Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2016 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits, 63145-63148 [2016-22111]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 178 / Wednesday, September 14, 2016 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects in 48 CFR Parts 1816, 1832, 1842, and 1852 Government procurement. Manuel Quinones, NASA FAR Supplement Manager. Accordingly, 48 CFR parts 1816, 1832, 1842, and 1852 are amended as follows: ■ 1. The authority citation for parts 1816, 1832, and 1852 continues to read as follows: Authority: 51 U.S.C. 20113(a) and 48 CFR chapter 1. PART 1816—TYPES OF CONTRACTS 1816.307–70 [Amended] 2. Amend section 1816.307–70 by removing and reserving paragraph (e). ■ PART 1832—CONTRACT FINANCING 3. Add subpart 1832.9 to read as follows: ■ Subpart 1832.9—Prompt Payment Sec. 1832.908 Contract clauses. 1832.908–70 Submission of Vouchers. Subpart 1832.9—Prompt Payment 1832.908 Contract clauses. 1832.908–70 Submission of Vouchers. Insert clause 1852.232–80, Submission of Vouchers for Payment, in all cost-reimbursement solicitations and contracts. PART 1842—CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION AND AUDIT SERVICES 4. The authority citation for part 1842 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 51 U.S.C. 20113(a) and 48 CFR chapter 1. Subpart 1842.71 [Removed and Reserved] 5. Remove and reserve subpart 1842.71. ■ PART 1852—SOLICITATION PROVISIONS AND CONTRACT CLAUSES asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 1852.216–87 [Removed and Reserved] 6. Remove and reserve section 1852.216–87. ■ 7. Add section 1852.232–80 to read as follows: ■ 1852.232–80 Payment. Submission of Vouchers for As prescribed in 1832.908–70, insert the following clause: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 13, 2016 Jkt 238001 Submission of Vouchers for Payment (Sep 2016) (a) The designated payment office is the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) located at FMD Accounts Payable, Bldg. 1111, Jerry Hlass Road, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529. (b) Except for classified vouchers, the Contractor shall submit all vouchers electronically using the steps described at NSSC’s Vendor Payment information Web site at: https://www.nssc.nasa.gov/ vendorpayment. Please contact the NSSC Customer Contact Center at 1–877–NSSC123 (1–877–677–2123) with any additional questions or comments. (c) Payment requests. (1) The payment periods designated in the payment clause(s) contained in this contract will begin on the date a proper request for payment is received by the NSSC payment office specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section. Vouchers shall be prepared in accordance with the guidance provided by the NSSC at the following Web site: https:// answers.nssc.nasa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_ id/6643. (2) Vouchers shall include the items delineated in FAR 32.905(b) supported by relevant back-up documentation. Back-up documentation shall include at a minimum, the following information: (i) Breakdown of billed labor costs and associated contractor generated supporting documentation for billed direct labor costs to include rates used and number of hours incurred. (ii) Breakdown of billed other direct costs (ODCs) and associated contractor generated supporting documentation for billed ODCs. (iii) Indirect rate(s) used to calculate the amount of billed indirect expenses. (d) Non-electronic payment. The Contractor may submit a voucher using other than the steps described at NSSC’s Vendor Payment information through any of the means described at https:// www.nssc.nasa.gov/vendorpayment, if any of the following conditions are met: (1) The Contracting Officer administering the contract for payment has determined, in writing, that electronic submission would be unduly burdensome to the Contractor. In such cases, the Contractor shall include a copy of the Contracting Officer’s determination with each request for payment when the Government-wide commercial purchase card is used as the method of payment. (2) The contract includes provision allowing the contractor to submit vouchers using other than the steps prescribed at NSSC’s Vendor Payment information Web site. In such instances, the Contractor agrees to submit non-electronic payment requests using the method or methods specified in Section G of the contract. (e) Improper vouchers. The NSSC Payment Office will notify the contractor of any apparent error, defect, or impropriety in a voucher within seven calendar days of receipt by the NSSC Payment Office. Inquiries regarding requests for payment should be directed to the NSSC as specified in paragraph (b) of this section. (f) Other payment clauses. In addition to the requirements of this clause, the PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63145 Contractor shall meet the requirements of the appropriate payment clauses in this contract when submitting payment requests. (g) In the event that amounts are withheld from payment in accordance with provisions of this contract, a separate payment request for the amount withheld will be required before payment for that amount may be made. (End of clause) [FR Doc. 2016–22046 Filed 9–13–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 151023986–6763–02] RIN 0648–XE284 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2016 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final specifications. AGENCY: In this final rule, NMFS specifies a 2016 limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). NMFS will allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a valid specified fishing agreement. As an accountability measure, NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary), catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. These catch limits and accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands and fisheries development in the U.S. territories. DATES: The final specifications are effective September 9, 2016, through December 31, 2016. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is October 11, 2016. ADDRESSES: Copies of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) are available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel. 808–522–8220, fax 808– 522–8226, or www.wpcouncil.org. NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1 63146 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 178 / Wednesday, September 14, 2016 / Rules and Regulations impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. Copies of the environmental analyses, which include a 2015 environmental assessment (EA), a 2016 supplemental EA (2016 SEA), and a finding of no significant impact, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0140, are available from www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150140, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5176. NMFS is specifying a catch limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory in 2016. NMFS is also authorizing each U.S. Pacific territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels permitted to fish under the Pelagic FEP. NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by the longline fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, including catches made by U.S. longline vessels operating under specified fishing agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, and the process for attributing longline-caught bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819—Territorial catch and fishing effort limits. When NMFS projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, NMFS will, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable territory (territorial catch limit), and/or vessels in a specified fishing agreement (allocation limit). You may find additional background information on this action in the preamble to the proposed specifications published on July 7, 2016 (81 FR 44249). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Comments and Responses On July 7, 2016, NMFS published the proposed specifications and request for public comments (81 FR 44249); the comment period closed on July 22, 2016. NMFS received five comments on the proposed specifications and on a draft of the SEA dated June 22, 2016, with comments submitted by individuals, the fishing industry, and non-governmental organizations. NMFS considered public comments in finalizing the 2016 SEA and in making its decision on this action. NMFS responds below to comments on the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 13, 2016 Jkt 238001 proposed specifications and the July 22, 2016, draft of the SEA. Comments on the Proposed Specifications NMFS responds to comments on the proposed specifications, as follows: Comment 1: Several commenters expressed general support for the action and the thorough and objective assessment of the potential impacts of the action. Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments. Comment 2: One commenter noted the action supports opportunities that promote U.S. fishermen supplying seafood markets, and is consistent with Federal regulations implementing Amendment 7 to the Pelagic FEP and the recent decision of the United States District Court of Hawaii (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. NMFS, NO. CV 14–00528 LEK–RLP, 2015 WL 9459899 (D. Haw. 2015)). Response: NMFS agrees. In November of 2014, Plaintiffs Conservation Council of Hawaii, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Center for Biological Diversity, filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii (CA 14–00528) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to set aside NOAA’s October 28, 2014, final rule implementing Amendment 7, and the 2014 bigeye tuna catch and allocation limit specifications (79 FR 64097, October 28, 2014). The final rule established the framework process (50 CFR 665.819) under which the Council may recommend, and NOAA may approve, longline limits for each U.S. Pacific territory. The rule also allows each territory to allocate a portion of the limit to qualifying pelagic permitholders through specified fishing agreements, consistent with the conservation needs of the stock and applicable Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) decisions. In December 2015, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii upheld the final rule implementing Amendment 7, finding that the final rule was consistent with WCPFC conservation and management decisions, and was not contrary to law. Consistent with Amendment 7, NMFS will establish a limit of 2,000 mt of bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory for calendar year 2016. NMFS will also allow each territory to allocate through specified fishing agreements up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to U.S. fishing vessels permitted under the Pelagic FEP. As documented in the 2015 EA and the 2016 SEA, NMFS is satisfied that this action would not impede WCPFC conservation and management objectives to eliminate PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 overfishing on bigeye tuna. We also anticipate that this action may provide some stability to bigeye tuna markets, some positive economic benefits for the fishery and associated businesses, and net benefits to the Nation. Comment 3: One commenter expressed concern that the proposed action could be detrimental to the Hawaiian bigeye tuna population because the amount of bigeye tuna removed from Hawaiian waters could potentially increase by 3,000 mt. Response: Based on the best scientific information available described in Section 3.3.1 of the 2015 EA, NMFS disagrees that this action will result in localized or regional depletion of tuna stocks. Hawaii does not have a distinct bigeye tuna population. Bigeye tuna is a highly migratory species and considered by stock assessment scientists as a single Pacific-wide population. However, the stock is assessed as two separate stocks for international management purposes, with a western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) stock managed by the WCPFC and an eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) stock managed by the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). As described in the 2015 EA, the most recent 2014 WCPO bigeye assessment utilizes a spatially disaggregated MULTIFAN–CL model that separates the WCPO into nine regions. The Hawaiian Archipelago is located mostly in Region 2, with a small portion within Region 4. Regions 2 and 4 share longitudinal boundaries of 170° E. and 150° W., but are latitudinal separated at 20° N. The 2014 WCPO bigeye stock assessment showed that the regions with the highest impact to bigeye tuna in the WCPO were Regions 3 and 4— representing 88 percent of bigeye tuna fishing mortality. Regions 3 and 4 comprise the tropical Equatorial zone between 20° N. and 10° S., within which the area between 10° N. and 10° S. is distinguished as the core Equatorial zone for the tropical tuna longline and purse seine fisheries. The highest levels of purse seine and longline fishing mortality on bigeye tuna occur in this core Equatorial zone. The majority of fishing effort by the U.S. longline fishery operating out of Hawaii occurs north of 20° N. in Region 2, where fishing mortality for bigeye is much lower than in Regions 3 and 4. Moreover, 98 percent of bigeye tuna caught by this fishery occurs north of 10° N., which is an area outside of the core Equatorial zone. Region 2 also has the highest ratio of exploited spawning biomass to unexploited spawning biomass, meaning that it has the lowest E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 178 / Wednesday, September 14, 2016 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES level of depletion because of fishing pressure. Fishing by Hawaii longline vessels occurs principally in Regions 2 and 4, and the stochastic projections shown in Section 4 of the 2015 EA indicate that, compared to no action, the impact of transferring up to 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna from a U.S. territory to Hawaii longline vessels would result in a 2.5 percent change to the ratio of bigeye fishing mortality (F) to fishing mortality at MSY (FMSY). Specifically, the analysis in the 2015 EA predicts an end to overfishing of bigeye by 2032 (F2032/ FMSY = 0.93) for the alternative under which NMFS would not allow any U.S. territory to allocate any tuna to Hawaii longline vessels. Assuming the maximum utilization of territorial bigeye tuna limits and associated allocation limits under this action, F2032/FMSY increases slightly to 1.007. This mortality rate is associated with a 55 percent probability of overfishing and is virtually indistinguishable from the overfishing threshold of F/FMSY >1.0. Under this action, median total biomass (B) would be B2032/BMSY = 1.510 indicating that biomass would be above the level of biomass that produces MSY, and is associated with a zero percent probability of overfishing. Taken together, the analysis indicates that the full utilization of territorial limits, including the transfer of up to 3,000 mt of bigeye tuna under specified fishing arrangements, would have a negligible effect on the overall stock status of bigeye tuna, and would not impede WCPFC conservation measures to eliminate bigeye overfishing in the WCPO. Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment NMFS responds to comments on the draft SEA dated June 22, 2016, as follows: Comment 1: Two commenters questioned whether the best scientific information available supports Senator Schatz’s proposal to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM). The commenters questioned whether the proposed expansion would positively benefit target and non-target fish stocks, promote productive fisheries outside the PMNM, and combat climate change. The commenters noted that the PMNM expansion is a foreseeable future action that is reasonably expected to occur, and requested that NMFS evaluate the potential direct and cumulative effects of the proposed expansion on Hawaii pelagic fisheries, and living marine resources, including coral reefs, bigeye tuna, other highly migratory fish stocks, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 13, 2016 Jkt 238001 sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals. Response: On August 26, 2016, shortly before publication of this final specification, President Barack Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 9478 (August 26, 2016, 81 FR 60225), expanding the PMNM to the full extent of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands west of 163° W. The Proclamation establishes the PMNM Expansion for the protection of the objects within its boundaries. That Presidential action is separate from and is not a part of the current action, which specifies a 2016 catch limit for longline-caught bigeye tuna for participating territories and allows each territory to allocate a portion of that annual catch to U.S. longline fishing vessels. The National Environmental Policy Act requires Federal agencies to consider an action’s cumulative effects, together with past, present, and reasonably foreseeable Federal, state, and private actions. The commenters do not specify what impacts the Proclamation might have that they believe should be considered in a cumulative effects analysis for the 2016 bigeye tuna final specifications. The specification of territorial longline bigeye tuna catch and allocation limits is an action of limited duration that will conclude at the end of 2016. The Proclamation has just occurred, and thus there is no evident useful information about the protections it affords that is available to inform a cumulative effects analysis. Further, in light of the short-term nature of the current action, the prohibition on commercial fishing in the recent Proclamation is not likely to have a cumulative effect on the availability or quantity of tuna that provides the basis for the 2016 specifications. NMFS has added a new section to this effect in the 2016 SEA (Section 2.5.4, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Expansion). Comment 2: One commenter questioned the scientific basis for expanding the PMNM, and noted that if the proposal has been peer reviewed, NMFS should also be evaluating the effects of the Rose Atoll, Mariana Trench, and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments on tuna stocks and other highly migratory species. Response: Like the recent Proclamation expanding the PMNM, the Presidential Proclamations designating the Rose Atoll (74 FR 1577, January 12, 2009), Mariana Trench (74 FR 1557, January 12, 2009), and Pacific Remote Islands Monuments (74 FR 1565, PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63147 January 12, 2009; 79 FR 58645, September 29, 2009), and implementing regulations (78 FR 32996, June 2, 2013) are prior Federal actions, and are not part of this action. Therefore, as explained in Section 3.0 (Cumulative Impacts) of the 2016 SEA, there is no new information on any other component of the environment that would affect the cumulative effects analysis contained in the 2015 EA. Classification The Regional Administrator, NMFS PIR, determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island fishery resources, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for the certification in the proposed rule, and we do not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments on this certification; as a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and none has been prepared. On December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA after July 1, 2016. Pursuant to the RFA and prior to July 1, 2016, NMFS developed a certification for this regulatory action using SBA size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this regulatory action in light of the new size standard. All of the entities directly regulated by this regulatory action are commercial fishing businesses and were considered small under the SBA size standards and, thus, they all would continue to be considered small under the new standard. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the new size standard E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1 63148 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 178 / Wednesday, September 14, 2016 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES does not affect analyses prepared for this regulatory action. This rule it is not subject to the 30day delayed effectiveness provision of the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) because it is a substantive rule that relieves a restriction. This rule allows all U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement to resume fishing in the WCPO after NMFS closed the longline fishery for bigeye tuna both there and in the EPO. NMFS closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the WCPO, on July 22, 2016, because the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 13, 2016 Jkt 238001 fishery reached the 2016 catch limit (81 FR 45982, July 15, 2016). On July 25, 2016, NMFS also closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna for vessels greater than 24 m in the EPO because the fishery reached the 2016 catch limit (81 FR 46614, July 18, 2016). This final rule would relieve the restriction of the fishery closure in the WCPO by allowing all U.S. vessels to fish for bigeye tuna in the WCPO under a valid specified fishing agreement with one or more U.S Pacific territory. This would alleviate some of the impacts to the U.S. pelagic longline fishery resulting from the two fishery closures, PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 and may provide positive economic benefits for the fishery and associated businesses, and net benefits to the public and the Nation. This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866 because it contains no implementing regulations. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 8, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–22111 Filed 9–9–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\14SER1.SGM 14SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 178 (Wednesday, September 14, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63145-63148]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22111]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 151023986-6763-02]
RIN 0648-XE284


Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2016 U.S. Territorial Longline 
Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Final specifications.

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SUMMARY: In this final rule, NMFS specifies a 2016 limit of 2,000 mt of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory 
(American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). NMFS will 
allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. 
longline fishing vessels in a valid specified fishing agreement. As an 
accountability measure, NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if 
necessary), catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches 
made under a specified fishing agreement. These catch limits and 
accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery 
resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands and fisheries development in the 
U.S. territories.

DATES: The final specifications are effective September 9, 2016, 
through December 31, 2016. The deadline to submit a specified fishing 
agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is October 11, 
2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries 
of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) are available from the Western 
Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 
1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel. 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, or 
www.wpcouncil.org.
    NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential

[[Page 63146]]

impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. 
Copies of the environmental analyses, which include a 2015 
environmental assessment (EA), a 2016 supplemental EA (2016 SEA), and a 
finding of no significant impact, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0140, 
are available from www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-
0140, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific 
Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIRO Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5176.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is specifying a catch limit of 2,000 mt 
of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory in 
2016. NMFS is also authorizing each U.S. Pacific territory to allocate 
up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to U.S. longline 
fishing vessels permitted to fish under the Pelagic FEP. NMFS will 
monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by the longline 
fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, including catches made by U.S. 
longline vessels operating under specified fishing agreements. The 
criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, and the process 
for attributing longline-caught bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures 
in 50 CFR 665.819--Territorial catch and fishing effort limits. When 
NMFS projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be 
reached, NMFS will, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch 
and retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the 
applicable territory (territorial catch limit), and/or vessels in a 
specified fishing agreement (allocation limit).
    You may find additional background information on this action in 
the preamble to the proposed specifications published on July 7, 2016 
(81 FR 44249).

Comments and Responses

    On July 7, 2016, NMFS published the proposed specifications and 
request for public comments (81 FR 44249); the comment period closed on 
July 22, 2016. NMFS received five comments on the proposed 
specifications and on a draft of the SEA dated June 22, 2016, with 
comments submitted by individuals, the fishing industry, and non-
governmental organizations. NMFS considered public comments in 
finalizing the 2016 SEA and in making its decision on this action. NMFS 
responds below to comments on the proposed specifications and the July 
22, 2016, draft of the SEA.

Comments on the Proposed Specifications

    NMFS responds to comments on the proposed specifications, as 
follows:
    Comment 1: Several commenters expressed general support for the 
action and the thorough and objective assessment of the potential 
impacts of the action.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments.
    Comment 2: One commenter noted the action supports opportunities 
that promote U.S. fishermen supplying seafood markets, and is 
consistent with Federal regulations implementing Amendment 7 to the 
Pelagic FEP and the recent decision of the United States District Court 
of Hawaii (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. NMFS, NO. CV 14-00528 
LEK-RLP, 2015 WL 9459899 (D. Haw. 2015)).
    Response: NMFS agrees. In November of 2014, Plaintiffs Conservation 
Council of Hawaii, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Center for 
Biological Diversity, filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court 
of Hawaii (CA 14-00528) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to 
set aside NOAA's October 28, 2014, final rule implementing Amendment 7, 
and the 2014 bigeye tuna catch and allocation limit specifications (79 
FR 64097, October 28, 2014). The final rule established the framework 
process (50 CFR 665.819) under which the Council may recommend, and 
NOAA may approve, longline limits for each U.S. Pacific territory. The 
rule also allows each territory to allocate a portion of the limit to 
qualifying pelagic permit-holders through specified fishing agreements, 
consistent with the conservation needs of the stock and applicable 
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) decisions. In 
December 2015, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii upheld the final rule 
implementing Amendment 7, finding that the final rule was consistent 
with WCPFC conservation and management decisions, and was not contrary 
to law.
    Consistent with Amendment 7, NMFS will establish a limit of 2,000 
mt of bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory for calendar year 
2016. NMFS will also allow each territory to allocate through specified 
fishing agreements up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to 
U.S. fishing vessels permitted under the Pelagic FEP. As documented in 
the 2015 EA and the 2016 SEA, NMFS is satisfied that this action would 
not impede WCPFC conservation and management objectives to eliminate 
overfishing on bigeye tuna. We also anticipate that this action may 
provide some stability to bigeye tuna markets, some positive economic 
benefits for the fishery and associated businesses, and net benefits to 
the Nation.
    Comment 3: One commenter expressed concern that the proposed action 
could be detrimental to the Hawaiian bigeye tuna population because the 
amount of bigeye tuna removed from Hawaiian waters could potentially 
increase by 3,000 mt.
    Response: Based on the best scientific information available 
described in Section 3.3.1 of the 2015 EA, NMFS disagrees that this 
action will result in localized or regional depletion of tuna stocks. 
Hawaii does not have a distinct bigeye tuna population. Bigeye tuna is 
a highly migratory species and considered by stock assessment 
scientists as a single Pacific-wide population. However, the stock is 
assessed as two separate stocks for international management purposes, 
with a western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) stock managed by the 
WCPFC and an eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) stock managed by the Inter-
American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).
    As described in the 2015 EA, the most recent 2014 WCPO bigeye 
assessment utilizes a spatially disaggregated MULTIFAN-CL model that 
separates the WCPO into nine regions. The Hawaiian Archipelago is 
located mostly in Region 2, with a small portion within Region 4. 
Regions 2 and 4 share longitudinal boundaries of 170[deg] E. and 
150[deg] W., but are latitudinal separated at 20[deg] N. The 2014 WCPO 
bigeye stock assessment showed that the regions with the highest impact 
to bigeye tuna in the WCPO were Regions 3 and 4--representing 88 
percent of bigeye tuna fishing mortality. Regions 3 and 4 comprise the 
tropical Equatorial zone between 20[deg] N. and 10[deg] S., within 
which the area between 10[deg] N. and 10[deg] S. is distinguished as 
the core Equatorial zone for the tropical tuna longline and purse seine 
fisheries. The highest levels of purse seine and longline fishing 
mortality on bigeye tuna occur in this core Equatorial zone.
    The majority of fishing effort by the U.S. longline fishery 
operating out of Hawaii occurs north of 20[deg] N. in Region 2, where 
fishing mortality for bigeye is much lower than in Regions 3 and 4. 
Moreover, 98 percent of bigeye tuna caught by this fishery occurs north 
of 10[deg] N., which is an area outside of the core Equatorial zone. 
Region 2 also has the highest ratio of exploited spawning biomass to 
unexploited spawning biomass, meaning that it has the lowest

[[Page 63147]]

level of depletion because of fishing pressure.
    Fishing by Hawaii longline vessels occurs principally in Regions 2 
and 4, and the stochastic projections shown in Section 4 of the 2015 EA 
indicate that, compared to no action, the impact of transferring up to 
3,000 mt of bigeye tuna from a U.S. territory to Hawaii longline 
vessels would result in a 2.5 percent change to the ratio of bigeye 
fishing mortality (F) to fishing mortality at MSY (FMSY). 
Specifically, the analysis in the 2015 EA predicts an end to 
overfishing of bigeye by 2032 (F2032/FMSY = 0.93) 
for the alternative under which NMFS would not allow any U.S. territory 
to allocate any tuna to Hawaii longline vessels. Assuming the maximum 
utilization of territorial bigeye tuna limits and associated allocation 
limits under this action, F2032/FMSY increases 
slightly to 1.007. This mortality rate is associated with a 55 percent 
probability of overfishing and is virtually indistinguishable from the 
overfishing threshold of F/FMSY >1.0. Under this action, 
median total biomass (B) would be B2032/BMSY = 
1.510 indicating that biomass would be above the level of biomass that 
produces MSY, and is associated with a zero percent probability of 
overfishing. Taken together, the analysis indicates that the full 
utilization of territorial limits, including the transfer of up to 
3,000 mt of bigeye tuna under specified fishing arrangements, would 
have a negligible effect on the overall stock status of bigeye tuna, 
and would not impede WCPFC conservation measures to eliminate bigeye 
overfishing in the WCPO.

Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment

    NMFS responds to comments on the draft SEA dated June 22, 2016, as 
follows:
    Comment 1: Two commenters questioned whether the best scientific 
information available supports Senator Schatz's proposal to expand the 
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM). The commenters 
questioned whether the proposed expansion would positively benefit 
target and non-target fish stocks, promote productive fisheries outside 
the PMNM, and combat climate change. The commenters noted that the PMNM 
expansion is a foreseeable future action that is reasonably expected to 
occur, and requested that NMFS evaluate the potential direct and 
cumulative effects of the proposed expansion on Hawaii pelagic 
fisheries, and living marine resources, including coral reefs, bigeye 
tuna, other highly migratory fish stocks, sea turtles, sea birds, and 
marine mammals.
    Response: On August 26, 2016, shortly before publication of this 
final specification, President Barack Obama issued Presidential 
Proclamation 9478 (August 26, 2016, 81 FR 60225), expanding the PMNM to 
the full extent of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around the 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands west of 163[deg] W. The Proclamation 
establishes the PMNM Expansion for the protection of the objects within 
its boundaries.
    That Presidential action is separate from and is not a part of the 
current action, which specifies a 2016 catch limit for longline-caught 
bigeye tuna for participating territories and allows each territory to 
allocate a portion of that annual catch to U.S. longline fishing 
vessels. The National Environmental Policy Act requires Federal 
agencies to consider an action's cumulative effects, together with 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable Federal, state, and private 
actions. The commenters do not specify what impacts the Proclamation 
might have that they believe should be considered in a cumulative 
effects analysis for the 2016 bigeye tuna final specifications.
    The specification of territorial longline bigeye tuna catch and 
allocation limits is an action of limited duration that will conclude 
at the end of 2016. The Proclamation has just occurred, and thus there 
is no evident useful information about the protections it affords that 
is available to inform a cumulative effects analysis. Further, in light 
of the short-term nature of the current action, the prohibition on 
commercial fishing in the recent Proclamation is not likely to have a 
cumulative effect on the availability or quantity of tuna that provides 
the basis for the 2016 specifications. NMFS has added a new section to 
this effect in the 2016 SEA (Section 2.5.4, Papahanaumokuakea Marine 
National Monument Expansion).
    Comment 2: One commenter questioned the scientific basis for 
expanding the PMNM, and noted that if the proposal has been peer 
reviewed, NMFS should also be evaluating the effects of the Rose Atoll, 
Mariana Trench, and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments on 
tuna stocks and other highly migratory species.
    Response: Like the recent Proclamation expanding the PMNM, the 
Presidential Proclamations designating the Rose Atoll (74 FR 1577, 
January 12, 2009), Mariana Trench (74 FR 1557, January 12, 2009), and 
Pacific Remote Islands Monuments (74 FR 1565, January 12, 2009; 79 FR 
58645, September 29, 2009), and implementing regulations (78 FR 32996, 
June 2, 2013) are prior Federal actions, and are not part of this 
action. Therefore, as explained in Section 3.0 (Cumulative Impacts) of 
the 2016 SEA, there is no new information on any other component of the 
environment that would affect the cumulative effects analysis contained 
in the 2015 EA.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, NMFS PIR, determined that this action 
is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island 
fishery resources, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. NMFS published the factual basis for the certification in the 
proposed rule, and we do not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments 
on this certification; as a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required, and none has been prepared.
    On December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule establishing a small 
business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all 
businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 
11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only 
(80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). The $11 million standard became 
effective on July 1, 2016, and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small 
Business Administration's (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, 
$5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), 
shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) 
sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry in all NMFS rules 
subject to the RFA after July 1, 2016.
    Pursuant to the RFA and prior to July 1, 2016, NMFS developed a 
certification for this regulatory action using SBA size standards. NMFS 
has reviewed the analyses prepared for this regulatory action in light 
of the new size standard. All of the entities directly regulated by 
this regulatory action are commercial fishing businesses and were 
considered small under the SBA size standards and, thus, they all would 
continue to be considered small under the new standard. Accordingly, 
NMFS has determined that the new size standard

[[Page 63148]]

does not affect analyses prepared for this regulatory action.
    This rule it is not subject to the 30-day delayed effectiveness 
provision of the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(1) because it is a substantive rule that relieves a restriction. 
This rule allows all U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified 
fishing agreement to resume fishing in the WCPO after NMFS closed the 
longline fishery for bigeye tuna both there and in the EPO.
    NMFS closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in 
the WCPO, on July 22, 2016, because the fishery reached the 2016 catch 
limit (81 FR 45982, July 15, 2016). On July 25, 2016, NMFS also closed 
the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna for vessels greater 
than 24 m in the EPO because the fishery reached the 2016 catch limit 
(81 FR 46614, July 18, 2016). This final rule would relieve the 
restriction of the fishery closure in the WCPO by allowing all U.S. 
vessels to fish for bigeye tuna in the WCPO under a valid specified 
fishing agreement with one or more U.S Pacific territory. This would 
alleviate some of the impacts to the U.S. pelagic longline fishery 
resulting from the two fishery closures, and may provide positive 
economic benefits for the fishery and associated businesses, and net 
benefits to the public and the Nation.
    This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866 because it 
contains no implementing regulations.

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

    Dated: September 8, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-22111 Filed 9-9-16; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P