Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska Management Area; Amendment 101, 52394-52396 [2016-18745]

Download as PDF ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 52394 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 152 / Monday, August 8, 2016 / Proposed Rules EPA–HQ–OPPT–2016–0126, by one of the following methods: • http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. • Email: oppt.ncic@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OPPT–2016–0126. • Fax: (202) 566–9744. • U.S. Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, Mailcode: 28221T, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OPPT–2016–0126, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460. • Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OPPT–2016–0126. Such deliveries are accepted only during the Docket Center’s normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OPPT–2016– 0126. The EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and could be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an ‘‘anonymous access’’ system, which means that the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. 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Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20004. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566–1744. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information contact, Jonathan Shafer, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, 7404T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Phone: 202 564–0789, Email: shafer.jonathan@epa.gov. Michelle Price, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, 7404T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Phone: 202 566–0744, Email: price.michelle@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that an agency review, within 10 years of promulgation, each rule that has or will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (SISNOSE). The EPA undertakes section 610 reviews to decide whether the agency should continue a rule unchanged, amend it, or withdraw it. We encourage small entities to provide comments on the need to change these rules, and in particular, how the rules could be made clearer, more effective, or if there is need to remove conflicting or overlapping requirements with other Federal or State regulations. The EPA has exercised its discretion to include changes made to the 2008 RRP rule as well as solicit comments on lead-test kits in this review. Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Dated: July 27, 2016. William Nickerson, Acting Director, Office of Regulatory Policy and Management. [FR Doc. 2016–18520 Filed 8–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–BF42 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska Management Area; Amendment 101 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of amendment to fishery management plan; request for comments. AGENCY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 101 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) to the Secretary of Commerce for review. Amendment 101 to the FMP would authorize the use of longline pot gear in the sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). Amendment 101 is necessary to improve efficiency and provide economic benefits for the sablefish IFQ fleet and minimize potential fishery interactions with whales and seabirds. Amendment 101 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws. DATES: Submit comments on or before October 7, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– SUMMARY: I. General Information PO 00000 II. Extension of Comment Period for the Section 610 Review of the 2008 RRP Rule The EPA is extending the deadline for submitting comments on the section 610 review of the RRP Rule to September 7, 2016. The original deadline for comments, based on a 60-day comment period, was August 8, 2016. The EPA’s decision responds to a request to extend the comment deadline. The EPA believes that this 30-day extension will assist in providing an adequate amount of additional time for the public to review the action and to provide written comments. E:\FR\FM\08AUP1.SGM 08AUP1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 152 / Monday, August 8, 2016 / Proposed Rules NMFS–2015–0126, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150126, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. 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. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information voluntarily submitted by the commenter will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/ A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 101 to the FMP, the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/ Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis prepared for this action (collectively, Analysis), and the Finding of No Significant Impact prepared for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http:// www.alaskafisheries/noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Baker, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the GOA under the FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR part 679. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The MagnusonStevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan amendment, immediately publish a document in the Federal Register VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:56 Aug 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 announcing that the amendment is available for public review and comment. This document announces that proposed Amendment 101 to the FMP is available for public review and comment. Amendment 101 to the FMP would revise the IFQ Program for sablefish fisheries in the GOA. The IFQ Program for the fixed-gear commercial fisheries for sablefish and halibut in waters in and off Alaska is a limited access privilege program implemented in 1995 (58 FR 59375, November 9, 1993). The IFQ Program limits access to the sablefish and halibut fisheries to those persons holding quota share in specific management areas. The amount of halibut and sablefish that each quota share holder may harvest is calculated annually and is issued as IFQ in pounds. The IFQ Program for Pacific halibut is implemented under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. The Council does not have a halibut fishery management plan. Amendment 101 would apply to catcher vessels and catcher/processors fishing for sablefish IFQ in the GOA. The sablefish regulatory areas defined for sablefish in the GOA are the Southeast Outside District of the GOA, West Yakutat District of the GOA, Central GOA, and Western GOA. The sablefish regulatory areas are defined and shown in Figure 14 to part 679. The FMP currently authorizes only longline gear for the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Longline gear includes hookand-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. Fishery participants have used longline hook-and-line gear (hook-and-line gear) to harvest sablefish IFQ in the GOA because it is more efficient than jig, troll, or handline gear. However, various species of whales can remove or damage sablefish caught on hook-and-line gear (depredation). Depredation occurs with hook-and-line gear because sablefish are captured on hooks that lie on the ocean floor. Whales can completely remove or damage sablefish captured on these hooks before the gear is retrieved. Longline pot gear is an efficient gear and prevents depredation because whales cannot remove or damage sablefish enclosed in a pot. Longline pot gear was historically used to harvest sablefish in the GOA. However, under the open access management program race for fish that existed prior to the implementation of the IFQ Program, some vessel operators deployed hook-and-line gear, while other vessel operators deployed pot gear in the same fishing areas. This resulted in gear conflicts and loss of gear on the fishing grounds. The longline pot PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 52395 groundline is heavier and stronger than the groundline used to attach the series of hooks on hook-and-line gear. If longline pot gear is set over previously deployed hook-and-line gear, the weaker hook-and-line gear can be damaged or lost as it is being retrieved. The Council and NMFS have not received reports of gear conflicts between hook-and-line gear. In 1986, NMFS implemented a phased-in prohibition of pot gear in the GOA sablefish fishery (50 FR 43193, October 24, 1985) to minimize potential gear conflicts that occurred during the open access management fishery and prior to the implementation of the IFQ Program. Beginning in 2009, the Council and NMFS received reports from sablefish IFQ fisherman that depredation on hook-and-line gear was adversely impacting the sablefish IFQ fleet. Depredation can result in lost catch, additional time waiting for whales to leave fishing grounds before hauling gear, and additional time and fuel spent relocating gear to avoid whales. Depredation also has negative consequences for whales through increased risk of vessel strike, gear entanglement, and altered foraging strategies. While depredation events are difficult to observe because they take place on the ocean floor in deep water, fishery participants have testified to the Council that depredation continues to be a major cost to the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery, and appears to be occurring more frequently. Industry groups have tested a variety of methods to deter whales from preying on fish caught on hook-and-line gear, such as gear modifications and acoustic decoys, but these methods have not substantially reduced the problem of depredation in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. In April 2015, the Council recommended Amendment 101 to authorize longline pot gear for use in the sablefish IFQ fishery in the GOA. Amendment 101 would amend Sections 3.2.3.4.3.3.1, 3.4.1, 3.4.2, 3.6.2, 3.7.1.1, 3.7.1.7, and 4.1.2.3 of the FMP to authorize longline pot gear to harvest sablefish in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Amendment 101 would make minor editorial revisions to the Executive Summary and Appendix A of the FMP to list and describe Amendment 101. Amendment 101 would authorize, but not require, a harvester to use longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Providing fishermen with the opportunity to use longline pot gear would reduce the adverse impacts of depredation for fishermen who choose to use longline pot gear. E:\FR\FM\08AUP1.SGM 08AUP1 52396 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 152 / Monday, August 8, 2016 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Amendment 101 is necessary to (1) improve efficiency in harvesting sablefish IFQ and reduce adverse economic impacts on harvesters that occur from depredation, and (2) reduce sablefish IFQ fishery interactions with whales and seabirds. Amendment 101 would reduce the adverse impacts of depredation for those harvesters who choose to switch to longline pot gear from hook-and-line gear. These harvesters would benefit from reduced operating costs and reduced fishing time needed to harvest sablefish IFQ. Amendment 101 would provide individual harvesters with the option to use longline pot gear if they determine it is appropriate for their fishing operation. Amendment 101 would reduce the associated risks to whales including vessel strikes, gear entanglement, and altered foraging strategies. The Analysis for Amendment 101 indicates that authorizing longline pot gear is expected to have a positive effect on killer whales and sperm whales from reduced interactions with fishing gear. In recommending Amendment 101, the Council recognized that pot gear had previously been authorized in the GOA sablefish fishery, but its use was prohibited prior to implementation of the IFQ Program due to conflicts between hook-and-line and pot gear on the fishing grounds. The Council and VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:56 Aug 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 NMFS agree that authorizing longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery under Amendment 101 is appropriate because the fishery is managed under the IFQ Program. The IFQ Program provides fishermen with substantially more flexibility on when and where to harvest sablefish compared to the open access management program prior to implementation of the IFQ Program. The IFQ Program makes it unlikely that hook-and-line and longline pot gear conflicts would occur or that fishing grounds would be preempted for extended periods in the same manner previously analyzed by the Council and NMFS. Amendment 101 would reduce fishing interactions with seabirds. Fishing interactions can result in direct mortality for seabirds if they become entangled in fishing gear or strike the vessel or fishing gear while flying. Hook-and-line gear has the greatest impact on seabirds relative to other fishing gear. Although seabird mortality in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery makes up a very small portion of total estimated seabird mortality from fisheries in Alaska, the Analysis determined that Amendment 101 would reduce incidental catch of seabirds in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Amendment 101 would provide vessel operators with the opportunity to use PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 longline pot gear, which has a lower rate of incidental catch of seabirds than hook-and-line gear. NMFS is soliciting public comments on proposed Amendment 101 through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on a proposed rule that implements Amendment 101 following NMFS’ evaluation of the proposed rule under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS will consider all comments received by the end of the comment period on Amendment 101, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment or its implementing proposed rule, in the approval/ disapproval decision on Amendment 101. NMFS will not consider comments received after that date in the approval/ disapproval decision on the amendment. To be considered, comments must be received, not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the close of business on the last day of the comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 3, 2016. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–18745 Filed 8–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\08AUP1.SGM 08AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 152 (Monday, August 8, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 52394-52396]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-18745]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

RIN 0648-BF42


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska Management Area; Amendment 101

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of amendment to fishery management plan; 
request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has submitted 
Amendment 101 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf 
of Alaska (FMP) to the Secretary of Commerce for review. Amendment 101 
to the FMP would authorize the use of longline pot gear in the 
sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery in the Gulf of Alaska 
(GOA). Amendment 101 is necessary to improve efficiency and provide 
economic benefits for the sablefish IFQ fleet and minimize potential 
fishery interactions with whales and seabirds. Amendment 101 is 
intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable 
laws.

DATES: Submit comments on or before October 7, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-

[[Page 52395]]

NMFS-2015-0126, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0126, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802.
    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. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) confidential business information, or 
otherwise sensitive information voluntarily submitted by the commenter 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 101 to the FMP, the Environmental 
Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis prepared for this action (collectively, Analysis), and the 
Finding of No Significant Impact prepared for this action may be 
obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region 
Web site at http://www.alaskafisheries/noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Baker, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the 
Exclusive Economic Zone of the GOA under the FMP. The North Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Regulations implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR part 679.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each regional fishery 
management council submit any fishery management plan amendment it 
prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial 
approval by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The Magnuson-Stevens 
Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan 
amendment, immediately publish a document in the Federal Register 
announcing that the amendment is available for public review and 
comment. This document announces that proposed Amendment 101 to the FMP 
is available for public review and comment.
    Amendment 101 to the FMP would revise the IFQ Program for sablefish 
fisheries in the GOA. The IFQ Program for the fixed-gear commercial 
fisheries for sablefish and halibut in waters in and off Alaska is a 
limited access privilege program implemented in 1995 (58 FR 59375, 
November 9, 1993). The IFQ Program limits access to the sablefish and 
halibut fisheries to those persons holding quota share in specific 
management areas. The amount of halibut and sablefish that each quota 
share holder may harvest is calculated annually and is issued as IFQ in 
pounds.
    The IFQ Program for Pacific halibut is implemented under the 
authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. The Council does 
not have a halibut fishery management plan.
    Amendment 101 would apply to catcher vessels and catcher/processors 
fishing for sablefish IFQ in the GOA. The sablefish regulatory areas 
defined for sablefish in the GOA are the Southeast Outside District of 
the GOA, West Yakutat District of the GOA, Central GOA, and Western 
GOA. The sablefish regulatory areas are defined and shown in Figure 14 
to part 679.
    The FMP currently authorizes only longline gear for the GOA 
sablefish IFQ fishery. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, 
troll, and handline gear. Fishery participants have used longline hook-
and-line gear (hook-and-line gear) to harvest sablefish IFQ in the GOA 
because it is more efficient than jig, troll, or handline gear. 
However, various species of whales can remove or damage sablefish 
caught on hook-and-line gear (depredation). Depredation occurs with 
hook-and-line gear because sablefish are captured on hooks that lie on 
the ocean floor. Whales can completely remove or damage sablefish 
captured on these hooks before the gear is retrieved. Longline pot gear 
is an efficient gear and prevents depredation because whales cannot 
remove or damage sablefish enclosed in a pot.
    Longline pot gear was historically used to harvest sablefish in the 
GOA. However, under the open access management program race for fish 
that existed prior to the implementation of the IFQ Program, some 
vessel operators deployed hook-and-line gear, while other vessel 
operators deployed pot gear in the same fishing areas. This resulted in 
gear conflicts and loss of gear on the fishing grounds. The longline 
pot groundline is heavier and stronger than the groundline used to 
attach the series of hooks on hook-and-line gear. If longline pot gear 
is set over previously deployed hook-and-line gear, the weaker hook-
and-line gear can be damaged or lost as it is being retrieved. The 
Council and NMFS have not received reports of gear conflicts between 
hook-and-line gear. In 1986, NMFS implemented a phased-in prohibition 
of pot gear in the GOA sablefish fishery (50 FR 43193, October 24, 
1985) to minimize potential gear conflicts that occurred during the 
open access management fishery and prior to the implementation of the 
IFQ Program.
    Beginning in 2009, the Council and NMFS received reports from 
sablefish IFQ fisherman that depredation on hook-and-line gear was 
adversely impacting the sablefish IFQ fleet. Depredation can result in 
lost catch, additional time waiting for whales to leave fishing grounds 
before hauling gear, and additional time and fuel spent relocating gear 
to avoid whales. Depredation also has negative consequences for whales 
through increased risk of vessel strike, gear entanglement, and altered 
foraging strategies. While depredation events are difficult to observe 
because they take place on the ocean floor in deep water, fishery 
participants have testified to the Council that depredation continues 
to be a major cost to the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery, and appears to be 
occurring more frequently.
    Industry groups have tested a variety of methods to deter whales 
from preying on fish caught on hook-and-line gear, such as gear 
modifications and acoustic decoys, but these methods have not 
substantially reduced the problem of depredation in the GOA sablefish 
IFQ fishery.
    In April 2015, the Council recommended Amendment 101 to authorize 
longline pot gear for use in the sablefish IFQ fishery in the GOA. 
Amendment 101 would amend Sections 3.2.3.4.3.3.1, 3.4.1, 3.4.2, 3.6.2, 
3.7.1.1, 3.7.1.7, and 4.1.2.3 of the FMP to authorize longline pot gear 
to harvest sablefish in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Amendment 101 
would make minor editorial revisions to the Executive Summary and 
Appendix A of the FMP to list and describe Amendment 101.
    Amendment 101 would authorize, but not require, a harvester to use 
longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Providing fishermen 
with the opportunity to use longline pot gear would reduce the adverse 
impacts of depredation for fishermen who choose to use longline pot 
gear.

[[Page 52396]]

    Amendment 101 is necessary to (1) improve efficiency in harvesting 
sablefish IFQ and reduce adverse economic impacts on harvesters that 
occur from depredation, and (2) reduce sablefish IFQ fishery 
interactions with whales and seabirds.
    Amendment 101 would reduce the adverse impacts of depredation for 
those harvesters who choose to switch to longline pot gear from hook-
and-line gear. These harvesters would benefit from reduced operating 
costs and reduced fishing time needed to harvest sablefish IFQ. 
Amendment 101 would provide individual harvesters with the option to 
use longline pot gear if they determine it is appropriate for their 
fishing operation. Amendment 101 would reduce the associated risks to 
whales including vessel strikes, gear entanglement, and altered 
foraging strategies. The Analysis for Amendment 101 indicates that 
authorizing longline pot gear is expected to have a positive effect on 
killer whales and sperm whales from reduced interactions with fishing 
gear.
    In recommending Amendment 101, the Council recognized that pot gear 
had previously been authorized in the GOA sablefish fishery, but its 
use was prohibited prior to implementation of the IFQ Program due to 
conflicts between hook-and-line and pot gear on the fishing grounds. 
The Council and NMFS agree that authorizing longline pot gear in the 
GOA sablefish IFQ fishery under Amendment 101 is appropriate because 
the fishery is managed under the IFQ Program. The IFQ Program provides 
fishermen with substantially more flexibility on when and where to 
harvest sablefish compared to the open access management program prior 
to implementation of the IFQ Program. The IFQ Program makes it unlikely 
that hook-and-line and longline pot gear conflicts would occur or that 
fishing grounds would be preempted for extended periods in the same 
manner previously analyzed by the Council and NMFS.
    Amendment 101 would reduce fishing interactions with seabirds. 
Fishing interactions can result in direct mortality for seabirds if 
they become entangled in fishing gear or strike the vessel or fishing 
gear while flying. Hook-and-line gear has the greatest impact on 
seabirds relative to other fishing gear. Although seabird mortality in 
the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery makes up a very small portion of total 
estimated seabird mortality from fisheries in Alaska, the Analysis 
determined that Amendment 101 would reduce incidental catch of seabirds 
in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Amendment 101 would provide vessel 
operators with the opportunity to use longline pot gear, which has a 
lower rate of incidental catch of seabirds than hook-and-line gear.
    NMFS is soliciting public comments on proposed Amendment 101 
through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to 
publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on a proposed 
rule that implements Amendment 101 following NMFS' evaluation of the 
proposed rule under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS will consider all 
comments received by the end of the comment period on Amendment 101, 
whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment or its implementing 
proposed rule, in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendment 101. 
NMFS will not consider comments received after that date in the 
approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. To be considered, 
comments must be received, not just postmarked or otherwise 
transmitted, by the close of business on the last day of the comment 
period.

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

    Dated: August 3, 2016.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-18745 Filed 8-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P