Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Annual Specifications, 33454-33456 [2016-12228]

Download as PDF jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 33454 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 102 / Thursday, May 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before June 27, 2016. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R01– OAR–2015–0801 at http:// www.regulations.gov, or via email to Mackintosh.David@epa.gov. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, the EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the ‘‘For Further Information Contact’’ section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/ commenting-epa-dockets. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David L. Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square— Suite 100 (Mail code OEP05–2), Boston, MA 02109–3912, tel. 617–918–1584, fax 617–918–0668, email Mackintosh.David@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State’s SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:09 May 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment. For additional information, see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register. Dated: May 11, 2016. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England. [FR Doc. 2016–12397 Filed 5–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 160411325–6325–01] RIN 0648–XE568 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Annual Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement annual management measures and harvest specifications to establish the allowable catch levels (i.e. annual catch limit (ACL)/harvest guideline (HG)) for the northern subpopulation of Pacific sardine (hereafter, simply Pacific sardine), in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for the fishing season of July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. This rule is proposed according to the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The proposed action would prohibit directed nontribal Pacific sardine commercial fishing for Pacific sardine off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, which is required because the estimated 2016 biomass of Pacific sardine has dropped below the biomass threshold specified in the HG control rule. Under the proposed action, Pacific sardine may still be harvested as part of either the live bait or tribal fishery or as incidental catch in other fisheries; the incidental harvest of Pacific sardine would initially be limited to 40-percent by weight of all fish per trip when caught SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 with other CPS or up to 2 metric tons (mt) when caught with non-CPS. The proposed annual catch limit (ACL) for the 2016–2017 Pacific sardine fishing year is 8,000 mt. This proposed rule is intended to conserve and manage the Pacific sardine stock off the U.S. West Coast. DATES: Comments must be received by June 10, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0052, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160052, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070; Attn: Joshua Lindsay. • Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the report ‘‘Assessment of Pacific Sardine Resource in 2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016–2017’’ may be obtained from the West Coast Region (see ADDRESSES). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua Lindsay, West Coast Region, NMFS, (562) 980–4034, joshua.lindsay@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: During public meetings each year, the estimated biomass for Pacific sardine is presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) CPS Management Team (Team), the Council’s CPS Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel) and the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the biomass and the status of the fishery are reviewed and discussed. The biomass estimate is then presented to the Council along with the calculated overfishing limit (OFL), available biological catch (ABC), E:\FR\FM\26MYP1.SGM 26MYP1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 102 / Thursday, May 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules and HG, along with recommendations and comments from the Team, Subpanel, and SSC. Following review by the Council and after hearing public comment, the Council adopts a biomass estimate and makes its catch level recommendations to NMFS. NMFS manages the Pacific sardine fishery in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast (California, Oregon, and Washington) in accordance with the FMP. Annual specifications published in the Federal Register establish the allowable harvest levels (i.e. OFL/ACL/HG) for each Pacific sardine fishing year. The purpose of this proposed rule is to implement these annual catch reference points for 2016–2017, including the OFL and an ABC that takes into consideration uncertainty surrounding the current estimate of biomass for Pacific sardine. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set these annual catch levels for the Pacific sardine fishery based on the annual specification framework and control rules in the FMP. These control rules include the HG control rule, which, in conjunction with the OFL and ABC rules in the FMP, are used to manage harvest levels for Pacific sardine, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. According to the FMP, the quota for the principal commercial fishery is determined using the FMP-specified HG formula. The HG formula in the CPS FMP is HG = [(Biomass¥CUTOFF) * FRACTION * DISTRIBUTION] with the parameters described as follows: 1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific sardine age one and above. For the 2016–2017 management season this is 106,137 mt. 2. CUTOFF. This is the biomass level below which no HG is set. The FMP established this level at 150,000 mt. 3. DISTRIBUTION. The average portion of the Pacific sardine biomass estimated in the EEZ off the Pacific coast is 87 percent. 4. FRACTION. The temperaturevarying harvest fraction is the percentage of the biomass above 150,000 mt that may be harvested. As described above, the Pacific sardine HG control rule, the primary mechanism for setting the annual directed commercial fishery quota, includes a CUTOFF parameter which has been set as a biomass level of 150,000 mt. This amount is subtracted from the annual biomass estimate before calculating the applicable HG for the fishing year. Therefore, because this year’s biomass estimate is below that value, the formula results in an HG of VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:09 May 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 zero and therefore no Pacific sardine are available for the commercial directed fishery during the 2016–2017 fishing season. At the April 2016 Council meeting, the Council’s SSC approved, and the Council adopted, the ‘‘Assessment of the Pacific Sardine Resource in 2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016–2017’’, completed by NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the resulting Pacific sardine biomass estimate of 106,137 mt as the best available science for setting harvest specifications. Based on recommendations from its SSC and other advisory bodies, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, an OFL of 23,085 mt, an ABC of 19,236 mt, and a prohibition on sardine catch unless it is harvested as part of either the live bait or tribal fishery or incidental to other fisheries for the 2016–2017 Pacific sardine fishing year. As additional management measures, the Council also recommended, and NMFS is proposing, an ACL of 8,000 mt and that the incidental catch of Pacific sardine in other CPS fisheries be managed with the following automatic inseason actions to reduce the potential for both targeting and discard of Pacific sardine: • An incidental per landing by weight allowance of 40 percent Pacific sardine in non-treaty CPS fisheries until a total of 2,000 mt of Pacific sardine are landed. • When 2,000 mt are landed, the incidental per landing allowance would be reduced to 30 percent until a total of 5,000 mt of Pacific sardine have been landed. • When 5,000 mt have been landed, the incidental per landing allowance would be reduced to 10 percent for the remainder of the 2016–2017 fishing year. Because Pacific sardine is known to comingle with other CPS stocks, these incidental allowances are proposed to allow for the continued prosecution of these other important CPS fisheries and reduce the potential discard of sardine. Additionally, a 2 mt incidental per landing allowance in non-CPS fisheries is proposed. The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator would publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the date of attainment of any of the incidental catch levels described above and subsequent changes to allowable incidental catch percentages. Additionally, to ensure that the regulated community is informed of any closure, NMFS will also make announcements through other means available, including fax, email, and mail PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 33455 to fishermen, processors, and state fishery management agencies. In the previous 4 fishing years the Quinault Indian Nation requested, and NMFS approved, set-asides for the exclusive right to harvest Pacific sardine in the Quinault Usual and Accustomed Fishing Area off the coast of Washington State, pursuant to the 1856 Treaty of Olympia (Treaty with the Quinault). For the 2016–2017 fishing season the Quinault Indian Nation has requested that NMFS provide a set-aside of 800 mt (1,000 mt less than was requested and approved in 2015–2016) and NMFS is considering the request. Detailed information on the fishery and the stock assessment are found in the report ‘‘Assessment of the Pacific Sardine Resource in 2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016–2017’’ (see ADDRESSES). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the CPS FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. These proposed specifications are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 because they contain no implementing regulations. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, for the following reasons: On June 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule revising the small business size standards for several industries effective July 14, 2014 (79 FR 33467). The rule increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $19.0 to 20.5 million, Shellfish Fishing from $5.0 to 5.5 million, and Other Marine Fishing from $7.0 to 7.5 million. 78 FR 33656, 33660, 33666 (See Table 1). NMFS conducted an economic analysis for this action in light of the new size standards. The purpose of this proposed rule is to conserve the Pacific sardine stock by preventing overfishing, so that directed fishing may occur in future years. This will be accomplished by implementing the 2016–2017 annual specifications for Pacific sardine in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast. The small entities that would be affected by the proposed E:\FR\FM\26MYP1.SGM 26MYP1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 33456 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 102 / Thursday, May 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules action are the vessels that fish for Pacific sardine as part of the West Coast CPS small purse seine fleet. As stated above, the U.S. Small Business Administration now defines small businesses engaged in finfish fishing as those vessels with annual revenues of $20.5 million or less. Under the former, lower standards, all entities subject to this action in previous years were considered small entities, and under the new standards they continue to be considered small. In 2015, there were approximately 81 vessels permitted to operate in the directed sardine fishery component of the CPS fishery off the U.S. West Coast; 58 vessels in the Federal CPS limited entry fishery off California (south of 39 N. lat.), and a combined 23 vessels in Oregon and Washington’s state Pacific sardine fisheries. The total ex-vessel revenue from the harvest of CPS finfish in 2015 was approximately $4.7 million, making the average annual per vessel revenue in 2015 for the West Coast CPS finfish fleet well below $20.5 million; therefore, all of these vessels are considered small businesses under the RFA. Because each affected vessel is a small business, this proposed rule has an equal effect on all of these small entities and will impact a substantial number of these small entities in the same manner. Therefore, this rule would not create disproportionate costs between small and large vessels/businesses. The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to annually set an OFL, ABC, ACL and HG or ACT for the Pacific sardine fishery based on the specified harvest control rules in the FMP applied to the current stock biomass estimate for that year. The derived annual HG is the level typically used to manage the principal commercial sardine fishery and is the harvest level typically used by NMFS for profitability analysis each year. As stated above, the FMP dictates that when the estimated biomass drops below a certain level (150,000 mt) there is no HG. Therefore, for the purposes of profitability analysis, this action is essentially proposing an HG of zero for the 2016–2017 Pacific sardine fishing season (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017). The estimated biomass used for management during the preceding fishing year (2015–2016) was also below 150,000 mt, therefore NMFS did not implement a HG, thereby disallowing a commercial directed sardine fishery. Since there is again no directed fishing for the 2016–2017 fishing year, this proposed rule will not change the potential profitability as compared to the previous fishing year. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:09 May 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 The revenue derived from harvesting Pacific sardine is typically only one source of fishing revenue for many of the vessels that harvest Pacific sardine; as a result, the economic impact to the fleet from the proposed action cannot be viewed in isolation. From year to year, depending on market conditions and availability of fish, most CPS/sardine vessels supplement their income by harvesting other species. Many vessels in California also harvest anchovy, mackerel, and in particular squid, making Pacific sardine only one component of a multi-species CPS fishery. Additionally, some sardine vessels that operate off of Oregon and Washington also fish for salmon in Alaska or squid in California during times of the year when sardine are not available. The purpose of the proposed incidental allowances under this action are to ensure the vessels impacted by this sardine action can still access these other profitable fisheries while still limiting the harvest of sardine. These proposed incidental allowances are similar to those implemented last year and should not restrict access to those other fisheries. CPS vessels typically rely on multiple species for profitability because abundance of sardine, like the other CPS stocks, is highly associated with ocean conditions and seasonality, and therefore are harvested at various times and areas throughout the year. Because each species responds to ocean conditions in its own way, not all CPS stocks are likely to be abundant at the same time; therefore, as abundance levels and markets fluctuate, it has necessitated that the CPS fishery as a whole rely on a group of species for its annual revenues. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the SBA’s June 20, 2013, and June 14, 2014, final rules (78 FR 37398 and 79 FR 33647, respectively), this certification was developed for this action using the SBA’s revised size standards. NMFS considers all entities subject to this action to be small entities as defined by both the former, lower size standards and the revised size standards. Based on the disproportionality and profitability analysis above, the proposed action, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and none has been prepared. This action does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paper Reduction Act. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Dated: May 19, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–12228 Filed 5–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–BF84 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Fisheries; Amendment 103 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; request for comments. AGENCY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 103 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). If approved, Amendment 103 would allow NMFS to reapportion unused Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) within and among specific trawl sectors in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska (GOA), based on specific criteria and within specified limits. Amendment 103 would not increase the current combined annual PSC limit of 32,500 Chinook salmon that applies to Central and Western GOA trawl sectors under the FMP. Amendment 103 would provide for more flexible management of GOA trawl Chinook salmon PSC, increase the likelihood that groundfish resources are more fully harvested, reduce the potential for fishery closures, and maintain overall Chinook salmon PSC use in the Central and Western GOA within limits established under the FMP. Amendment 103 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws. DATES: Comments on the amendment must be received on or before July 25, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0023 by either of the following methods: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26MYP1.SGM 26MYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 102 (Thursday, May 26, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33454-33456]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12228]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 160411325-6325-01]
RIN 0648-XE568


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species 
Fisheries; Annual Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement annual management measures and 
harvest specifications to establish the allowable catch levels (i.e. 
annual catch limit (ACL)/harvest guideline (HG)) for the northern 
subpopulation of Pacific sardine (hereafter, simply Pacific sardine), 
in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for the 
fishing season of July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. This rule is 
proposed according to the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP). The proposed action would prohibit directed non-
tribal Pacific sardine commercial fishing for Pacific sardine off the 
coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, which is required because 
the estimated 2016 biomass of Pacific sardine has dropped below the 
biomass threshold specified in the HG control rule. Under the proposed 
action, Pacific sardine may still be harvested as part of either the 
live bait or tribal fishery or as incidental catch in other fisheries; 
the incidental harvest of Pacific sardine would initially be limited to 
40-percent by weight of all fish per trip when caught with other CPS or 
up to 2 metric tons (mt) when caught with non-CPS. The proposed annual 
catch limit (ACL) for the 2016-2017 Pacific sardine fishing year is 
8,000 mt. This proposed rule is intended to conserve and manage the 
Pacific sardine stock off the U.S. West Coast.

DATES: Comments must be received by June 10, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0052, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0052, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to William W. Stelle, Jr., 
Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way 
NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070; Attn: Joshua Lindsay.
     Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any 
other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment 
period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part 
of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Copies of the report ``Assessment of Pacific Sardine Resource in 
2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016-2017'' may be obtained from the West 
Coast Region (see ADDRESSES).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua Lindsay, West Coast Region, 
NMFS, (562) 980-4034, joshua.lindsay@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: During public meetings each year, the 
estimated biomass for Pacific sardine is presented to the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council's (Council) CPS Management Team (Team), the 
Council's CPS Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel) and the Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the biomass and the status of the 
fishery are reviewed and discussed. The biomass estimate is then 
presented to the Council along with the calculated overfishing limit 
(OFL), available biological catch (ABC),

[[Page 33455]]

and HG, along with recommendations and comments from the Team, 
Subpanel, and SSC. Following review by the Council and after hearing 
public comment, the Council adopts a biomass estimate and makes its 
catch level recommendations to NMFS. NMFS manages the Pacific sardine 
fishery in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast (California, Oregon, and 
Washington) in accordance with the FMP. Annual specifications published 
in the Federal Register establish the allowable harvest levels (i.e. 
OFL/ACL/HG) for each Pacific sardine fishing year. The purpose of this 
proposed rule is to implement these annual catch reference points for 
2016-2017, including the OFL and an ABC that takes into consideration 
uncertainty surrounding the current estimate of biomass for Pacific 
sardine. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set 
these annual catch levels for the Pacific sardine fishery based on the 
annual specification framework and control rules in the FMP. These 
control rules include the HG control rule, which, in conjunction with 
the OFL and ABC rules in the FMP, are used to manage harvest levels for 
Pacific sardine, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. According to 
the FMP, the quota for the principal commercial fishery is determined 
using the FMP-specified HG formula. The HG formula in the CPS FMP is HG 
= [(Biomass-CUTOFF) * FRACTION * DISTRIBUTION] with the parameters 
described as follows:
    1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific sardine age one 
and above. For the 2016-2017 management season this is 106,137 mt.
    2. CUTOFF. This is the biomass level below which no HG is set. The 
FMP established this level at 150,000 mt.
    3. DISTRIBUTION. The average portion of the Pacific sardine biomass 
estimated in the EEZ off the Pacific coast is 87 percent.
    4. FRACTION. The temperature-varying harvest fraction is the 
percentage of the biomass above 150,000 mt that may be harvested.
    As described above, the Pacific sardine HG control rule, the 
primary mechanism for setting the annual directed commercial fishery 
quota, includes a CUTOFF parameter which has been set as a biomass 
level of 150,000 mt. This amount is subtracted from the annual biomass 
estimate before calculating the applicable HG for the fishing year. 
Therefore, because this year's biomass estimate is below that value, 
the formula results in an HG of zero and therefore no Pacific sardine 
are available for the commercial directed fishery during the 2016-2017 
fishing season.
    At the April 2016 Council meeting, the Council's SSC approved, and 
the Council adopted, the ``Assessment of the Pacific Sardine Resource 
in 2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016-2017'', completed by NMFS 
Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the resulting Pacific sardine 
biomass estimate of 106,137 mt as the best available science for 
setting harvest specifications. Based on recommendations from its SSC 
and other advisory bodies, the Council recommended, and NMFS is 
proposing, an OFL of 23,085 mt, an ABC of 19,236 mt, and a prohibition 
on sardine catch unless it is harvested as part of either the live bait 
or tribal fishery or incidental to other fisheries for the 2016-2017 
Pacific sardine fishing year. As additional management measures, the 
Council also recommended, and NMFS is proposing, an ACL of 8,000 mt and 
that the incidental catch of Pacific sardine in other CPS fisheries be 
managed with the following automatic inseason actions to reduce the 
potential for both targeting and discard of Pacific sardine:
     An incidental per landing by weight allowance of 40 
percent Pacific sardine in non-treaty CPS fisheries until a total of 
2,000 mt of Pacific sardine are landed.
     When 2,000 mt are landed, the incidental per landing 
allowance would be reduced to 30 percent until a total of 5,000 mt of 
Pacific sardine have been landed.
     When 5,000 mt have been landed, the incidental per landing 
allowance would be reduced to 10 percent for the remainder of the 2016-
2017 fishing year.
    Because Pacific sardine is known to comingle with other CPS stocks, 
these incidental allowances are proposed to allow for the continued 
prosecution of these other important CPS fisheries and reduce the 
potential discard of sardine. Additionally, a 2 mt incidental per 
landing allowance in non-CPS fisheries is proposed.
    The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator would publish a notice 
in the Federal Register announcing the date of attainment of any of the 
incidental catch levels described above and subsequent changes to 
allowable incidental catch percentages. Additionally, to ensure that 
the regulated community is informed of any closure, NMFS will also make 
announcements through other means available, including fax, email, and 
mail to fishermen, processors, and state fishery management agencies.
    In the previous 4 fishing years the Quinault Indian Nation 
requested, and NMFS approved, set-asides for the exclusive right to 
harvest Pacific sardine in the Quinault Usual and Accustomed Fishing 
Area off the coast of Washington State, pursuant to the 1856 Treaty of 
Olympia (Treaty with the Quinault). For the 2016-2017 fishing season 
the Quinault Indian Nation has requested that NMFS provide a set-aside 
of 800 mt (1,000 mt less than was requested and approved in 2015-2016) 
and NMFS is considering the request.
    Detailed information on the fishery and the stock assessment are 
found in the report ``Assessment of the Pacific Sardine Resource in 
2016 for U.S.A. Management in 2016-2017'' (see ADDRESSES).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has 
determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the CPS FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    These proposed specifications are exempt from review under 
Executive Order 12866 because they contain no implementing regulations.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
for the following reasons:
    On June 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an 
interim final rule revising the small business size standards for 
several industries effective July 14, 2014 (79 FR 33467). The rule 
increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $19.0 to 20.5 
million, Shellfish Fishing from $5.0 to 5.5 million, and Other Marine 
Fishing from $7.0 to 7.5 million. 78 FR 33656, 33660, 33666 (See Table 
1). NMFS conducted an economic analysis for this action in light of the 
new size standards.
    The purpose of this proposed rule is to conserve the Pacific 
sardine stock by preventing overfishing, so that directed fishing may 
occur in future years. This will be accomplished by implementing the 
2016-2017 annual specifications for Pacific sardine in the U.S. EEZ off 
the Pacific coast. The small entities that would be affected by the 
proposed

[[Page 33456]]

action are the vessels that fish for Pacific sardine as part of the 
West Coast CPS small purse seine fleet. As stated above, the U.S. Small 
Business Administration now defines small businesses engaged in finfish 
fishing as those vessels with annual revenues of $20.5 million or less. 
Under the former, lower standards, all entities subject to this action 
in previous years were considered small entities, and under the new 
standards they continue to be considered small. In 2015, there were 
approximately 81 vessels permitted to operate in the directed sardine 
fishery component of the CPS fishery off the U.S. West Coast; 58 
vessels in the Federal CPS limited entry fishery off California (south 
of 39 N. lat.), and a combined 23 vessels in Oregon and Washington's 
state Pacific sardine fisheries. The total ex-vessel revenue from the 
harvest of CPS finfish in 2015 was approximately $4.7 million, making 
the average annual per vessel revenue in 2015 for the West Coast CPS 
finfish fleet well below $20.5 million; therefore, all of these vessels 
are considered small businesses under the RFA. Because each affected 
vessel is a small business, this proposed rule has an equal effect on 
all of these small entities and will impact a substantial number of 
these small entities in the same manner. Therefore, this rule would not 
create disproportionate costs between small and large vessels/
businesses.
    The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to 
annually set an OFL, ABC, ACL and HG or ACT for the Pacific sardine 
fishery based on the specified harvest control rules in the FMP applied 
to the current stock biomass estimate for that year. The derived annual 
HG is the level typically used to manage the principal commercial 
sardine fishery and is the harvest level typically used by NMFS for 
profitability analysis each year. As stated above, the FMP dictates 
that when the estimated biomass drops below a certain level (150,000 
mt) there is no HG. Therefore, for the purposes of profitability 
analysis, this action is essentially proposing an HG of zero for the 
2016-2017 Pacific sardine fishing season (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 
2017). The estimated biomass used for management during the preceding 
fishing year (2015-2016) was also below 150,000 mt, therefore NMFS did 
not implement a HG, thereby disallowing a commercial directed sardine 
fishery. Since there is again no directed fishing for the 2016-2017 
fishing year, this proposed rule will not change the potential 
profitability as compared to the previous fishing year.
    The revenue derived from harvesting Pacific sardine is typically 
only one source of fishing revenue for many of the vessels that harvest 
Pacific sardine; as a result, the economic impact to the fleet from the 
proposed action cannot be viewed in isolation. From year to year, 
depending on market conditions and availability of fish, most CPS/
sardine vessels supplement their income by harvesting other species. 
Many vessels in California also harvest anchovy, mackerel, and in 
particular squid, making Pacific sardine only one component of a multi-
species CPS fishery. Additionally, some sardine vessels that operate 
off of Oregon and Washington also fish for salmon in Alaska or squid in 
California during times of the year when sardine are not available. The 
purpose of the proposed incidental allowances under this action are to 
ensure the vessels impacted by this sardine action can still access 
these other profitable fisheries while still limiting the harvest of 
sardine. These proposed incidental allowances are similar to those 
implemented last year and should not restrict access to those other 
fisheries.
    CPS vessels typically rely on multiple species for profitability 
because abundance of sardine, like the other CPS stocks, is highly 
associated with ocean conditions and seasonality, and therefore are 
harvested at various times and areas throughout the year. Because each 
species responds to ocean conditions in its own way, not all CPS stocks 
are likely to be abundant at the same time; therefore, as abundance 
levels and markets fluctuate, it has necessitated that the CPS fishery 
as a whole rely on a group of species for its annual revenues.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the SBA's June 20, 
2013, and June 14, 2014, final rules (78 FR 37398 and 79 FR 33647, 
respectively), this certification was developed for this action using 
the SBA's revised size standards. NMFS considers all entities subject 
to this action to be small entities as defined by both the former, 
lower size standards and the revised size standards. Based on the 
disproportionality and profitability analysis above, the proposed 
action, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. As a result, an Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and none has been 
prepared.
    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paper Reduction Act.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 19, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-12228 Filed 5-25-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P