Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off of Alaska; Observer Coverage Requirements for Small Catcher/Processors in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries, 17403-17411 [2016-07019]

Download as PDF 17403 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Executive Order 13132, Federalism In accordance with E.O. 13132, we determined that this final rule does not have significant Federalism effects and that a Federalism assessment is not required. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 223 Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Dated: March 23, 2016. Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. PART 223—THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES * § 223.102 Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species. * 1. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows: ■ Scientific name * 2. In § 223.102, amend the table in paragraph (e) by adding the entry ‘‘Coelacanth, African’’ in alphabetical order under the subheading ‘‘Fishes’’ to read as follows: ■ For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 223 is amended as follows: Species 1 Common name Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531–1543; subpart B, § 223.201–202 also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for § 223.206(d)(9). Description of listed entity * * * * (e) * * * Citation(s) for listing determination(s) * * Critical habitat * * ESA Rules * FISHES * Coelacanth, African (Tanzanian DPS). * * * Latimeria chalumnae ....... * * African coelacanth population inhabiting deep waters off the coast of Tanzania. * * * 81 FR [Insert FR page number where the document begins], March 29, 2016. * * * NA * NA * 1 Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56 FR 58612, November 20, 1991). * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–07001 Filed 3–28–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150904827–6233–02] RIN 0648–BF36 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off of Alaska; Observer Coverage Requirements for Small Catcher/ Processors in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 112 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 102 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA FMP) and revise regulations for observer mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 coverage requirements for certain small catcher/processors in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). This final rule modifies the criteria for NMFS to place small catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category under the North Pacific Groundfish and Halibut Observer Program (Observer Program). Under this final rule, the owner of a non-trawl catcher/processor can choose to be in the partial observer coverage category, on an annual basis, if the vessel processed less than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of groundfish on an average weekly basis in a particular prior year, as specified in this final rule. This final rule provides a relatively limited exception to the general requirement that all catcher/processors are in the full observer coverage category, and maintains the full observer coverage requirement for all trawl catcher/ processors and catcher/processors participating in a catch share program that requires full observer coverage. This final rule promotes the goals of the BSAI and GOA FMPs, and the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and other applicable laws. DATES: Effective March 29, 2016. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 112 to the BSAI FMP and Amendment 102 to the GOA FMP, the PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for this action are available from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection of information requirements contained in this final rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS Alaska Region, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, Records Officer; in person at NMFS Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK; by email to OIRA_submission@omb.eop.gov; or by fax to (202) 395–5806. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Marie Eich, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background This final rule implements Amendment 112 to the BSAI FMP and Amendment 102 to the GOA FMP (collectively referred to as Amendment 112/102). NMFS published a notice of availability (NOA) for Amendment 112/ 102 on December 17, 2015 (80 FR 78705). The comment period on the NOA for Amendment 112/102 ended on February 16, 2016. The Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 17404 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 112/102 on March 11, 2016, after accounting for information from the public, and determining that Amendment 112/102 is consistent with the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. NMFS published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 112/102 and the regulatory amendments on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81262; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). The comment period on the proposed rule ended on January 28, 2016. NMFS received three comments on proposed Amendment 112/102 or the proposed rule. This final rule modifies the criteria used by NMFS to place small catcher/ processors in the partial observer coverage category in the Observer Program. Under this final rule, the owners of non-trawl catcher/processors can choose to be in the partial observer coverage category for the upcoming fishing year if their vessels processed less than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of groundfish on an average weekly basis in a particular prior year, as specified in this final rule. This final rule does not alter observer coverage requirements for a catcher/processor using trawl gear or for a catcher/processor when participating in a catch share program; these catcher/processors will continue to be required to be in the full observer coverage category. The terms ‘‘production’’ and ‘‘processing’’ are used synonymously in this final rule. Below is a brief description of the Observer Program and the elements of the Observer Program that apply to Amendment 112/102 and this final rule. The preamble of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) provides a more detailed description of the Observer Program and this action. The Observer Program Regulations implementing the Observer Program allow NMFS-certified observers (observers) to obtain information necessary for the conservation and management of the BSAI and GOA groundfish and halibut fisheries. The Observer Program was implemented in 1990 (55 FR 4839, February 12, 1990). In 2012, NMFS restructured the funding and deployment systems of the Observer Program (77 FR 70062, November 21, 2012). Since implementation of the restructured Observer Program in 2013, vessels, shoreside processors, and stationary floating processors participating in the groundfish and halibut fisheries off Alaska are placed in one of two observer coverage categories: (1) Partial observer coverage category, or (2) full observer coverage category. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 Under the restructured Observer Program, almost all catcher/processors were assigned to the full observer coverage category to obtain independent estimates of catch, at-sea discards, and prohibited species catch to reduce the potential for introducing error into NMFS’ catch accounting system (as described in the proposed rule: 77 FR 23326, April 18, 2012). In the full observer coverage category, an observer must be on board a vessel any time the vessel is harvesting, receiving, or processing groundfish in a federally managed or parallel groundfish fishery, as specified at § 679.51(a)(2)(i). In the full observer coverage category, vessel operators obtain observers by contracting directly with observer providers. Operators of vessels in the full observer coverage category pay the observer provider for each day the observer is on board the vessel, including days that the vessel is travelling to or from the fishing grounds but not fishing. NMFS deploys observers on vessels in the partial observer coverage category according to a statistical sample design based on an annual deployment plan developed in consultation with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). Vessels in the partial observer coverage category are required to carry observers on fishing trips selected at random per the statistical sample design. Instead of paying for each day an observer is on board, NMFS assesses a fee equal to 1.25 percent of the ex-vessel value of the retained groundfish and halibut landed by vessels in the partial observer coverage category. NMFS uses these fees to establish a Federal contract with an observer service provider to deploy observers in the partial observer coverage category. The restructured Observer Program provided three limited exceptions for catcher/processors to be placed in the partial observer coverage category, in recognition that the cost of full observer coverage would be disproportionate to total revenues for some small catcher/ processors. The first exception applied to a hybrid vessel less than 60 feet length overall (LOA) that acted as both a catcher vessel and a catcher/processor in the same year in any year from 2003 through 2009. The second exception applied to a catcher/processor that had an average daily production of less than 5,000 lb (2.3 mt) round weight equivalent in its most recent full calendar year of operation from 2003 through 2009. The third exception applied to a catcher/processor that did not process more than one metric ton PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 round weight of groundfish on any day in the immediately preceding year. Under the first two exceptions, a vessel that started processing after 2009 could never qualify to be placed in the partial observer coverage category. Also, the first two exceptions permanently placed a vessel in the partial observer coverage category. These exceptions have no provision to review the production of a catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category on an ongoing basis and remove them from the partial observer coverage category if their production increases. The third exception is theoretically open to any catcher/ processor that began production after 2009. Summary of Amendment 112/102 The following discussion summarizes the provisions of Amendment 112/102; additional details are provided in the NOA for Amendment 112/102 (80 FR 78705; December 17, 2015), the proposed rule for Amendment 112/102 (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)), and Section 2 of the Analysis (see ADDRESSES). 1. The Production Threshold for Placement in the Partial Observer Coverage Category This final rule establishes a production threshold for placement in the partial observer coverage category of average weekly groundfish production of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less in a standard basis year or an alternate basis year (as defined below). The weekly production measure includes catcher/ processors that engage in intense bursts of processing activity during a year but may not process throughout the whole year. The Council and NMFS considered a range of average weekly production measures as a threshold for partial coverage. The production standard of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) was selected to ensure that catcher/processors that are currently eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category will continue to be eligible if these vessels maintain their current levels of production. The catcher/processors eligible for partial observer coverage under this final rule are engaged primarily in the hook-and-line and Pacific cod and sablefish fisheries (see Section 2.2.1 of the Analysis). This production threshold maintains a limited exception to the general requirement that catcher/processors are in the full observer coverage category. The Council and NMFS concluded that this production threshold would E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations maintain a limited exception to the general requirement that catcher/ processors are in the full observer coverage category. The Council does not anticipate that this action would impair data quality because the overwhelming amount of groundfish production would remain subject to full observer coverage (Section 3.6.7 of the Analysis). The catcher/processors eligible for the partial observer coverage category under this final rule are engaged primarily in the hook-and-line and Pacific cod and sablefish fisheries (see Section 3.7.12 of the Analysis). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 2. The Basis Year for Placing a Catcher/ Processor in the Partial Observer Coverage Category This final rule establishes the fishing year minus two years as the standard basis year for determining whether a catcher/processor is eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category, as it is the most recent year for which NMFS will have full production data. As an example, to determine if a catcher/processor will be eligible for partial observer coverage in the fishing year that begins on January 1, 2017, NMFS will assess production data from 2015 (i.e., the fishing year minus two years). If a catcher/processor had no production in the standard basis year, (i.e., the fishing year minus two years), but that catcher/processor had production before the standard basis year, the vessel’s most recent year of production, but not earlier than 2009, will be used (referred to as the alternate basis year) (see Section 2.4 of the Analysis). For example, if for the fishing year beginning January 1, 2017, the most recent fishing year prior to 2015 that a catcher/processor had production was 2011, the production from 2011 would be used to assess whether that catcher/ processor met the threshold production amount to be eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category. This final rule does not consider production data prior to 2009 because that is the first year that NMFS collected daily production reports (73 FR 76136, December 15, 2008), permitting calculation of average daily production (see Appendix D of the Analysis). 3. A Catcher/Processor With No History of Production The Council and NMFS also considered the initial type of observer coverage (i.e., full or partial) that should apply to a catcher/processor with no production in either the standard basis year or an alternate basis year, e.g., a new catcher/processor. This final rule places any non-trawl catcher/processor VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 with no production from 2009 through the standard basis year in the partial observer coverage category in the partial observer coverage category in its first two years of operation. The costs of full observer coverage could prevent some non-trawl catcher/processors from starting processing, particularly processing of sablefish in remote fishing grounds in the Aleutian Islands, and processing of Pacific cod by catcher/ processors using jig gear. If non-trawl catcher/processors had to operate for their first two years in the full observer coverage category, it might defeat one of the objectives of this action, namely encouraging beneficial activity that is being prevented by the cost of full observer coverage. 4. Owner Choice by an Annual Deadline Under this final rule, the owner of a qualifying vessel may request placement in the partial observer coverage category through an annual selection process that includes an annual deadline. Absent selection by the owner of a qualifying vessel, that catcher/processor will be placed in the full observer coverage category for the upcoming fishing year. This annual selection process is a new requirement for the three catcher/ processors that are currently permanently placed in the partial observer coverage category. This final rule does not establish a deadline for vessel operators to request placement in the partial coverage category during the 2016 fishing year; vessel operators can request placement in partial coverage as soon as the final rule is effective. The application process for the 2016 fishing year is described in further detail in the section Changes from the Proposed Rule. This final rule establishes an annual deadline of July 1 to request placement in the partial observer coverage category applicable for the 2017 fishing year, and for all future fishing years. For the 2017 fishing year, a vessel owner would have to request placement in the partial observer coverage category by July 1, 2016. 5. Unchanged Observer Requirements for Trawl Catcher/Processors and Catcher/Processors That Participate in a Catch Share Program This final rule does not alter existing observer coverage requirements for a catcher/processor using trawl gear or a catcher/processor when participating in a catch share program; these catcher/ processors will continue to be required to be in the full observer coverage category. The rationale for the existing observer coverage requirements for each catch share program is described in the PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 17405 proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). The Final Rule This final rule revises regulations at 50 CFR part 679 to modify the criteria for NMFS to place small catcher/ processors in the partial observer coverage category in the Observer Program. This final rule establishes a new paragraph in § 679.51, namely § 679.51(a)(3). At § 679.51(a)(3)(i), this final rule defines the following terms for purposes of the new § 679.51(a)(3): a ‘‘fishing year’’ as the year during which a catcher/processor might be placed in the partial observer coverage category; the ‘‘standard basis year’’ as the fishing year minus two years; and the ‘‘alternate basis year’’ as the most recent year before the standard basis year in which a catcher/processor had any groundfish production but not earlier than 2009. At § 679.51(a)(3)(i), this final rule defines a vessel’s ‘‘average weekly groundfish production,’’ as the annual groundfish round weight production estimate for a catcher/processor, divided by the number of separate weeks during which production occurred, as determined by production reports, but excluding any groundfish that was caught with trawl gear. Thus, if a vessel has groundfish production any day in a week, excluding trawl production, that will be considered as a week of production. At § 679.51(a)(3)(ii), this final rule specifies the annual deadline for requesting placement in the partial observer coverage category as July 1 of the year before the year that the vessel owner would like to be placed in the partial observer coverage category, for 2017 and all future years. As described in the section titled Changes from the Proposed Rule, no deadline is specified for the owner of a catcher/processor to apply to be placed in the partial observer coverage category in 2016. NMFS should be able to make an eligibility determination within 30 days of receipt of the request for placement in the partial observer coverage category. At § 679.51(a)(3)(iii), this final rule specifies the requirements for NMFS to place a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category, namely if the vessel owner requests placement by the annual deadline specified and the vessel meets the production threshold of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of average weekly groundfish production (excluding groundfish caught with trawl gear). To determine eligibility for placement in the partial observer coverage category, NMFS will first examine the E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 17406 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations catcher/processor’s production in the standard basis year, namely two years before the fishing year. If a catcher/ processor produced at or below the production threshold (79,000 lb (35.8 mt) average weekly groundfish production) in the standard basis year, but more than zero pounds, the vessel will meet the production threshold for placement in the partial observer coverage category in the upcoming fishing year. If a catcher/processor exceeded that production threshold, the vessel will not be eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category in the upcoming fishing year. If a catcher/processor had no production in the standard basis year, NMFS will examine the vessel’s production in the alternative basis year, namely the first year that the vessel had any production before the standard basis year but not earlier than 2009. If a catcher/processor had average weekly groundfish production of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less in the alternate basis year, the vessel will meet the production threshold requirement for placement in the partial observer coverage category for the upcoming fishing year. If a catcher/processor exceeded the production threshold in the alternate basis year, the vessel will not be eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category. If a catcher/processor had no production from 2009 through the standard basis year, the vessel will meet the production threshold requirement for placement in the partial observer coverage category. If a catcher/processor meets the production threshold requirement for placement in the partial observer coverage category and is not a vessel using trawl gear or otherwise required to have full observer coverage by participation in a catch share program, the catcher/processor will be placed in partial observer coverage only if the owner of the vessel makes the request by the annual deadline. This final rule specifies at § 679.51(a)(3)(iv) how the vessel owner can request placement in the partial observer coverage category. A vessel owner must submit a request form to NMFS, which NMFS will make available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. At § 679.51(a)(3)(v), this final rule specifies that NMFS will notify a vessel owner in writing if NMFS has placed the vessel in the partial observer coverage category. Until NMFS provides this notice, the catcher/processor will remain in the full observer coverage category. At § 679.51(a)(3)(vi), this final rule specifies that if NMFS denies a request VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 for placement in the partial observer coverage category, NMFS will issue an Initial Administrative Determination, which will explain the reasons for the denial. If the vessel owner wishes to appeal the denial, this final rule provides at § 679.51(a)(3)(vii) that the vessel owner may appeal to the National Appeals Office according to the procedures in 15 CFR part 906. During the appeal process, the catcher/ processor will remain in the full observer coverage category. This final rule has several provisions in addition to the new paragraph at § 679.51(a)(3). This final rule adds regulations at § 679.51(a)(1)(i)(C) to clarify that certain catcher/processors (newly specified by this final rule at § 679.51(a)(3)) are in the partial observer coverage category when fishing for halibut with hook-and-line gear or when directed fishing for groundfish in a federally managed or parallel groundfish fishery. This final rule revises § 679.51(a)(2)(i)(A) to clarify that catcher/processors are placed in the full observer coverage category unless they are placed the partial observer coverage category using criteria specified at § 679.51(a)(3). This final rule also removes the regulations detailing the exceptions to the full observer coverage category for catcher/processors at § 679.51(a)(2)(iv)(B) that were in place prior to implementation of this final rule. This final rule adds a new category to the definition of fishing trip for purposes of the Observer Program in § 679.2. Prior to implementation of this final rule, § 679.2 defined a fishing trip for a catcher vessel delivering to a shoreside processor or stationary floating processor and for a catcher vessel delivering to a tender vessel. This final rule defines a fishing trip for a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category, as the period of time that begins when the vessel departs a port to harvest fish until the vessel returns to port and offloads all processed product. This new definition is necessary because the current definition of a fishing trip does not accurately apply to a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category. This final rule adds a new requirement at § 679.5(e)(13) for a catcher/processor landing report. The operator of a catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category must submit a catcher/processor landing report by 2400 hours, A.l.t., on the day after the end of the fishing trip. This is a new reporting requirement created for this program. The landing report will be generated through eLandings or other PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 NMFS-approved software by consolidating the daily production reports for the period the vessel operator defines as the fishing trip for purposes of observer coverage. NMFS will use information from the catcher/processor landing report to link catch data with observer data, to determine how to appropriately assign at-sea discard rates and prohibited species catch rates to unobserved catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category, and to monitor compliance with the requirement for catcher/processors placed in the partial observer coverage category to log all fishing trips in the Observer Declare and Deploy System. This final rule revises § 679.51(e)(1)(iii)(B) to remove requirements from catcher/processors placed in the partial observer coverage category to provide equipment for the purpose of observer data entry and transmission. Prior to implementation of this final rule, all catcher/processors were required to provide an observer with a computer, NMFS-supplied software, and the ability to transmit data to NMFS using a point-to-point connection from the vessel. Removing this requirement reduces the financial burden on small catcher/processors placed in the partial observer coverage category, especially for vessels mentioned in Section 3.7.4 of the Analysis that may begin to operate as a catcher/processor (e.g., catcher/ processors using jig gear). Prior to implementation of this final rule, observers deployed in the partial observer coverage category entered and transmitted data without equipment provided by the industry. Maintaining those equipment requirements for catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category may have resulted in duplicative and unnecessary equipment being available on the vessel. NMFS typically receives data from observers deployed in the partial observer coverage category at the end of each trip, and that timeline is sufficient for catcher/processors in partial observer coverage under this final rule. NMFS notes that even with this change, more frequent data transmission could be achieved on some catcher/processors in partial observer coverage if the observer is allowed to use existing communication equipment. This final rule revises § 679.55(a) and (c) to clarify that all catcher/processors named on a Federal Fishing Permit and not in the full observer coverage category are responsible for paying the observer fee. This final rule corrects two cross references in § 679.2 and replaces language in § 679.5 that refers to old E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES terminology of ‘‘100 percent observer coverage.’’ That terminology is replaced with ‘‘full observer coverage;’’ this is the terminology used under the restructured Observer Program. Comments and Responses During the public comment periods for the NOA for Amendment 112/102 and the proposed rule to implement Amendment 112/102, NMFS received three comment letters from the public that contained three substantive comments. NMFS’ responses to these comments are presented below. Comment 1: All three commenters expressed support for this action. Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments. Comment 2: Two commenters requested that NMFS implement this action as soon as possible in 2016. One commenter would like to begin fishing for Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program Pacific halibut and sablefish around April 1, but due to the costs of full coverage, would not start fishing until they were allowed to be placed in the partial observer coverage category. The second commenter stated that it benefits the few eligible catcher/ processors to be placed in the partial observer coverage as soon as possible in 2016, and doing so would not negatively impact any other fishery participants. Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments. Most of the catcher/ processors that will be eligible to be placed in the partial observer coverage category under this final rule participate in the sablefish IFQ fisheries or fish for Pacific cod. Directed fishing for Pacific cod opened in most areas off Alaska on January 1, 2016, and the IFQ fishing season started on March 19, 2016. Under existing regulations, any catcher/ processors not placed in the partial observer coverage category are in the full observer coverage category and must carry an observer at all times while fishing in the GOA or BSAI. As noted in the proposed rule and Analysis, being placed in the full observer coverage category imposes costs on vessel owners that generally exceed the costs of being placed in the partial observer coverage category. Allowing the owners of catcher/processors to apply to be placed in the partial observer coverage category as soon as possible in 2016 would minimize the cost of observer coverage for these vessel owners. Due to the costs of the full observer coverage category, some vessel owners may even choose not to fish until the catcher/processor can be placed in the partial observer coverage category. Therefore, for reasons discussed in the Classification section, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 waived the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this final rule and will accept applications from the owners of catcher/ processors to be placed in the partial observer coverage category on the day that this final rule is published in the Federal Register. Comment 3: The proposed regulations appropriately add a paragraph (C), referencing catcher/processors, to 50 CFR 679.51(a)(1)(i). New paragraph (C) joins a list of certain classes of vessels in partial observer coverage, with paragraphs (A) and (B) describing certain catcher vessels. The language introducing the list at § 679.51(a)(1)(i) should be revised to reference not just catcher vessels but also catcher/ processors: ‘‘ . . . the following catcher vessels [and catcher/processors] are in the partial observer coverage category . . .’’ The word ‘‘or’’ should be deleted after paragraph (A). Response: NMFS agrees with the suggested addition of ‘‘and catcher/ processors’’ at § 679.51(a)(1)(i). However, NMFS does not agree with the suggested deletion of the word ‘‘or’’ after § 679.51(a)(1)(i)(A). With the implementation of this final rule, § 679.51(a)(1)(i) contains three paragraphs, (A), (B), and (C), each of which is independent of the others. Therefore, it is appropriate to retain the word ‘‘or’’ after § 679.51(a)(1)(i)(A). Changes From the Proposed Rule Initial Implementation Deadline for 2016 The proposed rule for Amendment 112/102 (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) proposed to establish an application deadline in 2016 for an owner of an eligible catcher/processor to request placement in the partial observer coverage category within 15 days after the effective date of the final rule. The effective date of the final rule was anticipated to be 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register; therefore, this deadline would have provided a vessel owner 45 days to consider and submit a timely request for placement in the partial observer coverage category after the date of publication of the final rule. NMFS has determined that an application deadline for the 2016 fishing year is not necessary. One of the primary reasons for an application deadline for 2017 and future years is to provide information about which catcher/processors will be in the partial observer coverage category in time to prepare the Observer Program annual deployment plan for the upcoming year. NMFS has already prepared the 2016 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 17407 annual deployment plan assuming that any catcher/processor eligible to be in partial observer coverage in 2016 would choose to do so; therefore NMFS does not need an application deadline in 2016 to enable a catcher/processor to be placed in the partial observer coverage category. Nevertheless, an owner wishing to place a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category has an incentive to submit an application as soon as possible in 2016 if placement in partial coverage reduces the cost of observer coverage. In addition, not having an application deadline for 2016 provides additional time for potential new participants in the fishery to adjust to the new regulations. If a vessel owner missed the 2016 application deadline described in the proposed rule, the vessel would require full observer coverage until January 2017. Removing the 2016 deadline does not create a substantial administrative burden for NMFS because of the small number of vessels involved. Fishery participants are reminded that the July 1 deadline applies for the 2017 fishing year, and for all future fishing years. Other Changes NMFS adds the phrase ‘‘and catcher/ processors’’ at § 679.51(a)(1)(i) to reference not just catcher vessels but also catcher/processors, as described in the response to Comment 3 in the Comments and Responses section. NMFS corrects a verb disagreement error in the table at § 679.55(c) by changing ‘‘is’’ to ‘‘are’’ in row (5). Classification The Administrator, Alaska Region, determined that Amendments 112 and 102 and this final rule are necessary for the conservation and management of the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries and that they are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Administrative Procedure Act The NMFS Assistant Administrator finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for the provisions in this final rule. Maintaining the 30-day delay would be contrary to the public interest. Waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness would allow the owners of catcher/processors to apply to be placed in the partial observer coverage category as soon as the final rule is published and would allow NMFS to approve this placement for eligible catcher/ E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 17408 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations processors as soon as NMFS is able to complete the necessary review. Maintaining the 30-day delay in effectiveness would not prevent vessel owners from applying to be placed in the partial observer coverage category, but NMFS would not be able to approve placement of eligible catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category until the effective date of the final rule. This would require vessel owners to bear the costs of the full observer coverage category or delay fishing for up to 30 days. Public comment received on the proposed rule overwhelmingly requested that NMFS implement this action as soon as possible in 2016. Most of the catcher/processors that will be eligible to be placed in the partial observer coverage category under this final rule participate in the sablefish IFQ fisheries or fish for Pacific cod. Pacific cod opened for directed fishing in most areas off Alaska on January 1, 2016, and the sablefish IFQ fishing season started on March 19, 2016. Under existing regulations, any catcher/processors not placed in the partial observer coverage category are in the full observer coverage category and required to carry an observer at all times while fishing in the GOA or BSAI. As noted in the proposed rule and Analysis, the full observer coverage category imposes costs on vessel owners that generally exceed the costs of being placed in the partial observer coverage category. Allowing the owners of catcher/processors to apply to be placed in the partial observer coverage category as soon as possible in 2016 would minimize the cost of observer coverage for these vessel owners. Waiving the 30-day delay in this final rule’s effectiveness will help maximize economic opportunities for these commercial fishermen in the BSAI and GOA during the 2016 fishing year and will allow qualifying vessel owners to start operating under partial observer coverage requirements as soon as the vessel owner receives notification from NMFS that the vessel is placed in the partial observer coverage category. There is no administrative need for additional time beyond the point of notification from NMFS. This is a noncontroversial action that affects a small number of vessel owners. NMFS is unaware of any participants who would not be in favor of or who would be potentially harmed by waiving the 30day delay in effectiveness. Without waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness, vessel owners affected by this final rule that are currently in full observer coverage would have to wait an additional 30 days after publication of this final rule to be placed in partial VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 observer coverage, which would delay the associated economic opportunities being sought through this final rule, thus undermining its intent. For these reasons, the NMFS Assistant Administrator waives the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this final rule and will accept applications from the owners of catcher/processors to be placed in the partial observer coverage category on the day that this final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small Entity Compliance Guide Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. The preamble to the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) and the preamble to this final rule serve as the small entity compliance guide. This final rule does not require any additional compliance from small entities that is not described in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final rule. Copies of the proposed rule and this final rule are available from NMFS at the following Web site: http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires an agency to prepare a FRFA after being required by that section or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking and when an agency promulgates a final rule under section 553 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code. The following paragraphs constitute the FRFA for this action. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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; and 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. Need for and Objectives of the Rule A description of the need for, and objectives of, the rule is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final rule and is not repeated here. This FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) and the summary of the IRFA in the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). Summary of Significant Issues Raised During Public Comment NMFS published a proposed rule on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81262; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). An IRFA was prepared and summarized in the Classification section of the preamble to the proposed rule. The comment period closed on January 28, 2016. NMFS received 3 letters of public comment on the proposed rule. These comment letters did not address the IRFA. The comments did address the economic impacts of the rule generally by requesting that the rule be implemented as soon as possible to help maximize economic opportunities for commercial fishermen in the BSAI and GOA during the 2016 fishing year by allowing qualifying vessels to start operating under partial observer coverage requirements as soon as the vessel owner receives notification from NMFS that the vessel is placed in the partial observer coverage category. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration did not file any comments on the proposed rule. E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by the Action NMFS expects that up to 11 vessels will qualify for placement in the partial observer coverage category (See the Classification section of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775))). NMFS estimates that up to 9 of the 11 vessels identified are considered directly regulated small entities. Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements This action contains one new reporting and recordkeeping requirement that affects the small entities. Vessel owners desiring to be placed in the partial observer coverage category for a fishing year must submit a form expressing that choice by July 1 (except for the 2016 fishing year). This form will use production data that will be available to the owner on the eLandings Web site. Given the simplicity of the form, and the accessibility of the data needed to complete it, NMFS estimates that it will take no more than 30 minutes to complete and file the form. For Paperwork Reduction Act estimation purposes, NMFS values this type of effort at $37 per hour. Approximately nine small entities could be affected by this requirement. Thus, the total public time required to complete nine forms a year x 30 minutes is 4.5 hours. At a cost of $37 per hour, the estimated cost is about $167. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Description of Significant Alternatives to the Final Action That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities A FRFA must describe the steps the agency has taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statues, 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 that affect the impact on small entities was rejected. ‘‘Significant alternatives’’ are those that achieve the stated objectives for the action, consistent with prevailing law, with potentially lesser adverse economic impacts on small entities as a whole. The Council and NMFS considered a range of alternatives and options to the preferred alternative that is implemented by this final rule. These alternatives and options are described in Section 2 of the RIR/IRFA and are not repeated here. The Council and NMFS VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 did not identify alternatives to the preferred alternative that would minimize the impact on small entities better than the preferred alternative and still meet the objectives for this final rule—to provide a relatively limited exception to the general requirement that all catcher/processors are in the full observer coverage category, and maintain the full observer coverage requirement for all trawl catcher/ processors and catcher/processors participating in a catch share program that requires full observer coverage. The preferred alternative implemented by this final rule modifies existing regulations that are necessary to meet the objectives of this final rule. The preferred alternative is not anticipated to have adverse impacts on small entities. As noted in the IRFA, this action is expected to create a net benefit for the directly regulated small entities. In other words, the benefits of this action are expected to outweigh the reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance costs described above. The Council and NMFS adopted the average weekly production threshold of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) as its preferred alternative. This production threshold allows a catcher/processor to qualify for placement in the partial observer coverage category for a year, if its round weight equivalent of their processed product, two years previous, averaged less than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) a week. If the vessel had not operated two years previously, NMFS will use its production in the first year with production since 2009, inclusive of 2009. If the vessel has not produced in this period, NMFS will allow the vessel to be placed in the partial observer coverage category in the year in which application is made, unless it is a trawl vessel, in which case it will be in the full observer coverage category. This action reduces the relative burden on directly regulated small catcher/processors in comparison with the status quo. Vessels that qualify can forego full observer coverage and operate with less expensive partial observer coverage, should they choose to do so. The three catcher/processors that were permanently placed in the partial observer coverage category under the status quo now have to qualify for placement in the partial observer coverage category each year. The Council and NMFS chose the 79,000-lb average weekly threshold, rather than an alternative 42,000-lb average weekly threshold, to maximize the potential for these three vessels to qualify for the option to be placed in the partial observer coverage category in future years. Moreover, one of the objectives of PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 17409 this action was to end permanent placement in the partial observer coverage category for catcher/processor vessels and create a flexible system that could respond if a vessel increased production. The Council and NMFS considered multiple elements and options under Alternative 2 that would qualify more vessels or fewer vessels for placement in the partial observer coverage category. In addition to the two average weekly production thresholds, a low and a high average daily, maximum daily production, maximum weekly, and annual production measures were considered. The production thresholds analyzed under Element 1 Option 4B (high maximum weekly production) and Option 5B (high annual production) could have qualified one more small catcher/processor for partial observer coverage than is qualified under the preferred alternative (Option 2B: average weekly production threshold of 79,000 lb). The Council and NMFS did not select Option 4B because basing a threshold on maximum weekly production would have excluded some catcher/processors that had one week of relatively high production, but had relatively low average production over the remainder of the year. The Council did not select Option 5B because it would allow catcher/processors with relatively high production levels over the course of several weeks or months during the year into the partial observer coverage category. NMFS recommended that catcher/processors with these high intensity production periods during the year should remain in the full observer coverage category so that all of their fishing activity is observed. The average weekly measure was chosen, because it provided a measure of production intensity, which the annual, maximum daily, and maximum weekly measures, did not provide; it was readily measurable; and it was less prone to manipulation or unusually high levels of production than the other options considered. A week is also the standard measure of production for a catcher/processor trip in current regulation (Section 2.2.1 of the Analysis and the Classification section of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775))). Collection-of-Information Requirements This final rule contains collection-ofinformation requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) which have been approved by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control numbers 0648–0318, 0648–0515, E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 17410 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations and 0648–0711. The information collections are presented by OMB control number. OMB Control No. 0648–0318 Public reporting burden for Catcher/ Processor Observer Partial Coverage Request is estimated to average 30 minutes per response. OMB Control No. 0648–0515 Public reporting burden for Catcher/ Processor Landing Report through eLandings is estimated to average one minute per response. OMB Control No. 0648–0711 Public reporting burden for submittal of Observer Fee through eFISH is estimated to average 1 minute per response. Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect of these collections, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to 202– 395–5806. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/ services_programs/prasubs.html. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: March 23, 2016. Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is amended as follows: 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 111–281 2. In § 679.2, add paragraph (3)(iii) to the definition of ‘‘Fishing trip’’ to read as follows: * Definitions. * * * * Fishing trip means: * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 § 679.5 (R&R). Recordkeeping and reporting * * * * * (e) * * * (13) Catcher/processor landing report. (i) The operator of a catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category under § 679.51(a)(3) must use eLandings or other NMFS-approved software to submit a catcher/processor landing report to NMFS for each fishing trip conducted while that catcher/ processor is in the partial observer coverage category. (ii) The vessel operator must log into eLandings or other NMFS-approved software and provide the information required on the computer screen. Additional instructions for submitting a catcher/processor landing report is on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. (iii) For purposes of this landing report requirement, the end of a fishing trip is defined in § 679.2, paragraph (3)(iii) of the definition of a fishing trip. (iv) The vessel operator must submit the catcher/processor landing report to NMFS by 2400 hours, A.l.t., on the day after the end of the fishing trip. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 679.51, ■ a. Revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (a)(2)(i)(A); ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraphs (a)(2)(iv)(B) and (a)(2)(v); ■ c. Add paragraph (a)(3); and ■ d. Revise paragraph (e)(1)(iii)(B) introductory text to read as follows: * ■ § 679.2 3. In § 679.5, add paragraph (e)(13) to read as follows: ■ § 679.51 Observer requirements for vessels and plants. PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA ■ (3) * * * (iii) For a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category, the period of time that begins when the vessel departs a port to harvest fish until the vessel returns to port and offloads all processed product. * * * * * * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (i) Vessel classes in partial coverage category. Unless otherwise specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the following catcher vessels and catcher/ processors are in the partial observer coverage category when fishing for halibut with hook-and-line gear or when directed fishing for groundfish in a federally managed or parallel groundfish fishery, as defined at § 679.2: (A) A catcher vessel designated on an FFP under § 679.4(b)(1); or PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (B) A catcher vessel when fishing for halibut with hook-and-line gear and while carrying a person named on a permit issued under § 679.4(d)(1)(i), § 679.4(d)(2)(i), or § 679.4(e)(2), or for sablefish IFQ with hook-and-line or pot gear and while carrying a person named on a permit issued under § 679.4(d)(1)(i) or § 679.4(d)(2)(i); or (C) A catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category under paragraph (a)(3) of this section. * * * * * (2) * * * (i) * * * (A) Catcher/processors, except a catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category under paragraph (a)(3) of this section; * * * * * (3) Catcher/processor placement in the partial observer coverage category for a year—(i) Definitions. For purposes of this paragraph (a)(3), these terms are defined as follows: (A) Average weekly groundfish production means the annual groundfish round weight production estimate for a catcher/processor, divided by the number of separate weeks during which production occurred, as determined by production reports, excluding any groundfish caught using trawl gear. (B) Fishing year means the year during which a catcher/processor might be placed in partial observer coverage. (C) Standard basis year means the fishing year minus two years. (D) Alternate basis year means the most recent year before the standard basis year in which a catcher/processor had any groundfish production but not earlier than 2009. (ii) Deadline for requesting partial observer coverage. For the 2017 fishing year and every fishing year after 2017, the deadline for requesting partial observer coverage is July 1 of the year prior to the fishing year. (iii) Requirements for placing a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category. NMFS will place a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category for a fishing year if the owner of the catcher/processor requests placement in partial observer coverage by the deadline for requesting partial observer coverage for that fishing year and the catcher/processor meets the following requirements: (A) An average weekly groundfish production of: (1) 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less, but more than zero lb, in the standard basis year; or (2) Zero lb in the standard basis year and 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less, but more E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 17411 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 60 / Tuesday, March 29, 2016 / Rules and Regulations than zero lb, in the alternate basis year; or (3) Had no production from 2009 through the standard basis year; and (B) Is not a catcher/processor using trawl gear; and (C) Is not subject to additional observer coverage requirements in paragraph (a)(2)(vi) of this section. (iv) How to request placement of a catcher/processor in partial observer coverage. A vessel owner must submit a request form to NMFS. The request form must be completed with all required fields accurately completed. The request form is provided by NMFS and is available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site (http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov). The submittal methods are described on the form. (v) Notification of placement in the partial observer coverage category. NMFS will notify the owner if the catcher/processor has been placed in the partial observer coverage category in writing. Until NMFS provides notification, the catcher/processor is in the full observer coverage category for that fishing year. (vi) Initial Administrative Determination (IAD). If NMFS denies a request to place a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage category, NMFS will provide an IAD, which will explain the basis for the denial. (vii) Appeal. If the owner of a catcher/ processor wishes to appeal NMFS’ denial of a request to place a catcher/ processor in the partial observer coverage category, the owner may appeal the determination under the appeals procedure set out at 15 CFR part 906. * * * * * (e) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (B) Communication equipment requirements. In the case of an operator of a catcher/processor (except for a catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category under paragraph (a)(3) of this section), a mothership, a catcher vessel 125 ft LOA or longer (except for a vessel fishing for groundfish with pot gear), or a catcher vessel participating in the Rockfish Program: * * * * * ■ 5. In § 679.55, revise paragraphs (a) and (c) to read as follows: § 679.55 Observer fees. (a) Responsibility. The owner of a shoreside processor or stationary floating processor named on a Federal Processing Permit (FPP), a catcher/ processor named on a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP), or a person named on a Registered Buyer permit at the time of the landing subject to the observer fee as specified at § 679.55(c) must comply with the requirements of this section. Subsequent non-renewal of an FPP, FFP, or a Registered Buyer permit does not affect the permit holder’s liability for noncompliance with this section. * * * * * (c) Landings subject to the observer fee. The observer fee is assessed on landings by vessels not in the full observer coverage category described at § 679.51(a)(2) according to the following table: Is fish from the landing subject to the observer fee? If fish in the landing by a catcher vessel or production by a catcher/ processor is from the following fishery or species: If the vessel is not designated on an FFP or required to be designated on an FFP: If the vessel is designated on an FFP or required to be designated on an FFP: (1) Groundfish listed in Table 2a to this part that are harvested in the EEZ and subtracted from a total allowable catch limit specified under § 679.20(a). (2) Groundfish listed in Table 2a to this part that are harvested in Alaska State waters, including in a parallel groundfish fishery, and subtracted from a total allowable catch limit specified under § 679.20(a). (3) Sablefish IFQ, regardless of where harvested .................................. (4) Halibut IFQ or halibut CDQ, regardless of where harvested ............ (5) Groundfish listed in Table 2a to this part that are harvested in Alaska State waters, but are not subtracted from a total allowable catch limit under § 679.20(a). (6) Any groundfish or other species not listed in Table 2a to part 679, except halibut IFQ or CDQ halibut, regardless of where harvested. Not applicable, an FFP is required to harvest these groundfish in the EEZ. No .................................................. Yes. Yes. Yes ................................................. Yes ................................................. No .................................................. Yes. Yes. No. No .................................................. No. * * * * §§ 679.2 and 679.5 * [Amended] 6. At each of the locations shown in the ‘‘Location’’ column, remove the phrase indicated in the ‘‘Remove’’ ■ column and replace it with the phrase indicated in the ‘‘Add’’ column for the number of times indicated in the ‘‘Frequency’’ column. Remove Add § 679.2 Definition of ‘‘Suspension’’ .......... § 679.2 Definition of ‘‘Suspension’’ .......... § 679.5(e)(10)(iv)(B) ................................. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Location § 679.50 ................................................... § 679.50(j) ................................................ required to have 100 percent observer coverage or more. § 679.53 ................................................... § 679.53(c) ............................................... in the groundfish and halibut fishery full observer coverage category described at § 679.51(a)(2). [FR Doc. 2016–07019 Filed 3–28–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Mar 28, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\29MRR1.SGM 29MRR1 Frequency 1 1 1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 60 (Tuesday, March 29, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 17403-17411]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07019]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 150904827-6233-02]
RIN 0648-BF36


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off of Alaska; Observer 
Coverage Requirements for Small Catcher/Processors in the Gulf of 
Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 112 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 102 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA FMP) and 
revise regulations for observer coverage requirements for certain small 
catcher/processors in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). This final rule modifies the 
criteria for NMFS to place small catcher/processors in the partial 
observer coverage category under the North Pacific Groundfish and 
Halibut Observer Program (Observer Program). Under this final rule, the 
owner of a non-trawl catcher/processor can choose to be in the partial 
observer coverage category, on an annual basis, if the vessel processed 
less than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of groundfish on an average weekly basis 
in a particular prior year, as specified in this final rule. This final 
rule provides a relatively limited exception to the general requirement 
that all catcher/processors are in the full observer coverage category, 
and maintains the full observer coverage requirement for all trawl 
catcher/processors and catcher/processors participating in a catch 
share program that requires full observer coverage. This final rule 
promotes the goals of the BSAI and GOA FMPs, and the goals and 
objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and other applicable laws.

DATES: Effective March 29, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 112 to the BSAI FMP and 
Amendment 102 to the GOA FMP, the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), and the Categorical 
Exclusion prepared for this action are available from http://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection of information requirements contained in this 
final rule may be submitted by mail to NMFS Alaska Region, P.O. Box 
21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, Records Officer; 
in person at NMFS Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, 
Juneau, AK; by email to OIRA_submission@omb.eop.gov; or by fax to (202) 
395-5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Marie Eich, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    This final rule implements Amendment 112 to the BSAI FMP and 
Amendment 102 to the GOA FMP (collectively referred to as Amendment 
112/102). NMFS published a notice of availability (NOA) for Amendment 
112/102 on December 17, 2015 (80 FR 78705). The comment period on the 
NOA for Amendment 112/102 ended on February 16, 2016. The Secretary of 
Commerce approved Amendment

[[Page 17404]]

112/102 on March 11, 2016, after accounting for information from the 
public, and determining that Amendment 112/102 is consistent with the 
FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. NMFS 
published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 112/102 and the 
regulatory amendments on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81262; corrected 
January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). The comment period on the proposed rule 
ended on January 28, 2016. NMFS received three comments on proposed 
Amendment 112/102 or the proposed rule.
    This final rule modifies the criteria used by NMFS to place small 
catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category in the 
Observer Program. Under this final rule, the owners of non-trawl 
catcher/processors can choose to be in the partial observer coverage 
category for the upcoming fishing year if their vessels processed less 
than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of groundfish on an average weekly basis in a 
particular prior year, as specified in this final rule. This final rule 
does not alter observer coverage requirements for a catcher/processor 
using trawl gear or for a catcher/processor when participating in a 
catch share program; these catcher/processors will continue to be 
required to be in the full observer coverage category. The terms 
``production'' and ``processing'' are used synonymously in this final 
rule.
    Below is a brief description of the Observer Program and the 
elements of the Observer Program that apply to Amendment 112/102 and 
this final rule. The preamble of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, 
December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) provides a 
more detailed description of the Observer Program and this action.

The Observer Program

    Regulations implementing the Observer Program allow NMFS-certified 
observers (observers) to obtain information necessary for the 
conservation and management of the BSAI and GOA groundfish and halibut 
fisheries. The Observer Program was implemented in 1990 (55 FR 4839, 
February 12, 1990). In 2012, NMFS restructured the funding and 
deployment systems of the Observer Program (77 FR 70062, November 21, 
2012). Since implementation of the restructured Observer Program in 
2013, vessels, shoreside processors, and stationary floating processors 
participating in the groundfish and halibut fisheries off Alaska are 
placed in one of two observer coverage categories: (1) Partial observer 
coverage category, or (2) full observer coverage category.
    Under the restructured Observer Program, almost all catcher/
processors were assigned to the full observer coverage category to 
obtain independent estimates of catch, at-sea discards, and prohibited 
species catch to reduce the potential for introducing error into NMFS' 
catch accounting system (as described in the proposed rule: 77 FR 
23326, April 18, 2012). In the full observer coverage category, an 
observer must be on board a vessel any time the vessel is harvesting, 
receiving, or processing groundfish in a federally managed or parallel 
groundfish fishery, as specified at Sec.  679.51(a)(2)(i). In the full 
observer coverage category, vessel operators obtain observers by 
contracting directly with observer providers. Operators of vessels in 
the full observer coverage category pay the observer provider for each 
day the observer is on board the vessel, including days that the vessel 
is travelling to or from the fishing grounds but not fishing.
    NMFS deploys observers on vessels in the partial observer coverage 
category according to a statistical sample design based on an annual 
deployment plan developed in consultation with the North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council). Vessels in the partial observer 
coverage category are required to carry observers on fishing trips 
selected at random per the statistical sample design. Instead of paying 
for each day an observer is on board, NMFS assesses a fee equal to 1.25 
percent of the ex-vessel value of the retained groundfish and halibut 
landed by vessels in the partial observer coverage category. NMFS uses 
these fees to establish a Federal contract with an observer service 
provider to deploy observers in the partial observer coverage category.
    The restructured Observer Program provided three limited exceptions 
for catcher/processors to be placed in the partial observer coverage 
category, in recognition that the cost of full observer coverage would 
be disproportionate to total revenues for some small catcher/
processors. The first exception applied to a hybrid vessel less than 60 
feet length overall (LOA) that acted as both a catcher vessel and a 
catcher/processor in the same year in any year from 2003 through 2009. 
The second exception applied to a catcher/processor that had an average 
daily production of less than 5,000 lb (2.3 mt) round weight equivalent 
in its most recent full calendar year of operation from 2003 through 
2009. The third exception applied to a catcher/processor that did not 
process more than one metric ton round weight of groundfish on any day 
in the immediately preceding year.
    Under the first two exceptions, a vessel that started processing 
after 2009 could never qualify to be placed in the partial observer 
coverage category. Also, the first two exceptions permanently placed a 
vessel in the partial observer coverage category. These exceptions have 
no provision to review the production of a catcher/processor placed in 
the partial observer coverage category on an ongoing basis and remove 
them from the partial observer coverage category if their production 
increases. The third exception is theoretically open to any catcher/
processor that began production after 2009.

Summary of Amendment 112/102

    The following discussion summarizes the provisions of Amendment 
112/102; additional details are provided in the NOA for Amendment 112/
102 (80 FR 78705; December 17, 2015), the proposed rule for Amendment 
112/102 (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 
FR 3775)), and Section 2 of the Analysis (see ADDRESSES).

1. The Production Threshold for Placement in the Partial Observer 
Coverage Category

    This final rule establishes a production threshold for placement in 
the partial observer coverage category of average weekly groundfish 
production of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less in a standard basis year or 
an alternate basis year (as defined below). The weekly production 
measure includes catcher/processors that engage in intense bursts of 
processing activity during a year but may not process throughout the 
whole year.
    The Council and NMFS considered a range of average weekly 
production measures as a threshold for partial coverage. The production 
standard of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) was selected to ensure that catcher/
processors that are currently eligible for placement in the partial 
observer coverage category will continue to be eligible if these 
vessels maintain their current levels of production. The catcher/
processors eligible for partial observer coverage under this final rule 
are engaged primarily in the hook-and-line and Pacific cod and 
sablefish fisheries (see Section 2.2.1 of the Analysis). This 
production threshold maintains a limited exception to the general 
requirement that catcher/processors are in the full observer coverage 
category.
    The Council and NMFS concluded that this production threshold would

[[Page 17405]]

maintain a limited exception to the general requirement that catcher/
processors are in the full observer coverage category. The Council does 
not anticipate that this action would impair data quality because the 
overwhelming amount of groundfish production would remain subject to 
full observer coverage (Section 3.6.7 of the Analysis). The catcher/
processors eligible for the partial observer coverage category under 
this final rule are engaged primarily in the hook-and-line and Pacific 
cod and sablefish fisheries (see Section 3.7.12 of the Analysis).

2. The Basis Year for Placing a Catcher/Processor in the Partial 
Observer Coverage Category

    This final rule establishes the fishing year minus two years as the 
standard basis year for determining whether a catcher/processor is 
eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category, as it 
is the most recent year for which NMFS will have full production data. 
As an example, to determine if a catcher/processor will be eligible for 
partial observer coverage in the fishing year that begins on January 1, 
2017, NMFS will assess production data from 2015 (i.e., the fishing 
year minus two years).
    If a catcher/processor had no production in the standard basis 
year, (i.e., the fishing year minus two years), but that catcher/
processor had production before the standard basis year, the vessel's 
most recent year of production, but not earlier than 2009, will be used 
(referred to as the alternate basis year) (see Section 2.4 of the 
Analysis). For example, if for the fishing year beginning January 1, 
2017, the most recent fishing year prior to 2015 that a catcher/
processor had production was 2011, the production from 2011 would be 
used to assess whether that catcher/processor met the threshold 
production amount to be eligible for placement in the partial observer 
coverage category. This final rule does not consider production data 
prior to 2009 because that is the first year that NMFS collected daily 
production reports (73 FR 76136, December 15, 2008), permitting 
calculation of average daily production (see Appendix D of the 
Analysis).

3. A Catcher/Processor With No History of Production

    The Council and NMFS also considered the initial type of observer 
coverage (i.e., full or partial) that should apply to a catcher/
processor with no production in either the standard basis year or an 
alternate basis year, e.g., a new catcher/processor. This final rule 
places any non-trawl catcher/processor with no production from 2009 
through the standard basis year in the partial observer coverage 
category in the partial observer coverage category in its first two 
years of operation. The costs of full observer coverage could prevent 
some non-trawl catcher/processors from starting processing, 
particularly processing of sablefish in remote fishing grounds in the 
Aleutian Islands, and processing of Pacific cod by catcher/processors 
using jig gear. If non-trawl catcher/processors had to operate for 
their first two years in the full observer coverage category, it might 
defeat one of the objectives of this action, namely encouraging 
beneficial activity that is being prevented by the cost of full 
observer coverage.

4. Owner Choice by an Annual Deadline

    Under this final rule, the owner of a qualifying vessel may request 
placement in the partial observer coverage category through an annual 
selection process that includes an annual deadline. Absent selection by 
the owner of a qualifying vessel, that catcher/processor will be placed 
in the full observer coverage category for the upcoming fishing year. 
This annual selection process is a new requirement for the three 
catcher/processors that are currently permanently placed in the partial 
observer coverage category.
    This final rule does not establish a deadline for vessel operators 
to request placement in the partial coverage category during the 2016 
fishing year; vessel operators can request placement in partial 
coverage as soon as the final rule is effective. The application 
process for the 2016 fishing year is described in further detail in the 
section Changes from the Proposed Rule.
    This final rule establishes an annual deadline of July 1 to request 
placement in the partial observer coverage category applicable for the 
2017 fishing year, and for all future fishing years. For the 2017 
fishing year, a vessel owner would have to request placement in the 
partial observer coverage category by July 1, 2016.

5. Unchanged Observer Requirements for Trawl Catcher/Processors and 
Catcher/Processors That Participate in a Catch Share Program

    This final rule does not alter existing observer coverage 
requirements for a catcher/processor using trawl gear or a catcher/
processor when participating in a catch share program; these catcher/
processors will continue to be required to be in the full observer 
coverage category. The rationale for the existing observer coverage 
requirements for each catch share program is described in the proposed 
rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 
3775)).

The Final Rule

    This final rule revises regulations at 50 CFR part 679 to modify 
the criteria for NMFS to place small catcher/processors in the partial 
observer coverage category in the Observer Program. This final rule 
establishes a new paragraph in Sec.  679.51, namely Sec.  679.51(a)(3).
    At Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(i), this final rule defines the following 
terms for purposes of the new Sec.  679.51(a)(3): a ``fishing year'' as 
the year during which a catcher/processor might be placed in the 
partial observer coverage category; the ``standard basis year'' as the 
fishing year minus two years; and the ``alternate basis year'' as the 
most recent year before the standard basis year in which a catcher/
processor had any groundfish production but not earlier than 2009. At 
Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(i), this final rule defines a vessel's ``average 
weekly groundfish production,'' as the annual groundfish round weight 
production estimate for a catcher/processor, divided by the number of 
separate weeks during which production occurred, as determined by 
production reports, but excluding any groundfish that was caught with 
trawl gear. Thus, if a vessel has groundfish production any day in a 
week, excluding trawl production, that will be considered as a week of 
production.
    At Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(ii), this final rule specifies the annual 
deadline for requesting placement in the partial observer coverage 
category as July 1 of the year before the year that the vessel owner 
would like to be placed in the partial observer coverage category, for 
2017 and all future years. As described in the section titled Changes 
from the Proposed Rule, no deadline is specified for the owner of a 
catcher/processor to apply to be placed in the partial observer 
coverage category in 2016. NMFS should be able to make an eligibility 
determination within 30 days of receipt of the request for placement in 
the partial observer coverage category.
    At Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(iii), this final rule specifies the 
requirements for NMFS to place a catcher/processor in the partial 
observer coverage category, namely if the vessel owner requests 
placement by the annual deadline specified and the vessel meets the 
production threshold of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) of average weekly 
groundfish production (excluding groundfish caught with trawl gear).
    To determine eligibility for placement in the partial observer 
coverage category, NMFS will first examine the

[[Page 17406]]

catcher/processor's production in the standard basis year, namely two 
years before the fishing year. If a catcher/processor produced at or 
below the production threshold (79,000 lb (35.8 mt) average weekly 
groundfish production) in the standard basis year, but more than zero 
pounds, the vessel will meet the production threshold for placement in 
the partial observer coverage category in the upcoming fishing year. If 
a catcher/processor exceeded that production threshold, the vessel will 
not be eligible for placement in the partial observer coverage category 
in the upcoming fishing year.
    If a catcher/processor had no production in the standard basis 
year, NMFS will examine the vessel's production in the alternative 
basis year, namely the first year that the vessel had any production 
before the standard basis year but not earlier than 2009. If a catcher/
processor had average weekly groundfish production of 79,000 lb (35.8 
mt) or less in the alternate basis year, the vessel will meet the 
production threshold requirement for placement in the partial observer 
coverage category for the upcoming fishing year. If a catcher/processor 
exceeded the production threshold in the alternate basis year, the 
vessel will not be eligible for placement in the partial observer 
coverage category. If a catcher/processor had no production from 2009 
through the standard basis year, the vessel will meet the production 
threshold requirement for placement in the partial observer coverage 
category.
    If a catcher/processor meets the production threshold requirement 
for placement in the partial observer coverage category and is not a 
vessel using trawl gear or otherwise required to have full observer 
coverage by participation in a catch share program, the catcher/
processor will be placed in partial observer coverage only if the owner 
of the vessel makes the request by the annual deadline. This final rule 
specifies at Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(iv) how the vessel owner can request 
placement in the partial observer coverage category. A vessel owner 
must submit a request form to NMFS, which NMFS will make available on 
the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    At Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(v), this final rule specifies that NMFS will 
notify a vessel owner in writing if NMFS has placed the vessel in the 
partial observer coverage category. Until NMFS provides this notice, 
the catcher/processor will remain in the full observer coverage 
category.
    At Sec.  679.51(a)(3)(vi), this final rule specifies that if NMFS 
denies a request for placement in the partial observer coverage 
category, NMFS will issue an Initial Administrative Determination, 
which will explain the reasons for the denial. If the vessel owner 
wishes to appeal the denial, this final rule provides at Sec.  
679.51(a)(3)(vii) that the vessel owner may appeal to the National 
Appeals Office according to the procedures in 15 CFR part 906. During 
the appeal process, the catcher/processor will remain in the full 
observer coverage category.
    This final rule has several provisions in addition to the new 
paragraph at Sec.  679.51(a)(3). This final rule adds regulations at 
Sec.  679.51(a)(1)(i)(C) to clarify that certain catcher/processors 
(newly specified by this final rule at Sec.  679.51(a)(3)) are in the 
partial observer coverage category when fishing for halibut with hook-
and-line gear or when directed fishing for groundfish in a federally 
managed or parallel groundfish fishery. This final rule revises Sec.  
679.51(a)(2)(i)(A) to clarify that catcher/processors are placed in the 
full observer coverage category unless they are placed the partial 
observer coverage category using criteria specified at Sec.  
679.51(a)(3). This final rule also removes the regulations detailing 
the exceptions to the full observer coverage category for catcher/
processors at Sec.  679.51(a)(2)(iv)(B) that were in place prior to 
implementation of this final rule.
    This final rule adds a new category to the definition of fishing 
trip for purposes of the Observer Program in Sec.  679.2. Prior to 
implementation of this final rule, Sec.  679.2 defined a fishing trip 
for a catcher vessel delivering to a shoreside processor or stationary 
floating processor and for a catcher vessel delivering to a tender 
vessel. This final rule defines a fishing trip for a catcher/processor 
in the partial observer coverage category, as the period of time that 
begins when the vessel departs a port to harvest fish until the vessel 
returns to port and offloads all processed product. This new definition 
is necessary because the current definition of a fishing trip does not 
accurately apply to a catcher/processor in the partial observer 
coverage category.
    This final rule adds a new requirement at Sec.  679.5(e)(13) for a 
catcher/processor landing report. The operator of a catcher/processor 
placed in the partial observer coverage category must submit a catcher/
processor landing report by 2400 hours, A.l.t., on the day after the 
end of the fishing trip. This is a new reporting requirement created 
for this program. The landing report will be generated through 
eLandings or other NMFS-approved software by consolidating the daily 
production reports for the period the vessel operator defines as the 
fishing trip for purposes of observer coverage. NMFS will use 
information from the catcher/processor landing report to link catch 
data with observer data, to determine how to appropriately assign at-
sea discard rates and prohibited species catch rates to unobserved 
catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category, and to 
monitor compliance with the requirement for catcher/processors placed 
in the partial observer coverage category to log all fishing trips in 
the Observer Declare and Deploy System.
    This final rule revises Sec.  679.51(e)(1)(iii)(B) to remove 
requirements from catcher/processors placed in the partial observer 
coverage category to provide equipment for the purpose of observer data 
entry and transmission. Prior to implementation of this final rule, all 
catcher/processors were required to provide an observer with a 
computer, NMFS-supplied software, and the ability to transmit data to 
NMFS using a point-to-point connection from the vessel. Removing this 
requirement reduces the financial burden on small catcher/processors 
placed in the partial observer coverage category, especially for 
vessels mentioned in Section 3.7.4 of the Analysis that may begin to 
operate as a catcher/processor (e.g., catcher/processors using jig 
gear). Prior to implementation of this final rule, observers deployed 
in the partial observer coverage category entered and transmitted data 
without equipment provided by the industry. Maintaining those equipment 
requirements for catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage 
category may have resulted in duplicative and unnecessary equipment 
being available on the vessel. NMFS typically receives data from 
observers deployed in the partial observer coverage category at the end 
of each trip, and that timeline is sufficient for catcher/processors in 
partial observer coverage under this final rule. NMFS notes that even 
with this change, more frequent data transmission could be achieved on 
some catcher/processors in partial observer coverage if the observer is 
allowed to use existing communication equipment.
    This final rule revises Sec.  679.55(a) and (c) to clarify that all 
catcher/processors named on a Federal Fishing Permit and not in the 
full observer coverage category are responsible for paying the observer 
fee.
    This final rule corrects two cross references in Sec.  679.2 and 
replaces language in Sec.  679.5 that refers to old

[[Page 17407]]

terminology of ``100 percent observer coverage.'' That terminology is 
replaced with ``full observer coverage;'' this is the terminology used 
under the restructured Observer Program.

Comments and Responses

    During the public comment periods for the NOA for Amendment 112/102 
and the proposed rule to implement Amendment 112/102, NMFS received 
three comment letters from the public that contained three substantive 
comments. NMFS' responses to these comments are presented below.
    Comment 1: All three commenters expressed support for this action.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments.
    Comment 2: Two commenters requested that NMFS implement this action 
as soon as possible in 2016. One commenter would like to begin fishing 
for Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program Pacific halibut and 
sablefish around April 1, but due to the costs of full coverage, would 
not start fishing until they were allowed to be placed in the partial 
observer coverage category. The second commenter stated that it 
benefits the few eligible catcher/processors to be placed in the 
partial observer coverage as soon as possible in 2016, and doing so 
would not negatively impact any other fishery participants.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges these comments. Most of the catcher/
processors that will be eligible to be placed in the partial observer 
coverage category under this final rule participate in the sablefish 
IFQ fisheries or fish for Pacific cod. Directed fishing for Pacific cod 
opened in most areas off Alaska on January 1, 2016, and the IFQ fishing 
season started on March 19, 2016. Under existing regulations, any 
catcher/processors not placed in the partial observer coverage category 
are in the full observer coverage category and must carry an observer 
at all times while fishing in the GOA or BSAI. As noted in the proposed 
rule and Analysis, being placed in the full observer coverage category 
imposes costs on vessel owners that generally exceed the costs of being 
placed in the partial observer coverage category. Allowing the owners 
of catcher/processors to apply to be placed in the partial observer 
coverage category as soon as possible in 2016 would minimize the cost 
of observer coverage for these vessel owners. Due to the costs of the 
full observer coverage category, some vessel owners may even choose not 
to fish until the catcher/processor can be placed in the partial 
observer coverage category. Therefore, for reasons discussed in the 
Classification section, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has waived the 
30-day delay in effectiveness of this final rule and will accept 
applications from the owners of catcher/processors to be placed in the 
partial observer coverage category on the day that this final rule is 
published in the Federal Register.
    Comment 3: The proposed regulations appropriately add a paragraph 
(C), referencing catcher/processors, to 50 CFR 679.51(a)(1)(i). New 
paragraph (C) joins a list of certain classes of vessels in partial 
observer coverage, with paragraphs (A) and (B) describing certain 
catcher vessels. The language introducing the list at Sec.  
679.51(a)(1)(i) should be revised to reference not just catcher vessels 
but also catcher/processors: `` . . . the following catcher vessels 
[and catcher/processors] are in the partial observer coverage category 
. . .'' The word ``or'' should be deleted after paragraph (A).
    Response: NMFS agrees with the suggested addition of ``and catcher/
processors'' at Sec.  679.51(a)(1)(i). However, NMFS does not agree 
with the suggested deletion of the word ``or'' after Sec.  
679.51(a)(1)(i)(A). With the implementation of this final rule, Sec.  
679.51(a)(1)(i) contains three paragraphs, (A), (B), and (C), each of 
which is independent of the others. Therefore, it is appropriate to 
retain the word ``or'' after Sec.  679.51(a)(1)(i)(A).

Changes From the Proposed Rule

Initial Implementation Deadline for 2016

    The proposed rule for Amendment 112/102 (80 FR 81262, December 29, 
2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) proposed to establish an 
application deadline in 2016 for an owner of an eligible catcher/
processor to request placement in the partial observer coverage 
category within 15 days after the effective date of the final rule. The 
effective date of the final rule was anticipated to be 30 days after 
its publication in the Federal Register; therefore, this deadline would 
have provided a vessel owner 45 days to consider and submit a timely 
request for placement in the partial observer coverage category after 
the date of publication of the final rule.
    NMFS has determined that an application deadline for the 2016 
fishing year is not necessary. One of the primary reasons for an 
application deadline for 2017 and future years is to provide 
information about which catcher/processors will be in the partial 
observer coverage category in time to prepare the Observer Program 
annual deployment plan for the upcoming year. NMFS has already prepared 
the 2016 annual deployment plan assuming that any catcher/processor 
eligible to be in partial observer coverage in 2016 would choose to do 
so; therefore NMFS does not need an application deadline in 2016 to 
enable a catcher/processor to be placed in the partial observer 
coverage category. Nevertheless, an owner wishing to place a catcher/
processor in the partial observer coverage category has an incentive to 
submit an application as soon as possible in 2016 if placement in 
partial coverage reduces the cost of observer coverage. In addition, 
not having an application deadline for 2016 provides additional time 
for potential new participants in the fishery to adjust to the new 
regulations. If a vessel owner missed the 2016 application deadline 
described in the proposed rule, the vessel would require full observer 
coverage until January 2017. Removing the 2016 deadline does not create 
a substantial administrative burden for NMFS because of the small 
number of vessels involved. Fishery participants are reminded that the 
July 1 deadline applies for the 2017 fishing year, and for all future 
fishing years.

Other Changes

    NMFS adds the phrase ``and catcher/processors'' at Sec.  
679.51(a)(1)(i) to reference not just catcher vessels but also catcher/
processors, as described in the response to Comment 3 in the Comments 
and Responses section.
    NMFS corrects a verb disagreement error in the table at Sec.  
679.55(c) by changing ``is'' to ``are'' in row (5).

Classification

    The Administrator, Alaska Region, determined that Amendments 112 
and 102 and this final rule are necessary for the conservation and 
management of the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries and that they are 
consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Administrative Procedure Act

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for the provisions 
in this final rule. Maintaining the 30-day delay would be contrary to 
the public interest. Waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness would 
allow the owners of catcher/processors to apply to be placed in the 
partial observer coverage category as soon as the final rule is 
published and would allow NMFS to approve this placement for eligible 
catcher/

[[Page 17408]]

processors as soon as NMFS is able to complete the necessary review. 
Maintaining the 30-day delay in effectiveness would not prevent vessel 
owners from applying to be placed in the partial observer coverage 
category, but NMFS would not be able to approve placement of eligible 
catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category until the 
effective date of the final rule. This would require vessel owners to 
bear the costs of the full observer coverage category or delay fishing 
for up to 30 days. Public comment received on the proposed rule 
overwhelmingly requested that NMFS implement this action as soon as 
possible in 2016.
    Most of the catcher/processors that will be eligible to be placed 
in the partial observer coverage category under this final rule 
participate in the sablefish IFQ fisheries or fish for Pacific cod. 
Pacific cod opened for directed fishing in most areas off Alaska on 
January 1, 2016, and the sablefish IFQ fishing season started on March 
19, 2016. Under existing regulations, any catcher/processors not placed 
in the partial observer coverage category are in the full observer 
coverage category and required to carry an observer at all times while 
fishing in the GOA or BSAI. As noted in the proposed rule and Analysis, 
the full observer coverage category imposes costs on vessel owners that 
generally exceed the costs of being placed in the partial observer 
coverage category. Allowing the owners of catcher/processors to apply 
to be placed in the partial observer coverage category as soon as 
possible in 2016 would minimize the cost of observer coverage for these 
vessel owners.
    Waiving the 30-day delay in this final rule's effectiveness will 
help maximize economic opportunities for these commercial fishermen in 
the BSAI and GOA during the 2016 fishing year and will allow qualifying 
vessel owners to start operating under partial observer coverage 
requirements as soon as the vessel owner receives notification from 
NMFS that the vessel is placed in the partial observer coverage 
category.
    There is no administrative need for additional time beyond the 
point of notification from NMFS. This is a non-controversial action 
that affects a small number of vessel owners. NMFS is unaware of any 
participants who would not be in favor of or who would be potentially 
harmed by waiving the 30-day delay in effectiveness. Without waiving 
the 30-day delay in effectiveness, vessel owners affected by this final 
rule that are currently in full observer coverage would have to wait an 
additional 30 days after publication of this final rule to be placed in 
partial observer coverage, which would delay the associated economic 
opportunities being sought through this final rule, thus undermining 
its intent.
    For these reasons, the NMFS Assistant Administrator waives the 30-
day delay in effectiveness of this final rule and will accept 
applications from the owners of catcher/processors to be placed in the 
partial observer coverage category on the day that this final rule is 
published in the Federal Register.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small 
entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such 
publications as ``small entity compliance guides.'' The agency shall 
explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a 
rule or group of rules. The preamble to the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, 
December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)) and the 
preamble to this final rule serve as the small entity compliance guide. 
This final rule does not require any additional compliance from small 
entities that is not described in the preamble to the proposed rule and 
this final rule. Copies of the proposed rule and this final rule are 
available from NMFS at the following Web site: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA)

    Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires an agency to 
prepare a FRFA after being required by that section or any other law to 
publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking and when an agency 
promulgates a final rule under section 553 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code. 
The following paragraphs constitute the FRFA for this action.
    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; and 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.

Need for and Objectives of the Rule

    A description of the need for, and objectives of, the rule is 
contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final rule and 
is not repeated here. This FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) and the summary of the IRFA in the proposed 
rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 
3775)).

Summary of Significant Issues Raised During Public Comment

    NMFS published a proposed rule on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81262; 
corrected January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775)). An IRFA was prepared and 
summarized in the Classification section of the preamble to the 
proposed rule. The comment period closed on January 28, 2016. NMFS 
received 3 letters of public comment on the proposed rule. These 
comment letters did not address the IRFA. The comments did address the 
economic impacts of the rule generally by requesting that the rule be 
implemented as soon as possible to help maximize economic opportunities 
for commercial fishermen in the BSAI and GOA during the 2016 fishing 
year by allowing qualifying vessels to start operating under partial 
observer coverage requirements as soon as the vessel owner receives 
notification from NMFS that the vessel is placed in the partial 
observer coverage category. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration did not file any comments on the proposed rule.

[[Page 17409]]

Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by the Action

    NMFS expects that up to 11 vessels will qualify for placement in 
the partial observer coverage category (See the Classification section 
of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected January 
22, 2016 (81 FR 3775))). NMFS estimates that up to 9 of the 11 vessels 
identified are considered directly regulated small entities.

Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements

    This action contains one new reporting and recordkeeping 
requirement that affects the small entities. Vessel owners desiring to 
be placed in the partial observer coverage category for a fishing year 
must submit a form expressing that choice by July 1 (except for the 
2016 fishing year).
    This form will use production data that will be available to the 
owner on the eLandings Web site. Given the simplicity of the form, and 
the accessibility of the data needed to complete it, NMFS estimates 
that it will take no more than 30 minutes to complete and file the 
form. For Paperwork Reduction Act estimation purposes, NMFS values this 
type of effort at $37 per hour. Approximately nine small entities could 
be affected by this requirement. Thus, the total public time required 
to complete nine forms a year x 30 minutes is 4.5 hours. At a cost of 
$37 per hour, the estimated cost is about $167.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Final Action That 
Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities

    A FRFA must describe the steps the agency has taken to minimize the 
significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the 
stated objectives of applicable statues, 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 that affect the 
impact on small entities was rejected. ``Significant alternatives'' are 
those that achieve the stated objectives for the action, consistent 
with prevailing law, with potentially lesser adverse economic impacts 
on small entities as a whole.
    The Council and NMFS considered a range of alternatives and options 
to the preferred alternative that is implemented by this final rule. 
These alternatives and options are described in Section 2 of the RIR/
IRFA and are not repeated here. The Council and NMFS did not identify 
alternatives to the preferred alternative that would minimize the 
impact on small entities better than the preferred alternative and 
still meet the objectives for this final rule--to provide a relatively 
limited exception to the general requirement that all catcher/
processors are in the full observer coverage category, and maintain the 
full observer coverage requirement for all trawl catcher/processors and 
catcher/processors participating in a catch share program that requires 
full observer coverage.
    The preferred alternative implemented by this final rule modifies 
existing regulations that are necessary to meet the objectives of this 
final rule. The preferred alternative is not anticipated to have 
adverse impacts on small entities. As noted in the IRFA, this action is 
expected to create a net benefit for the directly regulated small 
entities. In other words, the benefits of this action are expected to 
outweigh the reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance costs 
described above.
    The Council and NMFS adopted the average weekly production 
threshold of 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) as its preferred alternative. This 
production threshold allows a catcher/processor to qualify for 
placement in the partial observer coverage category for a year, if its 
round weight equivalent of their processed product, two years previous, 
averaged less than 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) a week. If the vessel had not 
operated two years previously, NMFS will use its production in the 
first year with production since 2009, inclusive of 2009. If the vessel 
has not produced in this period, NMFS will allow the vessel to be 
placed in the partial observer coverage category in the year in which 
application is made, unless it is a trawl vessel, in which case it will 
be in the full observer coverage category.
    This action reduces the relative burden on directly regulated small 
catcher/processors in comparison with the status quo. Vessels that 
qualify can forego full observer coverage and operate with less 
expensive partial observer coverage, should they choose to do so. The 
three catcher/processors that were permanently placed in the partial 
observer coverage category under the status quo now have to qualify for 
placement in the partial observer coverage category each year. The 
Council and NMFS chose the 79,000-lb average weekly threshold, rather 
than an alternative 42,000-lb average weekly threshold, to maximize the 
potential for these three vessels to qualify for the option to be 
placed in the partial observer coverage category in future years. 
Moreover, one of the objectives of this action was to end permanent 
placement in the partial observer coverage category for catcher/
processor vessels and create a flexible system that could respond if a 
vessel increased production.
    The Council and NMFS considered multiple elements and options under 
Alternative 2 that would qualify more vessels or fewer vessels for 
placement in the partial observer coverage category. In addition to the 
two average weekly production thresholds, a low and a high average 
daily, maximum daily production, maximum weekly, and annual production 
measures were considered.
    The production thresholds analyzed under Element 1 Option 4B (high 
maximum weekly production) and Option 5B (high annual production) could 
have qualified one more small catcher/processor for partial observer 
coverage than is qualified under the preferred alternative (Option 2B: 
average weekly production threshold of 79,000 lb). The Council and NMFS 
did not select Option 4B because basing a threshold on maximum weekly 
production would have excluded some catcher/processors that had one 
week of relatively high production, but had relatively low average 
production over the remainder of the year. The Council did not select 
Option 5B because it would allow catcher/processors with relatively 
high production levels over the course of several weeks or months 
during the year into the partial observer coverage category. NMFS 
recommended that catcher/processors with these high intensity 
production periods during the year should remain in the full observer 
coverage category so that all of their fishing activity is observed.
    The average weekly measure was chosen, because it provided a 
measure of production intensity, which the annual, maximum daily, and 
maximum weekly measures, did not provide; it was readily measurable; 
and it was less prone to manipulation or unusually high levels of 
production than the other options considered. A week is also the 
standard measure of production for a catcher/processor trip in current 
regulation (Section 2.2.1 of the Analysis and the Classification 
section of the proposed rule (80 FR 81262, December 29, 2015; corrected 
January 22, 2016 (81 FR 3775))).

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) which have been approved 
by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control numbers 0648-
0318, 0648-0515,

[[Page 17410]]

and 0648-0711. The information collections are presented by OMB control 
number.
OMB Control No. 0648-0318
    Public reporting burden for Catcher/Processor Observer Partial 
Coverage Request is estimated to average 30 minutes per response.
OMB Control No. 0648-0515
    Public reporting burden for Catcher/Processor Landing Report 
through eLandings is estimated to average one minute per response.
OMB Control No. 0648-0711
    Public reporting burden for submittal of Observer Fee through eFISH 
is estimated to average 1 minute per response.
    Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect 
of these collections, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to 
NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or 
fax to 202-395-5806.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA 
collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 23, 2016.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 679 is amended 
as follows:

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 111-281


0
2. In Sec.  679.2, add paragraph (3)(iii) to the definition of 
``Fishing trip'' to read as follows:


Sec.  679.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Fishing trip means: * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iii) For a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage 
category, the period of time that begins when the vessel departs a port 
to harvest fish until the vessel returns to port and offloads all 
processed product.
* * * * *


0
3. In Sec.  679.5, add paragraph (e)(13) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.5  Recordkeeping and reporting (R&R).

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (13) Catcher/processor landing report. (i) The operator of a 
catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage category 
under Sec.  679.51(a)(3) must use eLandings or other NMFS-approved 
software to submit a catcher/processor landing report to NMFS for each 
fishing trip conducted while that catcher/processor is in the partial 
observer coverage category.
    (ii) The vessel operator must log into eLandings or other NMFS-
approved software and provide the information required on the computer 
screen. Additional instructions for submitting a catcher/processor 
landing report is on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.
    (iii) For purposes of this landing report requirement, the end of a 
fishing trip is defined in Sec.  679.2, paragraph (3)(iii) of the 
definition of a fishing trip.
    (iv) The vessel operator must submit the catcher/processor landing 
report to NMFS by 2400 hours, A.l.t., on the day after the end of the 
fishing trip.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  679.51,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (a)(2)(i)(A);
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraphs (a)(2)(iv)(B) and (a)(2)(v);
0
c. Add paragraph (a)(3); and
0
d. Revise paragraph (e)(1)(iii)(B) introductory text to read as 
follows:


Sec.  679.51  Observer requirements for vessels and plants.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Vessel classes in partial coverage category. Unless otherwise 
specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the following catcher 
vessels and catcher/processors are in the partial observer coverage 
category when fishing for halibut with hook-and-line gear or when 
directed fishing for groundfish in a federally managed or parallel 
groundfish fishery, as defined at Sec.  679.2:
    (A) A catcher vessel designated on an FFP under Sec.  679.4(b)(1); 
or
    (B) A catcher vessel when fishing for halibut with hook-and-line 
gear and while carrying a person named on a permit issued under Sec.  
679.4(d)(1)(i), Sec.  679.4(d)(2)(i), or Sec.  679.4(e)(2), or for 
sablefish IFQ with hook-and-line or pot gear and while carrying a 
person named on a permit issued under Sec.  679.4(d)(1)(i) or Sec.  
679.4(d)(2)(i); or
    (C) A catcher/processor placed in the partial observer coverage 
category under paragraph (a)(3) of this section.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Catcher/processors, except a catcher/processor placed in the 
partial observer coverage category under paragraph (a)(3) of this 
section;
* * * * *
    (3) Catcher/processor placement in the partial observer coverage 
category for a year--(i) Definitions. For purposes of this paragraph 
(a)(3), these terms are defined as follows:
    (A) Average weekly groundfish production means the annual 
groundfish round weight production estimate for a catcher/processor, 
divided by the number of separate weeks during which production 
occurred, as determined by production reports, excluding any groundfish 
caught using trawl gear.
    (B) Fishing year means the year during which a catcher/processor 
might be placed in partial observer coverage.
    (C) Standard basis year means the fishing year minus two years.
    (D) Alternate basis year means the most recent year before the 
standard basis year in which a catcher/processor had any groundfish 
production but not earlier than 2009.
    (ii) Deadline for requesting partial observer coverage. For the 
2017 fishing year and every fishing year after 2017, the deadline for 
requesting partial observer coverage is July 1 of the year prior to the 
fishing year.
    (iii) Requirements for placing a catcher/processor in the partial 
observer coverage category. NMFS will place a catcher/processor in the 
partial observer coverage category for a fishing year if the owner of 
the catcher/processor requests placement in partial observer coverage 
by the deadline for requesting partial observer coverage for that 
fishing year and the catcher/processor meets the following 
requirements:
    (A) An average weekly groundfish production of:
    (1) 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or less, but more than zero lb, in the 
standard basis year; or
    (2) Zero lb in the standard basis year and 79,000 lb (35.8 mt) or 
less, but more

[[Page 17411]]

than zero lb, in the alternate basis year; or
    (3) Had no production from 2009 through the standard basis year; 
and
    (B) Is not a catcher/processor using trawl gear; and
    (C) Is not subject to additional observer coverage requirements in 
paragraph (a)(2)(vi) of this section.
    (iv) How to request placement of a catcher/processor in partial 
observer coverage. A vessel owner must submit a request form to NMFS. 
The request form must be completed with all required fields accurately 
completed. The request form is provided by NMFS and is available on the 
NMFS Alaska Region Web site (http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov). The 
submittal methods are described on the form.
    (v) Notification of placement in the partial observer coverage 
category. NMFS will notify the owner if the catcher/processor has been 
placed in the partial observer coverage category in writing. Until NMFS 
provides notification, the catcher/processor is in the full observer 
coverage category for that fishing year.
    (vi) Initial Administrative Determination (IAD). If NMFS denies a 
request to place a catcher/processor in the partial observer coverage 
category, NMFS will provide an IAD, which will explain the basis for 
the denial.
    (vii) Appeal. If the owner of a catcher/processor wishes to appeal 
NMFS' denial of a request to place a catcher/processor in the partial 
observer coverage category, the owner may appeal the determination 
under the appeals procedure set out at 15 CFR part 906.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (B) Communication equipment requirements. In the case of an 
operator of a catcher/processor (except for a catcher/processor placed 
in the partial observer coverage category under paragraph (a)(3) of 
this section), a mothership, a catcher vessel 125 ft LOA or longer 
(except for a vessel fishing for groundfish with pot gear), or a 
catcher vessel participating in the Rockfish Program:
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  679.55, revise paragraphs (a) and (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.55  Observer fees.

    (a) Responsibility. The owner of a shoreside processor or 
stationary floating processor named on a Federal Processing Permit 
(FPP), a catcher/processor named on a Federal Fisheries Permit (FFP), 
or a person named on a Registered Buyer permit at the time of the 
landing subject to the observer fee as specified at Sec.  679.55(c) 
must comply with the requirements of this section. Subsequent non-
renewal of an FPP, FFP, or a Registered Buyer permit does not affect 
the permit holder's liability for noncompliance with this section.
* * * * *
    (c) Landings subject to the observer fee. The observer fee is 
assessed on landings by vessels not in the full observer coverage 
category described at Sec.  679.51(a)(2) according to the following 
table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Is fish from the landing subject to
                                             the observer fee?
   If fish in the landing by a   ---------------------------------------
 catcher vessel or production by   If the vessel is    If the vessel is
 a catcher/processor is from the   not designated on   designated on an
  following fishery or species:   an FFP or required  FFP or required to
                                   to be  designated   be designated on
                                      on an FFP:            an FFP:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Groundfish listed in Table    Not applicable, an  Yes.
 2a to this part that are          FFP is required
 harvested in the EEZ and          to harvest these
 subtracted from a total           groundfish in the
 allowable catch limit specified   EEZ.
 under Sec.   679.20(a).
(2) Groundfish listed in Table    No................  Yes.
 2a to this part that are
 harvested in Alaska State
 waters, including in a parallel
 groundfish fishery, and
 subtracted from a total
 allowable catch limit specified
 under Sec.   679.20(a).
(3) Sablefish IFQ, regardless of  Yes...............  Yes.
 where harvested.
(4) Halibut IFQ or halibut CDQ,   Yes...............  Yes.
 regardless of where harvested.
(5) Groundfish listed in Table    No................  No.
 2a to this part that are
 harvested in Alaska State
 waters, but are not subtracted
 from a total allowable catch
 limit under Sec.   679.20(a).
(6) Any groundfish or other       No................  No.
 species not listed in Table 2a
 to part 679, except halibut IFQ
 or CDQ halibut, regardless of
 where harvested.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *


Sec. Sec.  679.2 and 679.5  [Amended]

0
6. At each of the locations shown in the ``Location'' column, remove 
the phrase indicated in the ``Remove'' column and replace it with the 
phrase indicated in the ``Add'' column for the number of times 
indicated in the ``Frequency'' column.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Location                            Remove                        Add                Frequency
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.   679.2 Definition of                Sec.   679.50.............  Sec.   679.53.............               1
 ``Suspension''.
Sec.   679.2 Definition of                Sec.   679.50(j)..........  Sec.   679.53(c)..........               1
 ``Suspension''.
Sec.   679.5(e)(10)(iv)(B)..............  required to have 100        in the groundfish and                    1
                                           percent observer coverage   halibut fishery full
                                           or more.                    observer coverage
                                                                       category described at
                                                                       Sec.   679.51(a)(2).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. 2016-07019 Filed 3-28-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P