Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Commercial Sablefish Fishing Regulations and Electronic Fish Tickets, 34947-34968 [2016-12848]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules Dated: May 19, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.7, add paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ § 622.7 Fishing years. * * * * * (f) South Atlantic yellowtail snapper—August 1 through July 31 . ■ 3. In § 622.187: ■ a. Revise paragraph (b)(2)(iii); ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2)(iv); and ■ c. Revise paragraph (b)(7). The revisions read as follows: § 622.187 Bag and possession limits. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (iii) No more than one fish may be a golden tilefish; and * * * * * (7) Black sea bass—7. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.191, revise paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows: § 622.191 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (10) Blueline tilefish. Until the ACL specified in § 622.193(z)(1)(i) is reached or projected to be reached, 300 lb (136 kg), gutted weight; 336 lb (152 kg), round weight. See § 622.193(z)(1)(i) for the limitations regarding blueline tilefish after the commercial ACL is reached. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.193, revise paragraph (z) to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (z) Blueline tilefish—(1) Commercial sector. (i) If commercial landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL of 87,521 lb (39,699 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of blueline tilefish is prohibited and harvest or possession of blueline tilefish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limits. These bag and possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL (total ACL) specified in paragraph (z)(3) of this section, is exceeded, and blueline tilefish is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial ACL for that following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 87,277 lb (39,588 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year, unless the RA determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limits are zero. (ii) If recreational landings for blueline tilefish, exceed the applicable recreational ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL (total ACL) specified in paragraph (z)(3) of this section is exceeded, and blueline tilefish is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season in the following fishing year to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACL the following fishing year. When NMFS reduces the length of the following recreational fishing season and closes the recreational sector, the following closure provisions apply: The bag and possession limits for blueline tilefish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. Additionally, the recreational ACL will be reduced by the amount of the recreational ACL overage in the prior fishing year. The fishing season and recreational ACL will not be reduced if PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34947 the RA determines, using the best scientific information available, that no reduction is necessary. (3) The combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL) is 174,798 lb (79,287 kg), round weight. [FR Doc. 2016–12846 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140905757–6404–01] RIN 0648–BE42 Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Commercial Sablefish Fishing Regulations and Electronic Fish Tickets National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This proposed rule would revise fishery monitoring and equipment requirements for all commercial groundfish fisheries, including a requirement for submitting electronic fish tickets in the limited entry fixed gear fisheries and open access fisheries. This proposed rule would revise administrative procedures for limited entry permits, providing greater flexibility and efficiencies for limited entry groundfish fishery participants. This proposed rule also would require vessels registered to Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to make an initial VMS declaration. This proposed rule also would make administrative changes and clarifying edits to improve consistency of the regulations with past Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) actions and with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action is needed to improve monitoring and administration of the limited entry sablefish primary fishery and address unforeseen issues arising out of the evolution of commercial sablefish fisheries and subsequent regulations. DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received by July 1, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0032, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34948 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160032, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070; Attn: Gretchen Hanshew. 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). Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to William W. Stelle Jr., Regional Administrator, West Coast Region NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070 and to OMB by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–7285. Electronic copies of the environmental assessment (EA) for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from West Coast Region’s Groundfish Web site: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew, 206–526–6147, gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Purpose of Proposed Rule and Summary of Major Actions Purpose of the Regulatory Action The purpose of this proposed rule is to improve the timeliness and accuracy of sablefish catch reporting in the limited entry fixed gear fisheries and open access fisheries, to provide more flexibility and efficiencies for harvesters in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program and limited entry fixed gear fisheries, and to implement several administrative and clarifying changes to monitoring and permitting provisions of regulations for all of the limited entry and open access commercial groundfish fisheries on the West Coast. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Major Actions Commercial Sablefish Fisheries This proposed rule contains eight major actions, along with related minor clarifications and non-substantive changes. The first action is a new requirement for electronic fish tickets to be submitted for all commercial landings of sablefish delivered to Washington, Oregon and California fish buyers. The second action would provide qualified vessel owners an opportunity to apply for an exemption to the ownership limitation of three permits in the limited entry sablefish primary fishery. The third action would allow a single vessel to be simultaneously (jointly) registered to multiple limited entry permits, one of which may have a trawl gear endorsement. The fourth action prohibits vessels that have been granted an at-sea processing exemption for sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear fishery from processing sablefish at sea when that vessel is participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program. The fifth action would clarify that, consistent with FMP Amendment 6, sablefish catch in incidental open access fisheries is counted against the open access allocation, and is not deducted from the commercial harvest guideline. The sixth action would require any vessel that has a VMS registered with NMFS Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) to make a declaration with OLE. The seventh action would update and simplify equipment requirements for electronic fish tickets. The eighth action makes clear that prohibitions governing groundfish species taken in the limited entry fixed gear fishery should not prohibit taking more than the allowable quota, but rather, should prohibit taking and retaining. In addition, the action includes housekeeping changes that are intended to better align the regulations with defined terms, and to provide clarity and consistency between paragraphs. This proposed rule includes several actions that would revise regulations for commercial fisheries that harvest sablefish. Proposed regulatory changes would apply to the Shorebased IFQ Program, the limited entry fixed gear fishery, which includes the limited entry sablefish primary fishery and the daily trip limit (DTL) fishery, and the open access fishery. The Shorebased IFQ Program off the west coast operates from the northern border between the United States and Canada to Morro Bay, California. Each vessel that participates in this sector must have a federal limited entry groundfish permit with a trawl endorsement. Active management of the sector began in the early 1980’s with the establishment of harvest guidelines and trip limits for several species, including sablefish. Sablefish is managed as an IFQ species in the Shorebased IFQ Program, and may be harvested by vessels registered to a trawl-endorsed limited entry permit. Vessels may fish their IFQ with trawl gear, or may fish with fixed gear under the program’s gear switching provisions. Few changes to the Shorebased IFQ Program regulations are proposed through this rulemaking. A federal limited entry groundfish permit is also required to participate in the limited entry fixed gear fishery. All limited entry fixed gear permits have at least one gear endorsement for longline gear and/or pot/trap gear. Permits may have multiple gear endorsements. In addition, limited entry fixed gear permits may have an endorsement to fish sablefish in the sablefish primary fishery. Each sablefish-endorsed permit is associated with an annual share of the sablefish allocation to the limited entry fixed gear fishery. Sablefish-endorsed permits are assigned to Tier 1, 2, or 3. Each Tier 1 permit receives 1.4 percent, each Tier 2 permit receives 0.64 percent and each Tier 3 permit receives 0.36 percent of the sablefish allocation. Each year, these shares are translated into cumulative limits (in pounds), or tier limits, which can be caught anytime during the sablefish primary season. Regulations allow for up to three sablefish-endorsed permits to be stacked on a single vessel. Permit stacking was implemented through FMP Amendment 14 in 2002 to increase the economic efficiency of the fleet and promote fleet capacity reduction. Stacking more than one sablefish-endorsed permit on a vessel allows the vessel to land sablefish up to the sum of the associated tier limits. However, permit stacking does not increase cumulative limits for any Background Authorities The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the west coast of the United States are managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108–199, section 801). Regulations implementing provisions of the FMP are located at 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS other species; cumulative limits for nonsablefish species apply on a per-vessel basis. Fishing in the sablefish primary season takes place over a seven-month period from April 1 to October 31. Vessels may land their tier limits at any time during the seven-month season. However, once the primary season opens, all sablefish landed by a vessel fishing in the limited entry fixed gear fishery and registered to a sablefishendorsed permit is counted toward attainment of its tier limit(s). Vessels registered to a sablefish-endorsed permit can fish in the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery (e.g. under weekly and bimonthly trip limits) from January 1 through March 31 and after the primary fishery. The sablefish primary fishery for a vessel closes once their tier limit(s) is caught or when the primary season closes October 31. Groundfish may be taken and retained by vessels that are not registered to limited entry permits. These vessels are considered to be fishing in the open access fishery. Some vessels fishing in the open access fishery may be targeting groundfish species (e.g. open access sablefish DTL fishery). Other vessels may be targeting other species and retaining incidentally caught groundfish. Because there is no federal license limitation program for the open access fishery, the total number of participants in the open access fishery varies widely from year to year. Open access vessels can use a variety of fixed gears, including hook-and-line or pot/ trap gear, longline, fishing pole, and vertical longline. Vessels that participate in the open access fishery and use non-groundfish trawl (e.g. shrimp trawl) gear may also retain groundfish species in limited amounts. Need for These Actions Since FMP Amendments 6 and 14, the Council has recommended and NMFS has implemented over a dozen rulemakings and several FMP amendments directly and indirectly affecting commercial fisheries that harvest sablefish. These actions often did not revise all federal groundfish regulations, but were sector or fishery specific, species specific, or related to setting harvest levels or routine management measures for ongoing fisheries. Changes to regulations, evolution of both state and federal recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and unforeseen complications for vessels that participate in other fisheries in addition to the groundfish fishery, created a need for a variety of comprehensive updates, changes, and clarifications to federal VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 groundfish regulations. The proposed action implements several changes that the Council recommended at different times and for a variety of reasons. The proposed action also includes several regulatory changes that are consistent with past Council recommendations and that add clarity and consistency both within the regulations and between the regulations and the FMP. 1. Electronic Fish Ticket Requirement for Sablefish Landings General NMFS is proposing a federal electronic fish ticket submittal requirement for all commercial groundfish landings that include sablefish. An electronic fish ticket is a web-based form used to send groundfish landing data to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Electronic fish tickets are used to collect information similar to the information required in state fish receiving tickets or landing receipts (henceforth referred to as paper tickets), but do not replace or change any state requirements. This requirement would improve timeliness and accuracy of catch data for monitoring harvest relative to applicable tier limits in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery and trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear and open access DTL fisheries. Once submitted, electronic fish tickets would immediately become part of a centralized database administered by the PSMFC, and landing data becomes available instantly to authorized users. Also, new electronic fish ticket requirements would include mandatory reporting of limited entry permit numbers for all limited entry fixed gear landings, allowing harvest of tier limits to be distinguishable on a per-permit basis. Depending on the state requirements, paper tickets may be mailed by fish dealers to the state agencies, transcribed into a database, reviewed and then submitted to the PSMFC for sector-specific catch summary reports. Limited entry permit numbers are not required to be reported on the paper tickets, so a variety of catch accounting business rules are followed. In some cases, it can take months for paper ticket harvest data to become available. Since the start of the Shorebased IFQ Program in 2011, electronic fish tickets have been required for landing IFQ species. Electronic fish tickets have allowed vessel owners/operators, buyers and dealers, and fishery managers timely access to catch information for IFQ species. Many of the amendments in this proposed rule expand the PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34949 required use of electronic fish tickets to the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries and are similar to those currently in place for the Shorebased IFQ Program. Electronic fish ticket requirements for the Shorebased IFQ Program are described in detail in proposed rules (75 FR 32994, June 10, 2010; 75 FR 53380, August 31, 2010) and in final rules (75 FR 60868, October 1, 2010; 75 FR 78344, December 15, 2010) for that program. New Requirements for Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries In September 2013, the Council initiated the sablefish permit stacking program review, which included consideration of improvements to catch accounting against the tier limits associated with limited entry fixed gear sablefish permits. At its June 2014 meeting, the Council recommended that limited entry fixed gear sablefish permit numbers be required on fish tickets in order to improve catch accounting against sablefish primary fishery tier limits. In addition, the Council also recommended that an electronic fish ticket be required by federal regulation for all commercial sablefish deliveries, including sablefish landings in both the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries. The purpose of these new requirements would be to improve the accuracy and timeliness of commercial groundfish landings data for all groundfish species, particularly sablefish. This proposed rule would require electronic fish tickets, with limited entry permit numbers recorded for limited entry fixed gear landings, to be submitted for groundfish deliveries that include any amount of sablefish. Per the Council’s recommendation, the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets for sablefish landings would apply to first receivers of fish from limited entry fixed gear and open access vessels. As in the Shorebased IFQ Program, this proposed rule makes the first receiver the person responsible for submitting the electronic fish ticket for a groundfish landing that includes sablefish. A first receiver is the person who receives, purchases, or takes custody, control, or possession of catch onshore directly from a vessel. The Shorebased IFQ Program uses the term ‘‘IFQ first receiver,’’ and IFQ landings can only occur at IFQ first receivers that have been certified by NMFS with an IFQ first receiver site license. This proposed rule uses the more broadly defined term ‘‘first receiver,’’ referring to any person, fish buyer or dealer that is receiving, purchasing, taking custody, control, or possession of a groundfish E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34950 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules landing, and would not require first receivers to have a first receiver site license unless they also receive IFQ landings. The proposed rule would require first receivers to maintain hardware, software, and internet service such that electronic fish tickets can be submitted in a timely fashion via web-based forms. These equipment requirements for submitting groundfish electronic fish tickets are described in the preamble below, under the heading, ‘‘7. Equipment Requirements for Electronic Fish Tickets.’’ The proposed rule uses terms that have specific meanings when used in other regulatory provisions governing electronic fish tickets. ‘‘Recorded’’ refers to any form of documentation of information that will later be required for submittal of the electronic fish ticket. ‘‘Submitted’’ refers to the act of sending the completed, final electronic fish ticket form via the web-based platform. When a ticket has been submitted, it cannot be withdrawn, but it can be revised, as needed. The proposed rule defines a ‘‘sablefish landing’’ as an offload that includes any amount of sablefish harvested in either the limited entry fixed gear or open access fishery. The proposed rule includes electronic fish ticket requirements in order to facilitate complete, accurate and timely reporting. The proposed rule would prohibit transporting any groundfish from a sablefish landing away from the point of landing before the information that is required on the electronic fish ticket is recorded, and would prohibit processing, selling, or discarding any groundfish received from a sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an electronic fish ticket. In addition, the electronic fish ticket must include a vessel identification number and a single limited entry permit number that the catch will be attributed to. Although the landing of sablefish is what would trigger the requirement to submit an electronic fish ticket, all groundfish landed, including sablefish and nonsablefish groundfish species, must be recorded on an electronic fish ticket. The proposed rule includes recordkeeping and reporting requirements for participants and first receivers in the limited entry fixed gear fishery (new language in 50 CFR 660.213) and in the open access fishery (new language in 50 CFR 660.313). The participants and first receivers must submit accurate information, must not submit false information, and must retain and make available any reporting records. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Information reported on an electronic fish ticket as envisioned in this proposed rule would be similar to that recorded on state-mandated paper fish ticket. However, these new requirements for first receivers of sablefish caught in limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries are not intended to supersede or change any state requirements relative to recording, submitting or retaining paper fish tickets. Similar to current requirements for IFQ first receivers, this proposed rule includes a requirement that first receivers record the limited entry permit number if the vessel is landing sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery or the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery. With the new electronic fish tickets required in the proposed rule, vessel operators would have more timely and accurate landing information available to them by accessing electronic fish ticket data via their first receiver. First receivers would be able to view summaries of electronic fish ticket data that they have submitted for a vessel and provide those summaries to the vessel operator or other authorized personnel. Under this proposed rule, first receivers would be obligated, per proposed regulations at 50 CFR 660.213, to obtain the signature of the vessel operator or owner on board when recording and submitting electronic fish ticket information and they are required to make that information available per proposed regulations at 50 CFR 660.212(d). First receivers would have the ability to provide the vessel operator (or other authorized personnel) a summary of sablefish landings to date either on a vessel-specific basis or on a limited entry permit-specific basis. This same information is available to users with confidentiality agreements on file with PSFMC (e.g. OLE and fishery managers). Confidential electronic fish ticket data would not be publically available. Discussion of additional, applicable requirements for information to be supplied in electronic fish tickets and confidentiality requirements for electronic fish ticket data is also included under the following heading, ‘‘New Requirements for the Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary Fishery.’’ New Requirements for the Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary Fishery A vessel may stack up to three limited entry fixed gear sablefish permits. Each permit has an associated annual sablefish quota, or tier limit that may be harvested during the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, which PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 lasts from April 1 through October 31, or when an individual vessel’s tier limit(s) is (are) harvested. The Council recommended electronic fish tickets for non-IFQ fisheries, in part, to improve catch monitoring of sablefish landed and counted against tier limits, and to make this catch information available to vessel operators, law enforcement, and fishery managers. As previously explained, electronic fish tickets would require reporting the limited entry permit number that authorizes the sablefish landing. For vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery, the limited entry permit number of only one sablefish-endorsed permit would be reported per ticket, even if the vessel has multiple sablefish-endorsed permits registered to it. Rather than relying solely on their own recordkeeping, or incomplete/delayed paper ticket summaries, as under current fish ticket systems, vessel operators would have immediate access to accurate, summarized landings data. This would improve confidence in the accuracy of annual landings estimates and ensure that vessel owners, first receivers, OLE, and fishery managers all have access to the same summarized harvest data. The electronic fish tickets would allow immediate availability of accurate summary data that can be organized to show total landings of sablefish to date against the annual tier limit(s) associated with that vessel. Timely and accurate data provided by electronic fish tickets would allow fishers to appropriately craft their fishing strategies, provide timely alerts that allow law enforcement officials to investigate potential tier limit overages, and give fishery managers the ability to track and react to the current catch of sablefish relative to annual fishery allocations. Thus, this proposed rule’s provision requiring electronic fish tickets for the sablefish primary fishery would directly improve catch accounting against tier limits, and would make that information available to industry, enforcement and fishery managers in a timely manner. The Council discussed the possibility of using the vessel accounts system in place for the Shorebased IFQ Program as a model for creating accounts for vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery. However, the Council did not include a vessel or permit account system as part of its proposed action. Vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery are only monitoring one species and two sources of quota ‘‘currency:’’ the annual tier limit associated with the limited entry sablefish permits registered to the E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS vessel, and debits against that tier limit from proposed electronic fish tickets. This monitoring is not as complex as what is required for the Shorebased IFQ Program. Based on this, vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery would not have vessel accounts as vessels fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program do. Instead, vessels would estimate their tier limit balances with information coming directly from the electronic fish ticket system, provided to them by first receivers. This process is anticipated to meet the catch accounting needs of industry, and to meet the monitoring and catch accounting needs of the Council, fishery managers, and enforcement. Current regulations and catch accounting procedures do not allow vessel operators to choose which sablefish permit’s tier limit to which their catch is applied. Under the provisions of this proposed rule, electronic fish tickets would allow vessel operators to assign portions of their sablefish landing among the sablefish permits registered to their vessel, as desired. To achieve this, multiple electronic fish tickets would be submitted for a single sablefish landing. When a vessel registered to multiple sablefish endorsed permits makes a sablefish landing, all catch must be recorded and submitted on electronic fish tickets, as described above, under the heading, ‘‘New Requirements for Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries.’’ In this proposed rule, a landing of sablefish caught in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery may be reported across multiple electronic fish tickets, with one of the limited entry sablefish permit numbers reported on each ticket. Following is an example of two available options in the case of a vessel, which is registered to two sablefish endorsed permits (Permits 1 and Permit 2) and which makes a sablefish landing of 4,500 pounds: Option A: The vessel operator may choose to attribute all of those pounds to Permit 1 by recording that permit number on one electronic fish ticket, resulting in a single electronic fish ticket counting 4,500 pounds towards the annual tier limit associated with Permit 1. Option B: The vessel operator may choose to apportion the sablefish landed between two permits, as long as the annual tier limits are not exceeded. Using two fish tickets, the first electronic fish ticket could record 3,000 pounds to Permit 1 and the 3,000 pounds would count toward the annual tier limit associated with Permit 1, while the second electronic fish ticket could record 1,500 pounds to Permit 2 and the 1,500 pounds would count towards the annual tier limit associated with Permit 2. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Regardless of the number of electronic tickets submitted, the sum total of annual sablefish landings must not to exceed the annual tier limits associated with the limited entry permits registered to that vessel, as currently established in regulations. It would be a violation of the provisions of this proposed rule to submit an electronic fish ticket for a sablefish landing in the sablefish primary fishery without recording the sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit number. The improvements to catch monitoring associated with this proposed rule’s electronic fish ticket requirement would allow the removal of the current 24-hour rule of separation of primary and DTL landings. (The regulatory text of this proposed rule removes this current requirement at 50 CFR 660.232(a)(3) and revises text for that section.) A vessel would be allowed to apportion a landing against the remainder of its tiers (thereby closing the sablefish primary fishery for that vessel, per 50 CFR 660.231(b)), and the rest of the sablefish landed may be submitted on a separate electronic fish ticket and would count against applicable limited entry fixed gear DTL trip limits. This allows vessels to count sablefish landed in excess of their tier limits as DTL landings. Thus, this proposed rule would alter the process for concluding a vessel’s primary season and transitioning to the DTL fishery. This would allow vessels to harvest the entirety of their tier limits, but would not allow for a double-dipping effect, as the vessel would still be subject to the same sablefish DTL cumulative limits as they would have been under the 24hour separation of primary and DTL landings. In addition, the proposed rule would also replace the current 300pound threshold, beyond which the Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) considered any additional sablefish landed as counting against applicable DTL limits. That threshold effectively stranded up to 300 pounds of unharvested sablefish in the vessel’s transition from primary to DTL sablefish fisheries. The proposed reporting requirements for electronic fish tickets would include a signature from the owner on board of either a printed copy of the electronic fish ticket or the dock tickets for any landing of sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, unless exempted from owner-on-board requirements (50 CFR 660.231(b)(4)). 2. Exemption to Limited Entry Sablefish Permit Ownership Limitation Current regulations (50 CFR 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(C)) state that no PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34951 individual person, partnership, or corporation in combination may have ownership interest in or hold more than three permits with sablefish endorsements either simultaneously or cumulatively over the primary season (hereby referred to as ‘‘ownership limitation’’). This ownership limitation was intended to prevent concentration of harvest privileges. However, this restriction has led to unforeseen complications because many persons, partnerships and corporations have harvest privileges in both the Alaska IFQ sablefish fishery and the Pacific coast sablefish fishery. The Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery regulations require that a sablefish quota owner must have at least part ownership in the vessel that will fish their quota. Some of these vessels also participate in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery off the Pacific coast. In such situations, any sablefish permit registered to that vessel would count toward the three-permit ownership limitation of the person, corporation, or partnership with part ownership of the vessel. In September 2013, the Council initiated the sablefish permit stacking program review, which included consideration of the current threepermit ownership limitation (also referred to by the Council as an own/ hold rule or own/hold control limit) and explored a regulatory amendment to provide relief to industry members who were limited because of participation in the Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery. At its June 2014 meeting, the Council recommended a process by which vessel owners who meet certain qualifying criteria may petition NMFS for a limited exemption to the ownership limitation. The Council recommended this exemption to allow owners of a vessel registered to limited entry fixed gear sablefish permits, who are also partowners of a vessel fishing sablefish IFQ in Alaska, to seek an ownership limitation exemption. The exemption, if granted, would mean that limited entry sablefish permits registered to a vessel (in which they have an ownership interest) would not count toward their ownership limit of three permits. In this action, NMFS proposes new language at 50 CFR 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D) to provide for such a process for issuance of an exemption to the ownership limitation. The proposed language includes qualifying criteria, the application process, and a description of the circumstances under which the exemption would become null and void. The application process would include submission of a new form, which would be developed by NMFS and would E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34952 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules collect the ownership interest information needed to confirm that the vessel owner meets the exemption criteria. This form would collect vessel ownership interest information, broken down into percentages, and would be similar to the form used in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS would use the information from the form submitted by the applicant to make an initial administrative determination (IAD) on the merits of the application. Applicants would follow the permit appeals process under existing regulations at 50 CFR 660.25(g) regarding appeal of the IAD, if needed. Following the suggestion of a June 2014 NMFS Report (Agenda Item F.6.b, NMFS Report 2; http:// www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/ F6b_NMFS_Rpt2_JUNE2014BB.pdf), the Council recommended that the qualifying criteria include a requirement that the vessel owner must own limited entry sablefish permit(s). However, upon further exploration, NMFS found that some of the potential beneficiaries of this ownership limitation exemption do not own limited entry sablefish permits, but accrue counts against the ownership limitation only by owning a vessel to which limited entry sablefish permits are registered (i.e. they are vessel owners, not permit owners). Under the qualifying criteria initially discussed by NMFS and the Council in June 2014, those individuals would not qualify for the ownership limitation exemption. Based on the overall context of the Council recommendations for an ownership limitation exemption, NMFS concludes that the Council meant for this exemption to apply to any vessel owner that has been negatively affected by ownership limitation provisions because of their interest in the Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery, even if a vessel owner did not have an ownership interest in a permit. Therefore, at § 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) regarding qualifying criteria, this proposed rule does not include the phrase ‘‘ownership interest in a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit.’’ This proposed rule would allow a vessel owner who meets all other criteria, but does not own or have ownership interest in a sablefishendorsed permit, to qualify for the ownership limitation exemption. NMFS is seeking public comment from affected industry on whether or not the final rule should include the phrase, ‘‘ownership interest in a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit,’’ in the qualifying criteria language. NMFS is also seeking comment from the affected industry on whether to expand the qualifying criteria to include VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 the Pacific halibut IFQ in Alaska. It is possible that, due to similar owner-onboard requirements, participation in the Pacific halibut IFQ fishery in Alaska may also prompt the need for a sablefish ownership limitation exemption. The proposed rule would allow the owner of a vessel registered to a sablefish endorsed limited entry permit (i.e. vessel owner) to apply for an exemption to the three-permit ownership limitation at any time. NMFS would issue an IAD within 60 days of receipt of a complete application. Under this proposed process, NMFS suggests that the application for an ownership limitation exemption be made by February 1, so that an IAD may be reached before the start of the primary sablefish season on April 1. The reason for this is that the ownership limitation exemption would not waive the cumulative ownership limitation. This is because if a vessel owner were to start the primary sablefish season on April 1 at or above the three-permit limit, an exemption granted later in the season would not exempt the owner’s prior history. The Council recommended that ‘‘the exemption would remain in place so long as there are no changes to vessel ownership.’’ In order to reduce the administrative burden for NMFS and vessel owners, the Council did not recommend an annual renewal of the exemption. Instead, the Council recommended that a change in vessel ownership would require action. However, NMFS notes that vessel ownership is only one of the components of the qualifying criteria that the Council recommended. Therefore, at § 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D)(3), the proposed rule states that once a vessel owner has been granted an exemption from the ownership limitation, that exemption would remain in place so long as the vessel owner that was granted the exemption continues to meet the qualifying criteria. Should the vessel owner’s circumstances change such that they no longer meet the qualifying criteria, the exemption would automatically become null and void thirty days after the change in circumstances. Consistent with other exemptions issued by NMFS, if NMFS at any time finds the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria, NMFS will notify the vessel owner that they are not compliant with the ownership limitation restriction. The vessel owner may re-apply for an ownership limitation exemption at any time if they meet the qualifying criteria. NMFS is seeking public comment from affected industry regarding proposed PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 regulations for invalidation of the exemption at § 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D)(3). The Council also recommended a limitation on the number of exemptions that may be issued to a vessel owner in order to maintain ownership limitations for individuals that own many vessels. As recommended by the Council, NMFS is proposing that the exemption would allow a vessel owner to seek an exemption for sablefish permits registered on up to two vessels. 3. Joint Registration Originally, the license limitation program (LLP), implemented through Amendment 6 to the FMP (see the EA under ADDRESSES for more information on the LLP), allowed vessels to register both a trawl and fixed gear (longline and fishpot) endorsed permit at the same time. Subsequently, regulations were modified and no longer allow vessels to register multiple limited entry permits unless the permits are sablefishendorsed and stacked for use in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. This restriction was put in place to keep trawl and fixed gear fisheries temporally separated to meet enforcement and monitoring needs. In 2004, a vessel monitoring program was implemented that allowed vessels to identify which fishery they were participating in through a declaration system. As part of FMP Amendment 20 trailing actions, in April 2012 the Council recommended that vessels registered to a limited entry trawl permit be allowed to simultaneously register to a limited entry fixed gear permit, also called ‘‘joint registration.’’ In this proposed rule, NMFS proposes to allow joint registration while clarifying how fishery-specific regulations would still apply to vessels that are jointly registered. Joint registration would allow vessels that are jointly registered to fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery with simply a change in VMS declaration. Existing VMS and declaration systems meet monitoring and enforcement needs under the joint registration language of this proposed rule. Joint registration would be permitted in one of two configurations: (1) Configuration A: One trawl permit and one, two, or three sablefish endorsed permits. (2) Configuration B: One trawl permit and one limited entry fixed gear permit. Configuration A would continue to allow stacking of limited entry fixed gear sablefish permits, but would also allow a trawl endorsed permit to be jointly registered to the same vessel simultaneously. Under this E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules configuration, a vessel would be able to fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program, the limited entry fixed gear fishery, and the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery without having to transfer any of its limited entry permits. Configuration B would allow a single trawl permit and a single limited entry fixed gear permit to be jointly registered to the same vessel simultaneously. Under this configuration, a vessel would be able to fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery without having to transfer a limited entry permit. Under this proposed rule, registering permits to a single vessel, simultaneously in either one of the configurations shown above, would be considered ‘‘joint registration.’’ Joint registration is separate and distinct from sablefish-endorsed permit stacking. A certain, specific set of regulations apply to the vessel that has stacked sablefish permits and is fishing in the sablefish primary fishery. In contrast, joint registration alone is not associated with a specific set of regulations or a single fishery. Joint registration would allow a vessel to switch between limited entry fishery sectors (e.g. IFQ and limited entry fixed gear) with a change in VMS declaration. Joint registration is not a fishery. The fishing regulations that would apply to the jointly registered vessel depends on which fishery that vessel declared into. This rulemaking proposes specific language pertaining to the permitting actions, rules and restrictions of joint registration at 50 CFR 660.25(b)(4)(iv). Some additional restrictions would apply if a vessel participates in multiple limited entry fisheries in the fishing year. These situations and the applicable restrictions would be described in crossover provisions at § 660.60(h)(7). For example, if a vessel participates in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery during a two-month cumulative limit period, then the smallest trip limit for non-IFQ species applies. Jointly registered vessels that want to fish in the open access fishery would have to comply with crossover provisions that apply to both trawl permits and limited entry fixed gear permits. At the November 2011 Council meeting the Enforcement Consultants (EC) discussed the increased importance of the declarations system, and the EC strongly encouraged industry leaders to impress upon their membership the importance of maintaining a proper declaration that accurately reflects their fishing activity. Accuracy in the declaration process is both required by law and vital to the analysis of fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 effort by resource managers. Implementation of joint registration makes a small change to the VMS declaration requirements at § 660.13(d)(5)(ii). Current VMS declaration regulations only require a new declaration report when a vessel would use a different gear type than the gear most recently declared. However, since a jointly registered vessel may use non-trawl gear to fish in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery, clarifying regulations are added to require a new declaration if the vessel will fish in a fishery other than the fishery most recently declared. This edit is intended to explicitly require declarations be made when a jointly registered vessel switches between the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery, regardless of the gear type used when participating in that fishery. While the current list of vessel declarations are generally gear- and fishery-specific, this new requirement at § 660.13(d)(6)(ii) makes it clear that a change in declaration must be filed to legally switch between fisheries. Joint registration would not preclude declaring more than one gear type, if allowed under current regulations at § 660.13(d)(6)(iv). This proposed rule clarifies the definition for ‘‘base permit’’ at § 660.11 such that the use of a base permit only applies for sablefish endorsed permits. This does not change how the base permit concept has been applied to vessels registered to multiple limited entry sablefish permits. When a trawl endorsed permit and one or more sablefish endorsed permits are jointly registered, trawl endorsed permits must meet the current vessel length endorsement requirements at § 660.25(b)(3)(iii)(B). The concept of a base permit only applies to stacked sablefish endorsed permits. Cumulative limits (e.g. daily, weekly, bi-monthly limits, etc.) continue to apply to the vessel, regardless of the number of permits registered to that vessel. Registering a vessel to more than one limited entry permit under joint registration does not entitle the vessel to more than one cumulative limit. Joint registration would not allow a vessel to register multiple limited entry fixed gear permits (not sablefish endorsed) along with the trawl endorsed permit. Registering a vessel to a limited entry permit with a specific endorsement often triggers certain requirements in the groundfish regulations. Joint registration is not intended to change fishing operations of groundfish fisheries or change requirements that are PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34953 applicable to vessels because of the type of the endorsement(s) on the limited entry permit to which they are registered, unless otherwise described above. 4. Restrictions on At-Sea Processing of Sablefish Processing of groundfish at-sea is prohibited for vessels fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program or limited entry fixed gear fishery, unless exempted from that prohibition. One such exemption applies to certain vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. Those exempted vessels may freeze sablefish at-sea during the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. When trawl rationalization was implemented in 2011, the Council recommended that at-sea processing of groundfish in the Shorebased IFQ Program be prohibited, with limited exemptions. Regulations at § 660.112 (b)(1)(xii) prohibited at-sea processing of groundfish, and also listed the exemptions that had been granted to date, including the exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing in the sablefish primary fishery. As written, those regulations grant vessels with an exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing in the sablefish primary fishery an exemption from the at-sea processing prohibition when fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, NMFS interpreted regulations at § 660.25(b)(6)(i) to only allow the sablefish at-sea processing exemption when the vessel is registered to a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit. Under current regulations, a vessel may not register a trawl-endorsed permit and a sablefish endorsed permit at the same time, so they cannot take advantage of the exemption at § 660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B). Therefore, the exemption at § 660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B) cannot currently be used by vessels participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program; qualifying vessels that may freeze sablefish at-sea in the sablefish primary fishery are not allowed to freeze sablefish at-sea when fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, under this rule’s proposed joint registration language, a vessel would be able to register to a trawl endorsed and a sablefish endorsed limited entry permit simultaneously. If the exemption at § 660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B) is not removed, joint registration could allow vessels with an exemption from the at-sea processing prohibition for the sablefish primary fishery to also process sablefish at sea in the Shorebased IFQ Program. At its April 2012 meeting, the Council recommended prohibiting the freezing E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34954 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules of sablefish at-sea when caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program, regardless of whether the vessel has an exemption for the limited entry fixed gear fishery. The Council recommends this change to regulations to prevent the single vessel that holds a sablefish at-sea processing exemption to process sablefish at-sea in the Shorebased IFQ Program, a fishery in which it had no prior history. NMFS is therefore proposing to remove the exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing (at § 660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B)) that extended the limited entry fixed gear exemption in § 660.25(b)(6)(i) to vessels fishing sablefish in the Shorebased IFQ Program. Also, in light of joint registration, a clarifying sentence would be added to § 660.25(b)(6)(i), stating that the at-sea processing exemption only applies to atsea processing of sablefish caught in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. During development of these proposed regulations, NMFS noted that a similar situation as the one described above may occur when a vessel exempted from at-sea processing prohibitions of non-whiting groundfish in the Shorebased IFQ Program could utilize that exemption when fishing in non-IFQ fisheries. NMFS interprets the regulations to mean that the vessel must be registered to a limited entry trawl permit to qualify for this exemption. With joint registration, it may need to be clarified that the exemption only applies to processing non-whiting groundfish caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS is seeking public comment on whether a clarifying sentence could be added to § 660.25(b)(6)(ii), stating that the at-sea processing exemption described there only applies to at-sea processing of nonwhiting groundfish caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 5. Sablefish Allocations North of 36° N. lat. The allocation structure for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. was established in FMP Amendment 6. In April 2009, the Council recommended final preferred intersector allocations for groundfish species under Amendment 21. The Council and NMFS recommended that no change be made to the Amendment 6 allocation structure for sablefish. However, FMP Amendment 21 and its implementing regulations slightly changed the process for allocating sablefish north of 36° N. lat. (75 FR 60868, October 1, 2010). In this action, NMFS is proposing regulations to align sablefish north of 36° N. lat. allocations with the Amendment 6 allocation VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 structure, as recommended by the Council in 2009. Under FMP Amendment 6, harvest in the incidental open access fishery was deducted from the open access allocation after the limited entry/open access allocation occurred. Amendment 21 changed that process and deducts sablefish for the incidental open access fishery before the limited entry/open access allocation is made, similar to how the tribal fishery and scientific research deductions were made for other species. While this is consistent with how other groundfish species were treated under Amendment 21, it was inconsistent with Amendment 6 and the Council’s intent. As clarified by the Council with Amendment 21–1, it was not the Council’s intent to have Amendment 21 supersede the Amendment 6 allocation structure for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. In 2014, the Council revised figure 6–1 of the FMP to make it consistent with Amendment 6 and the Council’s intent. However, at that time, regulations at § 660.55(h) were mistakenly left unrevised. In this action, NMFS proposes revising the text description of the sablefish north of 36° N. lat. allocation structure to reflect the Council’s intent to maintain the Amendment 6 allocation structure and to bring the regulations at § 660.55(h) into consistency with the FMP. Proposed regulatory changes at § 660.55(h)(2) would deduct the metric tonnage for scientific research and recreational fisheries before the limited entry/open access split, but would no longer deduct the metric tonnage for the incidental open access fisheries during this step. Proposed regulations would deduct the metric tonnage for incidental open access fisheries from the open access allocation after the limited entry/ open access split. 6. VMS Declarations for Vessels Registered to a VMS Unit In 2004, the Council and NMFS implemented a vessel monitoring program. Since 2004, all commercial fishing vessels that take and retain groundfish in federal water, or transit through federal water with groundfish on board are required to have a working VMS. The VMS, along with a system of fishing declaration reporting requirements, allows for monitoring and enforcement of areas closed to fishing. With this program, NMFS typeapproved hardware and software, or ‘‘units,’’ were installed on vessels in order to meet these new program requirements for the groundfish fishery. A variety of units were available for purchase, and vessel owners/operators PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 could seek reimbursement for the cost of the units. When a VMS unit is installed on a vessel, it is registered with NMFS OLE and catalogued. There are a number of VMS units that have registered with OLE but have never made a fishing declaration, as required by regulations at § 660.13(d). At its June 2013 meeting, based on advice from their EC, the Council recommended that a declaration report be required for all vessels registered to a VMS unit, and that a declaration of ‘‘other’’ may be appropriate if the activity they will be doing is not fishing (e.g. serving as a chartered vessel conducting scientific research). Therefore, in this action, NMFS is proposing regulation changes at § 660.13(d) that would require all vessels registered to a VMS unit to submit a declaration report. Obtaining a declaration report from these vessels will give OLE the information necessary to monitor the activities of these vessels relative to the applicable regulations. Proposed regulations require any vessel operator upon registration of a VMS unit with NMFS OLE to make a declaration report regardless of fishing activity. This requirement would also apply to vessels that have already registered a VMS unit with NMFS OLE, but have not made a declaration report. OLE may contact a vessel operator and request that a declaration report be made. In such a circumstance, the proposed regulations would obligate the vessel operator to make a declaration report. Also, consistent with the Council’s June 2013 recommendations, NMFS proposes revising the declaration of ‘‘other gear’’ at § 660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A)(24) to ‘‘other’’ to encompass a vessel’s on the water activities that may not be fishing (e.g. scientific research activities). Vessels registered to a VMS unit would be required to make a declaration, regardless of fishing activities. Under proposed regulations, NMFS anticipates they may make a declaration of ‘‘other’’ if they are not fishing. NMFS also proposes that OLE will default a vessel’s declaration to ‘‘other’’ if they are unable to contact the vessel operator with whom the VMS unit is associated. As required by current regulations, the vessel operator must update the declaration when they meet the requirements to do so. 7. Equipment Requirements for Electronic Fish Tickets Under current regulations at § 660.15(d), submission of electronic fish tickets must be done on personal computers with software that meets E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS specific NMFS requirements. The data is entered into the computer system. Then the information is transmitted in batches to PSMFC. The only step in the process that requires an internet connection is when data sets are transmitted to PSMFC. A new interface has been developed that uses the internet for both entry and submission of electronic fish ticket data. The new, web-based interface no longer requires the person submitting the electronic fish ticket to do so from a computer equipped with specific, NMFS-approved software. Instead, the only requirement for the web-based interface would be a hardware device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) with a web browser or other software (e.g. application) and an internet connection. Consistent with the Council’s June 2014 recommendations to expand the required use of electronic fish tickets to the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries, NMFS is proposing updates to equipment requirements pertaining to electronic fish tickets. Current electronic fish ticket users (e.g. IFQ first receivers) are already using this web-based interface, and those first receivers affected by the new requirements would be using the webbased interface. The changes proposed to regulations at § 660.15(d) would reflect the move to a web-based electronic fish ticket for all first receivers, those that are receiving IFQ landings and those that would be receiving sablefish landings in limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries under proposed electronic fish ticket regulations. Note that an internet connection would now be necessary for all steps in submission of an electronic fish ticket, from creating the new ticket through submission. To reflect these changes, the definition of ‘‘electronic fish ticket’’ at § 660.11 would also be revised to reflect the web-based form that would be used to send electronic fish ticket information to the PSMFC. 8. Prohibitions Regarding ‘‘Take and Retain’’ When the Council and NMFS implemented Amendment 14 to the groundfish FMP, which established the sablefish primary fishery, regulations needed to clarify that vessels were still only allowed a single cumulative limit of sablefish when fishing outside of the primary sablefish season (66 FR 30869, June 8, 2001). Regulations were promulgated that prohibited taking more than a single cumulative trip limit. NMFS is proposing replacing ‘‘taking, retaining’’ with ‘‘taking and retaining,’’ consistent with the Council’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 recommendations under Amendment 14. There is a difference between ‘‘taking’’ fish and ‘‘taking and retaining’’ fish during fishing activities. ‘‘Take’’ is defined in MSA regulations at § 600.10 as any activity that results in killing fish or bringing live fish on board. ‘‘Retain’’ is also defined at § 600.10 and means to fail to return fish to the sea after a reasonable opportunity to sort the catch. In commercial groundfish fisheries, ‘‘trip limits’’ (defined at § 660.11) are used to specify the maximum amount of a fish species or species group that may legally be taken and retained, possessed, or landed (per vessel, per time period, etc.). Amendment 14 promulgated regulations that prohibited vessels from taking more than a single trip limit in the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery (at § 660.323, which was later redesignated as § 660.212). The preamble to Amendment 14 explained that adding this prohibition was intended to make it clear that, even though the DTL fishery and the primary fishery could both occur during the same time period (e.g. April 1 through October 31), vessels in the DTL fishery would be restricted by applicable trip limits. Current regulations at §§ 660.12 and 660.212 prohibit any vessel from taking more than a single cumulative trip limit, unless they are fishing in the sablefish primary fishery. The exception is consistent with regulations at § 660.231 that describe how, when a vessel is fishing on stacked sablefish endorsed permits, it can take more than one cumulative limit of sablefish because they are fishing on more than one tier limit. However, the prohibition, as written, needs to be revised. Vessels in commercial groundfish fisheries, except the sablefish primary fishery, should not be prohibited from ‘‘taking’’ more than a single cumulative trip limit. For those fisheries, a prohibition on ‘‘taking and retaining’’ more than a single cumulative trip limit is more appropriate, and ‘‘take, retain’’ is replaced with ‘‘take and retain.’’ This change is appropriate for three reasons. First, in a mixed stock fishery, it is impracticable to eliminate ‘‘take’’ of a single species or species group while still allowing access to species or species groups that can sustain higher harvest levels. Second, a prohibition of ‘‘take and retain’’ is more enforceable. When boarding a vessel, enforcement agents will not always be able to measure the total amount of fish taken, as some could have been discarded. However, it is possible to quantify the number of fish on board the vessel in PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34955 order to evaluate if more fish than the applicable trip limit have been ‘‘taken and retained.’’ Third, it was not the intent of FMP Amendment 14, or any subsequent promulgation of ‘‘take, retain,’’ prohibitions, to prohibit ‘‘taking’’ more than a single trip limit of a groundfish species or species group. It is for these reasons that groundfish trip limits apply when a species or species group is ‘‘taken and retained.’’ To better align prohibitions for enforcing trip limits with the definition of ‘‘trip limit,’’ to improve enforceability of trip limit prohibitions, and to bring consistency to regulations that apply to commercial groundfish fisheries, prohibitions at §§ 660.12(a)(6), 660.212(a)(2), and 660.212(d)(1) and (2) are proposed to be revised from ‘‘take, retain’’ to ‘‘take and retain.’’ 9. Related Minor Clarifications and NonSubstantive Changes There are several legacy regulations that describe methodologies used for decisions and exemptions regarding limited entry permit endorsements (at § 660.25(b)(3)) and at-sea processing exemptions (at § 660.25(b)(6)) that have expired. Therefore, NMFS is proposing to remove them. Paragraph § 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(B) describes a onetime process for the issuance of sablefish endorsements and tier assignments. That process concluded in 1998. Proposed revisions to paragraphs § 660.25(b)(6)(i) and (ii) introductory text would make it clear that the at-sea processing exemptions described there were extended to industry on a one-time basis and can no longer be sought. The sablefish at-sea processing exemption could not be issued after 2006 and the non-whiting groundfish at-sea processing exemptions could not be issued after 2012. In addition to these revisions described above, additional expired regulations at § 660.25(b)(6)(ii)(A) through (C) would be removed because they no longer describe current regulatory activities and are not relevant to ongoing administrative or fishing practices. Regulations at § 660.55(f) describe catch accounting methodologies for groundfish species. Paragraph § 660.55(f)(1) describes how catch accounting is done for species with trawl/nontrawl allocations. One of the cross-references in § 660.55(f) refers to catch accounting in limited entry and open access fisheries, or nontrawl fisheries. The cross-reference refers to § 660.55(f)(2), however that paragraph describes catch accounting procedures for Pacific whiting. The cross-reference should refer to § 660.55(f)(1)(ii), where catch accounting for nontrawl fisheries E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34956 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules is described. Therefore, this rule proposes to revise the cross reference at § 660.55(f) from ‘‘§ 660.55(f)(2)’’ to ‘‘§ 660.55(f)(1)(ii).’’ In this action, edits are made to regulations at § 660.60(h)(7)(i) and (ii)(A) to clarify that trip limit crossover provisions do not apply to IFQ species for vessels declared into the Shorebased IFQ Program. Those species are managed with IFQ, and therefore trip limit crossover provisions in these paragraphs do not apply. To improve consistency, this action would also make clarifying edits to regulations at § 660.60(h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) and (2) to replace the word ‘‘participate’’ with the defined term ‘‘fish’’ and to remove redundant text by changing ‘‘. . . in the open access fishery, described at part 660, subpart F, with open access gear . . .’’ to ‘‘. . . with open access gear . . .’’ Open access gear, as defined at § 660.11, can only be used in the open access fishery. It is redundant to refer to both the open access fishery and open access gear. The trawl fishery prohibitions at § 660.112(a)(3)(i) make it illegal to intentionally submit false information. By definition, a false statement is an untrue statement knowingly made with the intent to mislead, therefore the term ‘‘intentionally’’ in the existing prohibition is unnecessary. This proposed rule revises the prohibition by deleting the word ‘‘intentionally.’’ This language is intended to work coincident with regulations that require submission of final and accurate information on electronic fish tickets, and with electronic fish ticket regulations that require errors to data, when found, to be corrected via a revision to the electronic fish ticket. Regulations for revising electronic fish ticket submissions, at § 660.113(b)(4)(iii), would be modified to clarify that the only way to fix an error in an electronic fish ticket submission is to resubmit a revised electronic fish ticket. In other words, if an error is found in an electronic fish ticket submission, it cannot be remedied by submitting any other record besides an electronic fish ticket. Proposed regulations at § 660.113(b)(4)(iii) change ‘‘may be revised’’ via electronic fish ticket to ‘‘must be revised’’ via electronic fish ticket. A clarifying edit is made in paragraph § 660.113 (a)(2) to use the defined term ‘‘date of landing’’ consistently throughout the recordkeeping and reporting regulations. Current regulations at § 660.231 apply to vessels participating in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. However, many of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 regulations that apply to limited entry fixed gear fishing also apply to vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. In this action, clarifying edits would be made to paragraph § 660.231(a) to make this clear. Section 660.231 provides additional details regarding management and prosecution of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, and is intended to be taken in the larger context of regulations that apply to limited entry fixed gear fisheries (limited entry fixed gear fisheries during and outside of the sablefish primary season). Throughout these proposed revisions to regulations, cross-references would be updated to maintain accuracy given the proposed, substantive changes described in the sections above. Additionally, references to the NMFS ‘‘Northwest’’ Region would be changed to NMFS ‘‘West Coast’’ Region to reflect an organizational change that occurred in October 2013. References to ‘‘halibut’’ would be revised to refer to ‘‘Pacific halibut’’ to distinguish it from California halibut. Minor, non-substantive edits would also be made to remove duplicative text or change typographic or grammatical errors. All of the proposed changes to regulations described in this section are not intended to change the meaning of existing regulations, but rather are intended to reduce duplication, simplify, correct cross-references and make other minor, related changes to bring consistency within groundfish regulations. Classification NMFS has made a preliminary determination that the proposed action is consistent with groundfish FMP, the MSA, and other applicable law. There are no relevant federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this action. In making its final determination, NMFS will take into account the complete record, including the data, views, and comments received during the comment period. An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared for this action. The EA includes socio-economic information that was used to prepare the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). The EA is available for public comment (See ADDRESSES) and is available on line at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ publications/nepa/groundfish/ groundfish_nepa_documents.html. The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this proposed rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq., requires government agencies to assess the effects that regulatory alternatives would have on small entities, including small businesses, and to determine ways to minimize those effects. When an agency proposes regulations, the RFA requires the agency to prepare and make available for public comment an IRFA, unless the agency can certify that the proposed action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The IRFA describes the impact on small businesses, non-profit enterprises, local governments, and other small entities, and is intended to aid the agency in considering all reasonable regulatory alternatives that would minimize the economic impact on affected small entities. After the public comment period, the agency prepares a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) that takes into consideration any new information or public comments. A summary of the IRFA for this action is provided below. The reasons why action by the agency is being considered, the objectives and legal basis for this rule are described in previous sections of the preamble, and the reporting and recordkeeping requirements are described in the next section. Following are descriptions of small entities, as defined by the RFA and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Small businesses. SBA has established guidelines on size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesting and fish processing businesses. A business involved in fish harvesting is a small business if it is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates) and if it has combined annual receipts, not in excess of $20.5 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide (See 79 FR 33647, effective July 14, 2014). For marinas and charter/ party boats, a small business now defined as one with annual receipts, not in excess of $7.5 million. For related fish processing businesses, a small business is one that employs 750 or fewer persons. Small organizations. The RFA defines small organizations as any nonprofit enterprise that is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field. An estimated 99 entities are potentially impacted by this rule, including 77 receivers and up to 22 vessels/permit-holding entities. All of these entities are considered small E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules according to the SBA guidelines stated above. This rule is not anticipated to have a substantial or significant economic impact on small entities, or to place small entities at a disadvantage to large entities. Nonetheless, NMFS has prepared an IRFA (available as part of the EA described above), which is summarized below. Through the rulemaking process associated with this action, we are requesting comments on this conclusion. Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions on Electronic Fish Tickets. An estimated 77 first receivers across the primary and DTL fisheries will be impacted by the electronic fish ticket requirement. These 77 first receivers account for approximately 34 percent of sablefish landings in these fisheries. An additional 23 sablefish first receivers are also IFQ first receivers and already use electronic fish tickets to record shorebased IFQ landings. The 77 first receivers across the primary and DTL fisheries who do not already use electronic fish tickets would be most affected by the action alternatives. Without having employment information for these businesses, NMFS is considering all 77 first receivers to be small entities under the SBA guidelines described above. Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions on Ownership Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control Limit). This provision is likely to benefit a few individuals who own multiple vessels that operate in both the West Coast sablefish primary fishery and the Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery, and were grandfathered into the Alaska IFQ program. As relatively few businesses meet the SBA criteria for small enterprises, this provision of the proposed rule is not expected to impact a substantial number of small entities. At most, the 13 vessels that hold permits to fish in both the Alaska IFQ program and the West Coast sablefish primary fishery would qualify for the exemption. Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions on Joint Registration. Since 2011, a total of 20 vessels have been registered to both trawl and fixed gear permits in a single year. Of these, 16 vessels would qualify as a small business under the SBA criteria described above. The permits associated with large entities were participating in a temporary research program. These 16 vessels are likely to benefit from the flexibility offered by joint registration. In 2015, the last year with complete data, nine vessels registered to both trawl and fixed gear permits within the year, and all of these VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 reported being small businesses. These nine vessels are the most likely to realize immediate benefits from the updated rule. Alternatives for Electronic Fish Tickets. NMFS considered four alternatives, including No Action, for electronic fish tickets. The No Action alternative (Alternative 1) would maintain current reporting state fish ticket reporting systems. Each of Alternatives 2 through 4 would implement a federal requirement that first receivers of non-trawl commercial sablefish landings to U.S. West Coast ports record landings on an electronic fish ticket. The action alternatives differ from each other only in the fleets that they address. Alternative 2 would affect participants in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery only. Alternative 3 would expand upon Alternative 2 to add participants in the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery. Lastly, Alternative 4 would expand upon Alternative 3 to add participants in the open access DTL sablefish fishery. All alternative actions except for Alternative 1 (No Action) will result in some expenses as a result of new reporting requirements. NMFS assumed that all of the affected small businesses already have access to a technically suitable computer to submit the electronic fish tickets. However, if a business did not currently own a computer, it would incur additional costs for the initial investment in a computer and for a small monthly fee for an Internet connection. This requirement will likely result in increased administrative expenses with a longer submission time in those instances where first receivers must submit both State and Federal fish tickets. First receivers in the trawl program reported an hourly wage of $33.68 for non-production employees in 2012 (Economic Data Collection Program First Receiver and Shorebased Processor Report, 2009–2012). Assuming non-IFQ receivers pay a similar wage to non-production employees, and using the burden-hour estimate included in the Paperwork Reduction Act section below, Alternative 2 is estimated to result in an additional annual expense of about $2,500 for all processors combined, Alternative 3 would cost $10,000 in total, and Alternative 4 (preferred alternative) would cost the sector $20,000 or about an additional $4 per fish ticket. Alternatives for Ownership Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control Limit). NMFS considered three alternatives, including No Action (Alternative 1), with regards to ownership limitation changes. PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34957 Alternatives 2a and 2b would result in a permit only being counted against the ownership limitation if a certain percentage of the vessel registered to that permit was owned. The two subalternatives vary by percentage of ownership: 20 percent and 30 percent for Alternatives 2a and 2b, respectively. Alternative 3 would result in permits counting as they do under No Action unless an exemption was applied for and granted by NMFS. There may be an opportunity for larger operations that were constrained by the three-permit limit to consolidate more harvest privileges by either acquiring Pacific coast limited entry fixed gear permits or by hiring out to west coast and Alaska participants to harvest Alaska IFQ. The degree of the current constraint, and consequently the opportunity provided by the alternative actions, is modest for the fleet as a whole, but this benefit may be important to some individuals. Alternatives for Joint Registration. NMFS considered three alternatives, including No Action (Alternative 1), relative to joint registration. Alternative 2 would allow a single trawl permit and up to three limited entry fixed gear permits to be registered to a vessel simultaneously. Alternative 3 would allow the same permit registration options as Alternative 2, but would have additional requirements relative to declarations and at-sea processing. In 2014, the last year for which economic data are available, the average net revenue per day was $4,815 for the eight vessels fishing with fixed gear in the trawl fishery that were also registered to a fixed-gear endorsed permit that year. The average net revenue per day in the fixed gear-endorsed fishery was $4,686 (per data provided by the Economic Data Collection Program on March 23, 2016). Vessels had lower variable costs per day while participating in the fixed gear fishery compared with the trawl fishery. Vessels that either own or lease both fixed gear and trawl permits may realize increased operational efficiency with joint registration, particularly with respect to the 100% observer coverage required when fishing under the trawl permit. Participants have indicated that they would take advantage of the alternative fishing opportunities afforded by this provision when scheduling trips on occasions that observers are unavailable for fishing under their trawl permit. If an observer wasn’t available or had to cancel, the vessel could choose the alternative of declaring into the fixed gear endorsed fishery, and would not need to forgo the trip. Joint registration would additionally provide a minor E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34958 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules administrative convenience to the vessels that own or have multi-year leased permits. These operators, who currently must complete and submit multiple transfer forms throughout the year (typically three), would no longer be required to submit any paperwork related to permit transfers. Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Electronic Fish Tickets. While discussing the options for electronic fish tickets, the Council considered a sub-option for each of the action alternatives (Alternatives 2 through 4). Under the sub-option, sablefish deliveries would be recorded on state paper fish tickets, rather than on federal electronic fish tickets. NMFS would implement a federal requirement that sablefish landings, and the federal groundfish permit number associated with the landings, be recorded on state paper fish tickets. Although this suboption would cause the least disruption to the existing landings process, adding new requirements to the state paper fish ticket system would fail to address the purpose and need for this action. This slight alteration in the process would not improve the timeliness of catch accounting or enforcement capabilities in the fishery. Adding new requirements to the state paper fish ticket system would also cause several logistical challenges in managing the sablefish fishery: (1) Sablefish landings data would not be uploaded into the Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) database at a faster than current rate, (2) there would continue to be a lag time of several months between when the landings occur and when the data are available, and (3) further augmenting paper fish ticket recording requirements would be disruptive to state data collection and management practices. Therefore, this sub-option has been considered, but rejected from further analysis. In addition, the action alternatives originally included language regarding how the catch data recorded on the electronic tickets would be used, specifically stating, ‘‘That tier permits be loaded into the IFQ Vessel Account System with deductions made as appropriate when a tier delivery is made and recorded on the E Fish Ticket.’’ The Council determined that this language was overly restrictive, and that it was premature to discuss implementations issues such as the details of how the data would be processed and made available to end users. Therefore, the use of this language in the action alternatives has been considered, but rejected from further analysis. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Ownership Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control Limit). The Council also discussed other action alternatives to address issues regarding the own/hold control rule. The first action alternative that was considered but rejected would have maintained a three permit limit for the own/hold control rule. However, control would be calculated on percentage ownership of permits and vessels. Total ownership (including for first and second generation owners) would be limited to a total of 300 percent. The intent of this action alternative would have been to limit the total ownership to three permits, which is the same as the No Action alternative. The Council also considered increasing the own/hold control limit to six permits. Any percentage ownership would have counted as one permit. The Council also looked at leaving the own/ hold control limit at three, but capping the number of tier permits an entity may register to a vessel at three permits, and capping the number of limited entry fixed gear tier vessels an entity can own at three. These changes would have effectively increased the maximum own/hold control limit to 12 permits, because an entity could own three permits and have partial or total ownership of three vessels, each of which are registered to three different permits owned by others. Finally, the Council considered an action alternative that would leave the own/hold control limit at three permits, but with the calculation based only on ownership of permits. Holding or leasing a permit or ownership in the vessel would not have counted toward the three permit limit. A person could have owned three permits and held any number of additional permits by registering the vessel(s) they own to permits owned or leased by other persons. The Council considered but rejected these action alternatives for the own/ hold control rule from further analysis, because the Council found that these alternatives were administratively burdensome to implement and track. The Council found that some of these alternatives weakened the own/hold control limit beyond what was needed to address the purpose and need. If implemented, these alternatives could undermine the purpose of having own/ hold control limits in place, namely to maintain the owner operator nature of the fleet. Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Joint Registration. Another alternative that was considered to address the issues with joint registration was to increase the number PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 of transfers allowed per year. Currently, vessels are only allowed to transfer permits once per year. This alternative would increase a vessel’s flexibility to move between the LE trawl and fixed gear fishery, and it would also allow more flexibility for vessels to move between the LE and OA fisheries, reducing the wall between these sectors. However, such a provision would increase administrative costs and provide less flexibility for the fleet than offered by the other action alternatives, because the cap on the number of transfers allowed per year would remain in place. Therefore, this alternative was considered but rejected from further analysis. Impacts to Small Businesses from Actions 4–9. Except for electronic fish tickets, own/hold control limit and joint registration, the actions described above in sections 4–9 of this proposed rule are largely administrative and, if adopted, would not impact any of the small entities identified as potentially being affected by the first three major actions in this proposed rule. Changes associated with actions 4–9 would make small modifications and clarifications to existing requirements, maintain existing requirements in light of changes related to joint registration, and simplify equipment requirements. Thus, these measures would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of the small entities described in this document. Paperwork Reduction Act This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement has been submitted to OMB for under the following control numbers: OMB Control Number 0648–XXX. Electronic Fish Tickets Public reporting burden is estimated to average 10 minutes per response (landing) for first receivers in Washington and California, and two minutes per response (landing) for first receivers in Oregon. The total annual burden estimate for all first receivers in Washington is 87 hours, in California is 543 hours, and in Oregon is 36 hours. Public reporting burden includes the time for reviewing instructions, accessing the web-based platform, gathering the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules OMB Control Number 0648–XXX. Ownership Limitation Exemption Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 45 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing the instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Public comment is sought regarding whether this proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to West Coast Region at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–7285. 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. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries. § 660.11 General definitions. * * * * * Base permit means a sablefishendorsed limited entry permit described at § 660.25(b)(3)(i), subpart C, registered for use with a vessel that meets the permit length endorsement requirements appropriate to that vessel, as described at § 660.25(b)(3)(iii), subpart C. * * * * * Electronic fish ticket means a webbased form that is used to send landing data to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Electronic fish tickets are used to collect information similar to the information required in state fish receiving tickets or landing receipts, but do not replace or change any state requirements. * * * * * Joint registration or jointly registered means simultaneously registering both trawl-endorsed and longline or trap/potendorsed limited entry permits for use with a single vessel in one of the configurations described at § 660.25(b)(4)(iv). * * * * * Stacking or stacked means registering more than one sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit for use with a single vessel (See § 660.25(b)(4)(iii), subpart C). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.12, revise paragraph (a)(6) to read as follows: § 660.12 General groundfish prohibitions. * 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: * * * * (a) * * * (6) Take and retain, possess, or land more than a single cumulative limit of a particular species, per vessel, per applicable cumulative limit period, except for sablefish taken in the primary limited entry, fixed gear sablefish season from a vessel authorized to fish in that season, as described at § 660.231, subpart E. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 660.13, revise paragraph (d) introductory text, and paragraphs (d)(5)(ii) and (iii), and (d)(5)(iv)(A)(24) to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. § 660.13 Dated: May 25, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES ■ 2. In § 660.11: a. Revise the definitions for ‘‘Base permit’’ and ‘‘Electronic fish ticket’’; ■ b. Add in alphabetical order the definition for ‘‘Joint registration’’; ■ c. Remove the definition for ‘‘Stacking’’; and ■ b. Add in alphabetical order the definition for ‘‘Stacking or stacked’’ The revisions and additions read as follows: sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ■ ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Recordkeeping and reporting. * * * * * (d) Declaration reporting requirements—When the operator of a vessel registers a VMS unit with NMFS OLE, the vessel operator must provide NMFS with a declaration report as specified at paragraph (d)(5)(iv) of this section. The operator of any vessel that has already registered a VMS unit with NMFS OLE but has not yet made a declaration, as specified at paragraph PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34959 (d)(5)(iv) of this section, must provide NMFS with a declaration report upon request from NMFS OLE. (5) * * * (ii) A declaration report will be valid until another declaration report revising the existing gear or fishery declaration is received by NMFS OLE. The vessel operator must send a new declaration report before leaving port on a trip that meets one of the following criteria: (A) A gear type that is different from the gear type most recently declared for the vessel will be used, or (B) A vessel will fish in a fishery other than the fishery most recently declared. (iii) During the period of time that a vessel has a valid declaration report on file with NMFS OLE, it cannot fish with a gear other than a gear type declared by the vessel or fish in a fishery other than the fishery most recently declared. (iv) * * * (A) * * * (24) Other, or * * * * * ■ 5. In § 660.15, revise paragraphs (a) and (d) to read as follows: § 660.15 Equipment requirements. (a) Applicability. This section contains the equipment and operational requirements for scales used to weigh catch at sea, scales used to weigh catch at IFQ first receivers, hardware and software for electronic fish tickets, and computer hardware for electronic logbook software. Unless otherwise specified by regulation, the operator or manager must retain, for 3 years, a copy of all records described in this section and make the records available upon request to NMFS staff or an authorized officer. * * * * * (d) Electronic fish tickets. First receivers are required to meet the hardware and software requirements below. (1) Hardware and software requirements. A personal computer system, tablet, mobile device, or other device that has software (e.g. web browser) capable of submitting information over the Internet, such that submission to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission can be executed effectively. (2) Internet access. The first receiver is responsible for maintaining Internet access sufficient to access the web-based interface and submit completed electronic fish ticket forms. (3) Maintenance. The first receiver is responsible for ensuring that all hardware and software required under this subsection are fully operational and functional whenever they receive, E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34960 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules purchase, or take custody, control, or possession of groundfish species for which an electronic fish ticket is required. ‘‘Functional’’ means that the software requirements and minimum hardware requirements described at paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section are met and submission to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission can be executed effectively by the equipment. (4) Improving data quality. Vessel owners and operators, first receivers, or shoreside processor owners, or managers may contact NMFS to request assistance in improving data quality and resolving issues. Requests may be submitted to: Attn: Electronic Fish Ticket Monitoring, National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115. ■ 6. In § 660.25: ■ a. Revise paragraph (b)(1)(v); ■ b. Remove paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B); ■ c. Redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C) as (b)(3)(iv)(B); ■ d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(3)(iv)(B)(3) and (4); ■ e. Add a new paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C); ■ f. Revise paragraphs (b)(3)(v), (b)(4) introductory text, (b)(4)(i)(D), and (b)(4)(iii); ■ g. Redesignate paragraphs (b)(4)(iv) through (b)(4)(ix) as (b)(4)(v) through (b)(4)(x); ■ h. Add a new paragraph (b)(4)(iv); ■ i. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(4)(v)(A) and (B), (b)(4)(vi)(A) and (B), and (b)(4)(vii)(A); and ■ j. Revise paragraph (b)(6). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.25 Permits. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (v) Initial administrative determination (IAD). SFD will make a determination regarding permit endorsements, renewal, replacement, change in permit ownership and change in vessel registration. SFD will notify the permit owner in writing with an explanation of any determination to deny a permit endorsement, renewal, replacement, change in permit ownership or change in vessel registration. The SFD will decline to act on an application for permit endorsement, renewal, replacement, or change in registration of a limited entry permit if the permit is subject to sanction provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1858(a) and implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 904, subpart D, apply. * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (3) * * * (iv) * * * (B) * * * (3) A partnership or corporation will lose the exemptions provided in paragraphs (b)(3)(iv)(B)(1) and (2) of this section on the effective date of any change in the corporation or partnership from that which existed on November 1, 2000. A ‘‘change’’ in the partnership or corporation is defined at § 660.11. A change in the partnership or corporation must be reported to SFD within 15 calendar days of the addition of a new shareholder or partner. (4) Any partnership or corporation with any ownership interest in a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement or in the vessel registered to the permit shall document the extent of that ownership interest with NMFS via the Identification of Ownership Interest Form sent to the permit owner through the annual permit renewal process and whenever a change in permit owner, vessel owner, and/or vessel registration occurs as described at paragraph (b)(4)(v) and (vi) of this section. NMFS will not renew a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit through the annual renewal process described at paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section, or approve a change in permit owner, vessel owner, and/or vessel registration unless the Identification of Ownership Interest Form has been completed. Further, if NMFS discovers through review of the Identification of Ownership Interest Form that an individual person, partnership, or corporation owns or holds more than 3 permits and is not authorized to do so under paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(2) of this section, the individual person, partnership or corporation will be notified and the permits owned or held by that individual person, partnership, or corporation will be void and reissued with the vessel status as ‘‘unidentified’’ until the permit owner owns and/or holds a quantity of permits appropriate to the restrictions and requirements described in paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(2) of this section. If NMFS discovers through review of the Identification of Ownership Interest Form that a partnership or corporation has had a change in membership since November 1, 2000, as described in paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(3) of this section, the partnership or corporation will be notified, NMFS will void any existing permits, and reissue any permits owned and/or held by that partnership or corporation in ‘‘unidentified’’ status with respect to vessel registration until the partnership or corporation is able to register ownership of those permits to persons authorized under this section to PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 own sablefish-endorsed limited entry permits. * * * * * (C) Ownership limitation exemption. As described in (b)(3)(iv)(B) of this section, no individual person, partnership, or corporation in combination may own and/or hold more than three sablefish-endorsed permits. A vessel owner that meets the qualifying criteria described in paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this section may request an exemption from the ownership limitation. (1) Qualifying criteria. The three qualifying criteria for an ownership limitation exemption are: the vessel owner currently has no more than 20 percent ownership interest in a vessel registered to the sablefish endorsed permit, the vessel owner currently has ownership interest in Alaska sablefish individual fishing quota, and the vessel has fished in the past 12-month period in both the West Coast groundfish limited entry fixed gear fishery and the Sablefish IFQ Program in Alaska. The best evidence of a vessel owner having met these qualifying criteria will be state fish tickets or landings receipts from the West Coast states and Alaska. The qualifying vessel owner may seek an ownership limitation exemption for sablefish endorsed permits registered to no more than two vessels. (2) Application and issuance process for an ownership limitation exemption. The SFD will make the qualifying criteria and application instructions available online at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/index.html. A vessel owner who believes that they may qualify for the ownership limitation exemption must submit evidence with their application showing how their vessel has met the qualifying criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this section. The vessel owner must also submit a Sablefish Permit Ownership Limitation Exemption Identification of Ownership Interest form that includes disclosure of percentage of ownership in the vessel and disclosure of individual shareholders in any entity. Paragraph (i) of this section sets out the relevant evidentiary standards and burden of proof. Applications may be submitted at any time to NMFS at: NMFS West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, ATTN: Fisheries Permit Office— Sablefish Ownership Limitation Exemption, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115. After receipt of a complete application, the SFD will issue an IAD in writing to the applicant determining whether the applicant E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules qualifies for the exemption. If an applicant chooses to file an appeal of the IAD, the applicant must follow the appeals process outlined at paragraph (g) of this section and, for the timing of the appeals, at paragraph (g)(4)(ii) of this section. (3) Exemption status. If at any time a change occurs relative to the qualifying criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1), the vessel owner to whom the ownership limitation exemption applies must notify NMFS within 30 calendar days. If such changes mean the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria, the ownership limitation exemption becomes automatically null and void 30 calendar days after the date the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria. At any time, NMFS may request that the vessel owner submit a new exemption application. If NMFS at any time finds the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this section NMFS will issue an IAD, which may be appealed, as described at paragraph (g) of this section. (v) MS/CV endorsement. An MS/CV endorsement on a trawl limited entry permit conveys a conditional privilege that allows a vessel registered to it to fish in either the coop or non-coop fishery in the MS Coop Program described at § 660.150, subpart D. The provisions for the MS/CV-endorsed limited entry permit, including eligibility, renewal, change of permit ownership, vessel registration, combinations, accumulation limits, fees, and appeals are described at § 660.150. Each MS/CV endorsement has an associated catch history assignment (CHA) that is permanently linked as originally issued by NMFS and which cannot be divided or registered separately to another limited entry trawl permit. Regulations detailing this process and MS/CV-endorsed permit combinations are outlined in § 660.150(g)(2), subpart D. * * * * * (4) Limited entry permit actions— renewal, combination, stacking, joint registration, change of permit owner or vessel owner, and change in vessel registration— (i) * * * (D) Limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements, as described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section, will not be renewed until SFD has received complete documentation of permit ownership as required under paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(4) of this section. * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (iii) Stacking limited entry permits. ‘‘Stacking’’ limited entry permits, as defined at § 660.11, refers to the practice of registering more than one sablefishendorsed permit for use with a single vessel. Only limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements may be stacked. Up to 3 limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements may be registered for use with a single vessel during the primary sablefish season described at § 660.231, subpart E. Privileges, responsibilities, and restrictions associated with stacking permits to fish in the sablefish primary fishery are described at § 660.231, subpart E and at paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section. (iv) Joint registration of limited entry permits—(A) General. ‘‘Joint registration’’ of limited entry permits, as defined at § 660.11, is the practice of simultaneously registering both trawlendorsed and longline or trap/potendorsed limited entry permits for use with a single vessel. (B) Restrictions. Subject to vessel size endorsements in paragraph (b)(3)(iii), any limited entry permit with a trawl endorsement and any limited entry permit with a longline or trap/pot endorsement may be jointly registered for use with a single vessel but only in one of the following configurations: (1) a single trawl-endorsed limited entry permit and one, two or three sablefish-endorsed fixed gear (longline and/or fishpot endorsed) limited entry permits; or (2) a single trawl-endorsed limited entry permit and one longline-endorsed limited entry permit for use with a single vessel. (v) * * * (A) General. Change in permit owner and/or vessel owner applications must be submitted to NMFS with the appropriate documentation described at paragraphs (b)(4)(viii) and (ix) of this section. The permit owner may convey the limited entry permit to a different person. The new permit owner will not be authorized to use the permit until the change in permit owner has been registered with and approved by NMFS. NMFS will not approve a change in permit owner for a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement that does not meet the ownership requirements for such permit described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B) of this section. NMFS will not approve a change in permit owner for a limited entry permit with an MS/ CV endorsement or an MS permit that does not meet the ownership requirements for such permit described at § 660.150(g)(3), and § 660.150(f)(3), respectively. NMFS considers the following as a change in permit owner PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34961 that would require registering with and approval by NMFS, including but not limited to: Selling the permit to another individual or entity; adding an individual or entity to the legal name on the permit; or removing an individual or entity from the legal name on the permit. A change in vessel owner includes any changes to the name(s) of any or all vessel owners, as registered with USCG or a state. The new owner(s) of a vessel registered to a limited entry permit must report any change in vessel ownership to NMFS within 30 calendar days after such change has been registered with the USCG or a state licensing agency. (B) Effective date. The change in permit ownership or change in the vessel holding the permit will be effective on the day the change is approved by NMFS, unless there is a concurrent change in the vessel registered to the permit. Requirements for changing the vessel registered to the permit are described at paragraph (b)(4)(vi) of this section. * * * * * (vi) * * * (A) General. A permit may not be used with any vessel other than the vessel registered to that permit. For purposes of this section, a permit change in vessel registration occurs when, through SFD, a permit owner registers a limited entry permit for use with a new vessel. Permit change in vessel registration applications must be submitted to SFD with the appropriate documentation described at paragraph (b)(4)(viii) of this section. Upon receipt of a complete application, and following review and approval of the application, the SFD will reissue the permit registered to the new vessel. Applications to change vessel registration on limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements will not be approved until SFD has received complete documentation of permit ownership as described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(4) and as required under paragraph (b)(4)(viii) of this section. Applications to change vessel registration on limited entry permits with trawl endorsements or MS permits will not be approved until SFD has received complete EDC forms as required under § 660.114, subpart D. (B) Application. Change in vessel registration applications must be submitted to NMFS with the appropriate documentation described at paragraphs (b)(4)(viii) and (ix) of this section. At a minimum, a permit owner seeking to change vessel registration of a limited entry permit shall submit to NMFS a signed application form and E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34962 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules his/her current limited entry permit before the first day of the cumulative limit period in which they wish to fish. If a permit owner provides a signed application and current limited entry permit after the first day of a cumulative limit period, the permit will not be effective until the succeeding cumulative limit period. NMFS will not approve a change in vessel registration until it receives a complete application, the existing permit, a current copy of the USCG 1270, and other required documentation. * * * * * (vii) * * * (A) General. A permit owner may designate the vessel registration for a permit as ‘‘unidentified,’’ meaning that no vessel has been identified as registered for use with that permit. No vessel is authorized to use a permit with the vessel registration designated as ‘‘unidentified.’’ A vessel owner who removes a permit from his vessel and registers that permit as ‘‘unidentified’’ is not exempt from VMS requirements at § 660.14, unless specifically authorized by that section. When a permit owner requests that the permit’s vessel registration be designated as ‘‘unidentified,’’ the transaction is not considered a change in vessel registration for purposes of this section. Any subsequent request by a permit owner to change from the ‘‘unidentified’’ status of the permit in order to register the permit with a specific vessel will be considered a change in vessel registration and subject to the restriction on frequency and timing of changes in vessel registration. * * * * * (6) At-sea processing exemptions—(i) Sablefish at-sea processing exemption. No new applications for sablefish at-sea processing exemptions will be accepted. As specified at § 660.212(d)(3), subpart E, vessels are prohibited from processing sablefish at sea that were caught in the sablefish primary fishery without a sablefish at-sea processing exemption. Any sablefish at-sea processing exemptions were issued to a particular vessel and that permit and vessel owner who requested the exemption. The exemption is not part of the limited entry permit. The exemption cannot be registered with any other vessel, vessel owner, or permit owner for any reason. The exemption only applies to at-sea processing of sablefish caught in the sablefish primary fishery. The sablefish at-sea processing exemption will expire upon registration of the vessel to a new owner or if the vessel is totally lost, as defined at § 660.11. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (ii) Non-whiting at-sea processing exemption. No new applications for non-whiting at-sea processing exemptions will be accepted. As specified at § 660.112(b)(1)(xii), subpart D, vessels are prohibited from processing non-whiting groundfish at sea that were caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program without a non-whiting atsea processing exemption. Any nonwhiting at-sea processing exemptions were issued to a particular vessel and that permit and/or vessel owner who requested the exemption. The exemption is not part of the limited entry permit. The exemption is not transferable to any other vessel, vessel owner, or permit owner for any reason. The exemption only applies to at-sea processing of non-whiting groundfish caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program. The non-whiting at-sea processing exemption will expire upon registration of the vessel to a new owner or if the vessel is totally lost, as defined at § 660.11. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 660.55, revise paragraph (f) introductory text and paragraphs (h)(1) and (2) to read as follows: § 660.55 Allocations. * * * * * (f) Catch accounting. Catch accounting refers to how the catch in a fishery is monitored against the allocations described in this section. For species with trawl/nontrawl allocations, catch of those species are counted against the trawl/nontrawl allocations as explained in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. For species with limited entry/ open access allocations in a given biennial cycle, catch of those species are counted against the limited entry/open access allocations as explained in paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section. * * * * * (h) * * * (1) Tribal/nontribal allocation. The sablefish allocation to Pacific coast treaty Indian tribes is identified at § 660.50(f)(2). The remainder is available to the nontribal fishery (limited entry, open access (directed and incidental), and research). (2) Between the limited entry and open access fisheries. The allocation of sablefish after tribal deductions is further reduced by the estimated total mortality of sablefish in research and recreational fisheries; the remaining yield (commercial harvest guideline) is divided between open access and limited entry fisheries. The limited entry fishery allocation is 90.6 percent of the commercial harvest guideline. The open access allocation is 9.4 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 percent of the commercial harvest guideline and includes incidental catch in non-groundfish fisheries, or incidental open access. * * * * * ■ 8. In § 660.60: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (h)(7) introductory text, (h)(7)(i) introductory text, (h)(7)(ii)(A), (h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) introductory text, and (h)(7)(ii)(B)(2); and ■ b. Add paragraphs (h)(7)(ii)(B)(3) and (h)(7)(iii). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.60 Specifications and management measures. * * * * * (h) * * * * * * * * (7) Crossover provisions. Crossover provisions apply to three activities: Fishing on different sides of a management line, or fishing in both the limited entry and open access fisheries, or fishing in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery. NMFS uses different types of management areas for West Coast groundfish management, such as the north-south management areas as defined in § 660.11. Within a management area, a large ocean area with northern and southern boundary lines, trip limits, seasons, and conservation areas follow a single theme. Within each management area, there may be one or more conservation areas, defined at § 660.11 and §§ 660.70 through 660.74. The provisions within this paragraph apply to vessels fishing in different management areas. Crossover provisions also apply to vessels that fish in both the limited entry and open access fisheries, or that use open access non-trawl gear while registered to limited entry fixed gear permits. Crossover provisions also apply to vessels that are jointly registered, as defined at § 660.11, fishing in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery during the same cumulative limit period. Fishery specific crossover provisions can be found in subparts D through F of this part. (i) Fishing in management areas with different trip limits. Trip limits for a species or a species group may differ in different management areas along the coast. The following crossover provisions apply to vessels fishing in different geographical areas that have different cumulative or ‘‘per trip’’ trip limits for the same species or species group, with the following exceptions. Such crossover provisions do not apply to: IFQ species (defined at § 660.140(c), E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules subpart D) for vessels that are declared into the Shorebased IFQ Program (see § 660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A), for valid Shorebased IFQ Program declarations); species that are subject only to daily trip limits; or to trip limits for black rockfish off Washington, as described at § 660.230(e) and § 660.330(e). * * * * * (ii) * * * (A) Fishing in limited entry and open access fisheries with different trip limits. Open access trip limits apply to any fishing conducted with open access gear, even if the vessel has a valid limited entry permit with an endorsement for another type of gear. Except such provisions do not apply to IFQ species (defined at § 660.140(c), subpart D) for vessels that are declared into the Shorebased IFQ Program (see § 660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A) for valid Shorebased IFQ Program declarations). A vessel that fishes in both the open access and limited entry fisheries is not entitled to two separate trip limits for the same species. If a vessel has a limited entry permit registered to it at any time during the trip limit period and uses open access gear, but the open access limit is smaller than the limited entry limit, the open access limit may not be exceeded and counts toward the limited entry limit. If a vessel has a limited entry permit registered to it at any time during the trip limit period and uses open access gear, but the open access limit is larger than the limited entry limit, the smaller limited entry limit applies, even if taken entirely with open access gear. (B) * * * (1) Vessel registered to a limited entry trawl permit. To fish with open access gear, defined at § 660.11, a vessel registered to a limited entry trawl permit must make the appropriate fishery declaration, as specified at § 660.14(d)(5)(iv)(A). In addition, a vessel registered to a limit entry trawl permit must remove the permit from their vessel, as specified at § 660.25(b)(4)(vi), unless the vessel will be fishing in the open access fishery under one of the following declarations specified at § 660.13(d): * * * * * (2) Vessel registered to a limited entry fixed gear permit(s). To fish with open access gear, defined at § 660.11, subpart C, a vessel registered to a limit entry fixed gear permit must make the appropriate open access declaration, as specified at § 660.14(d)(5)(iv)(A). Vessels registered to a sablefishendorsed permit(s) fishing in the sablefish primary season (described at § 660.231, subpart E) may only fish with VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 the gear(s) endorsed on their sablefishendorsed permit(s) against those limits. (3) Vessel jointly registered to more than one limited entry permit. Vessels jointly registered (under the provisions at § 660.25(b)(4)(iv)(B)) may fish with open access gear (defined at § 660.11) if they meet the requirements of both paragraphs (h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) and (2) of this section. (iii) Fishing in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery for vessels that are jointly registered. (A) Fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program and limited entry fixed gear fishery with different trip limits. If a vessel fishes in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery during a cumulative limit period, they are subject to the most restrictive trip limits for non-IFQ species. (B) Fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery with different trip limits. If a vessel is jointly registered and one or more of the limited entry permits is sablefish endorsed, any sablefish landings made by a vessel declared into the limited entry fixed gear fishery after the start of the sablefish primary fishery count towards the tier limit(s), per regulations at § 660.232(a)(2), subpart E. Any sablefish landings made by a vessel declared into the Shorebased IFQ Program must be covered by quota pounds, per regulations at § 660.112(b), subpart D, and will not count towards the tier limit(s). ■ 9. In § 660.112: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (ii); ■ b. Remove paragraph (b)(1)(xii)(B); and ■ c. Redesignate paragraph (b)(1)(xii)(C) as (b)(1)(xii)(B). The revision reads as follows: § 660.112 Trawl fishery—prohibitions. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) Fail to comply with all recordkeeping and reporting requirements at § 660.13, subpart C; including failure to submit information, or submission of inaccurate or false information on any report required at § 660.13(d), subpart C, and § 660.113: (ii) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available any and all reports of groundfish landings, containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the regulation at § 660.13, subpart C, or § 660.113. * * * * * ■ 10. In § 660.113: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34963 a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(4)(ii)(A); ■ b. Remove paragraphs (b)(4)(ii)(B) and (C) and redesignate paragraphs (b)(4)(ii)(D) through (F) as (b)(4)(ii)(B) through (D); ■ c. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(4)(ii)(C)(5) introductory text and (b)(4)(ii)(C)(6); and ■ d.) Revise paragraphs (b)(4)(iii) and (b)(4)(v). The revisions read as follows: ■ § 660.113 Trawl fishery—recordkeeping and reporting. * * * * * (a) * * * (2) All records used in the preparation of records or reports specified in this section or corrections to these reports must be maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by NMFS. Records used in the preparation of required reports specified in this section or corrections to these reports that are required to be kept include, but are not limited to, any written, recorded, graphic, electronic, or digital materials as well as other information stored in or accessible through a computer or other information retrieval system; worksheets; weight slips; preliminary, interim, and final tally sheets; receipts; checks; ledgers; notebooks; diaries; spreadsheets; diagrams; graphs; charts; tapes; disks; or computer printouts. All relevant records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket reports or corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must be maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by NMFS. (b) * * * (4) * * * (ii) * * * (A) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the actual scale weight for each groundfish species as specified by requirements at § 660.15(c), and the vessel identification number. Use, and maintain in good working order, hardware, software, and internet access as specified at § 660.15(d). * * * * * (C) * * * (5) Prior to submittal, three copies of the printed, signed, electronic fish ticket must be produced by the IFQ first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: * * * * * E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34964 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules (6) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be submitted within 24 hours of the completion of the offload, as specified in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(B) of this section. * * * * * (iii) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is found, electronic fish ticket submissions must be revised by resubmitting the revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets are to be used for the submission of final data. Preliminary data, including estimates of fish weights or species composition, shall not be submitted on electronic fish tickets. * * * * * (v) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been granted. IFQ First receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver from the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on paper the same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 hours of the date received during the period that the waiver is in effect. Paper fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206– 526–6736 or by delivering it in person to 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115. The requirements for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are separate from, and in addition to existing state requirements for landing receipts or fish receiving tickets. * * * * * § 660.114 [Amended] 11. Amend § 660.114(b) by removing the words ‘‘§ 660.25(b)(4)(v)’’ wherever they appear and adding the words ‘‘§ 660.25(b)(4)(vi).’’ ■ 12. In § 660.211, add the definition of ‘‘sablefish landing’’ is in alphabetical order to read as follows: ■ § 660.211 Fixed gear fishery—definitions. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * Sablefish landing means a landing that includes any amount of sablefish harvested in the limited entry fixed gear fishery. * * * * * ■ 13. In § 660.212: ■ a. Revise paragraph (a)(2); ■ b. Add paragraphs (a)(3) through (6); ■ c. Revise paragraphs (b), and (d)(1) and (2). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.212 Fixed gear fishery—prohibitions. * * * * * (a) * * * (2) Take and retain, possess, or land more than a single cumulative limit of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 a particular species, per vessel, per applicable cumulative limit period, except for sablefish taken in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary season from a vessel authorized to fish in that season, as described at § 660.231 and except for IFQ species taken in the Shorebased IFQ Program from a vessel authorized under gear switching provisions as described at § 660.140(k). (3) Transport catch that includes any amount of sablefish away from the point of landing before that catch has been sorted and weighed by federal groundfish species or species group, and recorded for submission on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.213(e). (If fish will be transported to a different location for processing, all sorting and weighing to federal groundfish species groups must occur before transporting the catch away from the point of landing). (4) Mix catch from more than one sablefish landing prior to the catch being sorted and weighed for reporting on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.213(e). (5) Process, sell, or discard any groundfish received from a sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.213(e). (6) Upon commencing an offload of a sablefish landing at a landing site, fail to offload all groundfish on board the vessel at that landing site. (b) Recordkeeping and reporting. (1) Fail to comply with all recordkeeping and reporting requirements at § 660.13, subpart C; including failure to submit information, or submission of inaccurate or false information on any report required at § 660.13(d), subpart C, and § 660.213. (2) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available any and all reports of groundfish landings that include sablefish, containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the regulation at § 660.13, subpart C, or § 660.213. * * * * * (d) Sablefish fisheries. (1) Take and retain, possess or land sablefish under the tier limits provided for the limited entry, fixed gear sablefish primary season, described in § 660.231(b)(3), from a vessel that is not registered to a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement. (2) Take and retain, possess or land sablefish in the sablefish primary season, described at § 660.231(b), unless the owner of the limited entry permit registered for use with that vessel and authorizing the vessel to fish in the sablefish primary season is on board PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 that vessel. Exceptions to this prohibition are provided at § 660.231(b)(4)(i) and (ii). * * * * * ■ 14. In § 660.213, revise paragraph (d)(1) and add paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 660.213 Fixed gear fishery— recordkeeping and reporting. * * * * * (d) * * * (1) Any person landing groundfish must retain on board the vessel from which groundfish are landed, and provide to an authorized officer upon request, copies of any and all reports of groundfish landings containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the applicable state law throughout the cumulative limit period during which a landing occurred and for 15 days thereafter. All relevant records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket reports or corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must be maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by NMFS. * * * * * (e) Electronic fish ticket. The first receiver, as defined at § 660.11, subpart C, of a sablefish landing from a limited entry fixed gear vessel is responsible for compliance with all reporting requirements described in this paragraph. When used in this paragraph, submit means to transmit final electronic fish ticket information via web-based form or, if a waiver is granted, by paper form. When used in this paragraph, record means the action of documenting electronic fish ticket information in any written format. (1) Required information. All first receivers must provide the following types of information: Date of landing, vessel that made the landing, vessel identification number, limited entry permit number(s), name of the vessel operator, gear type used, receiver, actual weights of species landed listed by species or species group including species with no value, condition landed, number of salmon by species, number of Pacific halibut, ex-vessel value of the landing by species, fish caught inside/ outside 3 miles or both, and any other information deemed necessary by the Regional Administrator (or designee) as specified on the appropriate electronic fish ticket form. (2) Submissions. The first receiver must: (i) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the actual scale E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules weight for each groundfish species as specified by requirements at § 660.15(c), the vessel identification number, and the limited entry permit number. Use and maintain, for the purposes of submitting electronic fish tickets, equipment as specified at § 660.15(d). (ii) Submit a completed electronic fish ticket(s) for every landing that includes sablefish no later than 24 hours after the date of landing, unless a waiver of this requirement has been granted under provisions specified at paragraph (e)(4) of this section. (iii) Submit separate electronic fish tickets for sablefish landings in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery where the sablefish will be counted against more than one of the stacked permits, or against a tier limit(s) and the cumulative trip limit in the DTL fishery. For vessels with stacked limited entry sablefish permits, defined at § 660.12, a landing may be divided and reported on separate electronic fish tickets for the purposes of apportioning the sablefish landings amongst the remaining tier limits associated with each of the stacked permits. Per regulations at § 660.232(a)(2) a vessel may land the remainder of its tier limit(s) and also land against the applicable DTL limits in the same landing; in that instance multiple fish tickets must be used to apportion sablefish landed against the tier(s) from the sablefish landed against cumulative trip limits of the DTL fishery. If multiple electronic fish tickets are recorded and submitted for a single sablefish landing, each electronic fish ticket must meet the process and submittal requirements specified in paragraphs (e)(iv) and (v) of this section in addition to the following requirements: (A) The sum total of all groundfish, including sablefish, from the landing must be submitted via electronic fish ticket(s). (B) The limited entry fixed gear sablefish permit number unto which the portion of the sablefish landing will be attributed to must be recorded on each electronic fish ticket or dock ticket. Only one permit number may be recorded on a ticket. (C) The owner-on board, unless exempted under regulations at § 660.231(a)(4), must review and sign documentation of the landing, as described in (e)(2)(iv) and (v) of this section. (iv) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted prior to processing or transport, follow these process and submittal requirements: (A) After completing the landing, the electronic fish ticket information must be recorded immediately. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (B) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, the information recorded for the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the vessel operator who delivered the fish, and the port sampler if one is present. If required by regulations at § 660.231(a)(4), the owner-on-board must also review the information recorded on the electronic fish ticket prior to submittal. (C) After review, the receiver and the vessel operator must sign a printed hard copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket. If required by regulations at § 660.231(a)(4), the owner-on-board must also sign a printed copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket. (D) Prior to submittal, three copies of the signed electronic fish ticket must be produced by the receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (E) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be submitted within 24 hours after the date of landing, as specified in paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section. (v) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted after transport, follow these process and submittal requirements: (A) The vessel name, limited entry permit number, and the electronic fish ticket number must be recorded on each dock ticket related to that landing. (B) Upon completion of the dock ticket, but prior to transfer of the landing to another location, the dock ticket information that will be used to complete the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the vessel operator who delivered the fish. If the electronic fish ticket will report landings of sablefish in the sablefish primary fishery, the owneron-board, unless exempted under regulations at § 660.231(a)(4), must review the information recorded on the dock ticket prior to transfer of the landing to another location. (C) After review, the first receiver and the vessel operator must sign the original copy of each dock ticket related to that landing. If a dock ticket includes landings of sablefish in the sablefish primary fishery, the owner-on-board, unless exempted under regulations at § 660.231(a)(4), must sign the original copy of that dock ticket. (D) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, three copies of the signed dock ticket must be produced by the PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34965 first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (E) Based on the information contained in the signed dock ticket, the electronic fish ticket must be completed and submitted within 24 hours of the completion of the landing, as specified in paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section. (F) Three copies of the electronic fish ticket must be produced by the first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (3) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is found, electronic fish ticket submissions must be revised by resubmitting the revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets are to be used for the submission of final data. Preliminary data, including estimates of fish weights or species composition, shall not be submitted on electronic fish tickets. (4) Waivers for submission. On a caseby-case basis, a temporary written waiver of the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets may be granted by the Assistant Regional Administrator or designee if he/she determines that circumstances beyond the control of a receiver would result in inadequate data submissions using the electronic fish ticket system. The duration of the waiver will be determined on a case-bycase basis. (5) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been granted. Receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver from the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on paper the same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 hours of the date received during the period that the waiver is in effect. Paper fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206– 526–6736 or by delivering it in person to 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115. The requirements for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are separate from, and in addition to existing state requirements for landing receipts or fish receiving tickets. ■ 15. In § 660.231, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(4) introductory text to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34966 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules § 660.231 Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (a) Sablefish endorsement. In addition to requirements pertaining to fishing in the limited entry fixed gear fishery (described in subparts C and E), a vessel may not fish in the sablefish primary season for the limited entry fixed gear fishery, unless at least one limited entry permit with both a gear endorsement for longline or trap (or pot) gear and a sablefish endorsement is registered for use with that vessel. Permits with sablefish endorsements are assigned to one of three tiers, as described at § 660.25(b)(3)(iv), subpart C. (b) * * * (1) Season dates. North of 36° N. lat., the sablefish primary season for the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefishendorsed vessels begins at 12 noon local time on April 1 and closes at 12 noon local time on October 31, or closes for an individual vessel owner when the tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless otherwise announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine management measures process described at § 660.60(c). (2) Gear type. During the primary season, when fishing against primary season cumulative limits, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph (a) of this section may fish for sablefish with any of the gear types, except trawl gear, endorsed on at least one of the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel. (3) Cumulative limits. (i) A vessel fishing in the primary season will be constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with each of the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary season, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph (a) of this section may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up to the cumulative limits for each of the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel. If a vessel is stacking permits, that vessel may land up to the total of all cumulative limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for those permits, except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Up to 3 sablefish endorsed permits may be stacked for use with a single vessel during the primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess or land more than 3 primary season sablefish cumulative limits in any one year. Per regulations at § 660.12(a)(6), subpart C, all other groundfish landings are subject to per vessel trip limits. In 2015, the following annual limits are in effect: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Tier 1 at 41,175 (18,677 kg), Tier 2 at 18,716 lb (8,489 kg), and Tier 3 at 10,695 lb (4,851 kg). For 2016 and beyond, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 45,053 lb (20,436 kg), Tier 2 at 20,479 lb (9,289 kg), and Tier 3 at 11,702 lb (5,308 kg). (ii) If a sablefish endorsed permit is registered to more than one vessel during the primary season in a single year, the second vessel may only take the portion of the cumulative limit for that permit that has not been harvested by the first vessel to which the permit was registered. The combined primary season sablefish landings for all vessels registered to that permit may not exceed the cumulative limit for the tier associated with that permit. (iii) A cumulative trip limit is the maximum amount of sablefish that may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed per vessel in a specified period of time, with no limit on the number of landings or trips. (iv) Incidental Pacific halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.). From April 1 through October 31, vessels authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N. lat.) may possess and land up to the following cumulative limits: 110 lb (50 kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 110pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing. ‘‘Dressed’’ Pacific halibut in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on. Pacific halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis. (4) Owner-on-board requirement. Any person who owns or has ownership interest in a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement, as described at § 660.25(b)(3), subpart C, must be on board the vessel registered for use with that permit at any time that the vessel has sablefish on board the vessel that count toward that permit’s cumulative sablefish landing limit. This person must carry government issued photo identification while aboard the vessel. This person must review and sign a printed copy of the electronic fish ticket(s) or dock ticket, as described at § 660.213(d), unless this person qualified for the owner-on-board exemption. A permit owner is qualified PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 for the owner-on-board exemption and not obligated to be on board the vessel registered for use with the sablefishendorsed limited entry permit during the sablefish primary season if: * * * * * ■ 16. Section 660.232 is revised to read as follows: § 660.232 Limited entry daily trip limit (DTL) fishery for sablefish. (a) Limited entry DTL fisheries both north and south of 36° N. lat. (1) Before the start of the sablefish primary season, all sablefish landings made by a vessel declared into the limited entry fixed gear fishery and authorized by § 660.231(a) to fish in the sablefish primary season will be subject to the restrictions and limits of the limited entry DTL fishery for sablefish specified in this section and which is governed by routine management measures imposed under § 660.60(c), subpart C. (2) Following the start of the primary season, all sablefish landings made by a vessel declared into the limited entry fixed gear fishery and authorized by § 660.231(a) to fish in the primary season will count against the primary season cumulative limit(s) associated with the sablefish-endorsed permit(s) registered for use with that vessel. A vessel that is eligible to fish in the sablefish primary season may fish in the DTL fishery for sablefish once that vessels’ primary season sablefish limit(s) have been landed, or after the close of the primary season, whichever occurs earlier (as described at § 660.231(b)(1)). If the vessel continues to fish in the limited entry fixed gear fishery for any part of the remaining fishing year, any subsequent sablefish landings by that vessel will be subject to the restrictions and limits of the limited entry DTL fishery for sablefish. (3) Vessels registered for use with a limited entry fixed gear permit that does not have a sablefish endorsement may fish in the limited entry DTL fishery, consistent with regulations at § 660.230, for as long as that fishery is open during the fishing year, subject to routine management measures imposed under § 660.60(c), subpart C. DTL limits for the limited entry fishery north and south of 36° N. lat. are provided in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this subpart. (b) A vessel that is jointly registered, and has participated or will participate in both the limited entry fixed gear fishery and the Shorebased IFQ Program during the fishing year, is subject to crossover provisions described at § 660.60(h)(7), subpart C. ■ 17. In § 660.311, add the definition of ‘‘sablefish landing’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules § 660.311 Open access fishery— definitions. * * * * * Sablefish landing means a landing that includes any amount of sablefish harvested in the open access fishery. * * * * * ■ 18. In § 660.312: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3) through (6); ■ b. Redesignate paragraphs (b) and (c) as (c) and (d), respectively; and ■ c. Add a new paragraph (b). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.312 Open access fishery— prohibitions. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (a) * * * (3) Transport catch that includes any amount of sablefish away from the point of landing before that catch has been sorted and weighed by federal groundfish species or species group, and recorded for submission on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.313(f). (If fish will be transported to a different location for processing, all sorting and weighing to federal groundfish species groups must occur before transporting the catch away from the point of landing). (4) Mix catch from more than one sablefish landing prior to the catch being sorted and weighed for reporting on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.313(f). (5) Process, sell, or discard any groundfish received from a sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an electronic fish ticket under § 660.313(f). (6) Upon commencing an offload of a sablefish landing at a landing site, fail to offload all groundfish on board the vessel at that landing site. (b) Recordkeeping and reporting. (1) Fail to comply with all recordkeeping and reporting requirements at § 660.13, subpart C, including failure to submit information, or submission of inaccurate or false information on any report required at § 660.13(d), subpart C, and § 660.313. (2) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available any and all reports of groundfish landings that include sablefish, containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the regulation at § 660.13, subpart C, or § 660.313. * * * * * ■ 19. Section 660.313 is revised to read as follows: § 660.313 Open access fishery— recordkeeping and reporting. (a) General. General reporting requirements specified at § 660.13(a) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 through (c), subpart C, apply to the open access fishery. (b) Declaration reports for vessels using nontrawl gear. Declaration reporting requirements for open access vessels using nontrawl gear (all types of open access gear other than nongroundfish trawl gear) are specified at § 660.13(d), subpart C. (c) Declaration reports for vessels using non-groundfish trawl gear. Declaration reporting requirements for open access vessels using nongroundfish trawl gear are specified at § 660.13(d), subpart C. (d) VMS requirements for open access fishery vessels. VMS requirements for open access fishery vessels are specified at § 660.14, subpart C. (e) Retention of records. Any person landing groundfish must retain on board the vessel from which groundfish is landed, and provide to an authorized officer upon request, copies of any and all reports of groundfish landings containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the applicable state law throughout the cumulative limit period during which a landing occurred and for 15 days thereafter. All relevant records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket reports or corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must be maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by NMFS. (f) Electronic fish ticket. The first receiver, as defined at § 660.11, subpart C, of a sablefish landing from an open access vessel is responsible for compliance with all reporting requirements described in this paragraph. When used in this paragraph, submit means to transmit final electronic fish ticket information via web-based form or, if a waiver is granted, by paper form. When used in this paragraph, record means the action of documenting electronic fish ticket information in any written format. (1) Required information. All first receivers must provide the following types of information: Date of landing, vessel that made the landing, vessel identification number, name of the vessel operator, gear type used, receiver, actual weights of species landed listed by species or species group including species with no value, condition landed, number of salmon by species, number of Pacific halibut, ex-vessel value of the landing by species, fish caught inside/ outside 3 miles or both, and any other information deemed necessary by the Regional Administrator (or designee) as PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34967 specified on the appropriate electronic fish ticket form. (2) Submissions. The first receiver must: (i) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the actual scale weight for each groundfish species as specified by requirements at § 660.15(c) and the vessel identification number. Use and maintain, for the purposes of submitting electronic fish tickets, equipment as specified at § 660.15(d). (ii) Submit a completed electronic fish ticket for every landing that includes sablefish no later than 24 hours after the date of landing, unless a waiver of this requirement has been granted under provisions specified at paragraph (f)(4) of this section. (iii) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted prior to processing or transport, follow these process and submittal requirements: (A) After completing the landing, the electronic fish ticket information must be recorded immediately. (B) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, the information recorded for the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the vessel operator who delivered the fish, and the port sampler if one is present. (C) After review, the receiver and the vessel operator must sign a printed hard copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket. (D) Prior to submittal, three copies of the signed electronic fish ticket must be produced by the receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (E) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be submitted within 24 hours after the date of landing, as specified in paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section. (iv) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted after transport, follow these process and submittal requirements: (A) The vessel name and the electronic fish ticket number must be recorded on each dock ticket related to that landing. (C) Upon completion of the dock ticket, but prior to transfer of the offload to another location, the dock ticket information that will be used to complete the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the vessel operator who delivered the fish. (D) After review, the first receiver and the vessel operator must sign the original copy of each dock ticket related to that landing. (E) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, three copies of the signed E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34968 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS dock ticket must be produced by the first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (F) Based on the information contained in the signed dock ticket, the electronic fish ticket must be completed and submitted within 24 hours of the date of landing, as specified in paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section. (G) Three copies of the electronic fish ticket must be produced by the first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following: (1) The vessel operator; (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and (3) The first receiver. (3) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is found, electronic fish VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 ticket submissions must be revised by resubmitting the revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets are to be used for the submission of final data. Preliminary data, including estimates of fish weights or species composition, shall not be submitted on electronic fish tickets. (4) Waivers for submission. On a caseby-case basis, a temporary written waiver of the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets may be granted by the Assistant Regional Administrator or designee if he/she determines that circumstances beyond the control of a receiver would result in inadequate data submissions using the electronic fish ticket system. The duration of the waiver will be determined on a case-bycase basis. (5) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been granted. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver from the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on paper the same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 hours of the date of landing during the period that the waiver is in effect. Paper fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206– 526–6736 or by delivering it in person to 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115. The requirements for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are separate from, and in addition to existing state requirements for landing receipts or fish receiving tickets. [FR Doc. 2016–12848 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 105 (Wednesday, June 1, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34947-34968]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12848]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 140905757-6404-01]
RIN 0648-BE42


Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Management Plan; Commercial Sablefish Fishing Regulations and 
Electronic Fish Tickets

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

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would revise fishery monitoring and 
equipment requirements for all commercial groundfish fisheries, 
including a requirement for submitting electronic fish tickets in the 
limited entry fixed gear fisheries and open access fisheries. This 
proposed rule would revise administrative procedures for limited entry 
permits, providing greater flexibility and efficiencies for limited 
entry groundfish fishery participants. This proposed rule also would 
require vessels registered to Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to make 
an initial VMS declaration. This proposed rule also would make 
administrative changes and clarifying edits to improve consistency of 
the regulations with past Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
actions and with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP). This action is needed to improve monitoring and administration 
of the limited entry sablefish primary fishery and address unforeseen 
issues arising out of the evolution of commercial sablefish fisheries 
and subsequent regulations.

DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received by July 1, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0032, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the

[[Page 34948]]

Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0032, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West 
Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070; 
Attn: Gretchen Hanshew.
    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).
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to William W. Stelle Jr., Regional 
Administrator, West Coast Region NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., 
Seattle, WA 98115-0070 and to OMB by email to 
OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Electronic copies of the environmental assessment (EA) for this 
action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from West 
Coast Region's Groundfish Web site: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gretchen Hanshew, 206-526-6147, 
gretchen.hanshew@noaa.gov

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Purpose of Proposed Rule and Summary of Major Actions

Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to improve the timeliness and 
accuracy of sablefish catch reporting in the limited entry fixed gear 
fisheries and open access fisheries, to provide more flexibility and 
efficiencies for harvesters in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota 
(IFQ) Program and limited entry fixed gear fisheries, and to implement 
several administrative and clarifying changes to monitoring and 
permitting provisions of regulations for all of the limited entry and 
open access commercial groundfish fisheries on the West Coast.

Major Actions

    This proposed rule contains eight major actions, along with related 
minor clarifications and non-substantive changes. The first action is a 
new requirement for electronic fish tickets to be submitted for all 
commercial landings of sablefish delivered to Washington, Oregon and 
California fish buyers. The second action would provide qualified 
vessel owners an opportunity to apply for an exemption to the ownership 
limitation of three permits in the limited entry sablefish primary 
fishery. The third action would allow a single vessel to be 
simultaneously (jointly) registered to multiple limited entry permits, 
one of which may have a trawl gear endorsement. The fourth action 
prohibits vessels that have been granted an at-sea processing exemption 
for sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear fishery from processing 
sablefish at sea when that vessel is participating in the Shorebased 
IFQ Program. The fifth action would clarify that, consistent with FMP 
Amendment 6, sablefish catch in incidental open access fisheries is 
counted against the open access allocation, and is not deducted from 
the commercial harvest guideline. The sixth action would require any 
vessel that has a VMS registered with NMFS Office of Law Enforcement 
(OLE) to make a declaration with OLE. The seventh action would update 
and simplify equipment requirements for electronic fish tickets. The 
eighth action makes clear that prohibitions governing groundfish 
species taken in the limited entry fixed gear fishery should not 
prohibit taking more than the allowable quota, but rather, should 
prohibit taking and retaining. In addition, the action includes 
housekeeping changes that are intended to better align the regulations 
with defined terms, and to provide clarity and consistency between 
paragraphs.

Background

Authorities

    The groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off 
the west coast of the United States are managed under the FMP. The FMP 
was prepared by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act) as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 
(Pub. L. 108-199, section 801). Regulations implementing provisions of 
the FMP are located at 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G.

Commercial Sablefish Fisheries

    This proposed rule includes several actions that would revise 
regulations for commercial fisheries that harvest sablefish. Proposed 
regulatory changes would apply to the Shorebased IFQ Program, the 
limited entry fixed gear fishery, which includes the limited entry 
sablefish primary fishery and the daily trip limit (DTL) fishery, and 
the open access fishery.
    The Shorebased IFQ Program off the west coast operates from the 
northern border between the United States and Canada to Morro Bay, 
California. Each vessel that participates in this sector must have a 
federal limited entry groundfish permit with a trawl endorsement. 
Active management of the sector began in the early 1980's with the 
establishment of harvest guidelines and trip limits for several 
species, including sablefish. Sablefish is managed as an IFQ species in 
the Shorebased IFQ Program, and may be harvested by vessels registered 
to a trawl-endorsed limited entry permit. Vessels may fish their IFQ 
with trawl gear, or may fish with fixed gear under the program's gear 
switching provisions. Few changes to the Shorebased IFQ Program 
regulations are proposed through this rulemaking.
    A federal limited entry groundfish permit is also required to 
participate in the limited entry fixed gear fishery. All limited entry 
fixed gear permits have at least one gear endorsement for longline gear 
and/or pot/trap gear. Permits may have multiple gear endorsements. In 
addition, limited entry fixed gear permits may have an endorsement to 
fish sablefish in the sablefish primary fishery.
    Each sablefish-endorsed permit is associated with an annual share 
of the sablefish allocation to the limited entry fixed gear fishery. 
Sablefish-endorsed permits are assigned to Tier 1, 2, or 3. Each Tier 1 
permit receives 1.4 percent, each Tier 2 permit receives 0.64 percent 
and each Tier 3 permit receives 0.36 percent of the sablefish 
allocation. Each year, these shares are translated into cumulative 
limits (in pounds), or tier limits, which can be caught anytime during 
the sablefish primary season.
    Regulations allow for up to three sablefish-endorsed permits to be 
stacked on a single vessel. Permit stacking was implemented through FMP 
Amendment 14 in 2002 to increase the economic efficiency of the fleet 
and promote fleet capacity reduction. Stacking more than one sablefish-
endorsed permit on a vessel allows the vessel to land sablefish up to 
the sum of the associated tier limits. However, permit stacking does 
not increase cumulative limits for any

[[Page 34949]]

other species; cumulative limits for non-sablefish species apply on a 
per-vessel basis.
    Fishing in the sablefish primary season takes place over a seven-
month period from April 1 to October 31. Vessels may land their tier 
limits at any time during the seven-month season. However, once the 
primary season opens, all sablefish landed by a vessel fishing in the 
limited entry fixed gear fishery and registered to a sablefish-endorsed 
permit is counted toward attainment of its tier limit(s). Vessels 
registered to a sablefish-endorsed permit can fish in the limited entry 
fixed gear DTL fishery (e.g. under weekly and bi-monthly trip limits) 
from January 1 through March 31 and after the primary fishery. The 
sablefish primary fishery for a vessel closes once their tier limit(s) 
is caught or when the primary season closes October 31.
    Groundfish may be taken and retained by vessels that are not 
registered to limited entry permits. These vessels are considered to be 
fishing in the open access fishery. Some vessels fishing in the open 
access fishery may be targeting groundfish species (e.g. open access 
sablefish DTL fishery). Other vessels may be targeting other species 
and retaining incidentally caught groundfish. Because there is no 
federal license limitation program for the open access fishery, the 
total number of participants in the open access fishery varies widely 
from year to year. Open access vessels can use a variety of fixed 
gears, including hook-and-line or pot/trap gear, longline, fishing 
pole, and vertical longline. Vessels that participate in the open 
access fishery and use non-groundfish trawl (e.g. shrimp trawl) gear 
may also retain groundfish species in limited amounts.

Need for These Actions

    Since FMP Amendments 6 and 14, the Council has recommended and NMFS 
has implemented over a dozen rulemakings and several FMP amendments 
directly and indirectly affecting commercial fisheries that harvest 
sablefish. These actions often did not revise all federal groundfish 
regulations, but were sector or fishery specific, species specific, or 
related to setting harvest levels or routine management measures for 
ongoing fisheries. Changes to regulations, evolution of both state and 
federal recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and unforeseen 
complications for vessels that participate in other fisheries in 
addition to the groundfish fishery, created a need for a variety of 
comprehensive updates, changes, and clarifications to federal 
groundfish regulations. The proposed action implements several changes 
that the Council recommended at different times and for a variety of 
reasons. The proposed action also includes several regulatory changes 
that are consistent with past Council recommendations and that add 
clarity and consistency both within the regulations and between the 
regulations and the FMP.
1. Electronic Fish Ticket Requirement for Sablefish Landings

General

    NMFS is proposing a federal electronic fish ticket submittal 
requirement for all commercial groundfish landings that include 
sablefish. An electronic fish ticket is a web-based form used to send 
groundfish landing data to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries 
Commission (PSMFC). Electronic fish tickets are used to collect 
information similar to the information required in state fish receiving 
tickets or landing receipts (henceforth referred to as paper tickets), 
but do not replace or change any state requirements. This requirement 
would improve timeliness and accuracy of catch data for monitoring 
harvest relative to applicable tier limits in the limited entry fixed 
gear sablefish fishery and trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear 
and open access DTL fisheries.
    Once submitted, electronic fish tickets would immediately become 
part of a centralized database administered by the PSMFC, and landing 
data becomes available instantly to authorized users. Also, new 
electronic fish ticket requirements would include mandatory reporting 
of limited entry permit numbers for all limited entry fixed gear 
landings, allowing harvest of tier limits to be distinguishable on a 
per-permit basis. Depending on the state requirements, paper tickets 
may be mailed by fish dealers to the state agencies, transcribed into a 
database, reviewed and then submitted to the PSMFC for sector-specific 
catch summary reports. Limited entry permit numbers are not required to 
be reported on the paper tickets, so a variety of catch accounting 
business rules are followed. In some cases, it can take months for 
paper ticket harvest data to become available.
    Since the start of the Shorebased IFQ Program in 2011, electronic 
fish tickets have been required for landing IFQ species. Electronic 
fish tickets have allowed vessel owners/operators, buyers and dealers, 
and fishery managers timely access to catch information for IFQ 
species. Many of the amendments in this proposed rule expand the 
required use of electronic fish tickets to the limited entry fixed gear 
and open access fisheries and are similar to those currently in place 
for the Shorebased IFQ Program. Electronic fish ticket requirements for 
the Shorebased IFQ Program are described in detail in proposed rules 
(75 FR 32994, June 10, 2010; 75 FR 53380, August 31, 2010) and in final 
rules (75 FR 60868, October 1, 2010; 75 FR 78344, December 15, 2010) 
for that program.

New Requirements for Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries

    In September 2013, the Council initiated the sablefish permit 
stacking program review, which included consideration of improvements 
to catch accounting against the tier limits associated with limited 
entry fixed gear sablefish permits. At its June 2014 meeting, the 
Council recommended that limited entry fixed gear sablefish permit 
numbers be required on fish tickets in order to improve catch 
accounting against sablefish primary fishery tier limits. In addition, 
the Council also recommended that an electronic fish ticket be required 
by federal regulation for all commercial sablefish deliveries, 
including sablefish landings in both the limited entry fixed gear and 
open access fisheries. The purpose of these new requirements would be 
to improve the accuracy and timeliness of commercial groundfish 
landings data for all groundfish species, particularly sablefish. This 
proposed rule would require electronic fish tickets, with limited entry 
permit numbers recorded for limited entry fixed gear landings, to be 
submitted for groundfish deliveries that include any amount of 
sablefish. Per the Council's recommendation, the requirement to submit 
electronic fish tickets for sablefish landings would apply to first 
receivers of fish from limited entry fixed gear and open access 
vessels.
    As in the Shorebased IFQ Program, this proposed rule makes the 
first receiver the person responsible for submitting the electronic 
fish ticket for a groundfish landing that includes sablefish. A first 
receiver is the person who receives, purchases, or takes custody, 
control, or possession of catch onshore directly from a vessel. The 
Shorebased IFQ Program uses the term ``IFQ first receiver,'' and IFQ 
landings can only occur at IFQ first receivers that have been certified 
by NMFS with an IFQ first receiver site license. This proposed rule 
uses the more broadly defined term ``first receiver,'' referring to any 
person, fish buyer or dealer that is receiving, purchasing, taking 
custody, control, or possession of a groundfish

[[Page 34950]]

landing, and would not require first receivers to have a first receiver 
site license unless they also receive IFQ landings.
    The proposed rule would require first receivers to maintain 
hardware, software, and internet service such that electronic fish 
tickets can be submitted in a timely fashion via web-based forms. These 
equipment requirements for submitting groundfish electronic fish 
tickets are described in the preamble below, under the heading, ``7. 
Equipment Requirements for Electronic Fish Tickets.''
    The proposed rule uses terms that have specific meanings when used 
in other regulatory provisions governing electronic fish tickets. 
``Recorded'' refers to any form of documentation of information that 
will later be required for submittal of the electronic fish ticket. 
``Submitted'' refers to the act of sending the completed, final 
electronic fish ticket form via the web-based platform. When a ticket 
has been submitted, it cannot be withdrawn, but it can be revised, as 
needed. The proposed rule defines a ``sablefish landing'' as an offload 
that includes any amount of sablefish harvested in either the limited 
entry fixed gear or open access fishery.
    The proposed rule includes electronic fish ticket requirements in 
order to facilitate complete, accurate and timely reporting. The 
proposed rule would prohibit transporting any groundfish from a 
sablefish landing away from the point of landing before the information 
that is required on the electronic fish ticket is recorded, and would 
prohibit processing, selling, or discarding any groundfish received 
from a sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an 
electronic fish ticket. In addition, the electronic fish ticket must 
include a vessel identification number and a single limited entry 
permit number that the catch will be attributed to. Although the 
landing of sablefish is what would trigger the requirement to submit an 
electronic fish ticket, all groundfish landed, including sablefish and 
non-sablefish groundfish species, must be recorded on an electronic 
fish ticket.
    The proposed rule includes recordkeeping and reporting requirements 
for participants and first receivers in the limited entry fixed gear 
fishery (new language in 50 CFR 660.213) and in the open access fishery 
(new language in 50 CFR 660.313). The participants and first receivers 
must submit accurate information, must not submit false information, 
and must retain and make available any reporting records.
    Information reported on an electronic fish ticket as envisioned in 
this proposed rule would be similar to that recorded on state-mandated 
paper fish ticket. However, these new requirements for first receivers 
of sablefish caught in limited entry fixed gear and open access 
fisheries are not intended to supersede or change any state 
requirements relative to recording, submitting or retaining paper fish 
tickets. Similar to current requirements for IFQ first receivers, this 
proposed rule includes a requirement that first receivers record the 
limited entry permit number if the vessel is landing sablefish in the 
limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery or the limited entry 
fixed gear DTL fishery.
    With the new electronic fish tickets required in the proposed rule, 
vessel operators would have more timely and accurate landing 
information available to them by accessing electronic fish ticket data 
via their first receiver. First receivers would be able to view 
summaries of electronic fish ticket data that they have submitted for a 
vessel and provide those summaries to the vessel operator or other 
authorized personnel. Under this proposed rule, first receivers would 
be obligated, per proposed regulations at 50 CFR 660.213, to obtain the 
signature of the vessel operator or owner on board when recording and 
submitting electronic fish ticket information and they are required to 
make that information available per proposed regulations at 50 CFR 
660.212(d).
    First receivers would have the ability to provide the vessel 
operator (or other authorized personnel) a summary of sablefish 
landings to date either on a vessel-specific basis or on a limited 
entry permit-specific basis. This same information is available to 
users with confidentiality agreements on file with PSFMC (e.g. OLE and 
fishery managers). Confidential electronic fish ticket data would not 
be publically available.
    Discussion of additional, applicable requirements for information 
to be supplied in electronic fish tickets and confidentiality 
requirements for electronic fish ticket data is also included under the 
following heading, ``New Requirements for the Limited Entry Fixed Gear 
Sablefish Primary Fishery.''

New Requirements for the Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary 
Fishery

    A vessel may stack up to three limited entry fixed gear sablefish 
permits. Each permit has an associated annual sablefish quota, or tier 
limit that may be harvested during the limited entry fixed gear 
sablefish primary fishery, which lasts from April 1 through October 31, 
or when an individual vessel's tier limit(s) is (are) harvested.
    The Council recommended electronic fish tickets for non-IFQ 
fisheries, in part, to improve catch monitoring of sablefish landed and 
counted against tier limits, and to make this catch information 
available to vessel operators, law enforcement, and fishery managers. 
As previously explained, electronic fish tickets would require 
reporting the limited entry permit number that authorizes the sablefish 
landing. For vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery, the 
limited entry permit number of only one sablefish-endorsed permit would 
be reported per ticket, even if the vessel has multiple sablefish-
endorsed permits registered to it. Rather than relying solely on their 
own recordkeeping, or incomplete/delayed paper ticket summaries, as 
under current fish ticket systems, vessel operators would have 
immediate access to accurate, summarized landings data. This would 
improve confidence in the accuracy of annual landings estimates and 
ensure that vessel owners, first receivers, OLE, and fishery managers 
all have access to the same summarized harvest data. The electronic 
fish tickets would allow immediate availability of accurate summary 
data that can be organized to show total landings of sablefish to date 
against the annual tier limit(s) associated with that vessel. Timely 
and accurate data provided by electronic fish tickets would allow 
fishers to appropriately craft their fishing strategies, provide timely 
alerts that allow law enforcement officials to investigate potential 
tier limit overages, and give fishery managers the ability to track and 
react to the current catch of sablefish relative to annual fishery 
allocations. Thus, this proposed rule's provision requiring electronic 
fish tickets for the sablefish primary fishery would directly improve 
catch accounting against tier limits, and would make that information 
available to industry, enforcement and fishery managers in a timely 
manner.
    The Council discussed the possibility of using the vessel accounts 
system in place for the Shorebased IFQ Program as a model for creating 
accounts for vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery. However, 
the Council did not include a vessel or permit account system as part 
of its proposed action. Vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear 
sablefish primary fishery are only monitoring one species and two 
sources of quota ``currency:'' the annual tier limit associated with 
the limited entry sablefish permits registered to the

[[Page 34951]]

vessel, and debits against that tier limit from proposed electronic 
fish tickets. This monitoring is not as complex as what is required for 
the Shorebased IFQ Program. Based on this, vessels fishing in the 
limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery would not have 
vessel accounts as vessels fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program do. 
Instead, vessels would estimate their tier limit balances with 
information coming directly from the electronic fish ticket system, 
provided to them by first receivers. This process is anticipated to 
meet the catch accounting needs of industry, and to meet the monitoring 
and catch accounting needs of the Council, fishery managers, and 
enforcement.
    Current regulations and catch accounting procedures do not allow 
vessel operators to choose which sablefish permit's tier limit to which 
their catch is applied. Under the provisions of this proposed rule, 
electronic fish tickets would allow vessel operators to assign portions 
of their sablefish landing among the sablefish permits registered to 
their vessel, as desired. To achieve this, multiple electronic fish 
tickets would be submitted for a single sablefish landing. When a 
vessel registered to multiple sablefish endorsed permits makes a 
sablefish landing, all catch must be recorded and submitted on 
electronic fish tickets, as described above, under the heading, ``New 
Requirements for Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Fisheries.''
    In this proposed rule, a landing of sablefish caught in the limited 
entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery may be reported across 
multiple electronic fish tickets, with one of the limited entry 
sablefish permit numbers reported on each ticket. Following is an 
example of two available options in the case of a vessel, which is 
registered to two sablefish endorsed permits (Permits 1 and Permit 2) 
and which makes a sablefish landing of 4,500 pounds:

    Option A: The vessel operator may choose to attribute all of 
those pounds to Permit 1 by recording that permit number on one 
electronic fish ticket, resulting in a single electronic fish ticket 
counting 4,500 pounds towards the annual tier limit associated with 
Permit 1. Option B: The vessel operator may choose to apportion the 
sablefish landed between two permits, as long as the annual tier 
limits are not exceeded. Using two fish tickets, the first 
electronic fish ticket could record 3,000 pounds to Permit 1 and the 
3,000 pounds would count toward the annual tier limit associated 
with Permit 1, while the second electronic fish ticket could record 
1,500 pounds to Permit 2 and the 1,500 pounds would count towards 
the annual tier limit associated with Permit 2.

    Regardless of the number of electronic tickets submitted, the sum 
total of annual sablefish landings must not to exceed the annual tier 
limits associated with the limited entry permits registered to that 
vessel, as currently established in regulations. It would be a 
violation of the provisions of this proposed rule to submit an 
electronic fish ticket for a sablefish landing in the sablefish primary 
fishery without recording the sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit 
number.
    The improvements to catch monitoring associated with this proposed 
rule's electronic fish ticket requirement would allow the removal of 
the current 24-hour rule of separation of primary and DTL landings. 
(The regulatory text of this proposed rule removes this current 
requirement at 50 CFR 660.232(a)(3) and revises text for that section.) 
A vessel would be allowed to apportion a landing against the remainder 
of its tiers (thereby closing the sablefish primary fishery for that 
vessel, per 50 CFR 660.231(b)), and the rest of the sablefish landed 
may be submitted on a separate electronic fish ticket and would count 
against applicable limited entry fixed gear DTL trip limits. This 
allows vessels to count sablefish landed in excess of their tier limits 
as DTL landings. Thus, this proposed rule would alter the process for 
concluding a vessel's primary season and transitioning to the DTL 
fishery. This would allow vessels to harvest the entirety of their tier 
limits, but would not allow for a double-dipping effect, as the vessel 
would still be subject to the same sablefish DTL cumulative limits as 
they would have been under the 24-hour separation of primary and DTL 
landings. In addition, the proposed rule would also replace the current 
300-pound threshold, beyond which the Pacific Fisheries Information 
Network (PacFIN) considered any additional sablefish landed as counting 
against applicable DTL limits. That threshold effectively stranded up 
to 300 pounds of unharvested sablefish in the vessel's transition from 
primary to DTL sablefish fisheries.
    The proposed reporting requirements for electronic fish tickets 
would include a signature from the owner on board of either a printed 
copy of the electronic fish ticket or the dock tickets for any landing 
of sablefish in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, 
unless exempted from owner-on-board requirements (50 CFR 
660.231(b)(4)).
2. Exemption to Limited Entry Sablefish Permit Ownership Limitation
    Current regulations (50 CFR 660.25(b)(3)(iv)(C)) state that no 
individual person, partnership, or corporation in combination may have 
ownership interest in or hold more than three permits with sablefish 
endorsements either simultaneously or cumulatively over the primary 
season (hereby referred to as ``ownership limitation''). This ownership 
limitation was intended to prevent concentration of harvest privileges. 
However, this restriction has led to unforeseen complications because 
many persons, partnerships and corporations have harvest privileges in 
both the Alaska IFQ sablefish fishery and the Pacific coast sablefish 
fishery.
    The Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery regulations require that a 
sablefish quota owner must have at least part ownership in the vessel 
that will fish their quota. Some of these vessels also participate in 
the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery off the Pacific coast. 
In such situations, any sablefish permit registered to that vessel 
would count toward the three-permit ownership limitation of the person, 
corporation, or partnership with part ownership of the vessel.
    In September 2013, the Council initiated the sablefish permit 
stacking program review, which included consideration of the current 
three-permit ownership limitation (also referred to by the Council as 
an own/hold rule or own/hold control limit) and explored a regulatory 
amendment to provide relief to industry members who were limited 
because of participation in the Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery. At its 
June 2014 meeting, the Council recommended a process by which vessel 
owners who meet certain qualifying criteria may petition NMFS for a 
limited exemption to the ownership limitation.
    The Council recommended this exemption to allow owners of a vessel 
registered to limited entry fixed gear sablefish permits, who are also 
part-owners of a vessel fishing sablefish IFQ in Alaska, to seek an 
ownership limitation exemption. The exemption, if granted, would mean 
that limited entry sablefish permits registered to a vessel (in which 
they have an ownership interest) would not count toward their ownership 
limit of three permits.
    In this action, NMFS proposes new language at 50 CFR 
660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D) to provide for such a process for issuance of an 
exemption to the ownership limitation. The proposed language includes 
qualifying criteria, the application process, and a description of the 
circumstances under which the exemption would become null and void. The 
application process would include submission of a new form, which would 
be developed by NMFS and would

[[Page 34952]]

collect the ownership interest information needed to confirm that the 
vessel owner meets the exemption criteria. This form would collect 
vessel ownership interest information, broken down into percentages, 
and would be similar to the form used in the Shorebased IFQ Program. 
NMFS would use the information from the form submitted by the applicant 
to make an initial administrative determination (IAD) on the merits of 
the application. Applicants would follow the permit appeals process 
under existing regulations at 50 CFR 660.25(g) regarding appeal of the 
IAD, if needed.
    Following the suggestion of a June 2014 NMFS Report (Agenda Item 
F.6.b, NMFS Report 2; http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/F6b_NMFS_Rpt2_JUNE2014BB.pdf), the Council recommended that the 
qualifying criteria include a requirement that the vessel owner must 
own limited entry sablefish permit(s). However, upon further 
exploration, NMFS found that some of the potential beneficiaries of 
this ownership limitation exemption do not own limited entry sablefish 
permits, but accrue counts against the ownership limitation only by 
owning a vessel to which limited entry sablefish permits are registered 
(i.e. they are vessel owners, not permit owners). Under the qualifying 
criteria initially discussed by NMFS and the Council in June 2014, 
those individuals would not qualify for the ownership limitation 
exemption.
    Based on the overall context of the Council recommendations for an 
ownership limitation exemption, NMFS concludes that the Council meant 
for this exemption to apply to any vessel owner that has been 
negatively affected by ownership limitation provisions because of their 
interest in the Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery, even if a vessel owner 
did not have an ownership interest in a permit. Therefore, at Sec.  
660.25(b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) regarding qualifying criteria, this proposed 
rule does not include the phrase ``ownership interest in a sablefish-
endorsed limited entry permit.'' This proposed rule would allow a 
vessel owner who meets all other criteria, but does not own or have 
ownership interest in a sablefish-endorsed permit, to qualify for the 
ownership limitation exemption. NMFS is seeking public comment from 
affected industry on whether or not the final rule should include the 
phrase, ``ownership interest in a sablefish-endorsed limited entry 
permit,'' in the qualifying criteria language.
    NMFS is also seeking comment from the affected industry on whether 
to expand the qualifying criteria to include the Pacific halibut IFQ in 
Alaska. It is possible that, due to similar owner-on-board 
requirements, participation in the Pacific halibut IFQ fishery in 
Alaska may also prompt the need for a sablefish ownership limitation 
exemption.
    The proposed rule would allow the owner of a vessel registered to a 
sablefish endorsed limited entry permit (i.e. vessel owner) to apply 
for an exemption to the three-permit ownership limitation at any time. 
NMFS would issue an IAD within 60 days of receipt of a complete 
application. Under this proposed process, NMFS suggests that the 
application for an ownership limitation exemption be made by February 
1, so that an IAD may be reached before the start of the primary 
sablefish season on April 1. The reason for this is that the ownership 
limitation exemption would not waive the cumulative ownership 
limitation. This is because if a vessel owner were to start the primary 
sablefish season on April 1 at or above the three-permit limit, an 
exemption granted later in the season would not exempt the owner's 
prior history.
    The Council recommended that ``the exemption would remain in place 
so long as there are no changes to vessel ownership.'' In order to 
reduce the administrative burden for NMFS and vessel owners, the 
Council did not recommend an annual renewal of the exemption. Instead, 
the Council recommended that a change in vessel ownership would require 
action. However, NMFS notes that vessel ownership is only one of the 
components of the qualifying criteria that the Council recommended. 
Therefore, at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D)(3), the proposed rule states 
that once a vessel owner has been granted an exemption from the 
ownership limitation, that exemption would remain in place so long as 
the vessel owner that was granted the exemption continues to meet the 
qualifying criteria. Should the vessel owner's circumstances change 
such that they no longer meet the qualifying criteria, the exemption 
would automatically become null and void thirty days after the change 
in circumstances. Consistent with other exemptions issued by NMFS, if 
NMFS at any time finds the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying 
criteria, NMFS will notify the vessel owner that they are not compliant 
with the ownership limitation restriction. The vessel owner may re-
apply for an ownership limitation exemption at any time if they meet 
the qualifying criteria. NMFS is seeking public comment from affected 
industry regarding proposed regulations for invalidation of the 
exemption at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iv)(D)(3).
    The Council also recommended a limitation on the number of 
exemptions that may be issued to a vessel owner in order to maintain 
ownership limitations for individuals that own many vessels. As 
recommended by the Council, NMFS is proposing that the exemption would 
allow a vessel owner to seek an exemption for sablefish permits 
registered on up to two vessels.
3. Joint Registration
    Originally, the license limitation program (LLP), implemented 
through Amendment 6 to the FMP (see the EA under ADDRESSES for more 
information on the LLP), allowed vessels to register both a trawl and 
fixed gear (longline and fishpot) endorsed permit at the same time. 
Subsequently, regulations were modified and no longer allow vessels to 
register multiple limited entry permits unless the permits are 
sablefish-endorsed and stacked for use in the limited entry fixed gear 
sablefish primary fishery. This restriction was put in place to keep 
trawl and fixed gear fisheries temporally separated to meet enforcement 
and monitoring needs. In 2004, a vessel monitoring program was 
implemented that allowed vessels to identify which fishery they were 
participating in through a declaration system. As part of FMP Amendment 
20 trailing actions, in April 2012 the Council recommended that vessels 
registered to a limited entry trawl permit be allowed to simultaneously 
register to a limited entry fixed gear permit, also called ``joint 
registration.'' In this proposed rule, NMFS proposes to allow joint 
registration while clarifying how fishery-specific regulations would 
still apply to vessels that are jointly registered.
    Joint registration would allow vessels that are jointly registered 
to fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear 
fishery with simply a change in VMS declaration. Existing VMS and 
declaration systems meet monitoring and enforcement needs under the 
joint registration language of this proposed rule.
    Joint registration would be permitted in one of two configurations:
    (1) Configuration A: One trawl permit and one, two, or three 
sablefish endorsed permits.
    (2) Configuration B: One trawl permit and one limited entry fixed 
gear permit.
    Configuration A would continue to allow stacking of limited entry 
fixed gear sablefish permits, but would also allow a trawl endorsed 
permit to be jointly registered to the same vessel simultaneously. 
Under this

[[Page 34953]]

configuration, a vessel would be able to fish in the Shorebased IFQ 
Program, the limited entry fixed gear fishery, and the limited entry 
fixed gear sablefish primary fishery without having to transfer any of 
its limited entry permits. Configuration B would allow a single trawl 
permit and a single limited entry fixed gear permit to be jointly 
registered to the same vessel simultaneously. Under this configuration, 
a vessel would be able to fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the 
limited entry fixed gear fishery without having to transfer a limited 
entry permit. Under this proposed rule, registering permits to a single 
vessel, simultaneously in either one of the configurations shown above, 
would be considered ``joint registration.''
    Joint registration is separate and distinct from sablefish-endorsed 
permit stacking. A certain, specific set of regulations apply to the 
vessel that has stacked sablefish permits and is fishing in the 
sablefish primary fishery. In contrast, joint registration alone is not 
associated with a specific set of regulations or a single fishery. 
Joint registration would allow a vessel to switch between limited entry 
fishery sectors (e.g. IFQ and limited entry fixed gear) with a change 
in VMS declaration. Joint registration is not a fishery. The fishing 
regulations that would apply to the jointly registered vessel depends 
on which fishery that vessel declared into. This rulemaking proposes 
specific language pertaining to the permitting actions, rules and 
restrictions of joint registration at 50 CFR 660.25(b)(4)(iv).
    Some additional restrictions would apply if a vessel participates 
in multiple limited entry fisheries in the fishing year. These 
situations and the applicable restrictions would be described in 
crossover provisions at Sec.  660.60(h)(7). For example, if a vessel 
participates in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry 
fixed gear fishery during a two-month cumulative limit period, then the 
smallest trip limit for non-IFQ species applies. Jointly registered 
vessels that want to fish in the open access fishery would have to 
comply with crossover provisions that apply to both trawl permits and 
limited entry fixed gear permits.
    At the November 2011 Council meeting the Enforcement Consultants 
(EC) discussed the increased importance of the declarations system, and 
the EC strongly encouraged industry leaders to impress upon their 
membership the importance of maintaining a proper declaration that 
accurately reflects their fishing activity. Accuracy in the declaration 
process is both required by law and vital to the analysis of fishing 
effort by resource managers. Implementation of joint registration makes 
a small change to the VMS declaration requirements at Sec.  
660.13(d)(5)(ii). Current VMS declaration regulations only require a 
new declaration report when a vessel would use a different gear type 
than the gear most recently declared. However, since a jointly 
registered vessel may use non-trawl gear to fish in both the Shorebased 
IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery, clarifying 
regulations are added to require a new declaration if the vessel will 
fish in a fishery other than the fishery most recently declared. This 
edit is intended to explicitly require declarations be made when a 
jointly registered vessel switches between the Shorebased IFQ Program 
and the limited entry fixed gear fishery, regardless of the gear type 
used when participating in that fishery. While the current list of 
vessel declarations are generally gear- and fishery-specific, this new 
requirement at Sec.  660.13(d)(6)(ii) makes it clear that a change in 
declaration must be filed to legally switch between fisheries. Joint 
registration would not preclude declaring more than one gear type, if 
allowed under current regulations at Sec.  660.13(d)(6)(iv).
    This proposed rule clarifies the definition for ``base permit'' at 
Sec.  660.11 such that the use of a base permit only applies for 
sablefish endorsed permits. This does not change how the base permit 
concept has been applied to vessels registered to multiple limited 
entry sablefish permits. When a trawl endorsed permit and one or more 
sablefish endorsed permits are jointly registered, trawl endorsed 
permits must meet the current vessel length endorsement requirements at 
Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iii)(B). The concept of a base permit only applies 
to stacked sablefish endorsed permits.
    Cumulative limits (e.g. daily, weekly, bi-monthly limits, etc.) 
continue to apply to the vessel, regardless of the number of permits 
registered to that vessel. Registering a vessel to more than one 
limited entry permit under joint registration does not entitle the 
vessel to more than one cumulative limit. Joint registration would not 
allow a vessel to register multiple limited entry fixed gear permits 
(not sablefish endorsed) along with the trawl endorsed permit.
    Registering a vessel to a limited entry permit with a specific 
endorsement often triggers certain requirements in the groundfish 
regulations. Joint registration is not intended to change fishing 
operations of groundfish fisheries or change requirements that are 
applicable to vessels because of the type of the endorsement(s) on the 
limited entry permit to which they are registered, unless otherwise 
described above.
4. Restrictions on At-Sea Processing of Sablefish
    Processing of groundfish at-sea is prohibited for vessels fishing 
in the Shorebased IFQ Program or limited entry fixed gear fishery, 
unless exempted from that prohibition. One such exemption applies to 
certain vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish 
primary fishery. Those exempted vessels may freeze sablefish at-sea 
during the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.
    When trawl rationalization was implemented in 2011, the Council 
recommended that at-sea processing of groundfish in the Shorebased IFQ 
Program be prohibited, with limited exemptions. Regulations at Sec.  
660.112 (b)(1)(xii) prohibited at-sea processing of groundfish, and 
also listed the exemptions that had been granted to date, including the 
exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing in the sablefish 
primary fishery. As written, those regulations grant vessels with an 
exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing in the sablefish 
primary fishery an exemption from the at-sea processing prohibition 
when fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, NMFS interpreted 
regulations at Sec.  660.25(b)(6)(i) to only allow the sablefish at-sea 
processing exemption when the vessel is registered to a sablefish-
endorsed limited entry permit.
    Under current regulations, a vessel may not register a trawl-
endorsed permit and a sablefish endorsed permit at the same time, so 
they cannot take advantage of the exemption at Sec.  
660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B). Therefore, the exemption at Sec.  
660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B) cannot currently be used by vessels participating 
in the Shorebased IFQ Program; qualifying vessels that may freeze 
sablefish at-sea in the sablefish primary fishery are not allowed to 
freeze sablefish at-sea when fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program. 
However, under this rule's proposed joint registration language, a 
vessel would be able to register to a trawl endorsed and a sablefish 
endorsed limited entry permit simultaneously. If the exemption at Sec.  
660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B) is not removed, joint registration could allow 
vessels with an exemption from the at-sea processing prohibition for 
the sablefish primary fishery to also process sablefish at sea in the 
Shorebased IFQ Program.
    At its April 2012 meeting, the Council recommended prohibiting the 
freezing

[[Page 34954]]

of sablefish at-sea when caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program, 
regardless of whether the vessel has an exemption for the limited entry 
fixed gear fishery. The Council recommends this change to regulations 
to prevent the single vessel that holds a sablefish at-sea processing 
exemption to process sablefish at-sea in the Shorebased IFQ Program, a 
fishery in which it had no prior history. NMFS is therefore proposing 
to remove the exemption to the prohibition of at-sea processing (at 
Sec.  660.112(b)(1)(xii)(B)) that extended the limited entry fixed gear 
exemption in Sec.  660.25(b)(6)(i) to vessels fishing sablefish in the 
Shorebased IFQ Program. Also, in light of joint registration, a 
clarifying sentence would be added to Sec.  660.25(b)(6)(i), stating 
that the at-sea processing exemption only applies to at-sea processing 
of sablefish caught in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary 
fishery.
    During development of these proposed regulations, NMFS noted that a 
similar situation as the one described above may occur when a vessel 
exempted from at-sea processing prohibitions of non-whiting groundfish 
in the Shorebased IFQ Program could utilize that exemption when fishing 
in non-IFQ fisheries. NMFS interprets the regulations to mean that the 
vessel must be registered to a limited entry trawl permit to qualify 
for this exemption. With joint registration, it may need to be 
clarified that the exemption only applies to processing non-whiting 
groundfish caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS is seeking public 
comment on whether a clarifying sentence could be added to Sec.  
660.25(b)(6)(ii), stating that the at-sea processing exemption 
described there only applies to at-sea processing of non-whiting 
groundfish caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program.
5. Sablefish Allocations North of 36[deg] N. lat.
    The allocation structure for sablefish north of 36[deg] N. lat. was 
established in FMP Amendment 6. In April 2009, the Council recommended 
final preferred intersector allocations for groundfish species under 
Amendment 21. The Council and NMFS recommended that no change be made 
to the Amendment 6 allocation structure for sablefish. However, FMP 
Amendment 21 and its implementing regulations slightly changed the 
process for allocating sablefish north of 36[deg] N. lat. (75 FR 60868, 
October 1, 2010). In this action, NMFS is proposing regulations to 
align sablefish north of 36[deg] N. lat. allocations with the Amendment 
6 allocation structure, as recommended by the Council in 2009.
    Under FMP Amendment 6, harvest in the incidental open access 
fishery was deducted from the open access allocation after the limited 
entry/open access allocation occurred. Amendment 21 changed that 
process and deducts sablefish for the incidental open access fishery 
before the limited entry/open access allocation is made, similar to how 
the tribal fishery and scientific research deductions were made for 
other species. While this is consistent with how other groundfish 
species were treated under Amendment 21, it was inconsistent with 
Amendment 6 and the Council's intent. As clarified by the Council with 
Amendment 21-1, it was not the Council's intent to have Amendment 21 
supersede the Amendment 6 allocation structure for sablefish north of 
36[deg] N. lat. In 2014, the Council revised figure 6-1 of the FMP to 
make it consistent with Amendment 6 and the Council's intent.
    However, at that time, regulations at Sec.  660.55(h) were 
mistakenly left unrevised. In this action, NMFS proposes revising the 
text description of the sablefish north of 36[deg] N. lat. allocation 
structure to reflect the Council's intent to maintain the Amendment 6 
allocation structure and to bring the regulations at Sec.  660.55(h) 
into consistency with the FMP. Proposed regulatory changes at Sec.  
660.55(h)(2) would deduct the metric tonnage for scientific research 
and recreational fisheries before the limited entry/open access split, 
but would no longer deduct the metric tonnage for the incidental open 
access fisheries during this step. Proposed regulations would deduct 
the metric tonnage for incidental open access fisheries from the open 
access allocation after the limited entry/open access split.
6. VMS Declarations for Vessels Registered to a VMS Unit
    In 2004, the Council and NMFS implemented a vessel monitoring 
program. Since 2004, all commercial fishing vessels that take and 
retain groundfish in federal water, or transit through federal water 
with groundfish on board are required to have a working VMS. The VMS, 
along with a system of fishing declaration reporting requirements, 
allows for monitoring and enforcement of areas closed to fishing. With 
this program, NMFS type-approved hardware and software, or ``units,'' 
were installed on vessels in order to meet these new program 
requirements for the groundfish fishery. A variety of units were 
available for purchase, and vessel owners/operators could seek 
reimbursement for the cost of the units. When a VMS unit is installed 
on a vessel, it is registered with NMFS OLE and catalogued. There are a 
number of VMS units that have registered with OLE but have never made a 
fishing declaration, as required by regulations at Sec.  660.13(d).
    At its June 2013 meeting, based on advice from their EC, the 
Council recommended that a declaration report be required for all 
vessels registered to a VMS unit, and that a declaration of ``other'' 
may be appropriate if the activity they will be doing is not fishing 
(e.g. serving as a chartered vessel conducting scientific research). 
Therefore, in this action, NMFS is proposing regulation changes at 
Sec.  660.13(d) that would require all vessels registered to a VMS unit 
to submit a declaration report. Obtaining a declaration report from 
these vessels will give OLE the information necessary to monitor the 
activities of these vessels relative to the applicable regulations.
    Proposed regulations require any vessel operator upon registration 
of a VMS unit with NMFS OLE to make a declaration report regardless of 
fishing activity. This requirement would also apply to vessels that 
have already registered a VMS unit with NMFS OLE, but have not made a 
declaration report. OLE may contact a vessel operator and request that 
a declaration report be made. In such a circumstance, the proposed 
regulations would obligate the vessel operator to make a declaration 
report.
    Also, consistent with the Council's June 2013 recommendations, NMFS 
proposes revising the declaration of ``other gear'' at Sec.  
660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A)(24) to ``other'' to encompass a vessel's on the 
water activities that may not be fishing (e.g. scientific research 
activities). Vessels registered to a VMS unit would be required to make 
a declaration, regardless of fishing activities. Under proposed 
regulations, NMFS anticipates they may make a declaration of ``other'' 
if they are not fishing.
    NMFS also proposes that OLE will default a vessel's declaration to 
``other'' if they are unable to contact the vessel operator with whom 
the VMS unit is associated. As required by current regulations, the 
vessel operator must update the declaration when they meet the 
requirements to do so.
7. Equipment Requirements for Electronic Fish Tickets
    Under current regulations at Sec.  660.15(d), submission of 
electronic fish tickets must be done on personal computers with 
software that meets

[[Page 34955]]

specific NMFS requirements. The data is entered into the computer 
system. Then the information is transmitted in batches to PSMFC. The 
only step in the process that requires an internet connection is when 
data sets are transmitted to PSMFC.
    A new interface has been developed that uses the internet for both 
entry and submission of electronic fish ticket data. The new, web-based 
interface no longer requires the person submitting the electronic fish 
ticket to do so from a computer equipped with specific, NMFS-approved 
software. Instead, the only requirement for the web-based interface 
would be a hardware device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) with a 
web browser or other software (e.g. application) and an internet 
connection.
    Consistent with the Council's June 2014 recommendations to expand 
the required use of electronic fish tickets to the limited entry fixed 
gear and open access fisheries, NMFS is proposing updates to equipment 
requirements pertaining to electronic fish tickets.
    Current electronic fish ticket users (e.g. IFQ first receivers) are 
already using this web-based interface, and those first receivers 
affected by the new requirements would be using the web-based 
interface. The changes proposed to regulations at Sec.  660.15(d) would 
reflect the move to a web-based electronic fish ticket for all first 
receivers, those that are receiving IFQ landings and those that would 
be receiving sablefish landings in limited entry fixed gear and open 
access fisheries under proposed electronic fish ticket regulations. 
Note that an internet connection would now be necessary for all steps 
in submission of an electronic fish ticket, from creating the new 
ticket through submission. To reflect these changes, the definition of 
``electronic fish ticket'' at Sec.  660.11 would also be revised to 
reflect the web-based form that would be used to send electronic fish 
ticket information to the PSMFC.
8. Prohibitions Regarding ``Take and Retain''
    When the Council and NMFS implemented Amendment 14 to the 
groundfish FMP, which established the sablefish primary fishery, 
regulations needed to clarify that vessels were still only allowed a 
single cumulative limit of sablefish when fishing outside of the 
primary sablefish season (66 FR 30869, June 8, 2001). Regulations were 
promulgated that prohibited taking more than a single cumulative trip 
limit. NMFS is proposing replacing ``taking, retaining'' with ``taking 
and retaining,'' consistent with the Council's recommendations under 
Amendment 14.
    There is a difference between ``taking'' fish and ``taking and 
retaining'' fish during fishing activities. ``Take'' is defined in MSA 
regulations at Sec.  600.10 as any activity that results in killing 
fish or bringing live fish on board. ``Retain'' is also defined at 
Sec.  600.10 and means to fail to return fish to the sea after a 
reasonable opportunity to sort the catch. In commercial groundfish 
fisheries, ``trip limits'' (defined at Sec.  660.11) are used to 
specify the maximum amount of a fish species or species group that may 
legally be taken and retained, possessed, or landed (per vessel, per 
time period, etc.).
    Amendment 14 promulgated regulations that prohibited vessels from 
taking more than a single trip limit in the limited entry fixed gear 
DTL fishery (at Sec.  660.323, which was later redesignated as Sec.  
660.212). The preamble to Amendment 14 explained that adding this 
prohibition was intended to make it clear that, even though the DTL 
fishery and the primary fishery could both occur during the same time 
period (e.g. April 1 through October 31), vessels in the DTL fishery 
would be restricted by applicable trip limits.
    Current regulations at Sec. Sec.  660.12 and 660.212 prohibit any 
vessel from taking more than a single cumulative trip limit, unless 
they are fishing in the sablefish primary fishery. The exception is 
consistent with regulations at Sec.  660.231 that describe how, when a 
vessel is fishing on stacked sablefish endorsed permits, it can take 
more than one cumulative limit of sablefish because they are fishing on 
more than one tier limit. However, the prohibition, as written, needs 
to be revised. Vessels in commercial groundfish fisheries, except the 
sablefish primary fishery, should not be prohibited from ``taking'' 
more than a single cumulative trip limit. For those fisheries, a 
prohibition on ``taking and retaining'' more than a single cumulative 
trip limit is more appropriate, and ``take, retain'' is replaced with 
``take and retain.''
    This change is appropriate for three reasons. First, in a mixed 
stock fishery, it is impracticable to eliminate ``take'' of a single 
species or species group while still allowing access to species or 
species groups that can sustain higher harvest levels. Second, a 
prohibition of ``take and retain'' is more enforceable. When boarding a 
vessel, enforcement agents will not always be able to measure the total 
amount of fish taken, as some could have been discarded. However, it is 
possible to quantify the number of fish on board the vessel in order to 
evaluate if more fish than the applicable trip limit have been ``taken 
and retained.'' Third, it was not the intent of FMP Amendment 14, or 
any subsequent promulgation of ``take, retain,'' prohibitions, to 
prohibit ``taking'' more than a single trip limit of a groundfish 
species or species group.
    It is for these reasons that groundfish trip limits apply when a 
species or species group is ``taken and retained.'' To better align 
prohibitions for enforcing trip limits with the definition of ``trip 
limit,'' to improve enforceability of trip limit prohibitions, and to 
bring consistency to regulations that apply to commercial groundfish 
fisheries, prohibitions at Sec. Sec.  660.12(a)(6), 660.212(a)(2), and 
660.212(d)(1) and (2) are proposed to be revised from ``take, retain'' 
to ``take and retain.''
9. Related Minor Clarifications and Non-Substantive Changes
    There are several legacy regulations that describe methodologies 
used for decisions and exemptions regarding limited entry permit 
endorsements (at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)) and at-sea processing exemptions 
(at Sec.  660.25(b)(6)) that have expired. Therefore, NMFS is proposing 
to remove them. Paragraph Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iv)(B) describes a one-
time process for the issuance of sablefish endorsements and tier 
assignments. That process concluded in 1998. Proposed revisions to 
paragraphs Sec.  660.25(b)(6)(i) and (ii) introductory text would make 
it clear that the at-sea processing exemptions described there were 
extended to industry on a one-time basis and can no longer be sought. 
The sablefish at-sea processing exemption could not be issued after 
2006 and the non-whiting groundfish at-sea processing exemptions could 
not be issued after 2012. In addition to these revisions described 
above, additional expired regulations at Sec.  660.25(b)(6)(ii)(A) 
through (C) would be removed because they no longer describe current 
regulatory activities and are not relevant to ongoing administrative or 
fishing practices.
    Regulations at Sec.  660.55(f) describe catch accounting 
methodologies for groundfish species. Paragraph Sec.  660.55(f)(1) 
describes how catch accounting is done for species with trawl/nontrawl 
allocations. One of the cross-references in Sec.  660.55(f) refers to 
catch accounting in limited entry and open access fisheries, or 
nontrawl fisheries. The cross-reference refers to Sec.  660.55(f)(2), 
however that paragraph describes catch accounting procedures for 
Pacific whiting. The cross-reference should refer to Sec.  
660.55(f)(1)(ii), where catch accounting for nontrawl fisheries

[[Page 34956]]

is described. Therefore, this rule proposes to revise the cross 
reference at Sec.  660.55(f) from ``Sec.  660.55(f)(2)'' to ``Sec.  
660.55(f)(1)(ii).''
    In this action, edits are made to regulations at Sec.  
660.60(h)(7)(i) and (ii)(A) to clarify that trip limit crossover 
provisions do not apply to IFQ species for vessels declared into the 
Shorebased IFQ Program. Those species are managed with IFQ, and 
therefore trip limit crossover provisions in these paragraphs do not 
apply.
    To improve consistency, this action would also make clarifying 
edits to regulations at Sec.  660.60(h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) and (2) to replace 
the word ``participate'' with the defined term ``fish'' and to remove 
redundant text by changing ``. . . in the open access fishery, 
described at part 660, subpart F, with open access gear . . .'' to ``. 
. . with open access gear . . .'' Open access gear, as defined at Sec.  
660.11, can only be used in the open access fishery. It is redundant to 
refer to both the open access fishery and open access gear.
    The trawl fishery prohibitions at Sec.  660.112(a)(3)(i) make it 
illegal to intentionally submit false information. By definition, a 
false statement is an untrue statement knowingly made with the intent 
to mislead, therefore the term ``intentionally'' in the existing 
prohibition is unnecessary. This proposed rule revises the prohibition 
by deleting the word ``intentionally.'' This language is intended to 
work coincident with regulations that require submission of final and 
accurate information on electronic fish tickets, and with electronic 
fish ticket regulations that require errors to data, when found, to be 
corrected via a revision to the electronic fish ticket.
    Regulations for revising electronic fish ticket submissions, at 
Sec.  660.113(b)(4)(iii), would be modified to clarify that the only 
way to fix an error in an electronic fish ticket submission is to 
resubmit a revised electronic fish ticket. In other words, if an error 
is found in an electronic fish ticket submission, it cannot be remedied 
by submitting any other record besides an electronic fish ticket. 
Proposed regulations at Sec.  660.113(b)(4)(iii) change ``may be 
revised'' via electronic fish ticket to ``must be revised'' via 
electronic fish ticket.
    A clarifying edit is made in paragraph Sec.  660.113 (a)(2) to use 
the defined term ``date of landing'' consistently throughout the 
recordkeeping and reporting regulations.
    Current regulations at Sec.  660.231 apply to vessels participating 
in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. However, 
many of the regulations that apply to limited entry fixed gear fishing 
also apply to vessels fishing in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish 
primary fishery. In this action, clarifying edits would be made to 
paragraph Sec.  660.231(a) to make this clear. Section 660.231 provides 
additional details regarding management and prosecution of the limited 
entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, and is intended to be taken 
in the larger context of regulations that apply to limited entry fixed 
gear fisheries (limited entry fixed gear fisheries during and outside 
of the sablefish primary season).
    Throughout these proposed revisions to regulations, cross-
references would be updated to maintain accuracy given the proposed, 
substantive changes described in the sections above. Additionally, 
references to the NMFS ``Northwest'' Region would be changed to NMFS 
``West Coast'' Region to reflect an organizational change that occurred 
in October 2013. References to ``halibut'' would be revised to refer to 
``Pacific halibut'' to distinguish it from California halibut. Minor, 
non-substantive edits would also be made to remove duplicative text or 
change typographic or grammatical errors.
    All of the proposed changes to regulations described in this 
section are not intended to change the meaning of existing regulations, 
but rather are intended to reduce duplication, simplify, correct cross-
references and make other minor, related changes to bring consistency 
within groundfish regulations.

Classification

    NMFS has made a preliminary determination that the proposed action 
is consistent with groundfish FMP, the MSA, and other applicable law. 
There are no relevant federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with this action. In making its final determination, NMFS will 
take into account the complete record, including the data, views, and 
comments received during the comment period. An environmental 
assessment (EA) was prepared for this action. The EA includes socio-
economic information that was used to prepare the Regulatory Impact 
Review (RIR) and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). The EA 
is available for public comment (See ADDRESSES) and is available on 
line at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/nepa/groundfish/groundfish_nepa_documents.html.
    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this 
proposed rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq., 
requires government agencies to assess the effects that regulatory 
alternatives would have on small entities, including small businesses, 
and to determine ways to minimize those effects. When an agency 
proposes regulations, the RFA requires the agency to prepare and make 
available for public comment an IRFA, unless the agency can certify 
that the proposed action would not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities. The IRFA describes the 
impact on small businesses, non-profit enterprises, local governments, 
and other small entities, and is intended to aid the agency in 
considering all reasonable regulatory alternatives that would minimize 
the economic impact on affected small entities. After the public 
comment period, the agency prepares a Final Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (FRFA) that takes into consideration any new information or 
public comments. A summary of the IRFA for this action is provided 
below. The reasons why action by the agency is being considered, the 
objectives and legal basis for this rule are described in previous 
sections of the preamble, and the reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements are described in the next section.
    Following are descriptions of small entities, as defined by the RFA 
and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    Small businesses. SBA has established guidelines on size criteria 
for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish 
harvesting and fish processing businesses. A business involved in fish 
harvesting is a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated and not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates) and if it has combined annual receipts, not in excess of 
$20.5 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide (See 79 FR 
33647, effective July 14, 2014). For marinas and charter/party boats, a 
small business now defined as one with annual receipts, not in excess 
of $7.5 million. For related fish processing businesses, a small 
business is one that employs 750 or fewer persons.
    Small organizations. The RFA defines small organizations as any 
nonprofit enterprise that is independently owned and operated and is 
not dominant in its field.
    An estimated 99 entities are potentially impacted by this rule, 
including 77 receivers and up to 22 vessels/permit-holding entities. 
All of these entities are considered small

[[Page 34957]]

according to the SBA guidelines stated above. This rule is not 
anticipated to have a substantial or significant economic impact on 
small entities, or to place small entities at a disadvantage to large 
entities. Nonetheless, NMFS has prepared an IRFA (available as part of 
the EA described above), which is summarized below. Through the 
rulemaking process associated with this action, we are requesting 
comments on this conclusion.
    Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions 
on Electronic Fish Tickets. An estimated 77 first receivers across the 
primary and DTL fisheries will be impacted by the electronic fish 
ticket requirement. These 77 first receivers account for approximately 
34 percent of sablefish landings in these fisheries. An additional 23 
sablefish first receivers are also IFQ first receivers and already use 
electronic fish tickets to record shorebased IFQ landings. The 77 first 
receivers across the primary and DTL fisheries who do not already use 
electronic fish tickets would be most affected by the action 
alternatives. Without having employment information for these 
businesses, NMFS is considering all 77 first receivers to be small 
entities under the SBA guidelines described above.
    Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions 
on Ownership Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control Limit). This provision 
is likely to benefit a few individuals who own multiple vessels that 
operate in both the West Coast sablefish primary fishery and the Alaska 
sablefish IFQ fishery, and were grandfathered into the Alaska IFQ 
program. As relatively few businesses meet the SBA criteria for small 
enterprises, this provision of the proposed rule is not expected to 
impact a substantial number of small entities. At most, the 13 vessels 
that hold permits to fish in both the Alaska IFQ program and the West 
Coast sablefish primary fishery would qualify for the exemption.
    Description of Small Entities Affected by Proposed Rule Provisions 
on Joint Registration. Since 2011, a total of 20 vessels have been 
registered to both trawl and fixed gear permits in a single year. Of 
these, 16 vessels would qualify as a small business under the SBA 
criteria described above. The permits associated with large entities 
were participating in a temporary research program. These 16 vessels 
are likely to benefit from the flexibility offered by joint 
registration. In 2015, the last year with complete data, nine vessels 
registered to both trawl and fixed gear permits within the year, and 
all of these reported being small businesses. These nine vessels are 
the most likely to realize immediate benefits from the updated rule.
    Alternatives for Electronic Fish Tickets. NMFS considered four 
alternatives, including No Action, for electronic fish tickets. The No 
Action alternative (Alternative 1) would maintain current reporting 
state fish ticket reporting systems. Each of Alternatives 2 through 4 
would implement a federal requirement that first receivers of non-trawl 
commercial sablefish landings to U.S. West Coast ports record landings 
on an electronic fish ticket. The action alternatives differ from each 
other only in the fleets that they address. Alternative 2 would affect 
participants in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery 
only. Alternative 3 would expand upon Alternative 2 to add participants 
in the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery. Lastly, Alternative 4 
would expand upon Alternative 3 to add participants in the open access 
DTL sablefish fishery. All alternative actions except for Alternative 1 
(No Action) will result in some expenses as a result of new reporting 
requirements. NMFS assumed that all of the affected small businesses 
already have access to a technically suitable computer to submit the 
electronic fish tickets. However, if a business did not currently own a 
computer, it would incur additional costs for the initial investment in 
a computer and for a small monthly fee for an Internet connection. This 
requirement will likely result in increased administrative expenses 
with a longer submission time in those instances where first receivers 
must submit both State and Federal fish tickets. First receivers in the 
trawl program reported an hourly wage of $33.68 for non-production 
employees in 2012 (Economic Data Collection Program First Receiver and 
Shorebased Processor Report, 2009-2012). Assuming non-IFQ receivers pay 
a similar wage to non-production employees, and using the burden-hour 
estimate included in the Paperwork Reduction Act section below, 
Alternative 2 is estimated to result in an additional annual expense of 
about $2,500 for all processors combined, Alternative 3 would cost 
$10,000 in total, and Alternative 4 (preferred alternative) would cost 
the sector $20,000 or about an additional $4 per fish ticket.
    Alternatives for Ownership Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control 
Limit). NMFS considered three alternatives, including No Action 
(Alternative 1), with regards to ownership limitation changes. 
Alternatives 2a and 2b would result in a permit only being counted 
against the ownership limitation if a certain percentage of the vessel 
registered to that permit was owned. The two sub-alternatives vary by 
percentage of ownership: 20 percent and 30 percent for Alternatives 2a 
and 2b, respectively. Alternative 3 would result in permits counting as 
they do under No Action unless an exemption was applied for and granted 
by NMFS. There may be an opportunity for larger operations that were 
constrained by the three-permit limit to consolidate more harvest 
privileges by either acquiring Pacific coast limited entry fixed gear 
permits or by hiring out to west coast and Alaska participants to 
harvest Alaska IFQ. The degree of the current constraint, and 
consequently the opportunity provided by the alternative actions, is 
modest for the fleet as a whole, but this benefit may be important to 
some individuals.
    Alternatives for Joint Registration. NMFS considered three 
alternatives, including No Action (Alternative 1), relative to joint 
registration. Alternative 2 would allow a single trawl permit and up to 
three limited entry fixed gear permits to be registered to a vessel 
simultaneously. Alternative 3 would allow the same permit registration 
options as Alternative 2, but would have additional requirements 
relative to declarations and at-sea processing. In 2014, the last year 
for which economic data are available, the average net revenue per day 
was $4,815 for the eight vessels fishing with fixed gear in the trawl 
fishery that were also registered to a fixed-gear endorsed permit that 
year. The average net revenue per day in the fixed gear-endorsed 
fishery was $4,686 (per data provided by the Economic Data Collection 
Program on March 23, 2016). Vessels had lower variable costs per day 
while participating in the fixed gear fishery compared with the trawl 
fishery.
    Vessels that either own or lease both fixed gear and trawl permits 
may realize increased operational efficiency with joint registration, 
particularly with respect to the 100% observer coverage required when 
fishing under the trawl permit. Participants have indicated that they 
would take advantage of the alternative fishing opportunities afforded 
by this provision when scheduling trips on occasions that observers are 
unavailable for fishing under their trawl permit. If an observer wasn't 
available or had to cancel, the vessel could choose the alternative of 
declaring into the fixed gear endorsed fishery, and would not need to 
forgo the trip. Joint registration would additionally provide a minor

[[Page 34958]]

administrative convenience to the vessels that own or have multi-year 
leased permits. These operators, who currently must complete and submit 
multiple transfer forms throughout the year (typically three), would no 
longer be required to submit any paperwork related to permit transfers.
    Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Electronic 
Fish Tickets. While discussing the options for electronic fish tickets, 
the Council considered a sub-option for each of the action alternatives 
(Alternatives 2 through 4). Under the sub-option, sablefish deliveries 
would be recorded on state paper fish tickets, rather than on federal 
electronic fish tickets. NMFS would implement a federal requirement 
that sablefish landings, and the federal groundfish permit number 
associated with the landings, be recorded on state paper fish tickets. 
Although this sub-option would cause the least disruption to the 
existing landings process, adding new requirements to the state paper 
fish ticket system would fail to address the purpose and need for this 
action. This slight alteration in the process would not improve the 
timeliness of catch accounting or enforcement capabilities in the 
fishery.
    Adding new requirements to the state paper fish ticket system would 
also cause several logistical challenges in managing the sablefish 
fishery: (1) Sablefish landings data would not be uploaded into the 
Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) database at a faster 
than current rate, (2) there would continue to be a lag time of several 
months between when the landings occur and when the data are available, 
and (3) further augmenting paper fish ticket recording requirements 
would be disruptive to state data collection and management practices. 
Therefore, this sub-option has been considered, but rejected from 
further analysis.
    In addition, the action alternatives originally included language 
regarding how the catch data recorded on the electronic tickets would 
be used, specifically stating, ``That tier permits be loaded into the 
IFQ Vessel Account System with deductions made as appropriate when a 
tier delivery is made and recorded on the E Fish Ticket.'' The Council 
determined that this language was overly restrictive, and that it was 
premature to discuss implementations issues such as the details of how 
the data would be processed and made available to end users. Therefore, 
the use of this language in the action alternatives has been 
considered, but rejected from further analysis.
    Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Ownership 
Limitation (i.e. Own/Hold Control Limit). The Council also discussed 
other action alternatives to address issues regarding the own/hold 
control rule. The first action alternative that was considered but 
rejected would have maintained a three permit limit for the own/hold 
control rule. However, control would be calculated on percentage 
ownership of permits and vessels. Total ownership (including for first 
and second generation owners) would be limited to a total of 300 
percent. The intent of this action alternative would have been to limit 
the total ownership to three permits, which is the same as the No 
Action alternative.
    The Council also considered increasing the own/hold control limit 
to six permits. Any percentage ownership would have counted as one 
permit. The Council also looked at leaving the own/hold control limit 
at three, but capping the number of tier permits an entity may register 
to a vessel at three permits, and capping the number of limited entry 
fixed gear tier vessels an entity can own at three. These changes would 
have effectively increased the maximum own/hold control limit to 12 
permits, because an entity could own three permits and have partial or 
total ownership of three vessels, each of which are registered to three 
different permits owned by others. Finally, the Council considered an 
action alternative that would leave the own/hold control limit at three 
permits, but with the calculation based only on ownership of permits. 
Holding or leasing a permit or ownership in the vessel would not have 
counted toward the three permit limit. A person could have owned three 
permits and held any number of additional permits by registering the 
vessel(s) they own to permits owned or leased by other persons.
    The Council considered but rejected these action alternatives for 
the own/hold control rule from further analysis, because the Council 
found that these alternatives were administratively burdensome to 
implement and track. The Council found that some of these alternatives 
weakened the own/hold control limit beyond what was needed to address 
the purpose and need. If implemented, these alternatives could 
undermine the purpose of having own/hold control limits in place, 
namely to maintain the owner operator nature of the fleet.
    Rejected Sub-Options for Alternatives 2 through 4 for Joint 
Registration. Another alternative that was considered to address the 
issues with joint registration was to increase the number of transfers 
allowed per year. Currently, vessels are only allowed to transfer 
permits once per year. This alternative would increase a vessel's 
flexibility to move between the LE trawl and fixed gear fishery, and it 
would also allow more flexibility for vessels to move between the LE 
and OA fisheries, reducing the wall between these sectors. However, 
such a provision would increase administrative costs and provide less 
flexibility for the fleet than offered by the other action 
alternatives, because the cap on the number of transfers allowed per 
year would remain in place. Therefore, this alternative was considered 
but rejected from further analysis.
    Impacts to Small Businesses from Actions 4-9. Except for electronic 
fish tickets, own/hold control limit and joint registration, the 
actions described above in sections 4-9 of this proposed rule are 
largely administrative and, if adopted, would not impact any of the 
small entities identified as potentially being affected by the first 
three major actions in this proposed rule. Changes associated with 
actions 4-9 would make small modifications and clarifications to 
existing requirements, maintain existing requirements in light of 
changes related to joint registration, and simplify equipment 
requirements. Thus, these measures would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of the small entities described 
in this document.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA). This requirement has been submitted to OMB for under the 
following control numbers:
OMB Control Number 0648-XXX. Electronic Fish Tickets
    Public reporting burden is estimated to average 10 minutes per 
response (landing) for first receivers in Washington and California, 
and two minutes per response (landing) for first receivers in Oregon. 
The total annual burden estimate for all first receivers in Washington 
is 87 hours, in California is 543 hours, and in Oregon is 36 hours. 
Public reporting burden includes the time for reviewing instructions, 
accessing the web-based platform, gathering the data needed, and 
completing and reviewing the collection of information.

[[Page 34959]]

OMB Control Number 0648-XXX. Ownership Limitation Exemption
    Public reporting burden for this collection of information is 
estimated to average 45 minutes per response, including the time for 
reviewing the instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering 
and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information.
    Public comment is sought regarding whether this proposed collection 
of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions 
of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the 
quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and 
ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including 
through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of 
the collection of information to West Coast Region at the ADDRESSES 
above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-
7285.
    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.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries.

    Dated: May 25, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 
16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  660.11:
0
a. Revise the definitions for ``Base permit'' and ``Electronic fish 
ticket'';
0
b. Add in alphabetical order the definition for ``Joint registration'';
0
c. Remove the definition for ``Stacking''; and
0
b. Add in alphabetical order the definition for ``Stacking or stacked''
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.11  General definitions.

* * * * *
    Base permit means a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit 
described at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(i), subpart C, registered for use with 
a vessel that meets the permit length endorsement requirements 
appropriate to that vessel, as described at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iii), 
subpart C.
* * * * *
    Electronic fish ticket means a web-based form that is used to send 
landing data to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. 
Electronic fish tickets are used to collect information similar to the 
information required in state fish receiving tickets or landing 
receipts, but do not replace or change any state requirements.
* * * * *
    Joint registration or jointly registered means simultaneously 
registering both trawl-endorsed and longline or trap/pot-endorsed 
limited entry permits for use with a single vessel in one of the 
configurations described at Sec.  660.25(b)(4)(iv).
* * * * *
    Stacking or stacked means registering more than one sablefish-
endorsed limited entry permit for use with a single vessel (See Sec.  
660.25(b)(4)(iii), subpart C).
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  660.12, revise paragraph (a)(6) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.12  General groundfish prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (6) Take and retain, possess, or land more than a single cumulative 
limit of a particular species, per vessel, per applicable cumulative 
limit period, except for sablefish taken in the primary limited entry, 
fixed gear sablefish season from a vessel authorized to fish in that 
season, as described at Sec.  660.231, subpart E.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  660.13, revise paragraph (d) introductory text, and 
paragraphs (d)(5)(ii) and (iii), and (d)(5)(iv)(A)(24) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.13  Recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (d) Declaration reporting requirements--When the operator of a 
vessel registers a VMS unit with NMFS OLE, the vessel operator must 
provide NMFS with a declaration report as specified at paragraph 
(d)(5)(iv) of this section. The operator of any vessel that has already 
registered a VMS unit with NMFS OLE but has not yet made a declaration, 
as specified at paragraph (d)(5)(iv) of this section, must provide NMFS 
with a declaration report upon request from NMFS OLE.
    (5) * * *
    (ii) A declaration report will be valid until another declaration 
report revising the existing gear or fishery declaration is received by 
NMFS OLE. The vessel operator must send a new declaration report before 
leaving port on a trip that meets one of the following criteria:
    (A) A gear type that is different from the gear type most recently 
declared for the vessel will be used, or
    (B) A vessel will fish in a fishery other than the fishery most 
recently declared.
    (iii) During the period of time that a vessel has a valid 
declaration report on file with NMFS OLE, it cannot fish with a gear 
other than a gear type declared by the vessel or fish in a fishery 
other than the fishery most recently declared.
    (iv) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (24) Other, or
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  660.15, revise paragraphs (a) and (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.15  Equipment requirements.

    (a) Applicability. This section contains the equipment and 
operational requirements for scales used to weigh catch at sea, scales 
used to weigh catch at IFQ first receivers, hardware and software for 
electronic fish tickets, and computer hardware for electronic logbook 
software. Unless otherwise specified by regulation, the operator or 
manager must retain, for 3 years, a copy of all records described in 
this section and make the records available upon request to NMFS staff 
or an authorized officer.
* * * * *
    (d) Electronic fish tickets. First receivers are required to meet 
the hardware and software requirements below.
    (1) Hardware and software requirements. A personal computer system, 
tablet, mobile device, or other device that has software (e.g. web 
browser) capable of submitting information over the Internet, such that 
submission to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission can be 
executed effectively.
    (2) Internet access. The first receiver is responsible for 
maintaining Internet access sufficient to access the web-based 
interface and submit completed electronic fish ticket forms.
    (3) Maintenance. The first receiver is responsible for ensuring 
that all hardware and software required under this subsection are fully 
operational and functional whenever they receive,

[[Page 34960]]

purchase, or take custody, control, or possession of groundfish species 
for which an electronic fish ticket is required. ``Functional'' means 
that the software requirements and minimum hardware requirements 
described at paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section are met and 
submission to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission can be 
executed effectively by the equipment.
    (4) Improving data quality. Vessel owners and operators, first 
receivers, or shoreside processor owners, or managers may contact NMFS 
to request assistance in improving data quality and resolving issues. 
Requests may be submitted to: Attn: Electronic Fish Ticket Monitoring, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, Sustainable 
Fisheries Division, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115.
0
6. In Sec.  660.25:
0
a. Revise paragraph (b)(1)(v);
0
b. Remove paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B);
0
c. Redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C) as (b)(3)(iv)(B);
0
d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(3)(iv)(B)(3) and (4);
0
e. Add a new paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C);
0
f. Revise paragraphs (b)(3)(v), (b)(4) introductory text, (b)(4)(i)(D), 
and (b)(4)(iii);
0
g. Redesignate paragraphs (b)(4)(iv) through (b)(4)(ix) as (b)(4)(v) 
through (b)(4)(x);
0
h. Add a new paragraph (b)(4)(iv);
0
i. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(4)(v)(A) and (B), 
(b)(4)(vi)(A) and (B), and (b)(4)(vii)(A); and
0
j. Revise paragraph (b)(6).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.25  Permits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) Initial administrative determination (IAD). SFD will make a 
determination regarding permit endorsements, renewal, replacement, 
change in permit ownership and change in vessel registration. SFD will 
notify the permit owner in writing with an explanation of any 
determination to deny a permit endorsement, renewal, replacement, 
change in permit ownership or change in vessel registration. The SFD 
will decline to act on an application for permit endorsement, renewal, 
replacement, or change in registration of a limited entry permit if the 
permit is subject to sanction provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 
16 U.S.C. 1858(a) and implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 904, 
subpart D, apply.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (3) A partnership or corporation will lose the exemptions provided 
in paragraphs (b)(3)(iv)(B)(1) and (2) of this section on the effective 
date of any change in the corporation or partnership from that which 
existed on November 1, 2000. A ``change'' in the partnership or 
corporation is defined at Sec.  660.11. A change in the partnership or 
corporation must be reported to SFD within 15 calendar days of the 
addition of a new shareholder or partner.
    (4) Any partnership or corporation with any ownership interest in a 
limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement or in the vessel 
registered to the permit shall document the extent of that ownership 
interest with NMFS via the Identification of Ownership Interest Form 
sent to the permit owner through the annual permit renewal process and 
whenever a change in permit owner, vessel owner, and/or vessel 
registration occurs as described at paragraph (b)(4)(v) and (vi) of 
this section. NMFS will not renew a sablefish-endorsed limited entry 
permit through the annual renewal process described at paragraph 
(b)(4)(i) of this section, or approve a change in permit owner, vessel 
owner, and/or vessel registration unless the Identification of 
Ownership Interest Form has been completed. Further, if NMFS discovers 
through review of the Identification of Ownership Interest Form that an 
individual person, partnership, or corporation owns or holds more than 
3 permits and is not authorized to do so under paragraph 
(b)(3)(iv)(B)(2) of this section, the individual person, partnership or 
corporation will be notified and the permits owned or held by that 
individual person, partnership, or corporation will be void and 
reissued with the vessel status as ``unidentified'' until the permit 
owner owns and/or holds a quantity of permits appropriate to the 
restrictions and requirements described in paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(2) 
of this section. If NMFS discovers through review of the Identification 
of Ownership Interest Form that a partnership or corporation has had a 
change in membership since November 1, 2000, as described in paragraph 
(b)(3)(iv)(B)(3) of this section, the partnership or corporation will 
be notified, NMFS will void any existing permits, and reissue any 
permits owned and/or held by that partnership or corporation in 
``unidentified'' status with respect to vessel registration until the 
partnership or corporation is able to register ownership of those 
permits to persons authorized under this section to own sablefish-
endorsed limited entry permits.
* * * * *
    (C) Ownership limitation exemption. As described in (b)(3)(iv)(B) 
of this section, no individual person, partnership, or corporation in 
combination may own and/or hold more than three sablefish-endorsed 
permits. A vessel owner that meets the qualifying criteria described in 
paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this section may request an exemption 
from the ownership limitation.
    (1) Qualifying criteria. The three qualifying criteria for an 
ownership limitation exemption are: the vessel owner currently has no 
more than 20 percent ownership interest in a vessel registered to the 
sablefish endorsed permit, the vessel owner currently has ownership 
interest in Alaska sablefish individual fishing quota, and the vessel 
has fished in the past 12-month period in both the West Coast 
groundfish limited entry fixed gear fishery and the Sablefish IFQ 
Program in Alaska. The best evidence of a vessel owner having met these 
qualifying criteria will be state fish tickets or landings receipts 
from the West Coast states and Alaska. The qualifying vessel owner may 
seek an ownership limitation exemption for sablefish endorsed permits 
registered to no more than two vessels.
    (2) Application and issuance process for an ownership limitation 
exemption. The SFD will make the qualifying criteria and application 
instructions available online at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/index.html. A vessel owner who believes that they 
may qualify for the ownership limitation exemption must submit evidence 
with their application showing how their vessel has met the qualifying 
criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this section. The 
vessel owner must also submit a Sablefish Permit Ownership Limitation 
Exemption Identification of Ownership Interest form that includes 
disclosure of percentage of ownership in the vessel and disclosure of 
individual shareholders in any entity. Paragraph (i) of this section 
sets out the relevant evidentiary standards and burden of proof. 
Applications may be submitted at any time to NMFS at: NMFS West Coast 
Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, ATTN: Fisheries Permit Office--
Sablefish Ownership Limitation Exemption, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., 
Seattle, WA 98115. After receipt of a complete application, the SFD 
will issue an IAD in writing to the applicant determining whether the 
applicant

[[Page 34961]]

qualifies for the exemption. If an applicant chooses to file an appeal 
of the IAD, the applicant must follow the appeals process outlined at 
paragraph (g) of this section and, for the timing of the appeals, at 
paragraph (g)(4)(ii) of this section.
    (3) Exemption status. If at any time a change occurs relative to 
the qualifying criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1), the 
vessel owner to whom the ownership limitation exemption applies must 
notify NMFS within 30 calendar days. If such changes mean the vessel 
owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria, the ownership limitation 
exemption becomes automatically null and void 30 calendar days after 
the date the vessel owner no longer meets the qualifying criteria. At 
any time, NMFS may request that the vessel owner submit a new exemption 
application. If NMFS at any time finds the vessel owner no longer meets 
the qualifying criteria described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(C)(1) of this 
section NMFS will issue an IAD, which may be appealed, as described at 
paragraph (g) of this section.
    (v) MS/CV endorsement. An MS/CV endorsement on a trawl limited 
entry permit conveys a conditional privilege that allows a vessel 
registered to it to fish in either the coop or non-coop fishery in the 
MS Coop Program described at Sec.  660.150, subpart D. The provisions 
for the MS/CV-endorsed limited entry permit, including eligibility, 
renewal, change of permit ownership, vessel registration, combinations, 
accumulation limits, fees, and appeals are described at Sec.  660.150. 
Each MS/CV endorsement has an associated catch history assignment (CHA) 
that is permanently linked as originally issued by NMFS and which 
cannot be divided or registered separately to another limited entry 
trawl permit. Regulations detailing this process and MS/CV-endorsed 
permit combinations are outlined in Sec.  660.150(g)(2), subpart D.
* * * * *
    (4) Limited entry permit actions--renewal, combination, stacking, 
joint registration, change of permit owner or vessel owner, and change 
in vessel registration--
    (i) * * *
    (D) Limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements, as described 
at paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section, will not be renewed until SFD 
has received complete documentation of permit ownership as required 
under paragraph (b)(3)(iv)(B)(4) of this section.
* * * * *
    (iii) Stacking limited entry permits. ``Stacking'' limited entry 
permits, as defined at Sec.  660.11, refers to the practice of 
registering more than one sablefish-endorsed permit for use with a 
single vessel. Only limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements 
may be stacked. Up to 3 limited entry permits with sablefish 
endorsements may be registered for use with a single vessel during the 
primary sablefish season described at Sec.  660.231, subpart E. 
Privileges, responsibilities, and restrictions associated with stacking 
permits to fish in the sablefish primary fishery are described at Sec.  
660.231, subpart E and at paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section.
    (iv) Joint registration of limited entry permits--(A) General. 
``Joint registration'' of limited entry permits, as defined at Sec.  
660.11, is the practice of simultaneously registering both trawl-
endorsed and longline or trap/pot-endorsed limited entry permits for 
use with a single vessel.
    (B) Restrictions. Subject to vessel size endorsements in paragraph 
(b)(3)(iii), any limited entry permit with a trawl endorsement and any 
limited entry permit with a longline or trap/pot endorsement may be 
jointly registered for use with a single vessel but only in one of the 
following configurations:
    (1) a single trawl-endorsed limited entry permit and one, two or 
three sablefish-endorsed fixed gear (longline and/or fishpot endorsed) 
limited entry permits; or
    (2) a single trawl-endorsed limited entry permit and one longline-
endorsed limited entry permit for use with a single vessel.
    (v) * * *
    (A) General. Change in permit owner and/or vessel owner 
applications must be submitted to NMFS with the appropriate 
documentation described at paragraphs (b)(4)(viii) and (ix) of this 
section. The permit owner may convey the limited entry permit to a 
different person. The new permit owner will not be authorized to use 
the permit until the change in permit owner has been registered with 
and approved by NMFS. NMFS will not approve a change in permit owner 
for a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement that does not 
meet the ownership requirements for such permit described at paragraph 
(b)(3)(iv)(B) of this section. NMFS will not approve a change in permit 
owner for a limited entry permit with an MS/CV endorsement or an MS 
permit that does not meet the ownership requirements for such permit 
described at Sec.  660.150(g)(3), and Sec.  660.150(f)(3), 
respectively. NMFS considers the following as a change in permit owner 
that would require registering with and approval by NMFS, including but 
not limited to: Selling the permit to another individual or entity; 
adding an individual or entity to the legal name on the permit; or 
removing an individual or entity from the legal name on the permit. A 
change in vessel owner includes any changes to the name(s) of any or 
all vessel owners, as registered with USCG or a state. The new owner(s) 
of a vessel registered to a limited entry permit must report any change 
in vessel ownership to NMFS within 30 calendar days after such change 
has been registered with the USCG or a state licensing agency.
    (B) Effective date. The change in permit ownership or change in the 
vessel holding the permit will be effective on the day the change is 
approved by NMFS, unless there is a concurrent change in the vessel 
registered to the permit. Requirements for changing the vessel 
registered to the permit are described at paragraph (b)(4)(vi) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (vi) * * *
    (A) General. A permit may not be used with any vessel other than 
the vessel registered to that permit. For purposes of this section, a 
permit change in vessel registration occurs when, through SFD, a permit 
owner registers a limited entry permit for use with a new vessel. 
Permit change in vessel registration applications must be submitted to 
SFD with the appropriate documentation described at paragraph 
(b)(4)(viii) of this section. Upon receipt of a complete application, 
and following review and approval of the application, the SFD will 
reissue the permit registered to the new vessel. Applications to change 
vessel registration on limited entry permits with sablefish 
endorsements will not be approved until SFD has received complete 
documentation of permit ownership as described at paragraph 
(b)(3)(iv)(B)(4) and as required under paragraph (b)(4)(viii) of this 
section. Applications to change vessel registration on limited entry 
permits with trawl endorsements or MS permits will not be approved 
until SFD has received complete EDC forms as required under Sec.  
660.114, subpart D.
    (B) Application. Change in vessel registration applications must be 
submitted to NMFS with the appropriate documentation described at 
paragraphs (b)(4)(viii) and (ix) of this section. At a minimum, a 
permit owner seeking to change vessel registration of a limited entry 
permit shall submit to NMFS a signed application form and

[[Page 34962]]

his/her current limited entry permit before the first day of the 
cumulative limit period in which they wish to fish. If a permit owner 
provides a signed application and current limited entry permit after 
the first day of a cumulative limit period, the permit will not be 
effective until the succeeding cumulative limit period. NMFS will not 
approve a change in vessel registration until it receives a complete 
application, the existing permit, a current copy of the USCG 1270, and 
other required documentation.
* * * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (A) General. A permit owner may designate the vessel registration 
for a permit as ``unidentified,'' meaning that no vessel has been 
identified as registered for use with that permit. No vessel is 
authorized to use a permit with the vessel registration designated as 
``unidentified.'' A vessel owner who removes a permit from his vessel 
and registers that permit as ``unidentified'' is not exempt from VMS 
requirements at Sec.  660.14, unless specifically authorized by that 
section. When a permit owner requests that the permit's vessel 
registration be designated as ``unidentified,'' the transaction is not 
considered a change in vessel registration for purposes of this 
section. Any subsequent request by a permit owner to change from the 
``unidentified'' status of the permit in order to register the permit 
with a specific vessel will be considered a change in vessel 
registration and subject to the restriction on frequency and timing of 
changes in vessel registration.
* * * * *
    (6) At-sea processing exemptions--(i) Sablefish at-sea processing 
exemption. No new applications for sablefish at-sea processing 
exemptions will be accepted. As specified at Sec.  660.212(d)(3), 
subpart E, vessels are prohibited from processing sablefish at sea that 
were caught in the sablefish primary fishery without a sablefish at-sea 
processing exemption. Any sablefish at-sea processing exemptions were 
issued to a particular vessel and that permit and vessel owner who 
requested the exemption. The exemption is not part of the limited entry 
permit. The exemption cannot be registered with any other vessel, 
vessel owner, or permit owner for any reason. The exemption only 
applies to at-sea processing of sablefish caught in the sablefish 
primary fishery. The sablefish at-sea processing exemption will expire 
upon registration of the vessel to a new owner or if the vessel is 
totally lost, as defined at Sec.  660.11.
    (ii) Non-whiting at-sea processing exemption. No new applications 
for non-whiting at-sea processing exemptions will be accepted. As 
specified at Sec.  660.112(b)(1)(xii), subpart D, vessels are 
prohibited from processing non-whiting groundfish at sea that were 
caught in the Shorebased IFQ Program without a non-whiting at-sea 
processing exemption. Any non-whiting at-sea processing exemptions were 
issued to a particular vessel and that permit and/or vessel owner who 
requested the exemption. The exemption is not part of the limited entry 
permit. The exemption is not transferable to any other vessel, vessel 
owner, or permit owner for any reason. The exemption only applies to 
at-sea processing of non-whiting groundfish caught in the Shorebased 
IFQ Program. The non-whiting at-sea processing exemption will expire 
upon registration of the vessel to a new owner or if the vessel is 
totally lost, as defined at Sec.  660.11.
* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  660.55, revise paragraph (f) introductory text and 
paragraphs (h)(1) and (2) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.55  Allocations.

* * * * *
    (f) Catch accounting. Catch accounting refers to how the catch in a 
fishery is monitored against the allocations described in this section. 
For species with trawl/nontrawl allocations, catch of those species are 
counted against the trawl/nontrawl allocations as explained in 
paragraph (f)(1) of this section. For species with limited entry/open 
access allocations in a given biennial cycle, catch of those species 
are counted against the limited entry/open access allocations as 
explained in paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section.
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (1) Tribal/nontribal allocation. The sablefish allocation to 
Pacific coast treaty Indian tribes is identified at Sec.  660.50(f)(2). 
The remainder is available to the nontribal fishery (limited entry, 
open access (directed and incidental), and research).
    (2) Between the limited entry and open access fisheries. The 
allocation of sablefish after tribal deductions is further reduced by 
the estimated total mortality of sablefish in research and recreational 
fisheries; the remaining yield (commercial harvest guideline) is 
divided between open access and limited entry fisheries. The limited 
entry fishery allocation is 90.6 percent of the commercial harvest 
guideline. The open access allocation is 9.4 percent of the commercial 
harvest guideline and includes incidental catch in non-groundfish 
fisheries, or incidental open access.
* * * * *
0
8. In Sec.  660.60:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (h)(7) introductory text, (h)(7)(i) introductory 
text, (h)(7)(ii)(A), (h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) introductory text, and 
(h)(7)(ii)(B)(2); and
0
b. Add paragraphs (h)(7)(ii)(B)(3) and (h)(7)(iii).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.60  Specifications and management measures.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *
* * * * *
    (7) Crossover provisions. Crossover provisions apply to three 
activities: Fishing on different sides of a management line, or fishing 
in both the limited entry and open access fisheries, or fishing in both 
the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery. 
NMFS uses different types of management areas for West Coast groundfish 
management, such as the north-south management areas as defined in 
Sec.  660.11. Within a management area, a large ocean area with 
northern and southern boundary lines, trip limits, seasons, and 
conservation areas follow a single theme. Within each management area, 
there may be one or more conservation areas, defined at Sec.  660.11 
and Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.74. The provisions within this 
paragraph apply to vessels fishing in different management areas. 
Crossover provisions also apply to vessels that fish in both the 
limited entry and open access fisheries, or that use open access non-
trawl gear while registered to limited entry fixed gear permits. 
Crossover provisions also apply to vessels that are jointly registered, 
as defined at Sec.  660.11, fishing in both the Shorebased IFQ Program 
and the limited entry fixed gear fishery during the same cumulative 
limit period. Fishery specific crossover provisions can be found in 
subparts D through F of this part.
    (i) Fishing in management areas with different trip limits. Trip 
limits for a species or a species group may differ in different 
management areas along the coast. The following crossover provisions 
apply to vessels fishing in different geographical areas that have 
different cumulative or ``per trip'' trip limits for the same species 
or species group, with the following exceptions. Such crossover 
provisions do not apply to: IFQ species (defined at Sec.  660.140(c),

[[Page 34963]]

subpart D) for vessels that are declared into the Shorebased IFQ 
Program (see Sec.  660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A), for valid Shorebased IFQ 
Program declarations); species that are subject only to daily trip 
limits; or to trip limits for black rockfish off Washington, as 
described at Sec.  660.230(e) and Sec.  660.330(e).
* * * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) Fishing in limited entry and open access fisheries with 
different trip limits. Open access trip limits apply to any fishing 
conducted with open access gear, even if the vessel has a valid limited 
entry permit with an endorsement for another type of gear. Except such 
provisions do not apply to IFQ species (defined at Sec.  660.140(c), 
subpart D) for vessels that are declared into the Shorebased IFQ 
Program (see Sec.  660.13(d)(5)(iv)(A) for valid Shorebased IFQ Program 
declarations). A vessel that fishes in both the open access and limited 
entry fisheries is not entitled to two separate trip limits for the 
same species. If a vessel has a limited entry permit registered to it 
at any time during the trip limit period and uses open access gear, but 
the open access limit is smaller than the limited entry limit, the open 
access limit may not be exceeded and counts toward the limited entry 
limit. If a vessel has a limited entry permit registered to it at any 
time during the trip limit period and uses open access gear, but the 
open access limit is larger than the limited entry limit, the smaller 
limited entry limit applies, even if taken entirely with open access 
gear.
    (B) * * *
    (1) Vessel registered to a limited entry trawl permit. To fish with 
open access gear, defined at Sec.  660.11, a vessel registered to a 
limited entry trawl permit must make the appropriate fishery 
declaration, as specified at Sec.  660.14(d)(5)(iv)(A). In addition, a 
vessel registered to a limit entry trawl permit must remove the permit 
from their vessel, as specified at Sec.  660.25(b)(4)(vi), unless the 
vessel will be fishing in the open access fishery under one of the 
following declarations specified at Sec.  660.13(d):
* * * * *
    (2) Vessel registered to a limited entry fixed gear permit(s). To 
fish with open access gear, defined at Sec.  660.11, subpart C, a 
vessel registered to a limit entry fixed gear permit must make the 
appropriate open access declaration, as specified at Sec.  
660.14(d)(5)(iv)(A). Vessels registered to a sablefish-endorsed 
permit(s) fishing in the sablefish primary season (described at Sec.  
660.231, subpart E) may only fish with the gear(s) endorsed on their 
sablefish-endorsed permit(s) against those limits.
    (3) Vessel jointly registered to more than one limited entry 
permit. Vessels jointly registered (under the provisions at Sec.  
660.25(b)(4)(iv)(B)) may fish with open access gear (defined at Sec.  
660.11) if they meet the requirements of both paragraphs 
(h)(7)(ii)(B)(1) and (2) of this section.
    (iii) Fishing in both the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited 
entry fixed gear fishery for vessels that are jointly registered.
    (A) Fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program and limited entry fixed 
gear fishery with different trip limits. If a vessel fishes in both the 
Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry fixed gear fishery during 
a cumulative limit period, they are subject to the most restrictive 
trip limits for non-IFQ species.
    (B) Fishing in the Shorebased IFQ Program and the limited entry 
fixed gear sablefish primary fishery with different trip limits. If a 
vessel is jointly registered and one or more of the limited entry 
permits is sablefish endorsed, any sablefish landings made by a vessel 
declared into the limited entry fixed gear fishery after the start of 
the sablefish primary fishery count towards the tier limit(s), per 
regulations at Sec.  660.232(a)(2), subpart E. Any sablefish landings 
made by a vessel declared into the Shorebased IFQ Program must be 
covered by quota pounds, per regulations at Sec.  660.112(b), subpart 
D, and will not count towards the tier limit(s).
0
9. In Sec.  660.112:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (ii);
0
b. Remove paragraph (b)(1)(xii)(B); and
0
c. Redesignate paragraph (b)(1)(xii)(C) as (b)(1)(xii)(B).
    The revision reads as follows:


Sec.  660.112  Trawl fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Fail to comply with all recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements at Sec.  660.13, subpart C; including failure to submit 
information, or submission of inaccurate or false information on any 
report required at Sec.  660.13(d), subpart C, and Sec.  660.113:
    (ii) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available 
any and all reports of groundfish landings, containing all data, and in 
the exact manner, required by the regulation at Sec.  660.13, subpart 
C, or Sec.  660.113.
* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  660.113:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(4)(ii)(A);
0
b. Remove paragraphs (b)(4)(ii)(B) and (C) and redesignate paragraphs 
(b)(4)(ii)(D) through (F) as (b)(4)(ii)(B) through (D);
0
c. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(4)(ii)(C)(5) introductory 
text and (b)(4)(ii)(C)(6); and
0
d.) Revise paragraphs (b)(4)(iii) and (b)(4)(v).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  660.113  Trawl fishery--recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) All records used in the preparation of records or reports 
specified in this section or corrections to these reports must be 
maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of 
landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection 
by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by 
NMFS. Records used in the preparation of required reports specified in 
this section or corrections to these reports that are required to be 
kept include, but are not limited to, any written, recorded, graphic, 
electronic, or digital materials as well as other information stored in 
or accessible through a computer or other information retrieval system; 
worksheets; weight slips; preliminary, interim, and final tally sheets; 
receipts; checks; ledgers; notebooks; diaries; spreadsheets; diagrams; 
graphs; charts; tapes; disks; or computer printouts. All relevant 
records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket reports or 
corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must be 
maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of 
landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection 
by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by 
NMFS.
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the 
actual scale weight for each groundfish species as specified by 
requirements at Sec.  660.15(c), and the vessel identification number. 
Use, and maintain in good working order, hardware, software, and 
internet access as specified at Sec.  660.15(d).
* * * * *
    (C) * * *
    (5) Prior to submittal, three copies of the printed, signed, 
electronic fish ticket must be produced by the IFQ first receiver and a 
copy provided to each of the following:
* * * * *

[[Page 34964]]

    (6) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be 
submitted within 24 hours of the completion of the offload, as 
specified in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(B) of this section.
* * * * *
    (iii) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is 
found, electronic fish ticket submissions must be revised by 
resubmitting the revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets 
are to be used for the submission of final data. Preliminary data, 
including estimates of fish weights or species composition, shall not 
be submitted on electronic fish tickets.
* * * * *
    (v) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been 
granted. IFQ First receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver 
from the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on 
paper the same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 
hours of the date received during the period that the waiver is in 
effect. Paper fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West 
Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206-526-6736 or by 
delivering it in person to 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115. 
The requirements for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are 
separate from, and in addition to existing state requirements for 
landing receipts or fish receiving tickets.
* * * * *


Sec.  660.114  [Amended]

0
11. Amend Sec.  660.114(b) by removing the words ``Sec.  
660.25(b)(4)(v)'' wherever they appear and adding the words ``Sec.  
660.25(b)(4)(vi).''
0
12. In Sec.  660.211, add the definition of ``sablefish landing'' is in 
alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  660.211  Fixed gear fishery--definitions.

* * * * *
    Sablefish landing means a landing that includes any amount of 
sablefish harvested in the limited entry fixed gear fishery.
* * * * *
0
13. In Sec.  660.212:
0
a. Revise paragraph (a)(2);
0
b. Add paragraphs (a)(3) through (6);
0
c. Revise paragraphs (b), and (d)(1) and (2).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.212  Fixed gear fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) Take and retain, possess, or land more than a single cumulative 
limit of a particular species, per vessel, per applicable cumulative 
limit period, except for sablefish taken in the limited entry fixed 
gear sablefish primary season from a vessel authorized to fish in that 
season, as described at Sec.  660.231 and except for IFQ species taken 
in the Shorebased IFQ Program from a vessel authorized under gear 
switching provisions as described at Sec.  660.140(k).
    (3) Transport catch that includes any amount of sablefish away from 
the point of landing before that catch has been sorted and weighed by 
federal groundfish species or species group, and recorded for 
submission on an electronic fish ticket under Sec.  660.213(e). (If 
fish will be transported to a different location for processing, all 
sorting and weighing to federal groundfish species groups must occur 
before transporting the catch away from the point of landing).
    (4) Mix catch from more than one sablefish landing prior to the 
catch being sorted and weighed for reporting on an electronic fish 
ticket under Sec.  660.213(e).
    (5) Process, sell, or discard any groundfish received from a 
sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an electronic fish 
ticket under Sec.  660.213(e).
    (6) Upon commencing an offload of a sablefish landing at a landing 
site, fail to offload all groundfish on board the vessel at that 
landing site.
    (b) Recordkeeping and reporting. (1) Fail to comply with all 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements at Sec.  660.13, subpart C; 
including failure to submit information, or submission of inaccurate or 
false information on any report required at Sec.  660.13(d), subpart C, 
and Sec.  660.213.
    (2) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available 
any and all reports of groundfish landings that include sablefish, 
containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the 
regulation at Sec.  660.13, subpart C, or Sec.  660.213.
* * * * *
    (d) Sablefish fisheries. (1) Take and retain, possess or land 
sablefish under the tier limits provided for the limited entry, fixed 
gear sablefish primary season, described in Sec.  660.231(b)(3), from a 
vessel that is not registered to a limited entry permit with a 
sablefish endorsement.
    (2) Take and retain, possess or land sablefish in the sablefish 
primary season, described at Sec.  660.231(b), unless the owner of the 
limited entry permit registered for use with that vessel and 
authorizing the vessel to fish in the sablefish primary season is on 
board that vessel. Exceptions to this prohibition are provided at Sec.  
660.231(b)(4)(i) and (ii).
* * * * *
0
14. In Sec.  660.213, revise paragraph (d)(1) and add paragraph (e) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.213  Fixed gear fishery--recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) Any person landing groundfish must retain on board the vessel 
from which groundfish are landed, and provide to an authorized officer 
upon request, copies of any and all reports of groundfish landings 
containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the 
applicable state law throughout the cumulative limit period during 
which a landing occurred and for 15 days thereafter. All relevant 
records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket reports or 
corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must be 
maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date of 
landing and must be immediately available upon request for inspection 
by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically authorized by 
NMFS.
* * * * *
    (e) Electronic fish ticket. The first receiver, as defined at Sec.  
660.11, subpart C, of a sablefish landing from a limited entry fixed 
gear vessel is responsible for compliance with all reporting 
requirements described in this paragraph. When used in this paragraph, 
submit means to transmit final electronic fish ticket information via 
web-based form or, if a waiver is granted, by paper form. When used in 
this paragraph, record means the action of documenting electronic fish 
ticket information in any written format.
    (1) Required information. All first receivers must provide the 
following types of information: Date of landing, vessel that made the 
landing, vessel identification number, limited entry permit number(s), 
name of the vessel operator, gear type used, receiver, actual weights 
of species landed listed by species or species group including species 
with no value, condition landed, number of salmon by species, number of 
Pacific halibut, ex-vessel value of the landing by species, fish caught 
inside/outside 3 miles or both, and any other information deemed 
necessary by the Regional Administrator (or designee) as specified on 
the appropriate electronic fish ticket form.
    (2) Submissions. The first receiver must:
    (i) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the 
actual scale

[[Page 34965]]

weight for each groundfish species as specified by requirements at 
Sec.  660.15(c), the vessel identification number, and the limited 
entry permit number. Use and maintain, for the purposes of submitting 
electronic fish tickets, equipment as specified at Sec.  660.15(d).
    (ii) Submit a completed electronic fish ticket(s) for every landing 
that includes sablefish no later than 24 hours after the date of 
landing, unless a waiver of this requirement has been granted under 
provisions specified at paragraph (e)(4) of this section.
    (iii) Submit separate electronic fish tickets for sablefish 
landings in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery 
where the sablefish will be counted against more than one of the 
stacked permits, or against a tier limit(s) and the cumulative trip 
limit in the DTL fishery. For vessels with stacked limited entry 
sablefish permits, defined at Sec.  660.12, a landing may be divided 
and reported on separate electronic fish tickets for the purposes of 
apportioning the sablefish landings amongst the remaining tier limits 
associated with each of the stacked permits. Per regulations at Sec.  
660.232(a)(2) a vessel may land the remainder of its tier limit(s) and 
also land against the applicable DTL limits in the same landing; in 
that instance multiple fish tickets must be used to apportion sablefish 
landed against the tier(s) from the sablefish landed against cumulative 
trip limits of the DTL fishery. If multiple electronic fish tickets are 
recorded and submitted for a single sablefish landing, each electronic 
fish ticket must meet the process and submittal requirements specified 
in paragraphs (e)(iv) and (v) of this section in addition to the 
following requirements:
    (A) The sum total of all groundfish, including sablefish, from the 
landing must be submitted via electronic fish ticket(s).
    (B) The limited entry fixed gear sablefish permit number unto which 
the portion of the sablefish landing will be attributed to must be 
recorded on each electronic fish ticket or dock ticket. Only one permit 
number may be recorded on a ticket.
    (C) The owner-on board, unless exempted under regulations at Sec.  
660.231(a)(4), must review and sign documentation of the landing, as 
described in (e)(2)(iv) and (v) of this section.
    (iv) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted prior to 
processing or transport, follow these process and submittal 
requirements:
    (A) After completing the landing, the electronic fish ticket 
information must be recorded immediately.
    (B) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, the 
information recorded for the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by 
the vessel operator who delivered the fish, and the port sampler if one 
is present. If required by regulations at Sec.  660.231(a)(4), the 
owner-on-board must also review the information recorded on the 
electronic fish ticket prior to submittal.
    (C) After review, the receiver and the vessel operator must sign a 
printed hard copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing 
occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket. If required 
by regulations at Sec.  660.231(a)(4), the owner-on-board must also 
sign a printed copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing 
occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket.
    (D) Prior to submittal, three copies of the signed electronic fish 
ticket must be produced by the receiver and a copy provided to each of 
the following:
    (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (E) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be 
submitted within 24 hours after the date of landing, as specified in 
paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section.
    (v) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted after transport, 
follow these process and submittal requirements:
    (A) The vessel name, limited entry permit number, and the 
electronic fish ticket number must be recorded on each dock ticket 
related to that landing.
    (B) Upon completion of the dock ticket, but prior to transfer of 
the landing to another location, the dock ticket information that will 
be used to complete the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the 
vessel operator who delivered the fish. If the electronic fish ticket 
will report landings of sablefish in the sablefish primary fishery, the 
owner-on-board, unless exempted under regulations at Sec.  
660.231(a)(4), must review the information recorded on the dock ticket 
prior to transfer of the landing to another location.
    (C) After review, the first receiver and the vessel operator must 
sign the original copy of each dock ticket related to that landing. If 
a dock ticket includes landings of sablefish in the sablefish primary 
fishery, the owner-on-board, unless exempted under regulations at Sec.  
660.231(a)(4), must sign the original copy of that dock ticket.
    (D) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, three copies 
of the signed dock ticket must be produced by the first receiver and a 
copy provided to each of the following:
    (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (E) Based on the information contained in the signed dock ticket, 
the electronic fish ticket must be completed and submitted within 24 
hours of the completion of the landing, as specified in paragraph 
(e)(2)(ii) of this section.
    (F) Three copies of the electronic fish ticket must be produced by 
the first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following:
    (1) The vessel operator and/or the owner-on-board;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (3) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is found, 
electronic fish ticket submissions must be revised by resubmitting the 
revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets are to be used for 
the submission of final data. Preliminary data, including estimates of 
fish weights or species composition, shall not be submitted on 
electronic fish tickets.
    (4) Waivers for submission. On a case-by-case basis, a temporary 
written waiver of the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets may 
be granted by the Assistant Regional Administrator or designee if he/
she determines that circumstances beyond the control of a receiver 
would result in inadequate data submissions using the electronic fish 
ticket system. The duration of the waiver will be determined on a case-
by-case basis.
    (5) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been 
granted. Receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver from the 
requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on paper the 
same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 hours of 
the date received during the period that the waiver is in effect. Paper 
fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West Coast Region, 
Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206-526-6736 or by delivering it in 
person to 7600 Sand Point Way, NE., Seattle, WA 98115. The requirements 
for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are separate from, 
and in addition to existing state requirements for landing receipts or 
fish receiving tickets.
0
15. In Sec.  660.231, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), 
and (b)(4) introductory text to read as follows:

[[Page 34966]]

Sec.  660.231  Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (a) Sablefish endorsement. In addition to requirements pertaining 
to fishing in the limited entry fixed gear fishery (described in 
subparts C and E), a vessel may not fish in the sablefish primary 
season for the limited entry fixed gear fishery, unless at least one 
limited entry permit with both a gear endorsement for longline or trap 
(or pot) gear and a sablefish endorsement is registered for use with 
that vessel. Permits with sablefish endorsements are assigned to one of 
three tiers, as described at Sec.  660.25(b)(3)(iv), subpart C.
    (b) * * *
    (1) Season dates. North of 36[deg] N. lat., the sablefish primary 
season for the limited entry, fixed gear, sablefish-endorsed vessels 
begins at 12 noon local time on April 1 and closes at 12 noon local 
time on October 31, or closes for an individual vessel owner when the 
tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the 
vessel has been reached, whichever is earlier, unless otherwise 
announced by the Regional Administrator through the routine management 
measures process described at Sec.  660.60(c).
    (2) Gear type. During the primary season, when fishing against 
primary season cumulative limits, each vessel authorized to fish in 
that season under paragraph (a) of this section may fish for sablefish 
with any of the gear types, except trawl gear, endorsed on at least one 
of the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel.
    (3) Cumulative limits. (i) A vessel fishing in the primary season 
will be constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with 
each of the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that 
vessel. During the primary season, each vessel authorized to fish in 
that season under paragraph (a) of this section may take, retain, 
possess, and land sablefish, up to the cumulative limits for each of 
the sablefish endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel. If 
a vessel is stacking permits, that vessel may land up to the total of 
all cumulative limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for 
those permits, except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this 
section. Up to 3 sablefish endorsed permits may be stacked for use with 
a single vessel during the primary season; thus, a single vessel may 
not take and retain, possess or land more than 3 primary season 
sablefish cumulative limits in any one year. Per regulations at Sec.  
660.12(a)(6), subpart C, all other groundfish landings are subject to 
per vessel trip limits. In 2015, the following annual limits are in 
effect: Tier 1 at 41,175 (18,677 kg), Tier 2 at 18,716 lb (8,489 kg), 
and Tier 3 at 10,695 lb (4,851 kg). For 2016 and beyond, the following 
annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 45,053 lb (20,436 kg), Tier 2 at 
20,479 lb (9,289 kg), and Tier 3 at 11,702 lb (5,308 kg).
    (ii) If a sablefish endorsed permit is registered to more than one 
vessel during the primary season in a single year, the second vessel 
may only take the portion of the cumulative limit for that permit that 
has not been harvested by the first vessel to which the permit was 
registered. The combined primary season sablefish landings for all 
vessels registered to that permit may not exceed the cumulative limit 
for the tier associated with that permit.
    (iii) A cumulative trip limit is the maximum amount of sablefish 
that may be taken and retained, possessed, or landed per vessel in a 
specified period of time, with no limit on the number of landings or 
trips.
    (iv) Incidental Pacific halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA 
(46[deg]53.30' N. lat.). From April 1 through October 31, vessels 
authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in 
Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with 
longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N. lat.) may 
possess and land up to the following cumulative limits: 110 lb (50 kg) 
dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific 
halibut in excess of the 110-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing. 
``Dressed'' Pacific halibut in this area means halibut landed 
eviscerated with their heads on. Pacific halibut taken and retained in 
the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed 
north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. 
Chehalis.
    (4) Owner-on-board requirement. Any person who owns or has 
ownership interest in a limited entry permit with a sablefish 
endorsement, as described at Sec.  660.25(b)(3), subpart C, must be on 
board the vessel registered for use with that permit at any time that 
the vessel has sablefish on board the vessel that count toward that 
permit's cumulative sablefish landing limit. This person must carry 
government issued photo identification while aboard the vessel. This 
person must review and sign a printed copy of the electronic fish 
ticket(s) or dock ticket, as described at Sec.  660.213(d), unless this 
person qualified for the owner-on-board exemption. A permit owner is 
qualified for the owner-on-board exemption and not obligated to be on 
board the vessel registered for use with the sablefish-endorsed limited 
entry permit during the sablefish primary season if:
* * * * *
0
16. Section 660.232 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.232  Limited entry daily trip limit (DTL) fishery for 
sablefish.

    (a) Limited entry DTL fisheries both north and south of 36[deg] N. 
lat. (1) Before the start of the sablefish primary season, all 
sablefish landings made by a vessel declared into the limited entry 
fixed gear fishery and authorized by Sec.  660.231(a) to fish in the 
sablefish primary season will be subject to the restrictions and limits 
of the limited entry DTL fishery for sablefish specified in this 
section and which is governed by routine management measures imposed 
under Sec.  660.60(c), subpart C.
    (2) Following the start of the primary season, all sablefish 
landings made by a vessel declared into the limited entry fixed gear 
fishery and authorized by Sec.  660.231(a) to fish in the primary 
season will count against the primary season cumulative limit(s) 
associated with the sablefish-endorsed permit(s) registered for use 
with that vessel. A vessel that is eligible to fish in the sablefish 
primary season may fish in the DTL fishery for sablefish once that 
vessels' primary season sablefish limit(s) have been landed, or after 
the close of the primary season, whichever occurs earlier (as described 
at Sec.  660.231(b)(1)). If the vessel continues to fish in the limited 
entry fixed gear fishery for any part of the remaining fishing year, 
any subsequent sablefish landings by that vessel will be subject to the 
restrictions and limits of the limited entry DTL fishery for sablefish.
    (3) Vessels registered for use with a limited entry fixed gear 
permit that does not have a sablefish endorsement may fish in the 
limited entry DTL fishery, consistent with regulations at Sec.  
660.230, for as long as that fishery is open during the fishing year, 
subject to routine management measures imposed under Sec.  660.60(c), 
subpart C. DTL limits for the limited entry fishery north and south of 
36[deg] N. lat. are provided in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this 
subpart.
    (b) A vessel that is jointly registered, and has participated or 
will participate in both the limited entry fixed gear fishery and the 
Shorebased IFQ Program during the fishing year, is subject to crossover 
provisions described at Sec.  660.60(h)(7), subpart C.
0
17. In Sec.  660.311, add the definition of ``sablefish landing'' in 
alphabetical order to read as follows:

[[Page 34967]]

Sec.  660.311  Open access fishery--definitions.

* * * * *
    Sablefish landing means a landing that includes any amount of 
sablefish harvested in the open access fishery.
* * * * *
0
18. In Sec.  660.312:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3) through (6);
0
b. Redesignate paragraphs (b) and (c) as (c) and (d), respectively; and
0
c. Add a new paragraph (b).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.312  Open access fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) Transport catch that includes any amount of sablefish away from 
the point of landing before that catch has been sorted and weighed by 
federal groundfish species or species group, and recorded for 
submission on an electronic fish ticket under Sec.  660.313(f). (If 
fish will be transported to a different location for processing, all 
sorting and weighing to federal groundfish species groups must occur 
before transporting the catch away from the point of landing).
    (4) Mix catch from more than one sablefish landing prior to the 
catch being sorted and weighed for reporting on an electronic fish 
ticket under Sec.  660.313(f).
    (5) Process, sell, or discard any groundfish received from a 
sablefish landing that has not been accounted for on an electronic fish 
ticket under Sec.  660.313(f).
    (6) Upon commencing an offload of a sablefish landing at a landing 
site, fail to offload all groundfish on board the vessel at that 
landing site.
    (b) Recordkeeping and reporting. (1) Fail to comply with all 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements at Sec.  660.13, subpart C, 
including failure to submit information, or submission of inaccurate or 
false information on any report required at Sec.  660.13(d), subpart C, 
and Sec.  660.313.
    (2) Falsify or fail to make and/or file, retain or make available 
any and all reports of groundfish landings that include sablefish, 
containing all data, and in the exact manner, required by the 
regulation at Sec.  660.13, subpart C, or Sec.  660.313.
* * * * *
0
19. Section 660.313 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.313  Open access fishery--recordkeeping and reporting.

    (a) General. General reporting requirements specified at Sec.  
660.13(a) through (c), subpart C, apply to the open access fishery.
    (b) Declaration reports for vessels using nontrawl gear. 
Declaration reporting requirements for open access vessels using 
nontrawl gear (all types of open access gear other than non-groundfish 
trawl gear) are specified at Sec.  660.13(d), subpart C.
    (c) Declaration reports for vessels using non-groundfish trawl 
gear. Declaration reporting requirements for open access vessels using 
non-groundfish trawl gear are specified at Sec.  660.13(d), subpart C.
    (d) VMS requirements for open access fishery vessels. VMS 
requirements for open access fishery vessels are specified at Sec.  
660.14, subpart C.
    (e) Retention of records. Any person landing groundfish must retain 
on board the vessel from which groundfish is landed, and provide to an 
authorized officer upon request, copies of any and all reports of 
groundfish landings containing all data, and in the exact manner, 
required by the applicable state law throughout the cumulative limit 
period during which a landing occurred and for 15 days thereafter. All 
relevant records used in the preparation of electronic fish ticket 
reports or corrections to these reports, including dock tickets, must 
be maintained for a period of not less than three years after the date 
of landing and must be immediately available upon request for 
inspection by NMFS or authorized officers or others as specifically 
authorized by NMFS.
    (f) Electronic fish ticket. The first receiver, as defined at Sec.  
660.11, subpart C, of a sablefish landing from an open access vessel is 
responsible for compliance with all reporting requirements described in 
this paragraph. When used in this paragraph, submit means to transmit 
final electronic fish ticket information via web-based form or, if a 
waiver is granted, by paper form. When used in this paragraph, record 
means the action of documenting electronic fish ticket information in 
any written format.
    (1) Required information. All first receivers must provide the 
following types of information: Date of landing, vessel that made the 
landing, vessel identification number, name of the vessel operator, 
gear type used, receiver, actual weights of species landed listed by 
species or species group including species with no value, condition 
landed, number of salmon by species, number of Pacific halibut, ex-
vessel value of the landing by species, fish caught inside/outside 3 
miles or both, and any other information deemed necessary by the 
Regional Administrator (or designee) as specified on the appropriate 
electronic fish ticket form.
    (2) Submissions. The first receiver must:
    (i) Include, as part of each electronic fish ticket submission, the 
actual scale weight for each groundfish species as specified by 
requirements at Sec.  660.15(c) and the vessel identification number. 
Use and maintain, for the purposes of submitting electronic fish 
tickets, equipment as specified at Sec.  660.15(d).
    (ii) Submit a completed electronic fish ticket for every landing 
that includes sablefish no later than 24 hours after the date of 
landing, unless a waiver of this requirement has been granted under 
provisions specified at paragraph (f)(4) of this section.
    (iii) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted prior to 
processing or transport, follow these process and submittal 
requirements:
    (A) After completing the landing, the electronic fish ticket 
information must be recorded immediately.
    (B) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, the 
information recorded for the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by 
the vessel operator who delivered the fish, and the port sampler if one 
is present.
    (C) After review, the receiver and the vessel operator must sign a 
printed hard copy of the electronic fish ticket or, if the landing 
occurs outside of business hours, the original dock ticket.
    (D) Prior to submittal, three copies of the signed electronic fish 
ticket must be produced by the receiver and a copy provided to each of 
the following:
    (1) The vessel operator;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (E) After review and signature, the electronic fish ticket must be 
submitted within 24 hours after the date of landing, as specified in 
paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of this section.
    (iv) If electronic fish tickets will be submitted after transport, 
follow these process and submittal requirements:
    (A) The vessel name and the electronic fish ticket number must be 
recorded on each dock ticket related to that landing.
    (C) Upon completion of the dock ticket, but prior to transfer of 
the offload to another location, the dock ticket information that will 
be used to complete the electronic fish ticket must be reviewed by the 
vessel operator who delivered the fish.
    (D) After review, the first receiver and the vessel operator must 
sign the original copy of each dock ticket related to that landing.
    (E) Prior to submittal of the electronic fish ticket, three copies 
of the signed

[[Page 34968]]

dock ticket must be produced by the first receiver and a copy provided 
to each of the following:
    (1) The vessel operator;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (F) Based on the information contained in the signed dock ticket, 
the electronic fish ticket must be completed and submitted within 24 
hours of the date of landing, as specified in paragraph (f)(2)(ii) of 
this section.
    (G) Three copies of the electronic fish ticket must be produced by 
the first receiver and a copy provided to each of the following:
    (1) The vessel operator;
    (2) The state of origin if required by state regulations; and
    (3) The first receiver.
    (3) Revising a submission. In the event that a data error is found, 
electronic fish ticket submissions must be revised by resubmitting the 
revised form electronically. Electronic fish tickets are to be used for 
the submission of final data. Preliminary data, including estimates of 
fish weights or species composition, shall not be submitted on 
electronic fish tickets.
    (4) Waivers for submission. On a case-by-case basis, a temporary 
written waiver of the requirement to submit electronic fish tickets may 
be granted by the Assistant Regional Administrator or designee if he/
she determines that circumstances beyond the control of a receiver 
would result in inadequate data submissions using the electronic fish 
ticket system. The duration of the waiver will be determined on a case-
by-case basis.
    (5) Reporting requirements when a temporary waiver has been 
granted. Receivers that have been granted a temporary waiver from the 
requirement to submit electronic fish tickets must submit on paper the 
same data as is required on electronic fish tickets within 24 hours of 
the date of landing during the period that the waiver is in effect. 
Paper fish tickets must be sent by facsimile to NMFS, West Coast 
Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 206-526-6736 or by delivering 
it in person to 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115. The 
requirements for submissions of paper tickets in this paragraph are 
separate from, and in addition to existing state requirements for 
landing receipts or fish receiving tickets.

[FR Doc. 2016-12848 Filed 5-31-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P