downloaded at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/region.htm. In addition, further information on the effects of commercial fisheries can be found in section 5.3.10 of the SIR. The Alaska Region has been actively addressing seabird incidental take in hook-and-line fisheries off Alaska since 1989. The seabird-related responsibilities and activities include: Consultations under the Endangered PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14769 Species Act, data collection by fishery observers, public and industry outreach and education, research, regulatory action to employ multiple seabird avoidance measures, and participation in the development of actions to reduce the incidental take of seabirds in Alaska fisheries. NMFS has implemented and revised seabird avoidance measures to mitigate interactions between the federal hook-and-line fisheries and seabirds (see 62 FR 23176, April 29, 1997; 63 FR 1930, January 13, 2004; 72 FR 71610, December 18, 2007; 74 FR 13355, March 27, 2009). Currently, operators of vessels longer than 26 ft LOA using hook-and-line gear are required to comply with regulatory seabird avoidance measures (see 50 CFR 679.24(e)(2). Section 5.3.9 of the SIR notes, 2013 seabird estimated bycatch numbers for the combined groundfish fisheries are the lowest since NMFS began estimating bycatch in 1993 (see also http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/ REEM/Seabirds/Seabird%20bycatch %202007%20to%202013_Alaskan %20Gndfish_Dec2014.pdf). Comment 4: Hook-and-line fishing will have an effect on average sizes of certain species of fish. For example, hook-and-line gear tends to catch older, larger Pacific cod because smaller fish are unable to be hooked. This leads to a shift in the Pacific cod population dynamic. Smaller fish will prey on smaller organisms such as zooplankton, putting increased pressure on the foundation of the foodweb. Therefore, NMFS should revise the harvest specifications to limit the use of hookand-line gear. Response: Pacific cod is a stock fished by multiple gear types. Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011) implemented regulations on the amounts of the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs allocated to the hook-and-line sectors. Changing the amount of these regulatory allocations for hook-and-line gear is outside the scope of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest specification for the GOA. The Environmental Assessment for Amendment 83 determined that Amendment 83 would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment. In addition, all beneficial and adverse impacts of the proposed action have been addressed to reach the conclusion of no significant impacts (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sites/ default/files/analyses/ earirfrfa0911.pdf). The primary categories of information considered in the stock assessment are catch, abundance, and biology. The catch data includes the gear type and length, the abundance data (biomass E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14770 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations and numbers of fish) from surveys includes length and age, and the biological data includes information on fish size, age, reproductive rates, and movement. The effects of using hookand-line gear is incorporated in the stock assessment and informs NMFS on changes in Pacific cod population dynamics. Also, an evaluation of the effects of the GOA Pacific cod fisheries on the ecosystem is conducted annually in the Ecosystem Considerations chapter and in the groundfish SAFE. The Ecosystems Consideration chapter includes detailed information and updates on the status and trends of ecosystem components, like zooplankton, as well as either early signals of direct human effects on ecosystem components that might warrant management intervention or evidence of the efficacy of previous management actions. Based on the Ecosystem Considerations chapter in the 2015 SAFE report, NMFS concludes that the current GOA Pacific cod fishery does not produce population-level impacts to marine species or change ecosystem-level attributes beyond the range of natural variation. Comment 5: Trawl fishing should not be allowed in the GOA because of negative environmental consequences such as disturbing non-target species and increased sedimentation in the ocean. Therefore, NMFS should revise the harvest specifications to limit the use of trawl fishing gear. Response: Trawl gear is a legal gear type in the Gulf of Alaska for a variety of groundfish species. Similar to hookand-line gear, pelagic and non-pelagic trawl gear are authorized under both the FMP and regulations at 50 CFR part 679. 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 marine habitat. In a recent example, NMFS established a no-trawl protection area in Marmot Bay, northeast of Kodiak Island and required the use of modified nonpelagic trawl gear when fishing for flatfish in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA (79 FR 2794), January 16, 2014). The Council conducts a complete review of Essential Fish Habitat once every 5 years, and regularly solicits proposals on Habitat Areas of Particular Concern and/or conservation and enhancement measures to minimize potential adverse effects from fishing. More broadly, the Council and NMFS have incorporated habitat provisions set forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act into the FMP (available at http:// www.npfmc.org, see Section 4.2). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Classification NMFS has determined that these final harvest specifications are consistent 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 for 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 2015, 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 preferred alternative is a harvest strategy in which TACs are set at a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the Council’s SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. 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 substantial 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 National Environmental Policy Act 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 PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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 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 76405). NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) to accompany this action, and included a summary in the proposed rule. The comment period closed on January 8, 2016. No comments were received on the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule more generally. The entities directly regulated by this action include (1) entities operating vessels with groundfish FFPs catching FMP groundfish in Federal waters; (2) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the statewaters parallel fisheries; and (3) all E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations entities operating vessels fishing for halibut inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs). 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. Fishing vessels are considered small entities if their total annual gross receipts, from all their activities combined, are less than $20.5 million. 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. Based on data from 2014 fishing activity, there were 915 individual catcher vessel entities with gross revenues meeting small entity criteria. Of these entities, 853 used hook-andline gear, 97 used pot gear, and 34 used trawl gear (some of these entities used more than one gear type, thus the counts of entities using the different gear types do not sum to the total number of entities above). Four individual catcher/ processors met the small entity criterion; three used hook-and-line gear, and one used trawl gear. Catcher/ processor gross revenues were not reported for confidentiality reasons, however hook-and-line small entities had average gross revenues of $400,000, small pot entities had average gross revenues of $740,000, and small trawl entities had average gross revenues of $2.5 million. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, of GOA rockfish cooperatives, or of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization cooperatives and, therefore, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. These relationships are accounted for, along VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 with corporate affiliations among vessels, to the extent that they are known, in the estimated number of small entities. If affiliations exist of which NMFS is unaware, or if entities had non-fishing revenue sources, the estimates above may overstate the number of directly regulated small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements. NMFS considered other, alternative harvest strategies when choosing the preferred harvest strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These included the following: • Alternative 1: Set TACs to produce fishing mortality rates, F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TACs is constrained by the OY established in the FMPs. This is equivalent to setting TACs to produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible ABCs, 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, TACs 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, TACs 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 ABCs, and recent average F may provide a better indicator of actual F than FABC does. • Alternative 4: (1) Set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 3 at F75%. Set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M. Set spatially explicit TACs for shortraker and rougheye rockfish in the GOA. (2) Taking the rockfish TACs as calculated above, reduce all other TACs by a proportion that does not vary across species, so that the sum of all TACs, including rockfish TACs, is equal to the lower bound of the area OY (116,000 mt in the GOA). This alternative sets conservative and spatially explicit TACs for rockfish species that are long-lived and late to mature and sets conservative TACs for the other groundfish species. PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14771 • Alternative 5: (No Action) Set TACs at zero. These four alternatives 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 did so in 2007. Alternative 1 selected harvest rates that will allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests are constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 metric tons. The sums of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 are 727,684 mt and 708,629 mt, respectively. The sums of the TACs in 2016 and 2017 are 590,809 mt and 573,872 mt, respectively. Thus, although the sum of ABCs in each year is less than 800,000 metric tons, the sums of the TACs in each year are less than the sums of the ABCs. In most cases, the Council has set TACs equal to ABCs. The divergence between aggregate TACs and aggregate ABCs reflects a variety of special species- and fishery-specific circumstances: • Pacific cod TACs are set equal to 70 percent in the Western GOA and 75 percent in the Central GOA of the Pacific cod ABCs in each year to account for the guideline harvest levels (GHL) set by the State of Alaska for its GHL Pacific cod fisheries (30 and 25 percent, respectively, of the Western and Central GOA ABCs). Thus, the difference between the Federal TACs and ABCs does not actually reflect a Pacific cod harvest below the Pacific cod ABC, as the balance is available for the State’s cod GHL fisheries. • Shallow-water flatfish and flathead sole TACs are set below ABCs in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. Arrowtooth flounder TACs are set below ABC in all GOA regulatory areas. Catches of these flatfish species rarely, if ever, approach the proposed ABCs or TACs. Important trawl fisheries in the GOA take halibut PSC, and are constrained by limits on the allowable halibut PSC mortality. These limits may force the closure of trawl fisheries before they have harvested the available groundfish ABC. Thus, actual harvests of groundfish in the GOA routinely fall short of some ABCs and TACs. Markets can also constrain harvests below the TACs, as has been the case with arrowtooth flounder, in the past. These TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these targets while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized, fisheries. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 14772 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 53 / Friday, March 18, 2016 / Rules and Regulations • The other rockfish TAC is set below the ABC in the Southeast Outside district based on several factors. In addition to conservation concerns for the rockfish species in this group, there is a regulatory prohibition against using trawl gear east of 140° W. longitude. Because most species of other rockfish are caught exclusively with trawl gear, the catch of such species with other gear types, such as hook-and-line, is low. The commercial catch of other rockfish in the Eastern regulatory area, which includes the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts, has ranged from approximately 70 mt to 248 mt per year over the last decade. • The GOA-wide Atka mackerel TAC is set below the ABC. The estimates of survey biomass continue to be unreliable in the GOA. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS agrees that the Atka mackerel TAC in the GOA be set at an amount to support incidental catch in other directed fisheries. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species to reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2016 TACs by about 80 percent. This would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While production declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained by the availability of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this action would have a detrimental economic impact on small entities. 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 and SIR (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 would be contrary to the public interest. The Plan VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Mar 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Team review occurred in November 2015, and Council consideration and recommendations occurred in December 2015. Accordingly, NMFS’ review could not begin until January 2016. For all fisheries not currently closed because the TACs established under the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015) were not reached, it is possible that they would be closed prior to the expiration of a 30day delayed effectiveness period, because their TACs could be reached within that period. If implemented immediately, this rule would allow these fisheries to continue because the new TACs implemented by this rule 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 sablefish, flatfish, rockfish, Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, 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 many of these fisheries. If this rule allowed for a 30-day delay in effectiveness and if a TAC were reached during those 30 days, NMFS would close directed fishing or prohibit retention for the applicable species. Any delay in allocating the final TACs in these fisheries would cause confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards, thus undermining the intent of this rule. Waiving the 30-day delay allows NMFS to prevent economic loss to fishermen that could otherwise occur should the 2016 TACs be reached. 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. In fisheries subject to declining sideboard limits, a failure to implement the updated sideboard limits before initial season’s end could deny the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboard limits, economic benefit could be denied to the sideboard limited sectors. If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 19, 2016, which is the start of the 2016 Pacific halibut PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 season as specified by the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. This would result in confusion for the industry and economic harm from unnecessary discard of sablefish that are caught along with Pacific halibut, as both hookand-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. In addition, the 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 for those species that have lower 2016 ABCs and TACs than those established in the 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 10250, February 25, 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 TACs. 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 GOA. 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 affects all fishermen who participate in the GOA 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), 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. E:\FR\FM\18MRR1.SGM 18MRR1 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

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 53 (Friday, March 18, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14740-14773]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06183]



[[Page 14740]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 150818742-6210-02]
RIN 0648-XE130


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; Final 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Final rule; harvest specifications and closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 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 Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Harvest specifications and closures are effective at 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 Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest 
Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD), and the Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS 
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 GOA, dated 
November 2015, is 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: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone of the GOA under the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared 
the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the 
optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). 
Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit 
public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific halibut prohibited 
species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and 
Pacific cod. Upon consideration of public comment received under Sec.  
679.20(c)(1), NMFS must publish notice of final harvest specifications 
for up to two fishing years as annual target TAC, per Sec.  
679.20(c)(3)(ii). The final harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 30 of this document reflect the outcome of this process, as 
required at Sec.  679.20(c).
    The proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of 
the GOA and Pacific halibut PSC limits were published in the Federal 
Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76405). Comments were invited and 
accepted through January 8, 2016. NMFS received two responses, 
containing five general categories of comments. A summary of the 
comments and NMFS's responses is found in the Response to Comment 
section of this rule. In December 2015, NMFS consulted with the Council 
regarding the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. After considering 
public testimony, as well as biological and economic data that were 
available at the Council's December 2015 meeting, NMFS is implementing 
the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, as recommended by the 
Council. For 2016, the sum of the TAC amounts is 590,809 mt. For 2017, 
the sum of the TAC amounts is 573,872 mt.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2016 and 2017 Harvest 
Specifications

Removal of Pacific Cod Sideboard Limits for Hook-and-Line Catcher/
Processors

    In May 2015, NMFS published a final rule implementing regulations 
associated with Amendment 45 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands 
King and Tanner Crabs (Amendment 45) (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). 
Pursuant to Sec.  680.22(e)(1)(ii), NMFS will permanently remove 
Pacific cod sideboard limits applicable to specified hook-and-line 
catcher/processors (C/P) in the Western and Central GOA regulatory 
areas once it receives an affidavit affirming that all eligible 
participants in these regulatory areas recommend removal of the Crab 
Rationalization Program GOA Pacific cod sideboard limits. NMFS received 
an affidavit that all eligible fishery participants in the Western and 
Central GOA recommend removal of these sideboard limits. Therefore, 
NMFS is permanently removing the sideboard limits and does not 
establish 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod sideboard limits for the hook-and-
line C/P sector. These sideboard limits have been removed from Tables 
21 and 22 of this rule.

Revise Maximum Retainable Amounts for Skates

    In December 2014, the Council took final action to reduce the 
maximum retainable amount (MRA) for skates in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 
Per the Council's recommendation, NMFS published a proposed rule to 
modify regulations that specify the MRA for skates in the GOA (80 FR 
39734, July 10, 2015). An MRA is expressed as a percentage and is the 
maximum amount of a species closed to directed fishing (i.e., skate 
species) that may be retained on board a vessel relative to the 
retained amount of other groundfish species or halibut open for 
directed fishing (basis species). An MRA serves as a management tool to 
slow the harvest rates of incidental catch species and limit retention 
up to a maximum percentage of the amount of retained groundfish or 
halibut on board the vessel. NMFS has established a single MRA 
percentage for big skate (Raja binoculata), longnose skate (Raja 
rhina), and for all remaining skate species (Bathyraja spp.). The 
proposed rule would reduce the MRA for skates in the GOA from 20 
percent to 5 percent. The reduced MRA would apply to all vessels 
directed fishing for groundfish or halibut in the GOA. NMFS anticipates 
that the proposed regulatory revisions associated with the skate MRA 
reduction will be effective in 2016.

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In December 2015, the Council, its Advisory Panel (AP), and its 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviewed the most recent 
biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish 
stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the

[[Page 14741]]

Council's GOA Groundfish Plan Team and was presented in the draft 2015 
SAFE report for the GOA 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 
GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries 
off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an 
overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species group. The 
2015 report was made available for public review during the public 
comment period for the proposed harvest specifications.
    In previous years, the greatest changes from the proposed to the 
final harvest specifications have been based on recent NMFS stock 
surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock 
assessments. At the November 2015 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists 
presented updated and new survey results, changes to stock assessment 
models, and accompanying stock assessment estimates for all groundfish 
species and species groups that are included in the final 2015 SAFE 
report. The SSC reviewed this information at the December 2015 Council 
meeting. Changes from the proposed to the final 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications are discussed below.
    The final 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best 
available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected 
biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, 
and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies 
the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The 
formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are 
determined by the level of reliable information available to fisheries 
scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of 
six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the 
highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing 
the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used 
the FMP tier structure to calculate OFL and ABC amounts for each 
groundfish species. The SSC adopted the final 2016 and 2017 OFLs and 
ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The 
Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC 
recommendations. The final TAC recommendations were based on the ABCs 
as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, 
including maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range 
of 116,000 to 800,000 mt.
    The Council recommended 2016 and 2017 TACs that are equal to ABCs 
for pollock, sablefish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky rockfish, rougheye 
rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, big skate, 
longnose skate, other skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses 
in the GOA. The Council recommended TACs for 2016 and 2017 that are 
less than the ABCs for Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the 
Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and 
Central GOA, ``other rockfish'' in the Southeast Outside district, and 
Atka mackerel. The Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State of 
Alaska's (State's) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod so 
that the ABCs are not exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth 
flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest 
opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC 
limit for use in other, more fully utilized fisheries. The ``other 
rockfish'' TAC in the Southeast Outside District (SEO) is set to reduce 
the amount of discards. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate 
incidental catch amounts in other fisheries.
    The final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications approved by the 
Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) are unchanged from those recommended 
by the Council and are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy 
alternative in the EIS (see ADDRESSES). NMFS finds that the Council's 
recommended OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological 
condition of the groundfish stocks as described in the final 2015 SAFE 
report. NMFS also finds that the Council's recommendations for OFLs, 
ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of 
groundfish stocks as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the OY 
range. NMFS reviewed the Council's recommended TAC specifications and 
apportionments, and approves these harvest specifications under 50 CFR 
679.20(c)(3)(ii). The apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types and 
sectors, processing sectors, and seasons is discussed below.
    Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2016 and 2017 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and 
area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The sums of the 2016 and 
2017 ABCs are 727,684 mt and 708,629 mt, respectively, which are higher 
in 2016 and 2017 than the 2015 ABC sum of 685,597 mt (80 FR 10250, 
February 25, 2015).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    NMFS' apportionment of groundfish species is based on the 
distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on the 
apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described 
below.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and 
West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL 
established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock 
fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council have recommended that the 
sum of all State and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not 
exceed ABC recommendations. For 2016 and 2017, the SSC recommended and 
the Council approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to 
account for the State's PWS GHL. At the November 2015 Plan Team 
meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 
2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2016, this yields a 
PWS pollock GHL of 6,358 mt, an increase of 1,575 mt from the 2015 PWS 
GHL of 4,783 mt. For 2017, the PWS pollock GHL is 6,264 mt, an increase 
of 1,481 mt from the 2015 PWS pollock GHL. The 2016 and 2017 pollock 
ABCs (247,952 mt and 244,280 mt, respectively) are then apportioned 
between the W/C/WYK management areas, as described below and detailed 
in Tables 1 and 2.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be ``apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)'' rather 
than ``ABCs.'' This more accurately reflects that such apportionments 
address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. 
In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to 
balance any transfer of TAC from one area to another pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL and ABC are not 
exceeded.
    NMFS establishes pollock TACs in the Western, Central, West Yakutat 
Regulatory Areas, and the Southeast Outside District of the GOA (see 
Tables 1 and 2). NMFS also establishes seasonal apportionments of the 
annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the 
GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630.

[[Page 14742]]

These apportionments are divided equally among each of the following 
four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season 
(March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), 
and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) 
through (iv), and Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail 
is provided below; Tables 3 and 4 list these amounts.
    The 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the 
State's GHL for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and 
Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific 
cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, 
the Council set the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, 
Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. 
Therefore, the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by 
the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 12,151 mt; (2) Central GOA, 
12,328 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 2,196 mt. These amounts reflect the 
State's 2016 and 2017 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the 
Western GOA ABC and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central ABCs.
    NMFS establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual Pacific cod 
TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the 
annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and 
jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from 
January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is 
apportioned to the B season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from 
September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 
through November 1 (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The 
Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various 
gear and operational sectors. The Pacific cod sector apportionments are 
discussed in detail in a subsequent section of this preamble.
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent 
of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as 
incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries in the WYK District 
(Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). Tables 7 and 8 list the final 2016 and 2017 
allocations of sablefish TAC to hook-and-line and trawl gear in the 
GOA.

Changes From the Proposed 2016 and 2017 Harvest Specifications in the 
GOA

    In October 2015, the Council's recommendations for the proposed 
2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (80 FR 76405, December 9, 2015) 
were based largely on information contained in the final 2014 SAFE 
report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2014 (see 
ADDRESSES). The Council proposed that the final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs 
established for the 2016 groundfish fisheries (80 FR 10250, February 
25, 2015) be used for the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications, pending completion and review of the final 2015 SAFE 
report at its December 2015 meeting.
    As described previously, the SSC adopted the final 2016 and 2017 
OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team. The Council adopted the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC recommendations for 
2016 and 2017. The final 2016 ABCs are higher than the proposed 2016 
ABCs published in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (80 
FR 76405, December 9, 2015) for pollock, shallow-water flatfish, 
arrowtooth flounder, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, demersal 
shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, big skate, 
sculpins, and octopuses. The final 2016 ABCs are lower than the 
proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs for Pacific cod, sablefish, deep-water 
flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, northern rockfish, shortraker 
rockfish, dusky rockfish, longnose skate, other skates, and sharks.
    The final 2017 ABCs are higher than the proposed ABCs for shallow-
water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye 
rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, 
big skate, sculpins, and octopuses. The final 2017 ABCs are lower than 
the proposed ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, deep-water 
flatfish, rex sole, flathead sole, northern rockfish, shortraker 
rockfish, dusky rockfish, longnose skate, ``other skates,'' and sharks. 
For the remaining target species--Atka mackerel and squids--the Council 
recommended, and the Secretary approved, the final 2016 and 2017 ABCs 
that are the same as the proposed 2016 and 2017 ABCs.
    Additional information explaining the changes between the proposed 
and final ABCs is included in the final 2015 SAFE report, which was not 
available when the Council made its proposed ABC and TAC 
recommendations in October 2015. At that time, the most recent stock 
assessment information was contained in the final 2014 SAFE report. The 
final 2015 SAFE report contains the best and most recent scientific 
information on the condition of the groundfish stocks, as previously 
discussed in this preamble, and is available for review (see 
ADDRESSES). The Council considered the final 2015 SAFE report in 
December 2015 when it made recommendations for the final 2016 and 2017 
harvest specifications. In the GOA, the total final 2016 TAC amount is 
590,809 mt, an increase of less than one percent from the total 
proposed 2016 TAC amount of 590,161 mt. The total final 2017 TAC amount 
is 573,872 mt, a decrease of 3 percent from the total proposed 2017 TAC 
amount of 590,161 mt. The following table in this preamble summarizes 
the difference between the proposed and final TACs. Annual stock 
assessments incorporate a variety of new or revised inputs, such as 
survey data or catch information, as well as changes to the statistical 
models used to estimate a species' biomass and population trend.
    Based on changes in the estimates of overall biomass made by stock 
assessment scientists for 2016 and 2017, as compared to the estimates 
previously made for 2015 and 2016, the greatest TAC increases are for 
shallow-water flatfish, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye rockfish, 
thornyhead rockfish, other rockfish, big skate, and octopuses. Notable 
increases include those for octopuses and other rockfish. The increase 
in the octopus ABC and TAC is a result of the increased octopus biomass 
estimates derived from the 2015 GOA trawl survey. The catch of octopus 
in the survey was unusually large, with octopus present in more than 15 
percent of the survey tows. The estimated octopus biomass for the 
octopus assemblage is an order of magnitude higher than previous 
estimates. The rougheye rockfish biomass increase is due to both an 
increase in the catch in the GOA trawl survey, as well the adoption of 
a revised statistical model incorporating improvements to growth 
estimation, and a number of other model changes.
    Based on changes in the estimates of biomass, the greatest 
decreases in TACs are for Pacific cod, sablefish, deep-water flatfish, 
rex sole, northern rockfish, other skates, and sharks. Notable 
decreases in TAC include those for deep-water flatfish, rex sole, other 
skates, and sharks. The GOA trawl survey biomass for deep-water 
flatfish was the lowest on record. The last full assessment of rex sole 
was completed in 2011. Incorporating the 2015 trawl survey data and a 
number of changes to the assessment model resulted in a decrease to 
estimated biomass, and the corresponding rex sole ABC and TAC.

[[Page 14743]]

The estimated biomass for other skates decreased due to a combination 
of the decrease in the survey biomass for other skates and a continue 
refinement of incorporating a random effects model in the other skates 
assessment model. Finally, the shark TAC decreased primarily due to the 
implementation of a random effects model for biomass estimation.
    For all other species and species groups, changes from the proposed 
to the final TACs are within plus or minus five percent of the proposed 
TACs. These TAC changes correspond to associated changes in the ABCs 
and TACs, as recommended by the SSC, AP, and Council.
    Additionally, based on the Council's recommended changes in setting 
the TACs at amounts below ABCs, the greatest decreases in TACs are for 
shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, and ``other 
rockfish.'' The Council believed, and NMFS concurs, that setting TACs 
for the three preceding flatfish species equal to ABCs would not 
reflect anticipated harvest levels accurately, as the Council and NMFS 
expect halibut PSC limits to constrain these fisheries in 2016 and 
2017.
    Detailed information providing the basis for the changes described 
above is contained in the final 2015 SAFE report. The final TACs are 
based on the best scientific information available. These TACs are 
specified in compliance with the harvest strategy described in the 
proposed and final rules for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. 
The changes in TACs between the proposed rule and this final rule are 
compared in Table 1a.

                                Table 1a--Comparison of Proposed and Final 2016 and 2017 GOA Total Allowable Catch Limits
                                              [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentage]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            2016 Final                                      2017 Final
                 Species                   2016 and 2017  2016 Final TAC    minus 2016      Percentage    2017 Final TAC    minus 2017      Percentage
                                           proposed TAC                    proposed TAC     difference                     proposed TAC     difference
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................         257,178         257,872             694               0         254,200          -2,978              -1
Pacific cod.............................          75,202          71,925          -3,277              -4          62,150         -13,052             -17
Sablefish...............................           9,558           9,087            -471              -5           8,307          -1,251             -13
Shallow-water flatfish..................          32,877          36,763           3,886              12          34,855           1,978               6
Deep-water flatfish.....................          13,177           9,226          -3,951             -30           9,281          -3,896             -30
Rex sole................................           8,979           7,493          -1,486             -17           7,507          -1,472             -16
Arrowtooth flounder.....................         103,300         103,300               0               0         103,300               0               0
Flathead sole...........................          27,759          27,832              73               0          27,850              91               0
Pacific ocean perch.....................          21,436          24,437           3,001              14          24,189           2,753              13
Northern rockfish.......................           4,721           4,004            -717             -15           3,768            -953             -20
Shortraker rockfish.....................           1,323           1,286             -37              -3           1,286             -37              -3
Dusky rockfish..........................           4,711           4,686             -25              -1           4,284            -427              -9
Rougheye rockfish.......................           1,142           1,328             186              16           1,325             183              16
Demersal shelf rockfish.................             225             231               6               3             231               6               3
Thornyhead rockfish.....................           1,841           1,961             120               7           1,961             120               7
Other rockfish..........................           1,811           2,308             497              27           2,308             497              27
Atka mackerel...........................           2,000           2,000               0               0           2,000               0               0
Big skate...............................           3,255           3,814             559              17           3,814             559              17
Longnose skate..........................           3,218           3,206             -12               0           3,206             -12               0
Other skates............................           2,235           1,919            -316             -14           1,919            -316             -14
Sculpins................................           5,569           5,591              22               0           5,591              22               0
Sharks..................................           5,989           4,514          -1,475             -25           4,514          -1,475             -25
Squids..................................           1,148           1,148               0               0           1,148               0               0
Octopuses...............................           1,507           4,878           3,371             224           4,878           3,371             224
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................         590,161         590,809             648               0         573,872         -16,289              -3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The final 2016 and 2017 TAC recommendations for the GOA are within 
the OY range established for the GOA and do not exceed the ABC for any 
species or species group. Tables 1 and 2 list the final OFL, ABC, and 
TAC amounts for GOA groundfish for 2016 and 2017, respectively.

 Table 1--Final 2016 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central,
   Eastern Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat, Southeast Outside, and Gulfwide Districts of the Gulf of
                                                     Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC             TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          56,494          56,494
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a         124,927         124,927
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          57,183          57,183
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           9,348           9,348
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         322,858         254,310         247,952
                                        SEO (650)...............          13,226           9,920           9,920
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         336,084         264,230         257,872
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a          40,503          28,352

[[Page 14744]]

 
                                        C.......................             n/a          49,312          36,984
                                        E.......................             n/a           8,785           6,589
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         116,700          98,600          71,925
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           1,272           1,272
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,023           4,023
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,475           1,475
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,317           2,317
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           3,792           3,792
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          10,326           9,087           9,087
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          20,851          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          19,242          19,242
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,177           3,177
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,094           1,094
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          54,520          44,364          36,763
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             186             186
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,495           3,495
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,997           2,997
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,548           2,548
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          11,102           9,226           9,226
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           1,315           1,315
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,445           4,445
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             766             766
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             967             967
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           9,791           7,493           7,493
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          28,183          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a         107,981          75,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          37,368           6,900
                                        SEO.....................  ..............          12,656           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         219,430         186,188         103,300
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          11,027           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          20,211          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,930           2,930
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             852             852
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          42,840          35,020          27,832
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................  ..............           2,737           2,737
                                        C.......................  ..............          17,033          17,033
                                        WYK.....................  ..............           2,847           2,847
                                        W/C/WYK subtotal........          26,313          22,617          22,617
                                        SEO.....................           2,118           1,820           1,820
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          28,431          24,437          24,437
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a             457             457
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,547           3,547
                                        E.......................             n/a               4  ..............
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,783           4,004           4,004
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \9\...............  W.......................             n/a              38              38
                                        C.......................             n/a             301             301
                                        E.......................             n/a             947             947
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           1,715           1,286           1,286
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dusky rockfish \10\...................  W.......................             n/a             173             173
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,147           4,147

[[Page 14745]]

 
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             275             275
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              91              91
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,733           4,686           4,686
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             105             105
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             707             707
                                        E.......................             n/a             516             516
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           1,596           1,328           1,328
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             364             231             231
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             n/a             291             291
                                        C.......................             n/a             988             988
                                        E.......................             n/a             682             682
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           2,615           1,961           1,961
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish 13 14..................  W and C.................             n/a           1,534           1,534
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             574             574
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,665             200
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           7,424           5,773           2,308
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           2,000
Big skate \15\........................  W.......................             n/a             908             908
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,850           1,850
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,056           1,056
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,086           3,814           3,814
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skate \16\...................  W.......................             n/a              61              61
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,513           2,513
                                        E.......................             n/a             632             632
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,274           3,206           3,206
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \17\.....................  GW......................           2,558           1,919           1,919
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           7,338           5,591           5,591
Sharks................................  GW......................           6,020           4,514           4,514
Squids................................  GW......................           1,530           1,148           1,148
Octopus...............................  GW......................           6,504           4,878           4,878
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         892,964         727,684         590,809
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-
  wide).
\2\ The aggregate pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas is apportioned among
  four statistical areas after deducting 2.5 percent of the ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery. These
  apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes.
  The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 3. In the West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal
  allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the
  Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod in the Eastern Regulatory Area is allocated 90
  percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table
  5 lists the final 2016 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gear in 2016. Table 7 lists the final 2016 allocations of
  sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes the 4 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the ``other rockfish'' species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Other rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA
  only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinis.
\14\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes
  other rockfish.

[[Page 14746]]

 
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja spp.


 Table 2--Final 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central,
   Eastern Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat, Southeast Outside, and Gulfwide Districts of the Gulf of
                                                     Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC             TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          55,657          55,657
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a         123,078         123,078
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          56,336          56,336
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           9,209           9,209
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         289,937         250,544         244,280
                                        SEO (650)...............          13,226           9,920           9,920
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         303,163         260,464         254,200
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a          34,998          24,499
                                        C.......................             n/a          42,610          31,958
                                        E.......................             n/a           7,592           5,693
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         100,800          85,200          62,150
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           1,163           1,163
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,678           3,678
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,348           1,348
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,118           2,118
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           3,466           3,466
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           9,825           8,307           8,307
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          19,159          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          17,680          17,680
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,919           2,919
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,006           1,006
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          50,220          40,764          34,855
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             187             187
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,516           3,516
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,015           3,015
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,563           2,563
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          11,168           9,281           9,281
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           1,318           1,318
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,453           4,453
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             767             767
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             969             969
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           9,810           7,507           7,507
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          28,659          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a         109,804          75,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          37,999           6,900
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          12,870           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         196,714         189,332         103,300
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          11,080           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          20,307          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,944           2,944
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             856             856
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          43,060          35,187          27,850
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................  ..............           2,709           2,709
                                        C.......................  ..............          16,860          16,860
                                        WYK.....................  ..............           2,818           2,818
                                        W/C/WYK.................          23,876          22,387          22,387
                                        SEO.....................             973           1,802           1,802
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          28,141          24,189          24,189
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 14747]]

 
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a             430             430
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,338           3,338
                                        E.......................             n/a               4  ..............
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,501           3,768           3,768
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \9\...............  W.......................             n/a              38              38
                                        C.......................             n/a             301             301
                                        E.......................             n/a             947             947
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           1,715           1,286           1,286
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dusky rockfish\10\....................  W.......................             n/a             159             159
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,791           3,791
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             251             251
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              83              83
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,253           4,284           4,284
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             105             105
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             705             705
                                        E.......................             n/a             515             515
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           1,592           1,325           1,325
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             364             231             231
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             n/a             291             291
                                        C.......................             n/a             988             988
                                        E.......................             n/a             682             682
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           2,615           1,961           1,961
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish \13\ \14\..............  W and C.................             n/a           1,534           1,534
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             574             574
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,665             200
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           7,424           5,773           2,308
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           2,000
Big skate \15\........................  W.......................             n/a             908             908
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,850           1,850
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,056           1,056
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,086           3,814           3,814
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skate \16\...................  W.......................             n/a              61              61
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,513           2,513
                                        E.......................             n/a             632             632
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,274           3,206           3,206
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \17\.....................  GW......................           2,558           1,919           1,919
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           7,338           5,591           5,591
Sharks................................  GW......................           6,020           4,514           4,514
Squids................................  GW......................           1,530           1,148           1,148
Octopus...............................  GW......................           6,504           4,878           4,878
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         815,875         708,629         573,872
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-
  wide).
\2\ The aggregate pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas is apportioned among
  four statistical areas after deducting 2.5 percent of the ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery. These
  apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes.
  The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 4. In the West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal
  allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the
  Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod in the Eastern Regulatory Area is allocated 90
  percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table
  6 lists the final 2017 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is only allocated to trawl gear for 2017. Table 8 lists the final 2017 allocation of sablefish
  TACs to trawl gear.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deepsea sole.

[[Page 14748]]

 
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes the 4 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the ``other rockfish'' species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Other rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA
  only, other rockfish also includes northern rockfish, S. polyspinis.
\14\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes
  other rockfish.
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja spp.

Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and 
octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during 
the fishing year. For 2016 and 2017, NMFS proposed reapportionment of 
all the reserves in the proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications 
published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2015 (80 FR 76405). 
NMFS did not receive any public comments on the proposed 
reapportionments. For the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications, 
NMFS reapportioned, as proposed, all the reserves for pollock, Pacific 
cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. The TACs listed 
in Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionments of reserve amounts for these 
species and species groups.

Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and 
Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 
31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the 
four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the 
apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass 
based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. However, for 2016 
and 2017, the Council recommended, and NMFS approves, averaging the 
winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory 
Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only 
the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the migration 
patterns and distribution of pollock, and the anticipated performance 
of the fishery, in that area during the A season for the 2016 and 2017 
fishing years. For the A season, the apportionment is based on an 
adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of 
approximately 6 percent, 73 percent, and 21 percent in Statistical 
Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the 
apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass 
at 6 percent, 85 percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, 
and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is 
based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 41 percent, 26 
percent, and 33 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the subsequent seasonal apportionment for 
the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent 
limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in 
proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those 
statistical areas (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The pollock TACs in the 
WYK and SEO District of 9,348 mt and 9,920 mt, respectively, in 2016, 
and 9,209 mt and 9,920 mt, respectively, in 2017, are not allocated by 
season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to 
vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after 
subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be 
caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to 
directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of 
pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for 
processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken 
as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species 
other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by 
Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts 
of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the fishing year 
during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component.
    Tables 3 and 4 list the final 2016 and 2017 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

[[Page 14749]]



 Table 3--Final 2016 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments;
                                                          and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Season \1\                       Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                 Kodiak (Area 630)           Total \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................           3,827           6.41%          43,374          72.71%          12,456          20.88%          59,651
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................           3,826           6.41%          50,747          85.07%           5,083           8.52%          59,651
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................          24,421          40.94%          15,404          25.82%          19,822          33.23%          59,651
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................          24,421          40.94%          15,402          25.82%          19,822          33.23%          59,651
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          56,494  ..............         124,927  ..............          57,183  ..............         238,604
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\2\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.


 Table 4--Final 2017 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments;
                                                          and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Season \1\                       Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                 Kodiak (Area 630)           Total \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................           3,769           6.41%          42,732          72.71%          12,272          20.88%          58,768
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................           3,769           6.41%          49,996          85.07%           5,007           8.52%          58,768
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................          24,060          40.94%          15,176          25.82%          19,529          33.23%          58,768
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................          24,060          40.94%          15,175          25.82%          19,529          33.23%          58,768
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          55,657  ..............         123,078  ..............          56,336  ..............         235,071
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\2\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.

Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod 
TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear 
and operational sectors. Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires the 
allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Eastern Regulatory Area of 
the GOA between the inshore and offshore components. NMFS allocates the 
2016 and 2017 Pacific cod TAC based on these sector allocations 
annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern 
GOA; seasonally between vessels using jig gear, catcher vessels (CVs) 
using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using 
trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in the Western GOA; seasonally 
between vessels using jig gear, CVs less than 50 feet length overall 
using hook-and-line gear, CVs greater than or equal to 50 feet length 
overall using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs 
using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear in 
the Central GOA. The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and 
Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 
percent of the annual TAC to the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that NMFS 
determines is likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reapportioned 
to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishery year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP) that use jig 
gear before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In 
accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase 
to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod 
TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (See Table 
1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig 
sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector 
allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years. NMFS has 
evaluated the 2015 harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western 
and Central GOA, and is establishing the 2016 and 2017 Pacific cod 
apportionments to this sector as follows.
    NMFS allocates the jig sector 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod 
TAC in the Western GOA. This is the same amount as the 2015 jig sector 
allocation, because in 2015 this sector harvested less than 90 percent 
of the initial 2015 allocation. The 2016 and 2017 allocations include a 
base allocation of 1.5 percent, and an additional 2.0 percent because 
this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 and 
2014 allocations in the Western GOA. NMFS also allocates the jig sector 
1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This is 
the same amount as the 2015 jig sector allocation, because in 2015 this 
sector harvested less than 90 percent of the initial 2015 allocation. 
The 2016 and 2017 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.0 
percent and no additional increases in the Central GOA. Tables 5 and 6 
list the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 2016 and 2017 
Pacific cod TACs.

[[Page 14750]]



 Table 5--Final 2016 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts in the
GOA; Allocations for the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing
                                                   Components
 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not
                                  total precisely to annual allocation amount]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             A Season                        B Season
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Annual          Sector                          Sector
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation     percentage of     Seasonal      percentage of     Seasonal
                                       (mt)       annual non-jig    allowances    annual non-jig    allowances
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC)...........             992             N/A             595             N/A             397
    Hook-and-line CV............             383            0.70             192            0.70             192
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           5,417           10.90           2,982            8.90           2,435
    Trawl CV....................          10,506           27.70           7,579           10.70           2,927
    Trawl C/P...................             657            0.90             246            1.50             410
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......          10,397           19.80           5,417           18.20           4,979
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          28,352           60.00          17,011           40.00          11,341
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........             370             N/A             222             N/A             148
    Hook-and-line < 50 CV.......           5,347            9.32           3,411            5.29           1,936
    Hook-and-line >= 50 CV......           2,456            5.61           2,054            1.10             402
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,869            4.11           1,504            1.00             365
    Trawl CV\1\.................          15,226           21.14           7,738           20.45           7,487
    Trawl C/P...................           1,537            2.00             734            2.19             804
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......          10,180           17.83           6,528            9.97           3,652
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          36,984           60.00          22,190           40.00          14,794
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA.....................           6,589   Inshore (90%            5,930   Offshore (10%             659
                                                  of Annual TAC)                  of Annual TAC)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,409 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season
  allowance (see Table 12).


 Table 6--Final 2017 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts in the
GOA; Allocations for the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing
                                                   Components
 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not
                                  total precisely to annual allocation amount.]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             A Season                        B Season
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Annual          Sector                          Sector
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation     percentage of     Seasonal      percentage of     Seasonal
                                       (mt)       annual non-jig    allowances    annual non-jig    allowances
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC)...........             857             N/A             514             N/A             343
    Hook-and-line CV............             331            0.70             165            0.70             165
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           4,681           10.90           2,577            8.90           2,104
    Trawl CV....................           9,078           27.70           6,549           10.70           2,530
    Trawl C/P...................             567            0.90             213            1.50             355
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           8,984           19.80           4,681           18.20           4,303
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          24,499           60.00          14,699           40.00           9,799
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........             320             N/A             192             N/A             128
    Hook-and-line < 50 CV.......           4,620            9.32           2,947            5.29           1,673
    Hook-and-line >= 50 CV......           2,122            5.61           1,775            1.10             347
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,615            4.11           1,299            1.00             316
    Trawl CV \1\................          13,156           21.14           6,687           20.45           6,470
    Trawl C/P...................           1,328            2.00             634            2.19             694
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           8,797           17.83           5,641            9.97           3,156
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          31,958           60.00          19,175           40.00          12,783
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 14751]]

 
Eastern GOA.....................  ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           5,693               5,124
                                                569
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,218 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season
  allowance (see Table13).

Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using Hook-and-
Line and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern 
Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of 
sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (Sec.  
679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS approves the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making 
the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-
and-line gear. NMFS allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the 
SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This action results 
in a 2016 allocation of 190 mt to trawl gear and 1,285 mt to hook-and-
line gear in the WYK District, a 2016 allocation of 2,317 mt to hook-
and-line gear in the SEO District, and a 2017 allocation of 173 mt to 
trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 7 lists the allocations of the 
2016 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 8 lists the 
allocations of the 2017 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that this Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) 
fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is 
based on recent sablefish survey information. The Council also 
recommended that only a trawl sablefish TAC be established for two 
years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear 
could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest 
specifications. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and 
the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before 
the IFQ season begins March 19, 2016, the Council recommended that the 
hook-and-line sablefish TAC be set on an annual basis, rather than for 
two years, so that the best scientific information available could be 
considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. With the 
exception of the trawl allocations that were provided to the Rockfish 
Program cooperatives, directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is 
closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl 
gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely 
that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the 
effective date of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications.

   Table 7--Final 2016 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the GOA and Allocations to Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/District                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,272           1,017             255
Central.........................................................           4,023           3,218             805
West Yakutat \1\................................................           1,475           1,285             190
Southeast Outside...............................................           2,317           2,317               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           9,087           7,837           1,250
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


          Table 8--Final 2017 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the GOA and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/District                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,163             n/a             233

[[Page 14752]]

 
Central.........................................................           3,678             n/a             736
West Yakutat \2\................................................           1,348             n/a             173
Southeast Outside...............................................           2,118             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           8,307             n/a           1,142
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing
  Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Demersal Shelf Rockfish (DSR)

    The recommended 2016 and 2017 DSR TAC is 231 mt, and management of 
DSR is delegated to the State. The Alaska Board of Fish has apportioned 
the annual SEO District DSR TACs between the commercial fishery (84 
percent) and the sport fishery (16 percent) after deductions were made 
for anticipated subsistence harvests (7 mt). This results in 2016 and 
2017 allocations of 188 mt to the commercial fishery and 36 mt to the 
sport fishery.
    The State deducts estimates of incidental catch of DSR in the 
commercial halibut fishery and test fishery mortality from the DSR 
commercial fishery allocation. In 2015, this resulted in 32 mt being 
available for the directed commercial DSR fishery apportioned in one 
DSR district. The State estimated that there was not sufficient DSR 
quota available to have orderly fisheries in the three other DSR 
districts. DSR harvest in the halibut fishery is linked to the annual 
halibut catch limits; therefore the State can only estimate potential 
DSR incidental catch because halibut catch limits are established by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Federally 
permitted CVs using hook-and-line or jig gear fishing for groundfish 
and Pacific halibut in the SEO District of the GOA are required to 
retain all DSR (Sec.  679.20(j)).

Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Program

    These final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the various fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard 
limitations established by the Central GOA Rockfish Program. Program 
participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited 
participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program 
assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary 
and secondary species, allows participants holding a license limitation 
program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish 
cooperative, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the 
fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for 
rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species (Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) in the Central GOA are 
allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in 
other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the Rockfish 
Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific 
secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, 
shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish).
    Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to 
restrict the ability of harvesters operating under the Rockfish Program 
to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program 
fisheries. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a 
portion of the trawl halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season 
deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to 
Rockfish Program participants (Sec.  679.81(d)), which includes 117 mt 
to the trawl CV sector and 74 mt to the trawl C/P sector.
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific 
ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of dusky rockfish to 
the entry level longline fishery in 2016 and 2017. The allocation for 
the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year 
if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The 
incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until 
it is the maximum percent of the TAC for that species. In 2015, the 
catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. 
Therefore, NMFS is not increasing the entry level longline fishery 2016 
and 2017 allocations in the Central GOA. Longline gear includes hook-
and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. The remainder of the TACs for 
the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P 
cooperatives. Table 9 lists the allocations of the 2016 and 2017 TACs 
for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, 
the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percent of 
the TAC for the entry level longline fishery.

Table 9--Final 2016 and Initial 2017 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery
                                          in the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Incremental increase in 2017
      Rockfish primary species          2016 and 2017 allocations      if [gteqt] 90% of 2016     Up to  maximum
                                                                       allocation is harvested       %  of TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.................  5 metric tons...............  5 metric tons...............              1%
Northern rockfish...................  5 metric tons...............  5 metric tons...............              2%
Dusky rockfish......................  30 metric tons..............  20 metric tons..............              5%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 14753]]

    Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of the rockfish primary 
species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Tables 10 and 11 
list the final 2016 and 2017 allocations of rockfish primary species in 
the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery and Rockfish CV and 
C/P Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also is setting aside 
incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the 
Central GOA of 2,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 200 mt of northern 
rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on 
recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other 
groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are 
not included in these final harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and C/P cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year, therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2016 and 2017 allocations in conjunction with these final 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1.

  Table 10--Final 2016 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the Entry Level
                       Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Allocation to
                                                    Incidental                       the entry     Allocation to
    Rockfish primary species            TAC            catch       TAC minus ICA       level       the Rockfish
                                                     allowance                      longline\1\    Cooperatives
                                                                                      fishery           \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          17,033           1,500          15,533               5          15,528
Northern rockfish...............           3,547             300           3,247               5           3,242
Dusky rockfish..................           4,147             250           3,897              30           3,867
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          24,727           2,050          22,677              40          22,637
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
\2\ Rockfish Cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives.


  Table 11--Final 2017 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the Entry Level
                       Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Allocation to
                                                    Incidental                       the entry     Allocation to
    Rockfish primary species            TAC            catch       TAC minus ICA       level       the Rockfish
                                                     allowance                      longline\1\    Cooperatives
                                                                                      fishery           \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          16,860           1,500          15,360               5          15,355
Northern rockfish...............           3,338             300           3,038               5           3,033
Dusky rockfish..................           3,791             250           3,541              30           3,511
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          23,989           2,050          21,939              40          21,899
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
\2\ Rockfish Cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives.

    Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary 
species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives 
receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear 
allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/P cooperatives receive 
allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, 
shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Tables 12 and 13 list the 
apportionments of the 2016 and 2017 TACs of rockfish secondary species 
in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives.

        Table 12--Final 2016 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Catcher vessel cooperatives       Catcher/processor cooperatives
                                                                 Annual  Central -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Rockfish secondary species                        GOA  TAC        Percentage of     Apportionment     Percentage of     Apportionment
                                                                                         TAC              (mt)               TAC              (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...................................................            36,984              3.81             1,409              0.00  ................
Sablefish.....................................................             4,023              6.78               273              3.51               141
Shortraker rockfish...........................................               301              0.00  ................             40.00               120
Rougheye rockfish.............................................               707              0.00  ................             58.87               416
Thornyhead rockfish...........................................               988              7.84                77             26.50               262
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 14754]]


        Table 13--Final 2017 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher Vessel and Cather/Processor Cooperatives
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Catcher vessel  cooperatives       Catcher/processor  cooperatives
                                                                 Annual  Central -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Rockfish secondary species                        GOA  TAC        Percentage of     Apportionment     Percentage of     Apportionment
                                                                                         TAC              (mt)               TAC              (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...................................................            31,958              3.81             1,218              0.00  ................
Sablefish.....................................................             3,678              6.78               249              3.51               129
Shortraker rockfish...........................................               301              0.00  ................             40.00               120
Rougheye rockfish.............................................               705              0.00  ................             58.87               415
Thornyhead rockfish...........................................               988              7.84                77             26.50               262
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes the annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. Amendment 95 to the FMP 
(79 FR 9625, February 20, 2014) implemented measures establishing GOA 
halibut PSC limits in Federal regulations and reducing the halibut PSC 
limits in the GOA trawl and hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. These 
reductions are incorporated into the final 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC 
limits. For most gear and operational types, the halibut PSC limit 
reductions were phased-in over 3 years, beginning in 2014 and ending in 
2016. The final reduction to PSC limits in 2016 will carry forward to 
2017 and subsequent years. In December 2015, the Council incorporated 
these reductions into its recommended final PSC limits of 1,706 mt for 
trawl gear, 256 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the DSR 
fishery.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. 
NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the 
duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) 
the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the 
distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR 
fishery has a low DSR TAC.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, exempts 
pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery 
categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2016 and 2017. The 
Council recommended, and NMFS approves, these exemptions because (1) 
the pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) 
IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ 
permit holder on board a catcher vessel holds unused halibut IFQ (Sec.  
679.7(f)(11)); (3) sablefish IFQ fishermen typically hold halibut IFQ 
permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch 
while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut 
mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates that halibut 
mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small 
amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig 
gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with 
jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2015. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through December 12, 2015, is 
1,409 mt for trawl gear and 213 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total 
halibut mortality of 1,622 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated 
using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's 
catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and 
recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require the Council and NMFS to consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut; (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution; (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species; (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis; (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons; (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort; and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. The 
Council considered information from the 2015 SAFE report, NMFS catch 
data, State of Alaska catch data, IPHC stock assessment and mortality 
data, and public testimony when apportioning the halibut PSC limits. 
NMFS concurs with the Council's recommendations listed in Table 14, 
which show the final 2016 and 2017 Pacific halibut PSC limits, 
allowances, and apportionments.
    Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or 
overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be deducted 
from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment within the 
fishing year.

                                Table 14--Final 2016 and 2017 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Trawl gear                                                             Hook-and-line gear \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Other than DSR                                    DSR
             Season                   Percent         Amount     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Season            Percent         Amount            Season            Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..............            27.5             469  January 1-June 10.              86             221  January 1-December               9
                                                                                                                       31.

[[Page 14755]]

 
April 1-July 1..................              20             341  June 10-September                2               5  ..................  ..............
                                                                   1.
July 1-September 1..............              30             512  September 1-                    12              31  ..................  ..............
                                                                   December 31.
September 1-October 1...........             7.5             128  ..................  ..............  ..............  ..................  ..............
October 1-December 31...........              15             256  ..................  ..............  ..............  ..................  ..............
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................  ..............           1,706  ..................  ..............             257  ..................               9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and
  fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries.
  Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual 
apportionments are based on each category's proportional share of the 
anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during the fishing year and 
optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the 
halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC 
limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, 
rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and 
(2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, 
shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and 
``other species'' (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (Sec.  
679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 15 lists the final 2016 and 2017 
apportionments of halibut PSC trawl limits between the trawl gear deep-
water and the shallow-water species fishery categories.
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/P sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-
apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 
percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish 
Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program 
halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing 
with trawl gear for the remainder of the fishing year.

  Table 15--Final 2016 and 2017 Apportionment of Pacific Halibut PSC Trawl Limits Between the Trawl Gear Deep-
                     Water Species Fishery and the Shallow-Water Species Fishery Categories
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Season                      Shallow-water            Deep-water \1\                 Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1........................               384  85..............................               469
April 1-July 1............................                85  256.............................               341
July 1-September 1........................               171  341.............................               512
September 1-October 1.....................               128  Any remainder...................               128
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtotal January 20-October 1.........               768  682.............................             1,450
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
October 1-December 31\2\..................  ................  ................................               256
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.............................  ................  ................................             1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third
  season (July 1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fishery categories during the
  fifth season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-
line gear must be apportioned between CVs and C/Ps in accordance with 
Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest 
specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the 
calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' 
halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were 
included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 (76 FR 44700, 
July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit is apportioned between the CV and C/P sectors in proportion to 
the total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary 
annually based on the proportion of the Pacific cod biomass. Pacific 
cod is apportioned

[[Page 14756]]

among these two management areas based on the percentage of overall 
biomass per area, as calculated in the 2015 Pacific cod stock 
assessment. Updated information in the final 2015 SAFE report describes 
this distributional change, which is based on allocating ABC among 
regulatory areas on the basis of the three most recent stock surveys. 
The distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC has changed to 41 
percent Western GOA, 50 percent Central GOA, and 9 percent Eastern GOA. 
Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent change in GOA Pacific cod 
distribution with respect to establishing the annual halibut PSC limits 
for the CV and C/P hook-and-line sectors. The annual halibut PSC limits 
are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal 
percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent.
    For 2016 and 2017, NMFS apportions halibut PSC limits of 128 mt and 
129 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, 
respectively. Table 16 lists the final 2016 and 2017 apportionments of 
halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P 
sectors.
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-
line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount 
of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line 
sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that 
an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector to 
continue its directed fishing operations (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)).

    Table 16--Final 2016 and 2017 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries'' Annual Halibut PSC Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear
                                                      Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                              Sector
      ``Other than DSR''  allowance            Hook-and-line sector      Sector annual               Season                  Seasonal        seasonal
                                                                            amount                                          percentage        amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
257......................................  Catcher Vessel.............             129  January 1-June 10...............              86             111
                                                                                        June 10-September 1.............               2               3
                                                                                        September 1-December 31.........              12              15
                                           Catcher/Processor..........             128  January 1-June 10...............              86             110
                                                                                        June 10-September 1.............               2               3
                                                                                        September 1-December 31.........              12              15
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition

    The IPHC annually assesses the abundance and potential yield of the 
Pacific halibut using all available data from the commercial and sport 
fisheries, other removals, and scientific surveys. Additional 
information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may be found in the 
IPHC's 2015 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 2015), available 
on the IPHC Web site at www.iphc.int. The IPHC considered the 2015 
Pacific halibut stock assessment at its January 2016 annual meeting 
when it set the 2016 commercial halibut fishery catch limits.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, discard mortality 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 GOA groundfish fisheries for use in monitoring the 
2016 and 2017 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 14, 15 and 16). 
The IPHC developed these DMRs for the 2016 and 2017 GOA 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 17 lists the final 2016 and 2017 DMRs.

    Table 17--Final 2016 and 2017 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for
                  Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
           [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Mortality
              Gear                    Target fishery         rate  (%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hook-and-line..................  Other fisheries\1\.....              10
                                 Pacific cod............              10
                                 Rockfish...............              10
Trawl..........................  Arrowtooth flounder....              76
                                 Deep-water flatfish....              62
                                 Flathead sole..........              67
                                 Non-pelagic pollock....              58
                                 Other fisheries\1\.....              62
                                 Pacific cod............              62

[[Page 14757]]

 
                                 Pelagic pollock........              65
                                 Rex sole...............              72
                                 Rockfish...............              65
                                 Sablefish..............              59
                                 Shallow-water flatfish.              66
Pot............................  Other fisheries\1\.....              15
                                 Pacific cod............              15
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Other fisheries includes all gear types for skates, sculpins,
  sharks, squids, octopuses, and hook-and-line sablefish.

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    Amendment 93 to the GOA FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) 
established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and 
Central GOA in the directed pollock fishery. These limits require NMFS 
to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central 
regulatory areas of the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (Sec.  
679.21(h)(6)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock 
directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon 
in the Central GOA are set at Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In 
addition, all salmon (regardless of species) taken in the pollock 
directed fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained 
until the manager of a shoreside processor or stationary floating 
processor has accurately recorded the number of salmon by species in 
the eLandings groundfish landing report; and if an observer is present 
at the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch, the 
observer is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and 
to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon 
(Sec.  679.21(h)(4)).
    Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established 
an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock 
groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 
3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps, 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl 
catcher vessels participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program, and 
2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl catcher vessels not participating in the 
Central GOA Rockfish Program that are fishing for groundfish species 
other than pollock (Sec.  679.21(i)(3)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook 
salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an 
applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl 
catcher vessels not participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program, 
may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these 
two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective 
Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors 
limits its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a specified threshold amount in 
2015, that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2016 
Chinook salmon PSC limit (Sec.  679.21(i)(3)). In 2015, the trawl C/P 
sector did not exceed 3,120 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore the 2016 
trawl C/Ps Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 4,080 Chinook salmon. In 
2015, the Non-Rockfish Program catcher vessel sector exceeded 2,340 
Chinook salmon PSC; therefore the 2016 Non-Rockfish Program catcher 
vessel sector limit will be 2,700 Chinook salmon.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limitations on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard 
limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and 
processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those 
fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and 
processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits 
listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of groundfish in the GOA. 
Additionally, Sec.  679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from 
processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the 
GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 groundfish landings from 
1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under Sec.  
679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish 
fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the 
groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch 
of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 
divided by the TAC for that species over the same period.
    Tables 18 and 19 list the final 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Tables 18 and 19.

[[Page 14758]]



   Table 18--Final 2016 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest Sideboard
                                                     Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of  1995-
                                                                    1997  non-                    Final 2016 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component  exempt  AFA CV    Final 2016    exempt  AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-       TACs          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,827           2,314
                                January 20-
                                March 10.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          43,374           5,062
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          12,456           2,526
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,826           2,313
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          50,747           5,922
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           5,083           1,031
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,421          14,767
                                25-October 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,404           1,798
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,822           4,020
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,421          14,767
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,402           1,797
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,822           4,020
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           9,348           3,267
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495           9,920           3,467
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W..............          0.1331          17,011           2,264
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 C..............          0.0692          22,190           1,536
                               B Season,\2\      W..............          0.1331          11,341           1,509
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 C..............          0.0692          14,794           1,024
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           5,930              47
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             659               5
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             255  ..............
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0642             805              52
                                                 E..............          0.0433             190               8
Flatfish, Shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          19,242           1,130
                                                 E..............          0.0126           4,271              54
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             186  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,495             226
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,545              71
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           1,315               1
                                                 C..............          0.0384           4,445             171
                                                 E..............          0.0029           1,733               5
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          75,000           2,100
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           3,782               3
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           2,737               6
                                                 C..............          0.0748          17,033           1,274
                                                 E..............          0.0466           4,667             217
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003             457               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,547              98
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              38  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0218             301               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             947              10
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             173               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           4,147  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0067             366               2
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             105  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0237             707              17
                                                 E..............          0.0124             516               6
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             231               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             291               8
                                                 C..............          0.0280             988              28
                                                 E..............          0.0280             682              19
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  C..............          0.1699           1,534             261
                                                 E..............          0.0000             774  ..............
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           2,000              62
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             908               6

[[Page 14759]]

 
                                                 C..............          0.0063           1,850              12
                                                 E..............          0.0063           1,056               7
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063              61               0
                                                 C..............          0.0063           2,513              16
                                                 E..............          0.0063             632               4
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,919              12
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,591              35
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,514              28
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,148               7
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,878              31
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


   Table 19--Final 2017 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest Sideboard
                                                     Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                    Final 2017 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component   exempt AFA CV    Final 2017     exempt AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-       TACs          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,769           2,279
                                January 20-
                                March 10.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          42,732           4,987
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          12,272           2,489
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,769           2,279
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          49,996           5,835
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           5,007           1,015
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,060          14,549
                                25-October 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,176           1,771
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,529           3,960
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,060          14,549
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,175           1,771
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,529           3,960
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           9,209           3,219
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495           9,920           3,467
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W..............          0.1331          14,699           1,956
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 C..............          0.0692          19,175           1,327
                               B Season,\2\      W..............          0.1331           9,799           1,304
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 C..............          0.0692          12,783             885
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           5,124              40
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             569               4
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             233  ..............
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0642             736              47
                                                 E..............          0.0433             173               8
Flatfish, Shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          17,680           1,038
                                                 E..............          0.0126           3,925              49
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             187  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,516             227
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,578              71
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           1,318               1
                                                 C..............          0.0384           4,453             171
                                                 E..............          0.0029           1,736               5
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          75,000           2,100
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31

[[Page 14760]]

 
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           3,800               3
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           2,709               6
                                                 C..............          0.0748          16,860           1,261
                                                 E..............          0.0466           4,620             215
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003             430               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,338              92
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              38  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0218             301               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             947              10
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             159               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,791  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0067             334               2
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             105  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0237             705              17
                                                 E..............          0.0124             515               6
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             231               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             291               8
                                                 C..............          0.0280             988              28
                                                 E..............          0.0280             682              19
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.1699           1,534             261
                                                 E..............          0.0000             774  ..............
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           2,000              62
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             908               6
                                                 C..............          0.0063           1,850              12
                                                 E..............          0.0063           1,056               7
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063              61               0
                                                 C..............          0.0063           2,513              16
                                                 E..............          0.0063             632               4
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,919              12
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,591              35
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,514              28
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,148               7
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,878              31
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)). Table 20 lists the final 2016 and 2017 non-exempt 
AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, 
respectively. The 2016 and 2017 seasonal apportionments of trawl 
halibut PSC limits between the deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries categories proportionately incorporate reductions made to the 
annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal apportionments 
(see Table 14).

 Table 20--Final 2016 and 2017 Non-Exempt AFA CV Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits for Vessels Using
                                              Trawl Gear in the GOA
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-
                                                                   exempt AFA CV   2016 and 2017   2016 and 2017
       Season             Season dates         Target fishery     retained catch     PSC limit    non-exempt AFA
                                                                     to total                      CV PSC limit
                                                                  retained catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1...................  January 20-April 1..  shallow-water.......           0.340             384             131
                                            deep-water..........           0.070              85               6
2...................  April 1-July 1......  shallow-water.......           0.340              85              29
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             256              18
3...................  July 1-September 1..  shallow-water.......           0.340             171              58
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             341              24

[[Page 14761]]

 
4...................  September 1-October   shallow-water.......           0.340             128              44
                       1.
                                            deep-water..........           0.070               0               0
5...................  October 1-December    all targets.........           0.205             256              52
                       31.
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total:..........                                                                       1,706             362
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with 
a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation 
in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard limits restrict these 
vessels' catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA 
groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard 
limits also apply to catch made using an LLP license derived from the 
history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on 
another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the 
final rules implementing the major provisions of Amendments 18 and 19 
to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and 
Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to 
the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP 
(76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 
FR 28539, May 19, 2015).
    Tables 21 and 22 list the final 2016 and 2017 groundfish sideboard 
limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch 
of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

       Table 21--Final 2016 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                   Final 2016 non-
                                                 Area/component/    crab vessel     Final 2016       AFA crab
           Species                Season/gear          gear       catch to 1996-       TACs           vessel
                                                                    2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                      harvest                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,827              38
                                January 20-
                                March 10.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          43,374             134
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          12,456               2
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,826              37
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          50,747             157
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           5,083               1
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.0098          24,421             239
                                25-October 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          15,404              48
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          19,822               4
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098          24,421             239
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.0031          15,402              48
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          19,822               4
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.0000           9,348  ..............
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.0000           9,920  ..............
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W Jig..........          0.0000          17,011  ..............
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 W Hook-and-line          0.0004          17,011               7
                                                  CV.
                                                 W Pot CV.......          0.0997          17,011           1,696
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078          17,011             133
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007          17,011              12
                                                 C Jig..........          0.0000          22,190  ..............
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          22,190               2
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          22,190           1,052
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          22,190             302
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          22,190              27
                               B Season \2\....  W Jig..........          0.0000          11,341  ..............
                               Jig Gear: June    W Hook-and-line          0.0004          11,341               5
                                10-December 31.   CV.

[[Page 14762]]

 
                               All other gears:  W Pot CV.......          0.0997          11,341           1,131
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078          11,341              88
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007          11,341               8
                                                 C Jig..........          0.0000          14,794  ..............
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          14,794               1
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          14,794             701
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          14,794             201
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          14,794              18
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0110           5,930              65
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0000             659  ..............
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             255  ..............
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0000             805  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0000             190  ..............
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                 C..............          0.0001          19,242               2
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,271  ..............
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             186               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,495  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0000           5,545  ..............
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           1,315  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0000           4,445  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,733  ..............
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0004          14,500               6
                                                 C..............          0.0001          75,000               8
                                                 E..............          0.0000          13,800  ..............
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                 C..............          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,782  ..............
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           2,737  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0000          17,033  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,667  ..............
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0005             457               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,547  ..............
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0013              38               0
                                                 C..............          0.0012             301               0
                                                 E..............          0.0009             947               1
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0017             173               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           4,147  ..............
                                                 E..............          0.0000             366  ..............
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0067             105               1
                                                 C..............          0.0047             707               3
                                                 E..............          0.0008             516               0
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0000             231  ..............
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0047             291               1
                                                 C..............          0.0066             988               7
                                                 E..............          0.0045             682               3
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.0033           1,534               5
                                                 E..............          0.0000             774  ..............
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0000           2,000  ..............
Big skate....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             908              36
                                                 C..............          0.0159           1,850              29
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,056  ..............
Longnose skate...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392              61               2
                                                 C..............          0.0159           2,513              40
                                                 E..............          0.0000             632  ..............
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,919              34
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           5,591              98
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,514              79
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,148              20
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,878              86
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


[[Page 14763]]


       Table 22--Final 2017 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                  [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                     Final 2017
                                                 Area/component/    crab vessel     Final 2017     non-AFA  crab
           Species                Season/gear          gear       catch to 1996-       TACs           vessel
                                                                    2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                      harvest                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,769              37
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.0031          42,732             132
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          12,272               2
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,769              37
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.0031          49,996             155
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           5,007               1
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.0098          24,060             236
                                25-October 1.    Chirikof (620).          0.0031          15,176              47
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          19,529               4
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098          24,060             236
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).          0.0031          15,175              47
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002          19,529               4
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.0000           9,209  ..............
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.0000           9,920  ..............
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\....  W Jig..........          0.0000          14,699  ..............
                               January 1-June    W Hook-and-line          0.0004          14,699               6
                                10.               CV.
                                                 W Pot CV.......          0.0997          14,699           1,466
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078          14,699             115
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007          14,699              10
                                                 C Jig..........          0.0000          19,175  ..............
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          19,175               2
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          19,175             909
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          19,175             261
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          19,175              23
                               B Season \2\....  W Jig..........          0.0000           9,799  ..............
                               Jig Gear: June    W Hook-and-line          0.0004           9,799               4
                                10-December 31.   CV.
                               All other gears:  W Pot CV.......          0.0997           9,799             977
                               September 1-      W Pot C/P......          0.0078           9,799              76
                                December 31.
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007           9,799               7
                                                 C Jig..........          0.0000          12,783  ..............
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001          12,783               1
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474          12,783             606
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136          12,783             174
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012          12,783              15
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0110           5,125              56
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0000             569
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             233  ..............
                                gear.            C..............          0.0000             736
                                                 E..............          0.0000             173
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                 C..............          0.0001          17,680               2
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,925
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             187               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,516
                                                 E..............          0.0000           5,578
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           1,318               -
                                                 C..............          0.0000           4,453
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,736
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0004          14,500
                                                 C..............          0.0001          75,000
                                                 E..............          0.0000          13,800
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                 C..............          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,800
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           2,709  ..............
                                                 C..............          0.0000          16,860
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,620
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0005             430               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,338
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0013              38               0
                                                 C..............          0.0012             301               0
                                                 E..............          0.0009             947               1
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0017             159               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,791
                                                 E..............          0.0000             334

[[Page 14764]]

 
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0067             105               1
                                                 C..............          0.0047             705               3
                                                 E..............          0.0008             515               0
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0000             231  ..............
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0047             291               1
                                                 C..............          0.0066             988               7
                                                 E..............          0.0045             682               3
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.0033           1,534               5
                                                 E..............          0.0000             774
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0000           2,000  ..............
Big skate....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             908              36
                                                 C..............          0.0159           1,850              29
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,056
Longnose.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392              61               2
skate........................                    C..............          0.0159           2,513              40
                                                 E..............          0.0000             632
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,919              34
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           5,591              98
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,514              79
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,148              20
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,878              86
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish 
sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. 
These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish 
harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern 
rockfish in the West Yakutat district and Western GOA from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited 
from directed fishing for dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
northern rockfish in the West Yakutat district and Western GOA from 
July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt 
out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to 
access that portion of each sideboard limit that is not assigned to 
rockfish cooperatives. Tables 23 and 24 list the final 2016 and 2017 
Rockfish Program C/P sideboard limits in the West Yakutat district and 
the Western GOA. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with 
fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat district are 
not displayed.

    Table 23--Final 2016 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector in the West Yakutat
                                            District and Western GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      C/P sector  (% of    Final 2016
              Area                     Fishery              TAC)              TACs        Final 2016  C/P limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
West Yakutat District..........  Dusky rockfish....  Confidential \1\..             275  Confidential.\1\
                                 Pacific ocean       Confidential \1\..           2,847  Confidential.\1\
                                  perch.
Western GOA....................  Dusky rockfish....  72.3..............             173  125.
                                 Pacific ocean       50.6..............           2,737  1,385.
                                  perch.
                                 Northern rockfish.  74.3..............             457  340.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.


[[Page 14765]]


    Table 24--Final 2017 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector in the West Yakutat
                                            District and Western GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      C/P sector  (% of    Final 2017
              Area                     Fishery              TAC)              TACs        Final 2017  C/P limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
West Yakutat District..........  Dusky rockfish....  Confidential \1\..             251  Confidential.\1\
                                 Pacific ocean       Confidential \1\..           2,818  Confidential.\1\
                                  perch.
Western GOA....................  Dusky rockfish....  72.3..............             159  115.
                                 Pacific ocean       50.6..............           2,709  1,371.
                                  perch.
                                 Northern rockfish.  74.3..............             430  319.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut 
PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits 
apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in cooperatives 
receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of 
the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deep-
water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P 
rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to 
opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in 
Sec.  679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch 
history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, 
NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of the Rockfish Program 
in 2016, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out 
sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out 
sideboards and post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at 
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program. 
Table 25 lists the 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits 
for the C/P sector. These halibut PSC limits proportionately 
incorporate reductions made to the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and 
associated season apportionments (see Table 14).

                        Table 25--Final 2016 and 2017 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Shallow-water                                                 Annual shallow-     Annual deep- water
                                                   species fishery    Deep-water  species     2016 and 2017        water species       species  fishery
                     Sector                          halibut PSC        fishery  halibut    halibut  mortality    fishery halibut        halibut  PSC
                                                   sideboard ratio       PSC  sideboard        limit  (mt)         PSC sideboard       sideboard  limit
                                                      (percent)         ratio (percent)                             limit  (mt)              (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor..............................                0.10                 2.50                1,706                    2                   43
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/
P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut 
PSC catch limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the 
ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand 
their harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits listed in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 
679. Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from 
directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky 
rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004. Tables 26 and 27 list the final 2016 and 2017 
sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all 
targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 
Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Tables 26 and 27.

              Table 26--Final 2016 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                                                   Amendment 80                   2016 Amendment
                                Apportionments                        sector                        80  vessel
           Species             and  allocations        Area        vessels 1998-  2016 TAC  (mt)    sideboards
                                   by season                       2004 catch to                       (mt)
                                                                        TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,827              11
                                January 20-
                                February 25.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          43,374              87
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          12,456              25

[[Page 14766]]

 
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,826              11
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          50,747             101
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,083              10
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).           0.003          24,421              73
                                25-September 15.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          15,404              31
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          19,822              40
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003          24,421              73
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          15,402              31
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          19,822              40
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           9,348              19
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W..............           0.020          17,011             340
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 C..............           0.044          22,190             976
                               B Season,\2\      W..............           0.020          11,341             227
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 C..............           0.044          14,794             651
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           6,589             224
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           2,737           2,721
                                                 WYK............           0.961           2,847           2,736
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000             457             457
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             173             132
                                                 WYK............           0.896             275             246
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


              Table 27--Final 2017 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                                                   Amendment 80                   2017 Amendment
                                Apportionments                        sector                        80  vessel
           Species             and  allocations        Area        vessels 1998-  2017 TAC  (mt)    sideboards
                                   by season                       2004 catch to                       (mt)
                                                                        TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,769              11
                                January 20-
                                February 25.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          42,732              85
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          12,272              25
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,769              11
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          49,996             100
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,007              10
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).           0.003          24,060              72
                                25-September 15.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          15,176              30
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          19,529              39
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003          24,060              72
                                October 1-
                                November 1.
                                                 Chirikof (620).           0.002          15,175              30
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002          19,529              39
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           9,209              18
Pacific cod..................  A Season,\1\      W..............           0.020          14,699             294
                                January 1-June
                                10.
                                                 C..............           0.044          19,175             844
                               B Season,\2\      W..............           0.020           9,799             196
                                September 1-
                                December 31.
                                                 C..............           0.044          12,783             562
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           5,694             194
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           2,709           2,693
                                                 WYK............           0.961           2,818           2,708
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000             430             430
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             159             121

[[Page 14767]]

 
                                                 WYK............           0.896             251             225
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the 
GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 
Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to 
accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota 
under the Central GOA Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V 
Golden Fleece from this restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)). Table 28 
lists the final 2016 and 2017 halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 
Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of 
the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 
Program vessels as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. These 
halibut PSC limits proportionately incorporate the reductions made to 
the annual trawl halibut PSC limits and associated seasonal 
apportionments (see Table 14). Additionally, residual amounts of a 
seasonal Amendment 80 sideboard halibut PSC limit may carry forward to 
the next season limit (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)).

                              Table 28--Final 2016 and 2017 Halibut PSC Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                                       [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                        Historic
                                                                                                      Amendment 80                        2016 and 2017
                                                                                                       use of the       2016 and 2017     Amendment 80
                 Season                           Season dates                Target fishery         annual halibut      annual PSC        vessel PSC
                                                                                                     PSC limit catch     limit  (mt)          limit
                                                                                                         (ratio)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................  January 20-April 1.........  shallow-water..............            0.0048             1,706                 8
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0115             1,706                20
2.......................................  April 1-July 1.............  shallow-water..............            0.0189             1,706                32
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.1072             1,706               183
3.......................................  July 1-September 1.........  shallow-water..............            0.0146             1,706                25
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0521             1,706                89
4.......................................  September 1-October 1......  shallow-water..............            0.0074             1,706                13
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0014             1,706                 2
5.......................................  October 1-December 31......  shallow-water..............            0.0227             1,706                39
                                                                       deep-water.................            0.0371             1,706                63
                                                                                                                                       -----------------
    Total...............................                               ...........................  ................  ................               474
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Directed Fishing Closures

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), if the Regional Administrator 
determines (1) that any allocation or apportionment of a target species 
or species group allocated or apportioned to a fishery will be reached; 
or (2) with respect to pollock and Pacific cod, that an allocation or 
apportionment to an inshore or offshore component or sector allocation 
will be reached, the Regional Administrator may establish a directed 
fishing allowance (DFA) for that species or species group. 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 GOA 
regulatory area or district (Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii)).
    The Regional Administrator has determined that the TACs for the 
species listed in Table 29 are necessary to account for the incidental 
catch of these species in other anticipated groundfish fisheries for 
the 2016 and 2017 fishing years.

                          Table 29--2016 and 2017 Directed Fishing Closures in the GOA
                  [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Incidental catch amount and year  (if
                 Target                      Area/component/gear               amounts differ  by year)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock................................  all/offshore..............  not applicable.\1\
Sablefish \2\..........................  all/trawl.................  1,250 (2016), 1,142 (2017).

[[Page 14768]]

 
Pacific cod............................  Western, catcher/           657 (2016), 567 (2017).
                                          processor, trawl.          1,537 (2016), 1,328 (2017).
                                         Central, catcher/
                                          processor, trawl.
Shortraker rockfish \2\................  all.......................  1,286.
Rougheye rockfish \2\..................  all.......................  1,328 (2016).
                                                                     1,325 (2017).
Thornyhead rockfish \2\................  all.......................  1,961.
Other rockfish.........................  all.......................  2,308.
Atka mackerel..........................  all.......................  2,000.
Big skate..............................  all.......................  3,814.
Longnose skate.........................  all.......................  3,206.
Other skates...........................  all.......................  1,919.
Sharks.................................  all.......................  4,514.
Squids.................................  all.......................  1,148.
Octopuses..............................  all.......................  4,878.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pollock is closed to directed fishing in the GOA by the offshore component under Sec.   679.20(a)(6)(i).
\2\ Closures not applicable to participants in cooperatives conducted under the Central GOA Rockfish Program.

    Consequently, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the 
Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species or species 
groups listed in Table 29 as zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with 
Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for those 
species, areas, gear types, and components in the GOA listed in Table 
29. These closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., 
December 31, 2017.
    Section 679.64(b)(5) provides for management of AFA CV groundfish 
harvest limits and PSC bycatch limits using directed fishing closures 
and PSC closures according to procedures set out at Sec. Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv), 679.21(d)(6), and 679.21(e)(3)(v). The Regional 
Administrator has determined that, in addition to the closures listed 
above, many of the non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits listed in Tables 
18 and 19 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 
sets the DFAs for the species and species groups in Table 30 at zero 
mt. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is 
prohibiting directed fishing by non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA for the 
species and specified areas listed in Table 30. These closures will 
remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017.

  Table 30--2016 and 2017 Non-Exempt AFA CV Sideboard Directed Fishing
                 Closures for All Gear Types in the GOA
 [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric
                                  tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Regulatory area/      Incidental catch
           Species                  district               amount
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.................  Eastern.............  47 (inshore) and 5
                                                     (offshore) [2016].
                                                    40 (inshore) and 4
                                                     (offshore) [2017].
Shallow-water flatfish......  Eastern.............  54 in 2016, 49 in
                                                     2017.
Deep-water flatfish.........  Western.............  0.
Rex sole....................  Eastern and Western.  5 and 1.
Arrowtooth flounder.........  Eastern and Western.  3 and 30.
Flathead sole...............  Eastern and Western.  3 and 31.
Pacific ocean perch.........  Western.............  6.
Northern rockfish...........  Western.............  0.
Dusky rockfish..............  Entire GOA..........  2.
Demersal shelf rockfish.....  SEO District........  0.
Sculpins....................  Entire GOA..........  35.
Squids......................  Entire GOA..........  7.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel 
sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with Sec.  
680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that 
the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Tables 21 and 22 are 
insufficient to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard 
DFA at zero mt, with the exception of Pacific cod pot CV sector 
apportionments in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, 
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA 
for all species and species groups listed in Tables 21 and 22, with the 
exception of the Pacific cod pot CV sector apportionments in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas.
    Closures implemented under the 2015 and 2016 GOA harvest 
specifications for groundfish (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015) remain 
effective under authority of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications, and are posted at the following Web site: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/search. While these closures are 
in effect, the maximum retainable amounts

[[Page 14769]]

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. NMFS may implement other 
closures during the 2016 and 2017 fishing years as necessary for 
effective conservation and management.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received two comment letters containing five substantive 
comments during the public comment period on the proposed 2016 and 2017 
harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA. No changes were made 
to this final rule in response to the comment letters received. These 
comments are summarized and responded to below.
    Comment 1: Each commenter expressed general support for the GOA 
harvest specifications.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments.
    Comment 2: The removal of catch limits, such as the Pacific cod 
sideboard limits established for hook-and-line C/Ps, should not be 
implemented as described in the proposed GOA harvest specifications.
    Response: As described in the preamble of this notice and in the 
proposed 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for the GOA (80 FR 76405, 
December 9, 2015), NMFS previously published a final rule implementing 
regulations associated with Amendment 45 to the FMP for Bering Sea/
Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Amendment 45) (80 FR 28539, May 
19, 2015). Regulations implemented through Amendment 45 directly affect 
the harvest specifications process for establishing sideboard limits 
for a specific industry sector. Amendment 45 requires that NMFS 
permanently remove Pacific cod sideboard limits applicable to specified 
hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/P) in the Western and Central GOA 
regulatory areas once it receives an affidavit affirming that all 
eligible participants in these regulatory areas recommend removal of 
the sideboard limits. NMFS received an affidavit that all eligible 
fishery participants in the Western and Central GOA recommend removal 
of these sideboard limits. By removing the Pacific cod sideboard limits 
for the hook-and-line C/P sector from Tables 21 and 22 of this rule, 
NMFS incorporates the regulatory changes made under Amendment 45 into 
this final rule.
    Comment 3: Hook-and-line gear has hazardous effects on local 
species and ecosystems. For example, if fishing line is lost or 
improperly discarded in the ocean, it will likely be consumed by a wide 
variety of animals such as birds, marine mammals, and fish. Because 
Laysan albatross dive for their prey, increased fishing in hook-and-
line fishery may increase the mortality of this species from 
entanglements.
    Response: Hook-and-line gear is a legal gear type in the Gulf of 
Alaska for Pacific cod and a variety of other species. Hook-and-line 
gear is authorized under both the FMP (available at http://www.npfmc.org/wp-content/PDFdocuments/fmp/GOA/GOAfmp.pdf) and 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679. NMFS monitors the catch of all 
federally-managed groundfish species in the GOA, by gear type, as part 
of its fisheries monitoring and catch accounting procedures. This catch 
information is incorporated into the annual SAFE reports prepared to 
assess the biomass and population trends for groundfish species (see 
ADDRESSES). The annual SAFE report includes an ``Ecosystem 
Considerations'' chapter that describes and discusses the latest trends 
associated with physical, environmental, ecosystem, and fisheries 
components of the GOA. The Plan Team, SSC, and Council use this 
information during the annual harvest specifications as it considers 
current and future environmental trends that may affect the TAC limits.
    NMFS regularly monitors the effects of hook-and-line fisheries and 
other commercial fisheries on marine mammal stocks. For example, the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires NMFS to review marine 
mammal stock assessment reports annually for stocks designated as 
strategic, annually for stocks where there are significant new 
information available, and at least once every 3 years for all other 
stocks. Each marine mammal stock assessment includes, when available, 
estimates of annual human-caused mortality and serious injury from 
interactions with commercial fisheries and subsistence hunters. These 
data are used to evaluate the progress of each fishery towards 
achieving the MMPA's goal of zero fishery-related mortality and serious 
injury of marine mammals. The most recent (2014) Alaska Marine Mammal 
stock assessment was released in August 2015 and can be downloaded at 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/region.htm. In addition, further 
information on the effects of commercial fisheries can be found in 
section 5.3.10 of the SIR.
    The Alaska Region has been actively addressing seabird incidental 
take in hook-and-line fisheries off Alaska since 1989. The seabird-
related responsibilities and activities include: Consultations under 
the Endangered Species Act, data collection by fishery observers, 
public and industry outreach and education, research, regulatory action 
to employ multiple seabird avoidance measures, and participation in the 
development of actions to reduce the incidental take of seabirds in 
Alaska fisheries. NMFS has implemented and revised seabird avoidance 
measures to mitigate interactions between the federal hook-and-line 
fisheries and seabirds (see 62 FR 23176, April 29, 1997; 63 FR 1930, 
January 13, 2004; 72 FR 71610, December 18, 2007; 74 FR 13355, March 
27, 2009). Currently, operators of vessels longer than 26 ft LOA using 
hook-and-line gear are required to comply with regulatory seabird 
avoidance measures (see 50 CFR 679.24(e)(2). Section 5.3.9 of the SIR 
notes, 2013 seabird estimated bycatch numbers for the combined 
groundfish fisheries are the lowest since NMFS began estimating bycatch 
in 1993 (see also http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/REEM/Seabirds/Seabird%20bycatch%202007%20to%202013_Alaskan%20Gndfish_Dec2014.pdf).
    Comment 4: Hook-and-line fishing will have an effect on average 
sizes of certain species of fish. For example, hook-and-line gear tends 
to catch older, larger Pacific cod because smaller fish are unable to 
be hooked. This leads to a shift in the Pacific cod population dynamic. 
Smaller fish will prey on smaller organisms such as zooplankton, 
putting increased pressure on the foundation of the foodweb. Therefore, 
NMFS should revise the harvest specifications to limit the use of hook-
and-line gear.
    Response: Pacific cod is a stock fished by multiple gear types. 
Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011) implemented 
regulations on the amounts of the Western and Central GOA Pacific cod 
TACs allocated to the hook-and-line sectors. Changing the amount of 
these regulatory allocations for hook-and-line gear is outside the 
scope of these final 2016 and 2017 harvest specification for the GOA. 
The Environmental Assessment for Amendment 83 determined that Amendment 
83 would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment. 
In addition, all beneficial and adverse impacts of the proposed action 
have been addressed to reach the conclusion of no significant impacts 
(https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/analyses/earirfrfa0911.pdf).
    The primary categories of information considered in the stock 
assessment are catch, abundance, and biology. The catch data includes 
the gear type and length, the abundance data (biomass

[[Page 14770]]

and numbers of fish) from surveys includes length and age, and the 
biological data includes information on fish size, age, reproductive 
rates, and movement. The effects of using hook-and-line gear is 
incorporated in the stock assessment and informs NMFS on changes in 
Pacific cod population dynamics. Also, an evaluation of the effects of 
the GOA Pacific cod fisheries on the ecosystem is conducted annually in 
the Ecosystem Considerations chapter and in the groundfish SAFE. The 
Ecosystems Consideration chapter includes detailed information and 
updates on the status and trends of ecosystem components, like 
zooplankton, as well as either early signals of direct human effects on 
ecosystem components that might warrant management intervention or 
evidence of the efficacy of previous management actions. Based on the 
Ecosystem Considerations chapter in the 2015 SAFE report, NMFS 
concludes that the current GOA Pacific cod fishery does not produce 
population-level impacts to marine species or change ecosystem-level 
attributes beyond the range of natural variation.
    Comment 5: Trawl fishing should not be allowed in the GOA because 
of negative environmental consequences such as disturbing non-target 
species and increased sedimentation in the ocean. Therefore, NMFS 
should revise the harvest specifications to limit the use of trawl 
fishing gear.
    Response: Trawl gear is a legal gear type in the Gulf of Alaska for 
a variety of groundfish species. Similar to hook-and-line gear, pelagic 
and non-pelagic trawl gear are authorized under both the FMP and 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679.
    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 marine habitat. In a recent example, NMFS established a no-
trawl protection area in Marmot Bay, northeast of Kodiak Island and 
required the use of modified nonpelagic trawl gear when fishing for 
flatfish in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA (79 FR 2794), 
January 16, 2014). The Council conducts a complete review of Essential 
Fish Habitat once every 5 years, and regularly solicits proposals on 
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern and/or conservation and enhancement 
measures to minimize potential adverse effects from fishing. More 
broadly, the Council and NMFS have incorporated habitat provisions set 
forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
into the FMP (available at http://www.npfmc.org, see Section 4.2).

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 for 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 2015, 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 preferred alternative is a harvest strategy in which 
TACs are set at a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended 
by the Council's SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified 
in the FMP. 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 substantial 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 
National Environmental Policy Act 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 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 76405). 
NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) to 
accompany this action, and included a summary in the proposed rule. The 
comment period closed on January 8, 2016. No comments were received on 
the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule more generally.
    The entities directly regulated by this action include (1) entities 
operating vessels with groundfish FFPs catching FMP groundfish in 
Federal waters; (2) all entities operating vessels, regardless of 
whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the 
state-waters parallel fisheries; and (3) all

[[Page 14771]]

entities operating vessels fishing for halibut inside three miles of 
the shore (whether or not they have FFPs).
    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. Fishing vessels are considered small 
entities if their total annual gross receipts, from all their 
activities combined, are less than $20.5 million. 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.
    Based on data from 2014 fishing activity, there were 915 individual 
catcher vessel entities with gross revenues meeting small entity 
criteria. Of these entities, 853 used hook-and-line gear, 97 used pot 
gear, and 34 used trawl gear (some of these entities used more than one 
gear type, thus the counts of entities using the different gear types 
do not sum to the total number of entities above). Four individual 
catcher/processors met the small entity criterion; three used hook-and-
line gear, and one used trawl gear. Catcher/processor gross revenues 
were not reported for confidentiality reasons, however hook-and-line 
small entities had average gross revenues of $400,000, small pot 
entities had average gross revenues of $740,000, and small trawl 
entities had average gross revenues of $2.5 million.
    Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, of GOA rockfish cooperatives, or of Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands crab rationalization cooperatives and, therefore, 
under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) it is the aggregate gross 
receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet 
the threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are 
considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. These 
relationships are accounted for, along with corporate affiliations 
among vessels, to the extent that they are known, in the estimated 
number of small entities. If affiliations exist of which NMFS is 
unaware, or if entities had non-fishing revenue sources, the estimates 
above may overstate the number of directly regulated small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements.
    NMFS considered other, alternative harvest strategies when choosing 
the preferred harvest strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These 
included the following:
     Alternative 1: Set TACs to produce fishing mortality 
rates, F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TACs is 
constrained by the OY established in the FMPs. This is equivalent to 
setting TACs to produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible 
ABCs, 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, TACs 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, TACs 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 ABCs, and 
recent average F may provide a better indicator of actual F than FABC 
does.
     Alternative 4: (1) Set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 3 
at F75%. Set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M. Set 
spatially explicit TACs for shortraker and rougheye rockfish in the 
GOA. (2) Taking the rockfish TACs as calculated above, reduce all other 
TACs by a proportion that does not vary across species, so that the sum 
of all TACs, including rockfish TACs, is equal to the lower bound of 
the area OY (116,000 mt in the GOA). This alternative sets conservative 
and spatially explicit TACs for rockfish species that are long-lived 
and late to mature and sets conservative TACs for the other groundfish 
species.
     Alternative 5: (No Action) Set TACs at zero.
    These four alternatives 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 did so in 2007.
    Alternative 1 selected harvest rates that will allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests are 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 metric tons. 
The sums of ABCs in 2016 and 2017 are 727,684 mt and 708,629 mt, 
respectively. The sums of the TACs in 2016 and 2017 are 590,809 mt and 
573,872 mt, respectively. Thus, although the sum of ABCs in each year 
is less than 800,000 metric tons, the sums of the TACs in each year are 
less than the sums of the ABCs.
    In most cases, the Council has set TACs equal to ABCs. The 
divergence between aggregate TACs and aggregate ABCs reflects a variety 
of special species- and fishery-specific circumstances:
     Pacific cod TACs are set equal to 70 percent in the 
Western GOA and 75 percent in the Central GOA of the Pacific cod ABCs 
in each year to account for the guideline harvest levels (GHL) set by 
the State of Alaska for its GHL Pacific cod fisheries (30 and 25 
percent, respectively, of the Western and Central GOA ABCs). Thus, the 
difference between the Federal TACs and ABCs does not actually reflect 
a Pacific cod harvest below the Pacific cod ABC, as the balance is 
available for the State's cod GHL fisheries.
     Shallow-water flatfish and flathead sole TACs are set 
below ABCs in the Western and Central GOA regulatory areas. Arrowtooth 
flounder TACs are set below ABC in all GOA regulatory areas. Catches of 
these flatfish species rarely, if ever, approach the proposed ABCs or 
TACs. Important trawl fisheries in the GOA take halibut PSC, and are 
constrained by limits on the allowable halibut PSC mortality. These 
limits may force the closure of trawl fisheries before they have 
harvested the available groundfish ABC. Thus, actual harvests of 
groundfish in the GOA routinely fall short of some ABCs and TACs. 
Markets can also constrain harvests below the TACs, as has been the 
case with arrowtooth flounder, in the past. These TACs are set to allow 
for increased harvest opportunities for these targets while conserving 
the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized, fisheries.

[[Page 14772]]

     The other rockfish TAC is set below the ABC in the 
Southeast Outside district based on several factors. In addition to 
conservation concerns for the rockfish species in this group, there is 
a regulatory prohibition against using trawl gear east of 140[deg] W. 
longitude. Because most species of other rockfish are caught 
exclusively with trawl gear, the catch of such species with other gear 
types, such as hook-and-line, is low. The commercial catch of other 
rockfish in the Eastern regulatory area, which includes the West 
Yakutat and Southeast Outside districts, has ranged from approximately 
70 mt to 248 mt per year over the last decade.
     The GOA-wide Atka mackerel TAC is set below the ABC. The 
estimates of survey biomass continue to be unreliable in the GOA. 
Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS agrees that the Atka 
mackerel TAC in the GOA be set at an amount to support incidental catch 
in other directed fisheries.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the 
most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, 
because it does not take account of the most recent biological 
information for this fishery.
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species to reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA to 
its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2016 TACs by 
about 80 percent. This would lead to significant reductions in harvests 
of species by small entities. While production declines in the GOA 
would undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the GOA, these 
increases would still be constrained by the availability of 
substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from 
smaller production. Thus, this action would have a detrimental economic 
impact on small entities.
    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 and SIR (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 would be 
contrary to the public interest. The Plan Team review occurred in 
November 2015, and Council consideration and recommendations occurred 
in December 2015. Accordingly, NMFS' review could not begin until 
January 2016. For all fisheries not currently closed because the TACs 
established under the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 FR 
10250, February 25, 2015) were not reached, it is possible that they 
would be closed prior to the expiration of a 30-day delayed 
effectiveness period, because their TACs could be reached within that 
period. If implemented immediately, this rule would allow these 
fisheries to continue because the new TACs implemented by this rule 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 
sablefish, flatfish, rockfish, Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, 
squids, 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 many of these 
fisheries. If this rule allowed for a 30-day delay in effectiveness and 
if a TAC were reached during those 30 days, NMFS would close directed 
fishing or prohibit retention for the applicable species. Any delay in 
allocating the final TACs in these fisheries would cause confusion to 
the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards, 
thus undermining the intent of this rule. Waiving the 30-day delay 
allows NMFS to prevent economic loss to fishermen that could otherwise 
occur should the 2016 TACs be reached. 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.
    In fisheries subject to declining sideboard limits, a failure to 
implement the updated sideboard limits before initial season's end 
could deny the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded 
sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboard limits, 
economic benefit could be denied to the sideboard limited sectors.
    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. This would 
result in confusion for the industry 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.
    In addition, the 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 for those species that have lower 2016 ABCs and TACs 
than those established in the 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications (80 
FR 10250, February 25, 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 
TACs. 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 GOA. 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 affects all fishermen who participate in the GOA 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), 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.


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    Dated: March 14, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-06183 Filed 3-17-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P