Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 87881-87901 [2016-29150]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2016 SIR (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sites/default/files/sir-2016-17.pdf). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 30, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–29152 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 160920866–6999–01] RIN 0648–XE904 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2017 and 2018 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: Comments must be received by January 5, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 NMFS–2016–0127, 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-2016-0127, 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 99802–1668. 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), 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). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at https://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2015, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907–271– 2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. The draft 2016 SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 87881 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (§ 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2017 and 2018, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 573,872 mt. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2016 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2016 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2016 SAFE report prepared for the 2017 and 2018 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications Amendment 103: Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limit Reapportionment Provisions for Trawl Sectors in the Western and Central GOA In December 2015, the Council recommended for Secretarial review Amendment 103 to the FMP to reapportion unused Chinook salmon PSC limits among the GOA pollock and non-pollock trawl sectors. Amendment 103 allows NMFS to reapportion the Chinook salmon PSC limits established by Amendments 93 and 97 to prevent or limit fishery closures due to attainment of sector-specific Chinook salmon PSC limits, while maintaining the annual, combined 32,500 Chinook salmon PSC limit for all sectors. The Secretary approved Amendment 103 on August 24, 2016. The final rule implementing Amendment 103 published on September 12, 2016, (81 FR 62659) and became effective on October 12, 2016. Amendment 101: Authorize Longline Pot Gear for Use in the Sablefish IFQ Fishery in the GOA NMFS issued a proposed rule to implement Amendment 101 to the FMP E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87882 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS for the sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fisheries in the GOA on August 19, 2016 (81 FR 55408). That proposed action would authorize the use of longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. The Secretary approved Amendment 101 on November 4, 2016. If NMFS approves the final rule, NMFS expects it would be effective for the 2017 GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications In October 2016, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2015 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates and the SSC sets an overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 2017 and 2018 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2015 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2016 SAFE report. The draft stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2016 SAFE report are available at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/stocks/ plan_team/draft_assessments.htm. In November 2016, the Plan Team will update the 2015 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2016, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and produce the draft 2016 SAFE report for presentation at the December 2016 Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council will consider information in the draft 2016 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2016 Plan Team meeting and December 2016 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(2) and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum to fall within the optimum yield range. In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the September 2016 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2016 Council meeting. The species with possible significant model changes are Pacific cod, pollock, sablefish, and sharks. In November 2016, the Plan Team considered updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2016 SAFE report. If the draft 2016 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the draft 2016 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. The proposed 2017 and 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2017 and 2018 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2017 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2016 (81 FR 14740). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ‘‘other rockfish’’ in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for harvest opportunities while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards in the SEO District. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts of this species in other directed fisheries. The Pacific cod TACs are reduced from ABC amounts to accommodate the State waters Pacific cod fisheries. Similarly, the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock ABC is reduced to account for the State water pollock fishery. These reductions are described below. The proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in Prince William Sound (PWS). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the Council reduced the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 1,898 mt; (2) Central GOA, 10,653 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 10,499 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State’s 2017 and 2018 GHLs in these areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern and Central, and 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABCs. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established by the State for the PWS pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2017 and 2018, the SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2016 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2017, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 6,264 mt, a slight decrease from the 2016 PWS GHL of 6,358 mt. The proposed W/C/WYK 2017 and 2018 pollock ABC is 250,544 mt, and the proposed TAC is 244,280 mt. Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be ‘‘apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)’’ rather than ‘‘ABCs.’’ This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. In addition, apportioning ACLs in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC from one area to another pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL and ABC are not exceeded. NMFS’ proposed apportionments for groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on these apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here. NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the W/C/WYK and the SEO District of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among each of the following four seasons: The A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts. NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational 87883 sectors. Table 3 lists the amounts apportioned to each sector. The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below; Tables 4 and 5 list these amounts. For 2017 and 2018, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. Table 1 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2015 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 573,872 mt for 2017 and 2018, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 2016 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications during its December 2016 meeting. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Pollock 2 ................................................................................... Shumagin (610) ..................... Chirikof (620) ......................... Kodiak (630) .......................... WYK (640) ............................. W/C/WYK (subtotal) ............... SEO (650) .............................. n/a n/a n/a n/a 289,937 13,226 55,657 123,078 56,336 9,209 250,544 9,920 55,657 123,078 56,336 9,209 244,280 9,920 Total ................................ mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Species 303,163 260,464 254,200 W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 34,998 42,610 7,592 24,499 31,958 5,693 Total ................................ 100,800 85,200 62,150 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 Pacific cod 3 ............................................................................. Sablefish 4 ................................................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 OFL E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM ABC 06DEP1 TAC 2 87884 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) TAC 2 ABC mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS ..................................................................... Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 .................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00036 50,220 40,764 34,855 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 187 3,516 3,015 2,563 187 3,516 3,015 2,563 11,168 9,281 9,281 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,318 4,453 767 969 1,318 4,453 767 969 9,810 7,507 7,507 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 28,659 109,804 37,999 12,870 14,500 75,000 6,900 6,900 196,714 189,332 103,300 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 11,080 20,307 2,944 856 8,650 15,400 2,944 856 43,060 35,187 27,850 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... W/C/WYK ............................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a 26,045 2,096 2,709 16,860 2,818 22,387 1,802 2,709 16,860 2,818 22,387 1,802 28,141 24,189 24,189 W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 430 3,338 4 430 3,338 ........................ 4,501 3,768 3,768 W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 38 301 947 38 301 947 1,715 1,286 1,286 W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 159 3,791 251 83 159 3,791 251 83 Total ................................ Dusky 13,250 17,680 2,919 1,006 Total ................................ rockfish 10 19,159 17,680 2,919 1,006 Total ................................ Shortraker rockfish 9 ................................................................ n/a n/a n/a n/a Total ................................ Northern rockfish 8 ................................................................... W ............................................ C ............................................ WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... Total ................................ Pacific ocean perch 7 ............................................................... 8,307 Total ................................ Flathead sole ........................................................................... 8,307 Total ................................ Arrowtooth flounder ................................................................. 9,825 Total ................................ Rex sole .................................................................................. 3,466 Total ................................ Deep-water flatfish 6 ................................................................ 3,466 Total ................................ Shallow-water flatfish 5 ............................................................ n/a 5,253 4,284 4,284 W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 105 705 515 105 705 515 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87885 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ABCS, TACS, AND OFLS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, AND IN THE WEST YAKUTAT, SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL TAC 2 ABC Total ................................ 1,592 1,325 1,325 Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ....................................................... SEO ....................................... 364 231 231 Thornyhead rockfish 13 ............................................................ W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 291 988 682 291 988 682 Total ................................ 2,615 1,961 1,961 W/C combined ....................... WYK ....................................... SEO ....................................... n/a n/a n/a 1,534 574 3,665 1,534 574 200 Total ................................ 7,424 5,773 2,308 Atka mackerel .......................................................................... GW ......................................... 6,200 4,700 2,000 Big skates 16 ............................................................................ W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 908 1,850 1,056 908 1,850 1,056 Total ................................ 5,086 3,814 3,814 W ............................................ C ............................................ E ............................................. n/a n/a n/a 61 2,513 632 61 2,513 632 Total ................................ 4,274 3,206 3,206 ......................................... ......................................... ......................................... ......................................... ......................................... 2,558 7,338 6,020 1,530 6,504 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 ................................................ 815,875 708,629 573,872 Other rockfish 14 15 ................................................................... Longnose skates 17 ................................................................. Other skates 18 ........................................................................ Sculpins ................................................................................... Sharks ..................................................................................... Squids ...................................................................................... Octopuses ............................................................................... Total ................................................................................. GW GW GW GW GW mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-wide). 2 The combined pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat areas is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among four statistical areas. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. Table 2 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned among various sectors, 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2017 and trawl gear in 2018. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the other rockfish (slope rockfish) species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Thornyhead rockfish’’ means Sebastes species. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish (slope rockfish)’’ means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ‘‘other rockfish’’ also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means all rockfish species included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ and demersal shelf rockfish categories. 16 ‘‘Big skates’’ means Raja binoculata. 17 ‘‘Longnose skates’’ means Raja rhina. 18 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87886 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2016, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2017 and 2018, NMFS proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS anticipates, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary and the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species categories contains the full TAC recommended by the Council. Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments have historically been based on the proportional distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2017 and 2018, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, following the methodology used for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. This methodology averages the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the best available information about migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 6 percent, 73 percent, and 21 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 6 percent, 85 percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 41 percent, 26 percent, and 33 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2017 and 2018 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 9,209 mt and SEO District of 9,920 mt are not allocated by season. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of pollock amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined as fishing activity occurs during the fishing year by the offshore component. Table 2 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season 2 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 3 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 3,769 3,769 24,060 24,060 (6.41%) (6.41%) (40.94%) (40.94%) 42,732 49,996 15,176 15,175 (72.71%) (85.07%) (25.82%) (25.82%) 12,272 5,007 19,529 19,529 (20.88%) (8.52%) (33.23%) (33.23%) 58,768 58,768 58,768 58,768 Annual Total .......... 55,657 ........................ 123,078 ........................ 56,336 ........................ 235,071 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. 2 As VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also proposes allocating the 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern GOA (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) using hookand-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/ Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishing year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see 87887 Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years. NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on the jig performance through 2015. NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 2.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 and 2014 allocations in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector would receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional performance increase. These historical Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Example 1. EXAMPLE 1—SUMMARY OF WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA MANAGEMENT AREA PACIFIC COD CATCH BY JIG GEAR IN 2012 THROUGH 2015, AND CORRESPONDING PERCENT ALLOCATION CHANGES Area Initial percent of TAC Year WGOA ......................... CGOA .......................... 2012 2013 2014 2015 2012 2013 2014 2015 1.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 1.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2015 and 2016 harvest performance of each jig sector when the 2016 fishing year is complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. The current catch through November 2016 by the Western VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 Initial TAC allocation Percent of initial allocation Catch (mt) 315 530 573 948 427 740 797 460 322 273 785 55 400 202 262 355 GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector would probably decrease by 1 percent in 2017. Also, the current catch by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector’s Pacific cod allocation percentage would not change in 2017. The jig sector allocations are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 102 52 137 6 94 27 33 77 >90% of initial allocation? Y N Y N Y N N N .................. ................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ................. ................. Change to percent allocation Increase 1% None Increase 1% None Increase 1% None None Decrease 1% and B (40 percent) seasons (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i) and § 679.23(d)(3)(iii)). Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87888 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA FOR PROCESSING BY THE INSHORE AND OFFSHORE COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Western GOA: Jig (3.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... Pot CV and Pot C/P ..................................................... 857 331 4,681 9,078 567 8,984 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 514 165 2,577 6,549 213 4,681 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 343 165 2,104 2,530 355 4,303 Total ....................................................................... 24,499 60.00 14,699 40.00 9,799 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line <50 CV .................................................. Hook-and-line ≥50 CV .................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV 1 ..................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... Pot CV and Pot C/P ..................................................... 320 4,620 2,122 1,615 13,156 1,328 8,797 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.13 2.00 17.83 192 2,947 1,775 1,299 6,687 634 5,641 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 128 1,673 347 316 6,470 694 3,156 Total ....................................................................... 31,958 60.00 19,175 40.00 12,783 Eastern GOA: ........................ Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 5,124 569 5,693 1 Trawl mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,409 mt, of the annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 8). Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using Hookand-Line and Trawl Gear Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 making the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-and-line gear. NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This action results in a proposed 2017 allocation of 173 mt to trawl gear and 1,175 mt to hook-andline gear in the WYK District, a 2,118 mt to hook-and-line gear in the SEO District, and a 2018 allocation of 173 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2017 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2018 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on recent survey information. The Council also recommended that only the trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 years PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the ABCs and TACs. With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87889 TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2017 SABLEFISH TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO HOOK-AND-LINE AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ............................................................................................................................ Central 1 ........................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ........................................................................................................... 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 930 2,942 1,175 2,118 233 736 173 0 Total .......................................................................................................................... 8,307 7,166 1,142 1 The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (378 mt). See Table 8. This results in 358 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2018 SABLEFISH TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Hook-and-line allocation TAC Trawl allocation Western ............................................................................................................................ Central 2 ........................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 3 ................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ........................................................................................................... 1,163 3,678 1,348 2,118 n/a n/a n/a n/a 233 736 173 0 Total .......................................................................................................................... 8,307 n/a 1,142 1 The mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (378 mt). See Table 8. This results in 358 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 3 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. Proposed Apportionments to the Rockfish Program These proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central GOA are VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d)). Rockfish Program sideboards and halibut PSC limits are discussed below. Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters that operate under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, nonRockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions are discussed in a subsequent section titled ‘‘Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.’’ Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2017 and 2018. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it is the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2016, the catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an increase to the entry level longline fishery 2017 and 2018 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percentage of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87890 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA Rockfish primary species 2017 and 2018 allocations Incremental increase in 2018 if ≥90 percent of 2017 allocation is harvested Pacific ocean perch ................................ Northern rockfish .................................... Dusky rockfish ........................................ 5 metric tons .......................................... 5 metric tons .......................................... 30 metric tons ........................................ Up to maximum percent of each TAC of: 5 metric tons .......................................... 5 metric tons .......................................... 20 metric tons ........................................ Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and Rockfish CV and C/P Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 1,500 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and C/ 1 2 5 P cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2017 and 2018 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainablefisheries/rockfish/ when they become available after March 1. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance (ICA) TAC Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery TAC minus ICA Allocation to the Rockfish Cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ......................................... Northern rockfish .............................................. Dusky rockfish .................................................. 16,860 3,338 3,791 1,500 300 250 15,360 3,038 3,541 5 5 30 15,535 3,033 3,511 Total .......................................................... 23,989 2,050 21,939 40 21,899 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives. Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/ P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are in metric tons] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye rockfish ............................................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.0 0.0 7.84 1,218 249 0 0 77 0.0 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 0.0 129 120 415 262 31,958 3,678 301 705 988 2016, the Council recommended halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4702 fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence) and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of the 231 mt TAC for DSR in 2016, 188 mt were available for the DSR commercial directed fishery, of which 8 mt were harvested. The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2017 and 2018. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality, (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ (§ 679.7(f)(11)), (3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ, and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2016. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through November 8, 2016, is 1,321 mt for trawl gear and 206 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,527 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in 87891 halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment and the information presented in the final 2016 SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. The final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (81 FR 14740, March 18, 2016) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’ findings with respect to halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council’s and NMFS’ findings for 2017 are unchanged from 2016. Table 9 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at § 679.21(d)(2) and § 679.21(d)(3). Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will be deducted from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season Percent Amount Season Amount January 20–April 1 .............. April 1–July 1 ....................... July 1–September 1 ............ September 1–October 1 ...... October 1–December 31 ..... 27.5 20 30 7.5 15 469 341 512 128 256 January 1–June 10 ............. June 10–September 1 ........ September 1–December 31 86 2 12 221 5 31 January 1–December 31 .... 9 Total ............................. .............. 1,706 ............................................. .............. 257 ............................................. 9 1 The mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates and ‘‘other species’’ (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 10 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deepwater and the shallow-water species fisheries. PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/P sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87892 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing with trawl gear for the remainder of the fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)). TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMIT APPORTIONED BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water 1 Total January 20–April 1 ........................................................................................................... April 1–July 1 ................................................................................................................... July 1–September 1 ......................................................................................................... September 1–October 1 .................................................................................................. 384 85 171 128 85 256 341 (3) 469 341 512 128 Subtotal, January 20–October 1 .............................................................................. October 1–December 31 2 ............................................................................................... 768 ............................ 682 ............................ 1,450 256 Total ................................................................................................................... ............................ ............................ 1,706 1 Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through September 1) deepwater species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). 3 Any remainder. Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and is not repeated here. For 2017 and 2018, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments of 129 mt and 128 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2017 and 2018 annual halibut PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors in the GOA. No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS calculates the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-andline sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)). TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERIES’’ HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and-line sector 257 .................. Catcher Vessel ............. 129 Catcher/Processor ........ 128 Sector annual amount mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 January 1–June 10 .............................................. June 10–September 1 ......................................... September 1–December 31 ................................ January 1–June 10 .............................................. June 10–September 1 ......................................... September 1–December 31 ................................ incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are PO 00000 Seasonal percentage Season Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 111 3 15 110 3 15 estimated using the best information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report. Historically, DMRs consisted of longterm averages of annual DMRs within target fisheries that were defined by management area, gear, and target species. Since the late 1990s, halibut E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules DMRs were calculated by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), which then provided the estimates to the NMFS for application in managing halibut bycatch limits. DMRs specified through the Council process and used for catch accounting by NMFS have consisted of long-term averages of annual estimates within target fisheries that are defined by region, gear, and target species. Longterm averages are taken from annual estimates for the most recent 10-year period with the number of years with data to support annual DMR estimates varying among fisheries. Fisheryspecific DMRs, once calculated, have generally been put in place for 3-year increments. NMFS proposes to revise methods for estimating DMRs consistent with those methods developed by the halibut DMR working group and recommended by the Council at its October 2016 meeting. NMFS proposes for the 2017 and 2018 GOA groundfish harvest specifications revised DMRs consistent with modified DMR estimation methodology. The proposed change will make the DMR process transparent, transferable, and allow for review by all agencies/entities involved. The Alaska Region will program the revised DMRs into its groundfish catch accounting system to monitor the 2017 and 2018 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 9, 10, and 11). The DMRs proposed for 2017 and 2018 GOA groundfish harvest specifications reflect an ongoing effort by the Council to improve the estimation of DMRs in the Alaska groundfish fisheries. The halibut DMR working group, consisting of the IPHC, Council, and NMFS Alaska Region staff, recommended the following broad changes to the DMR estimation method: Implementation of sampling design consistent with sampling protocols used under the Observer Restructuring Program; categorization of data of halibut viability based on vessel operations (sorting and handling practices, gear type, and processing sector) rather than target fisheries; and revision of reference timeframes to obtain estimates that are more responsive to changes in how the groundfish fisheries are observed and managed. These recommendations, and others, are described below. • Revise the DMR estimation methodology for consistency with the sampling protocols instituted in 2013 through the restructured Observer Program. The Observer Program randomizes sampling of fishing trips within operational groupings, sampling of hauls within fishing trips, and sampling of biological data within hauls. Basing halibut DMR estimation on a sampling design consistent with Observer Program sampling protocols should reduce the potential for sampling bias, improve data on operational causes of variation in postcapture halibut viability, and promote the ability for NMFS to make timely improvements to halibut DMR estimation in the future. • Incorporate the use of vessel operations into DMR estimation methodology. This incorporates data about the viability (likelihood to survive) of discarded halibut into DMR calculations. Data based on different vessel operational categories, such as sorting practices, handling practices, gear type, and processing sectors (i.e. CVs, CPs, and CVs delivering to motherships), provide better information on halibut viability. NMFS expects that incorporating this information into the DMR estimation methodology will yield a more precise estimate of actual mortality. • Remove the use of target fishery. Fishery targets do not necessarily characterize statistical and/or vessel operational differences in the sampling or handling of halibut PSC. Using fishery target aggregations may have reduced the quality of DMR estimates due to small sample sizes or by combining vessel operations with very important differences in sampling and handling characteristics. 87893 • Change the reference time-frame for DMR calculations. Rather than using 10year average rates, the revised methodology estimates DMRs based on and initial 3-year average rates. Using 2013 as the starting year is more responsive to, and better aligns DMR calculation methodology with, the 2013 restructured Observer Program’s sampling protocols. Using 2013 as the base year, NMFS and the Council will evaluate the time frame each year. Evaluating the time frame each year will enable NMFS and the Council to update the methodology and the halibut DMRs based on the best available information. The working group’s discussion paper also included a comparison of the total amount of halibut mortality that accrues using current DMRs versus the working group’s recommended DMRs. Calculating the 2015 halibut mortality using specified DMRs yielded 1,620 mt of halibut mortality, whereas using the recommended DMRs yielded 1,688 mt of halibut morality (a four percent increase). Calculating the 2016 halibut mortality (through September 2016) yielded 1,243 mt of halibut mortality, versus 1,256 mt of halibut mortality when applying the recommended DMRs (a one percent increase). These proposed estimation methods, and recommendations for 2017 and 2018 halibut DMRs, were presented to the Plan Team in September 2016. The Plan Team concurred with the revised methodology, as well as the working group’s halibut DMR recommendations for 2017 and 2018. The Council agreed with these recommendations at the Council’s October 2016 meeting. Additionally, in April 2016 the SSC reviewed the methodology and made a number of suggestions for improving and refining it. The working group has incorporated those suggestions into its DMR estimation methodology. The working group’s discussion of the revised halibut DMR methodology, including the comparative assessment, is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 12 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Program Hook-and-line .......................................... Hook-and-line .......................................... Pot ........................................................... Pelagic trawl ............................................ Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Pelagic trawl ............................................ C/P ........................................................... CV ............................................................ CV and C/P ............................................. CV ............................................................ CV ............................................................ CV ............................................................ non-Rockfish Program ............................. non-Rockfish Program ............................. non-Rockfish Program ............................. Rockfish Program .................................... Rockfish Program .................................... non-Rockfish Program ............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Discard mortality rate (percent) 11 12 10 100 85 100 87894 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Program Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Pelagic trawl ............................................ Pelagic trawl ............................................ CV ............................................................ C/P and Mothership ................................ C/P ........................................................... C/P ........................................................... C/P ........................................................... non-Rockfish Program ............................. non-Rockfish Program ............................. Rockfish Program .................................... Rockfish Program .................................... non-Rockfish Program ............................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limit Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in the directed pollock trawl fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In addition, all salmon (regardless of species), taken in the pollock directed fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained until an observer at the processing facility that takes delivery of the catch is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon (§ 679.21(h)(6)). Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program that are fishing for groundfish species other than pollock (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limits its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2016, that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2017 Chinook salmon PSC limit (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2016 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2016 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/P sector will receive an incremental increase of its Chinook salmon PSC limit, as will the non-Rockfish Program CV sector. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. As described earlier in this preamble, Amendment 103 to the FMP became effective in 2016. The regulations associated with Amendment 103 authorize NMFS to use inseason management actions to reapportion unused Chinook salmon PSC among the pollock and non-pollock sectors. As of November 15, 2016, NMFS has not exercised this authority, as none of the trawl sectors have needed such reapportionments. American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Discard mortality rate (percent) 63 85 85 100 100 limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. Table 13 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 13. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87895 TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/gear A Season—January 20– March 10. B Season—March 10–May 31. C Season—August 25–October 1. D Season—October 1–November 1. Annual ................................... A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Sablefish ................................ Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky Rockfish ...................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific cod ............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other Rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skates .............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Area/component Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 0.0079 0.0078 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 0.0000 0.0647 0.0128 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 0.0036 0.0213 0.0009 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 0.0003 0.0277 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 0.0020 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 0.1699 0.0000 0.0309 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs 3 3,769 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 15,176 19,529 24,060 15,175 19,529 9,209 9,920 14,699 19,175 9,799 12,783 5,124 569 233 736 173 13,250 17,680 3,925 187 3,516 5,578 1,318 4,453 1,736 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,800 2,709 16,860 4,620 430 3,338 38 301 947 159 3,791 334 105 705 515 231 291 988 682 1,534 774 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 Proposed 2017 and 2018 nonexempt AFA CV sideboard limit 2,279 4,987 2,489 2,279 5,835 1,015 14,549 1,771 3,960 14,549 1,771 3,960 3,219 3,467 1,956 1,327 1,304 885 40 4 0 47 8 207 1,038 49 0 227 71 1 171 5 30 2,100 3 31 328 3 6 1,261 215 0 92 0 7 10 0 0 2 0 17 6 0 8 28 19 261 0 62 6 12 7 0 16 87896 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Apportionments by season/gear Species Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Squids .................................... Octopuses ............................. 1 2 3 Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC Area/component ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs 3 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 Proposed 2017 and 2018 nonexempt AFA CV sideboard limit 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 4 12 35 28 7 31 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC limit Proposed 2017 and 2018 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ..................... January 20–April 1 ..................... 2 ..................... April 1–July 1 .............................. 3 ..................... July 1–September 1 ................... 4 ..................... September 1–October 1 ............. 5 ..................... October 1–December 31 ............ shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. all targets .................................... 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 85 85 256 171 341 128 0 256 131 6 29 18 58 24 44 0 52 Annual ..... ..................................................... Total shallow-water .................... Total deep-water ........................ ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ 262 48 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. ............................ 1,706 362 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the Crab Rationalization Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). Table 15 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87897 TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ............................... Season/gear Area/component/gear A Season—January 20– March 10. B Season—March 10–May 31. C Season—August 25– October 1. D Season—October 1–November 1. Annual .............................. Pacific cod ......................... A Season 1—January 1– June 10. B Season 2—September 1–December 31 Annual .............................. Annual, trawl gear ............ Flatfish, shallow-water ....... Annual .............................. Flatfish, deep-water ........... Annual .............................. Rex sole ............................. Annual .............................. Arrowtooth flounder ........... Annual .............................. Flathead sole ..................... Annual .............................. Pacific ocean perch ........... Annual .............................. Northern rockfish ............... Annual .............................. Shortraker rockfish ............ mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Sablefish ............................ Annual .............................. Dusky rockfish ................... Annual .............................. Rougheye rockfish ............. Annual .............................. Demersal shelf rockfish ..... Thornyhead rockfish .......... Annual .............................. Annual .............................. Other rockfish .................... Annual .............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... WYK (640) ........................ SEO (650) ........................ W Jig CV .......................... W Hook-and-line CV ......... W Pot CV ......................... W Pot C/P ........................ W Trawl CV ...................... C Jig CV ........................... C Hook-and-line CV ......... C Pot CV .......................... C Pot C/P ......................... C Trawl CV ....................... W Jig CV .......................... W Hook-and-line CV ......... W Pot CV ......................... W Pot C/P ........................ W Trawl CV ...................... C Jig CV ........................... C Hook-and-line CV ......... C Pot CV .......................... C Pot C/P ......................... C Trawl CV ....................... E inshore .......................... E offshore ......................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... SEO .................................. W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0000 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0110 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0005 0.0000 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 0.0000 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 0.0035 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 3,769 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 15,176 19,529 24,060 15,175 19,529 9,209 9,920 14,699 14,699 14,699 14,699 14,699 19,175 19,175 19,175 19,175 19,175 9,799 9,799 9,799 9,799 9,799 12,783 12,783 12,783 12,783 12,783 5,124 569 233 736 173 13,250 17,680 3,925 187 3,516 5,578 1,318 4,453 1,736 14,500 75,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 3,800 2,709 16,860 4,620 430 3,338 38 301 947 159 3,791 334 105 705 515 231 291 988 682 1,534 06DEP1 Proposed 2017 and 2018 nonAFA crab vessel sideboard limit 37 132 2 37 155 1 236 47 4 236 47 4 6 1,466 115 10 ............................ 2 909 261 23 4 977 76 7 ............................ 1 606 174 15 56 ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ 78 2 ............................ 1 ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ 6 8 ............................ 2 6 ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ 0 ............................ 0 0 1 0 ............................ ............................ 1 3 0 ............................ 1 7 3 5 87898 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Atka mackerel .................... Big skate ............................ Annual .............................. Annual .............................. Longnose skate ................. Annual .............................. Other skates ...................... Sculpins ............................. Sharks ................................ Squids ................................ Octopuses .......................... Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual 1 The 2 The Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest .............................. .............................. .............................. .............................. .............................. C ....................................... E ....................................... Gulfwide ............................ W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... E ....................................... Gulfwide ............................ Gulfwide ............................ Gulfwide ............................ Gulfwide ............................ Gulfwide ............................ Proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs 0.0033 0.0000 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 774 2,000 908 1,850 1,056 61 2,513 632 1,919 5,591 4,514 1,148 4,878 38 Proposed 2017 and 2018 nonAFA crab vessel sideboard limit ............................ ............................ 36 29 ............................ 2 40 ............................ 34 98 79 20 86 0 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat Districts from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access those sideboard limits that are not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives. Table 16 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (C/P) SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery C/P sector (% of TAC) Western GOA ........................................... Dusky rockfish ......................................... Pacific ocean perch ................................. Northern rockfish ..................................... Dusky rockfish ......................................... Pacific ocean perch ................................. 72.3 .................... 50.6 .................... 74.3 .................... Confidential 1 Confidential 1 West Yakutat District ................................ mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Not Proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs 159 2,709 430 251 2,818 Proposed 2017 and 2018 C/P sideboard limit 115 1,371 319 Confidential 1 Confidential 1 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 2017, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboard limits and E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules post these limits on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/ rockfish/. Table 17 lists the 2017 and 87899 2018 proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector. TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT MORTALITY LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Catcher/processor ............................................ 0.10 2.50 Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment Annual halibut mortality limit (mt) Annual shallowwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deepwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 1,706 Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) 2 43 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004. Table 18 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18. TABLE 18—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ............................... Season Area A Season—January 20– February 25. B Season—March 10–May 31. C Season—August 25– September 15. D Season—October 1–November 1. Pacific ocean perch ........... Annual .............................. A Season 1—January 1– June 10. B Season 2—September 1–December 31. Annual .............................. Annual .............................. Northern rockfish ............... Dusky rockfish ................... Annual .............................. Annual .............................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Pacific cod ......................... 1 The 2 The Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... Shumagin (610) ................ Chirikof (620) .................... Kodiak (630) ..................... WYK (640) ........................ W ...................................... C ....................................... W ...................................... C ....................................... WYK ................................. W ...................................... WYK ................................. W ...................................... W ...................................... WYK ................................. Proposed 2017 and 2018 TAC (mt) 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 0.044 0.020 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 3,769 42,732 12,272 3,769 49,996 5,007 24,060 15,176 19,529 24,060 15,175 19,529 9,209 14,699 19,175 9,799 12,783 5,693 2,709 2,818 430 159 251 Proposed 2017 and 2018 Amendment 80 vessel sideboard limits (mt) 11 85 25 11 100 10 72 30 39 72 30 39 18 294 844 196 562 194 2,693 2,708 430 121 225 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historic use of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87900 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. TABLE 19—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Proposed 2017 and 2018 annual PSC limit (mt) Proposed 2017 and 2018 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) Season dates Fishery category 1 ..................... January 20–April 1 ..................... 2 ..................... April 1–July 1 .............................. 3 ..................... July 1–September 1 ................... 4 ..................... September 1–October 1 ............. 5 ..................... October 1–December 31 ............ shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. shallow-water .............................. deep-water .................................. 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 Annual ..... ..................................................... Total shallow-water .................... Total deep-water ........................ ............................ ............................ ............................ ............................ 117 357 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Season ............................ ............................ 474 Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives. NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The IRFA shows that, in 2015, there were 969 individual CVs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate accounts for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $11 million’’ threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 969 small CV entities remaining in the GOA E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear vessels, and trawl gear vessels are estimated to be $350,000, $760,000, and $1.85 million, respectively. Revenue data for the three C/Ps considered to be small entities are confidential. There are three C/Ps that are considered to be small entities; however, their revenue data is confidential. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which case TACs would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action alternative,’’ would have set TACs equal to zero. The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those adopted by the Council in October 2016, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s GOA Plan Team in September 2016, and reviewed by the Council’s SSC in October 2016. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2017 and 2018 would be 708,629 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is 573,872 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred alternative. In some instances, the selection of Alternative 1 would not reflect the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 practical implications that increased TACs (where the sum of TACs equals the sum of ABCs) for some species probably would not be fully harvested. This could be due to a lack of commercial or market interest in such species. Additionally, an underharvest of some TACs could result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, the Council’s preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2017 TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. While production declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 87901 production. Thus, this alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 969 individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. Additionally, the three small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would have gross revenues of $0. The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2017 and 2018. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2016, when it reviews the November 2016 SAFE report from its Groundfish Plan Team, and the December 2016 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because the 2017 TACs in the proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2017 TACs, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2016 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 30, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–29150 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 234 (Tuesday, December 6, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 87881-87901]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-29150]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 160920866-6999-01]
RIN 0648-XE904


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2017 
and 2018 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 5, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0127, 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-2016-0127, 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 99802-1668.
    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), 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).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the 
Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) 
prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery 
Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated 
November 2015, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 
99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. The draft 2016 SAFE report for the GOA will be available 
from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the 
optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to 
publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs, Pacific 
halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances 
of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in 
Tables 1 through 19 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 
2017 and 2018, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 573,872 mt.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2017 and 2018 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2016 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2016 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see 
ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2016 
SAFE report prepared for the 2017 and 2018 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2017 and 2018 Harvest 
Specifications

Amendment 103: Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limit 
Reapportionment Provisions for Trawl Sectors in the Western and Central 
GOA

    In December 2015, the Council recommended for Secretarial review 
Amendment 103 to the FMP to reapportion unused Chinook salmon PSC 
limits among the GOA pollock and non-pollock trawl sectors. Amendment 
103 allows NMFS to reapportion the Chinook salmon PSC limits 
established by Amendments 93 and 97 to prevent or limit fishery 
closures due to attainment of sector-specific Chinook salmon PSC 
limits, while maintaining the annual, combined 32,500 Chinook salmon 
PSC limit for all sectors. The Secretary approved Amendment 103 on 
August 24, 2016. The final rule implementing Amendment 103 published on 
September 12, 2016, (81 FR 62659) and became effective on October 12, 
2016.

Amendment 101: Authorize Longline Pot Gear for Use in the Sablefish IFQ 
Fishery in the GOA

    NMFS issued a proposed rule to implement Amendment 101 to the FMP

[[Page 87882]]

for the sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) fisheries in the GOA 
on August 19, 2016 (81 FR 55408). That proposed action would authorize 
the use of longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery. The 
Secretary approved Amendment 101 on November 4, 2016. If NMFS approves 
the final rule, NMFS expects it would be effective for the 2017 GOA 
sablefish IFQ fishery.

Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In October 2016, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent 
biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish 
stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish 
Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2015 SAFE report for 
the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The 
SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and 
estimates of each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as 
well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and 
the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From 
these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates and the SSC sets an 
overfishing level (OFL) and ABC for each species or species group. The 
amounts proposed for the 2017 and 2018 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 
2015 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2017 
and 2018 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species 
groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed 
below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final 
harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific 
information contained in the final 2016 SAFE report. The draft stock 
assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2016 SAFE report are 
available at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/stocks/plan_team/draft_assessments.htm.
    In November 2016, the Plan Team will update the 2015 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2016, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will 
compile this information and produce the draft 2016 SAFE report for 
presentation at the December 2016 Council meeting. At that meeting, the 
Council will consider information in the draft 2016 SAFE report, 
recommendations from the November 2016 Plan Team meeting and December 
2016 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public 
comments in making its recommendations for the final 2017 and 2018 
harvest specifications. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(2) and (3), the 
Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted on the 
biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic 
considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum to fall within 
the optimum yield range.
    In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most 
significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of 
fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been 
for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. 
These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock 
assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, 
changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the 
September 2016 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information 
at the October 2016 Council meeting. The species with possible 
significant model changes are Pacific cod, pollock, sablefish, and 
sharks. In November 2016, the Plan Team considered updated stock 
assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2016 
SAFE report.
    If the draft 2016 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest 
specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the 
proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the draft 2016 SAFE 
report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a 
species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications may 
reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications.
    The proposed 2017 and 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the 
best available biological and socioeconomic information, including 
projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock 
biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP 
specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. 
The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are 
determined by the level of reliable information available to the 
fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive 
series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 
representing the highest level of information quality available and 
Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. 
The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs 
for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2017 and 2018 
OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. 
The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's 
TAC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2017 
harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 18, 
2016 (81 FR 14740).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, 
flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ``other rockfish'' in 
Southeast Outside (SEO) District, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod. The 
shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are 
set to allow for harvest opportunities while conserving the halibut PSC 
limit for use in other fisheries. The ``other rockfish'' TAC is set to 
reduce the potential amount of discards in the SEO District. The Atka 
mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts of this 
species in other directed fisheries. The Pacific cod TACs are reduced 
from ABC amounts to accommodate the State waters Pacific cod fisheries. 
Similarly, the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock ABC 
is reduced to account for the State water pollock fishery. These 
reductions are described below.
    The proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate 
the State's guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for Pacific cod in State 
waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in 
Prince William Sound (PWS). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Accordingly, the 
Council reduced the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the 
Eastern, Central, and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State 
GHLs. Therefore, the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are less 
than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 1,898 
mt; (2) Central GOA, 10,653 mt; and (3) Western GOA, 10,499 mt. These 
amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2017 and 2018 GHLs in these 
areas, which are 25 percent of the Eastern and Central, and 30 percent 
of the Western GOA proposed ABCs.

[[Page 87883]]

    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and 
West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL 
established by the State for the PWS pollock fishery. The Plan Team, 
SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal 
water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 
2017 and 2018, the SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/WYK 
pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. 
At the November 2016 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers 
recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK 
pollock ABC. For 2017, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 6,264 mt, a 
slight decrease from the 2016 PWS GHL of 6,358 mt. The proposed W/C/WYK 
2017 and 2018 pollock ABC is 250,544 mt, and the proposed TAC is 
244,280 mt.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be ``apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)'' rather 
than ``ABCs.'' This more accurately reflects that such apportionments 
address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. 
In addition, apportioning ACLs in this manner allow NMFS to balance any 
transfer of TAC from one area to another pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL and ABC are not 
exceeded.
    NMFS' proposed apportionments for groundfish species are based on 
the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on these 
apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here.
    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the W/C/WYK and the SEO District of 
the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the 
annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the 
GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are 
divided equally among each of the following four seasons: The A season 
(January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), 
the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 
through November 1) (Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; 
Table 2 lists these amounts.
    NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern 
GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the 
Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, or jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl 
gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC 
is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through 
December 31, for hook-and-line or pot gear from September 1 through 
December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 
(Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational 
sectors. Table 3 lists the amounts apportioned to each sector.
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent 
of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as 
incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries in the WYK District 
(Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below; Tables 4 
and 5 list these amounts.
    For 2017 and 2018, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect 
harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. 
Table 1 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area 
apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2015 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required 
OY range. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 
573,872 mt for 2017 and 2018, which is within the OY range specified by 
the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and 
sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 2016 
SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2017 and 
2018 harvest specifications during its December 2016 meeting.

    Table 1--Proposed 2017 and 2018 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat,
    Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat, Southeast Outside, and Gulfwide
                                         Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC           TAC \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          55,657          55,657
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a         123,078         123,078
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          56,336          56,336
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           9,209           9,209
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         289,937         250,544         244,280
                                        SEO (650)...............          13,226           9,920           9,920
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         303,163         260,464         254,200
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a          34,998          24,499
                                        C.......................             n/a          42,610          31,958
                                        E.......................             n/a           7,592           5,693
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         100,800          85,200          62,150
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           1,163           1,163
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,678           3,678
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,348           1,348
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,118           2,118

[[Page 87884]]

 
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           3,466           3,466
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           9,825           8,307           8,307
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          19,159          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          17,680          17,680
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,919           2,919
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,006           1,006
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          50,220          40,764          34,855
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             187             187
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,516           3,516
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,015           3,015
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,563           2,563
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          11,168           9,281           9,281
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           1,318           1,318
                                        C.......................             n/a           4,453           4,453
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             767             767
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             969             969
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           9,810           7,507           7,507
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          28,659          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a         109,804          75,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          37,999           6,900
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          12,870           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................         196,714         189,332         103,300
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          11,080           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          20,307          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,944           2,944
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             856             856
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          43,060          35,187          27,850
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................             n/a           2,709           2,709
                                        C.......................             n/a          16,860          16,860
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,818           2,818
                                        W/C/WYK.................          26,045          22,387          22,387
                                        SEO.....................           2,096           1,802           1,802
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................          28,141          24,189          24,189
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a             430             430
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,338           3,338
                                        E.......................             n/a               4  ..............
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,501           3,768           3,768
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \9\...............  W.......................             n/a              38              38
                                        C.......................             n/a             301             301
                                        E.......................             n/a             947             947
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           1,715           1,286           1,286
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dusky rockfish \10\...................  W.......................             n/a             159             159
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,791           3,791
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             251             251
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              83              83
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,253           4,284           4,284
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             105             105
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             705             705
                                        E.......................             n/a             515             515
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 87885]]

 
                                           Total................           1,592           1,325           1,325
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             364             231             231
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thornyhead rockfish \13\..............  W.......................             n/a             291             291
                                        C.......................             n/a             988             988
                                        E.......................             n/a             682             682
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           2,615           1,961           1,961
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish 14 15..................  W/C combined............             n/a           1,534           1,534
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             574             574
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,665             200
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           7,424           5,773           2,308
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           2,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Big skates \16\.......................  W.......................             n/a             908             908
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,850           1,850
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,056           1,056
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           5,086           3,814           3,814
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates \17\..................  W.......................             n/a              61              61
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,513           2,513
                                        E.......................             n/a             632             632
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                           Total................           4,274           3,206           3,206
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \18\.....................  GW......................           2,558           1,919           1,919
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           7,338           5,591           5,591
Sharks................................  GW......................           6,020           4,514           4,514
Squids................................  GW......................           1,530           1,148           1,148
Octopuses.............................  GW......................           6,504           4,878           4,878
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         815,875         708,629         573,872
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W = Western Gulf of Alaska; C = Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E = Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK = West Yakutat District; SEO = Southeast Outside District; GW = Gulf-
  wide).
\2\ The combined pollock ABC for the Western, Central, and West Yakutat areas is apportioned in the Western/
  Central Regulatory Areas among four statistical areas. These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs,
  rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. Table 2 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018
  seasonal apportionments. In the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area,
  pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ Section 679.20(a)(12)(i) requires the allocation of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned
  among various sectors, 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA. In the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA, Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent
  for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists
  the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to hook-and-line and trawl gear in 2017 and trawl gear in 2018. Tables 4 and 5 list
  the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the other rockfish (slope rockfish)
  species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Thornyhead rockfish'' means Sebastes species.
\14\ ``Other rockfish (slope rockfish)'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S.
  paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S.
  variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus
  (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola
  (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus
  (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ``other rockfish'' also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous).
\15\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means all
  rockfish species included in the ``other rockfish'' and demersal shelf rockfish categories.
\16\ ``Big skates'' means Raja binoculata.
\17\ ``Longnose skates'' means Raja rhina.
\18\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.


[[Page 87886]]

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and 
octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during 
the fishing year. In 2016, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in 
the final harvest specifications. For 2017 and 2018, NMFS proposes 
reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, 
flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses back into the 
original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS anticipates, 
based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary 
and the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs 
in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts for 
these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above 
mentioned species categories contains the full TAC recommended by the 
Council.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 
through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
have historically been based on the proportional distribution of 
pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In 
the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the 
distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS 
summer surveys. For 2017 and 2018, the Council recommends, and NMFS 
proposes, following the methodology used for the 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications. This methodology averages the winter and summer 
distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season 
instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The 
average is intended to reflect the best available information about 
migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the 
fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the 
apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate of the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 6 percent, 73 
percent, and 21 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 6 percent, 85 
percent, and 9 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, 
respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on 
the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 41 
percent, 26 percent, and 33 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 
630, respectively.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the unharvested seasonal apportionment for 
the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent 
limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in 
proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those 
statistical areas (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2017 and 
2018 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 9,209 mt and SEO District of 
9,920 mt are not allocated by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal 
allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore 
component after subtraction of pollock amounts projected by the 
Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore 
component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. 
Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting 
pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that 
will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for 
groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable 
amounts allowed under Sec.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these 
incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined 
as fishing activity occurs during the fishing year by the offshore 
component.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown.

       Table 2--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass
                                      Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season \2\                                      Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                 Kodiak (Area 630)             Total \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................           3,769         (6.41%)          42,732        (72.71%)          12,272        (20.88%)          58,768
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................           3,769         (6.41%)          49,996        (85.07%)           5,007         (8.52%)          58,768
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................          24,060        (40.94%)          15,176        (25.82%)          19,529        (33.23%)          58,768
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................          24,060        (40.94%)          15,175        (25.82%)          19,529        (33.23%)          58,768
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          55,657  ..............         123,078  ..............          56,336  ..............         235,071
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10
  through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and
  offshore components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in
  this table.


[[Page 87887]]

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for 
the 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS 
also proposes allocating the 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs annually 
between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern GOA (Sec.  
679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is 
apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among 
catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-
and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall 
using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) using hook-and-line 
gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using 
pot gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific 
cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and 
then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, 
CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear 
(Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall seasonal apportionments in the 
Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A 
season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reapportioned to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishing year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear 
before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance 
with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 
percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, 
depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 1 of 
Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector 
allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector 
allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years.
    NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig 
sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the proposed 
2017 and 2018 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on the 
jig performance through 2015. NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 
3.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This 
includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 2.0 percent 
because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 
2012 and 2014 allocations in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that 
the jig sector would receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC 
in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and 
no additional performance increase. These historical Pacific cod jig 
allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in 
Example 1.

     Example 1--Summary of Western GOA and Central GOA Management Area Pacific Cod Catch by Jig Gear in 2012 Through 2015, and Corresponding Percent
                                                                   Allocation Changes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  Percent of
             Area                    Year           Initial       Initial TAC     Catch (mt)        initial      >90% of  initial    Change to percent
                                                percent of TAC    allocation                      allocation       allocation?           allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WGOA..........................            2012             1.5             315             322             102  Y................  Increase 1%
                                          2013             2.5             530             273              52  N................  None
                                          2014             2.5             573             785             137  Y................  Increase 1%
                                          2015             3.5             948              55               6  N................  None
CGOA..........................            2012             1.0             427             400              94  Y................  Increase 1%
                                          2013             2.0             740             202              27  N................  None
                                          2014             2.0             797             262              33  N................  None
                                          2015             1.0             460             355              77  N................  Decrease 1%
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2015 and 2016 harvest performance 
of each jig sector when the 2016 fishing year is complete to determine 
whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in 
conjunction with the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. The 
current catch through November 2016 by the Western GOA jig sector 
indicates that the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector 
would probably decrease by 1 percent in 2017. Also, the current catch 
by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector's Pacific cod 
allocation percentage would not change in 2017. The jig sector 
allocations are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B 
(40 percent) seasons (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) and Sec.  
679.23(d)(3)(iii)).
    Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 
proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs.

[[Page 87888]]



  Table 3--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch
 Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA for Processing
                                     by the Inshore and Offshore Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             A season                        B season
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Annual          Sector                          Sector
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation     percentage of     Seasonal      percentage of     Seasonal
                                       (mt)        annual  non-     allowances     annual  non-     allowances
                                                      jig TAC          (mt)           jig TAC          (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA:
    Jig (3.5% of TAC)...........             857             N/A             514             N/A             343
    Hook-and-line CV............             331            0.70             165            0.70             165
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           4,681           10.90           2,577            8.90           2,104
    Trawl CV....................           9,078           27.70           6,549           10.70           2,530
    Trawl C/P...................             567            0.90             213            1.50             355
    Pot CV and Pot C/P..........           8,984           19.80           4,681           18.20           4,303
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          24,499           60.00          14,699           40.00           9,799
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........             320             N/A             192             N/A             128
    Hook-and-line <50 CV........           4,620            9.32           2,947            5.29           1,673
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV.......           2,122            5.61           1,775            1.10             347
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,615            4.11           1,299            1.00             316
    Trawl CV \1\................          13,156           21.13           6,687           20.45           6,470
    Trawl C/P...................           1,328            2.00             634            2.19             694
    Pot CV and Pot C/P..........           8,797           17.83           5,641            9.97           3,156
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................          31,958           60.00          19,175           40.00          12,783
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA:                      ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                           5,693               5,124
                                                569
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 1,409 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season
  allowance (see Table 8).

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using 
Hook-and-Line and Trawl Gear

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern GOA 
may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed 
fisheries for other target species (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making 
the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using hook-
and-line gear. NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish 
TAC in the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. This 
action results in a proposed 2017 allocation of 173 mt to trawl gear 
and 1,175 mt to hook-and-line gear in the WYK District, a 2,118 mt to 
hook-and-line gear in the SEO District, and a 2018 allocation of 173 mt 
to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the 
proposed 2017 sablefish TACs to hook-and-line and trawl gear. Table 5 
lists the allocations of the proposed 2018 sablefish TACs to trawl 
gear.
    The Council recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is 
conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on 
recent survey information. The Council also recommended that only the 
trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 years so that retention of 
incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January 
in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Since 
there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest 
specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season 
begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the 
sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for 2 years, so that the 
best available scientific information could be considered in 
establishing the ABCs and TACs. With the exception of the trawl 
allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see 
Table 28c to part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear 
is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with 
trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not 
likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached 
before the effective date of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest 
specifications.

[[Page 87889]]



 Table 4--Proposed 2017 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Hook-and-
                                               Line and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Hook-and-line
                       Area/district                               TAC           allocation     Trawl allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western...................................................             1,163               930               233
Central \1\...............................................             3,678             2,942               736
West Yakutat \2\..........................................             1,348             1,175               173
Southeast Outside.........................................             2,118             2,118                 0
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................................             8,307             7,166             1,142
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (378 mt). See Table 8. This results in 358 mt being available for the non-
  Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


 Table 5--Proposed 2018 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear
                                                        1
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Hook-and-line
                       Area/district                               TAC           allocation     Trawl allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western...................................................             1,163               n/a               233
Central \2\...............................................             3,678               n/a               736
West Yakutat \3\..........................................             1,348               n/a               173
Southeast Outside.........................................             2,118               n/a                 0
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................................             8,307               n/a             1,142
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (378 mt). See Table 8. This results in 358 mt being available for the non-
  Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\2\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishing
  Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\3\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Proposed Apportionments to the Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations 
established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily 
trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using 
longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative 
quota to participants for primary (Pacific ocean perch, northern 
rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, 
rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead 
rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program 
(LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative 
with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out 
of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery 
for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central 
GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch 
needs in other directed groundfish fisheries. Participants in the 
Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of 
specific secondary species. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish 
Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the 
third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl 
fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (Sec.  679.81(d)). Rockfish 
Program sideboards and halibut PSC limits are discussed below.
    Additionally, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to 
restrict the ability of harvesters that operate under the Rockfish 
Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program 
fisheries. These restrictions are discussed in a subsequent section 
titled ``Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC 
Limitations.''
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific 
ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 30 mt of dusky rockfish to 
the entry level longline fishery in 2017 and 2018. The allocation for 
the entry level longline fishery would increase incrementally each year 
if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The 
incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until 
it is the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2016, the 
catch did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. 
Therefore, NMFS is not proposing an increase to the entry level 
longline fishery 2017 and 2018 allocations in the Central GOA. The 
remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be 
allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations 
of the proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs for each rockfish primary species to 
the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future 
years, and the maximum percentage of the TAC for the entry level 
longline fishery.

[[Page 87890]]



 Table 6--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Incremental increase in
                                                                      2018 if >=90  percent of    Up to maximum
        Rockfish primary species          2017 and 2018 allocations      2017 allocation is      percent of each
                                                                             harvested               TAC of:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch....................  5 metric tons.............  5 metric tons............                 1
Northern rockfish......................  5 metric tons.............  5 metric tons............                 2
Dusky rockfish.........................  30 metric tons............  20 metric tons...........                 5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.81(a)(2) requires allocations of rockfish primary 
species among various components of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists 
the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of rockfish in the Central GOA 
to the entry level longline fishery, and Rockfish CV and C/P 
Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside 
incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the 
Central GOA of 1,500 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern 
rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on 
recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other 
groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and C/P cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2017 and 2018 allocations in conjunction with these proposed 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/rockfish/ when they become available after March 
1.

 Table 7--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the Entry Level Longline Fishery and Rockfish
                                                          Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                        Allocation to
                                                                                  Incidental catch                     the entry level    Allocation to
                   Rockfish primary species                            TAC         allowance (ICA)    TAC minus ICA     longline \1\      the Rockfish
                                                                                                                           fishery      Cooperatives \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch...........................................            16,860             1,500            15,360                 5            15,535
Northern rockfish.............................................             3,338               300             3,038                 5             3,033
Dusky rockfish................................................             3,791               250             3,541                30             3,511
                                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.....................................................            23,989             2,050            21,939                40            21,899
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives.

    Section 679.81(c) requires allocations of rockfish secondary 
species to CV and C/P cooperatives in the GOA. CV cooperatives receive 
allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, 
and thornyhead rockfish. C/P cooperatives receive allocations of 
sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker 
rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of 
the proposed 2017 and 2018 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the 
Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives.

   Table 8--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher
                                    Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Catcher vessel cooperatives          Catcher/processor
                                                 --------------------------------          cooperatives
   Rockfish secondary species       Central GOA                                  -------------------------------
                                    annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................          31,958            3.81           1,218             0.0             0.0
Sablefish.......................           3,678            6.78             249            3.51             129
Shortraker rockfish.............             301             0.0               0           40.00             120
Rougheye rockfish...............             705             0.0               0           58.87             415
Thornyhead rockfish.............             988            7.84              77           26.50             262
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2016, the 
Council recommended halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 
mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish 
(DSR) fishery in the SEO District.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. 
NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the 
duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) 
the DSR fishery

[[Page 87891]]

occurs in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of 
DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low 
DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL 
for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental 
catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence) and (2) the 
allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of the 231 mt TAC for DSR in 
2016, 188 mt were available for the DSR commercial directed fishery, of 
which 8 mt were harvested.
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2017 and 
2018. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions 
because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality, (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if 
any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ 
(Sec.  679.7(f)(11)), (3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold 
halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut 
they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ, and (4) NMFS estimates 
negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates 
halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the 
small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature 
of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released 
with jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2016. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through November 8, 2016, is 1,321 
mt for trawl gear and 206 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut 
mortality of 1,527 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using 
groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's catch 
accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and 
recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on public comment and the information presented in the final 2016 
SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the 
seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC 
limits for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications.
    The final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications (81 FR 14740, March 
18, 2016) summarized the Council's and NMFS' findings with respect to 
halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council's and 
NMFS' findings for 2017 are unchanged from 2016. Table 9 lists the 
proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and 
apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the 
halibut PSC limits set forth at Sec.  679.21(d)(2) and Sec.  
679.21(d)(3). Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any 
underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a PSC limit will 
be deducted from or added to the next respective seasonal apportionment 
within the fishing year.

           Table 9--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Trawl gear                                         Hook-and-line gear \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Other than DSR                       DSR
           Season              Percent   Amount  ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Season       Percent   Amount        Season       Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..........      27.5       469  January 1-June         86       221  January 1-              9
                                                   10.                                  December 31.
April 1-July 1..............        20       341  June 10-                2         5
                                                   September 1.
July 1-September 1..........        30       512  September 1-           12        31
                                                   December 31.
September 1-October 1.......       7.5       128
October 1-December 31.......        15       256
                             --------------------                 --------------------                 ---------
    Total...................  ........     1,706  ...............  ........       257  ...............         9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal
  shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from
  halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery 
categories. The annual apportionments are based on each category's 
proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during 
a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish 
harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the 
trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed 
of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth 
flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed of pollock, 
Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, 
skates and ``other species'' (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) 
(Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 10 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 
seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl 
gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries.
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/P sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit

[[Page 87892]]

allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-apportioned 
to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the 
unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. 
The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is 
unavailable for use by vessels directed fishing with trawl gear for the 
remainder of the fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)).

  Table 10--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Seasonal Apportionments of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limit Apportioned Between
                          the Trawl Gear Shallow-Water and Deep-Water Species Fisheries
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Season                              Shallow-water    Deep-water \1\         Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1........................................               384                85               469
April 1-July 1............................................                85               256               341
July 1-September 1........................................               171               341               512
September 1-October 1.....................................               128             (\3\)               128
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Subtotal, January 20-October 1........................               768               682             1,450
October 1-December 31 \2\.................................  ................  ................               256
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
        Total.............................................  ................  ................             1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July
  1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).
\3\ Any remainder.

    Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear 
must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut 
PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/
Ps in accordance with Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these 
harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the 
calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' 
halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were 
included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 
FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and is not repeated here.
    For 2017 and 2018, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments of 129 mt and 128 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-
and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2017 and 2018 annual halibut 
PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using 
seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 
lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal 
apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P 
sectors in the GOA.
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS calculates the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the hook-and-
line sectors for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount 
of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line 
sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that 
an additional amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector 
to continue its directed fishing operations (Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)).

 Table 11--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries'' Halibut PSC Allowance
                   Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Sector
  ``Other than DSR''     Hook-and-line     Sector annual          Season             Seasonal        seasonal
      allowance              sector           amount                                percentage        amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
257..................  Catcher Vessel...             129  January 1-June 10.....              86             111
                                          ..............  June 10-September 1...               2               3
                                          ..............  September 1-December                12              15
                                                           31.
                       Catcher/Processor             128  January 1-June 10.....              86             110
                                          ..............  June 10-September 1...               2               3
                                          ..............  September 1-December                12              15
                                                           31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best information 
available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock assessment process. 
The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the 
annual GOA groundfish SAFE report.
    Historically, DMRs consisted of long-term averages of annual DMRs 
within target fisheries that were defined by management area, gear, and 
target species. Since the late 1990s, halibut

[[Page 87893]]

DMRs were calculated by the International Pacific Halibut Commission 
(IPHC), which then provided the estimates to the NMFS for application 
in managing halibut bycatch limits. DMRs specified through the Council 
process and used for catch accounting by NMFS have consisted of long-
term averages of annual estimates within target fisheries that are 
defined by region, gear, and target species. Long-term averages are 
taken from annual estimates for the most recent 10-year period with the 
number of years with data to support annual DMR estimates varying among 
fisheries. Fishery-specific DMRs, once calculated, have generally been 
put in place for 3-year increments.
    NMFS proposes to revise methods for estimating DMRs consistent with 
those methods developed by the halibut DMR working group and 
recommended by the Council at its October 2016 meeting. NMFS proposes 
for the 2017 and 2018 GOA groundfish harvest specifications revised 
DMRs consistent with modified DMR estimation methodology. The proposed 
change will make the DMR process transparent, transferable, and allow 
for review by all agencies/entities involved. The Alaska Region will 
program the revised DMRs into its groundfish catch accounting system to 
monitor the 2017 and 2018 halibut bycatch allowances (see Tables 9, 10, 
and 11). The DMRs proposed for 2017 and 2018 GOA groundfish harvest 
specifications reflect an ongoing effort by the Council to improve the 
estimation of DMRs in the Alaska groundfish fisheries.
    The halibut DMR working group, consisting of the IPHC, Council, and 
NMFS Alaska Region staff, recommended the following broad changes to 
the DMR estimation method: Implementation of sampling design consistent 
with sampling protocols used under the Observer Restructuring Program; 
categorization of data of halibut viability based on vessel operations 
(sorting and handling practices, gear type, and processing sector) 
rather than target fisheries; and revision of reference timeframes to 
obtain estimates that are more responsive to changes in how the 
groundfish fisheries are observed and managed. These recommendations, 
and others, are described below.
     Revise the DMR estimation methodology for consistency with 
the sampling protocols instituted in 2013 through the restructured 
Observer Program. The Observer Program randomizes sampling of fishing 
trips within operational groupings, sampling of hauls within fishing 
trips, and sampling of biological data within hauls. Basing halibut DMR 
estimation on a sampling design consistent with Observer Program 
sampling protocols should reduce the potential for sampling bias, 
improve data on operational causes of variation in post-capture halibut 
viability, and promote the ability for NMFS to make timely improvements 
to halibut DMR estimation in the future.
     Incorporate the use of vessel operations into DMR 
estimation methodology. This incorporates data about the viability 
(likelihood to survive) of discarded halibut into DMR calculations. 
Data based on different vessel operational categories, such as sorting 
practices, handling practices, gear type, and processing sectors (i.e. 
CVs, CPs, and CVs delivering to motherships), provide better 
information on halibut viability. NMFS expects that incorporating this 
information into the DMR estimation methodology will yield a more 
precise estimate of actual mortality.
     Remove the use of target fishery. Fishery targets do not 
necessarily characterize statistical and/or vessel operational 
differences in the sampling or handling of halibut PSC. Using fishery 
target aggregations may have reduced the quality of DMR estimates due 
to small sample sizes or by combining vessel operations with very 
important differences in sampling and handling characteristics.
     Change the reference time-frame for DMR calculations. 
Rather than using 10-year average rates, the revised methodology 
estimates DMRs based on and initial 3-year average rates. Using 2013 as 
the starting year is more responsive to, and better aligns DMR 
calculation methodology with, the 2013 restructured Observer Program's 
sampling protocols. Using 2013 as the base year, NMFS and the Council 
will evaluate the time frame each year. Evaluating the time frame each 
year will enable NMFS and the Council to update the methodology and the 
halibut DMRs based on the best available information.
The working group's discussion paper also included a comparison of the 
total amount of halibut mortality that accrues using current DMRs 
versus the working group's recommended DMRs. Calculating the 2015 
halibut mortality using specified DMRs yielded 1,620 mt of halibut 
mortality, whereas using the recommended DMRs yielded 1,688 mt of 
halibut morality (a four percent increase). Calculating the 2016 
halibut mortality (through September 2016) yielded 1,243 mt of halibut 
mortality, versus 1,256 mt of halibut mortality when applying the 
recommended DMRs (a one percent increase).
    These proposed estimation methods, and recommendations for 2017 and 
2018 halibut DMRs, were presented to the Plan Team in September 2016. 
The Plan Team concurred with the revised methodology, as well as the 
working group's halibut DMR recommendations for 2017 and 2018. The 
Council agreed with these recommendations at the Council's October 2016 
meeting. Additionally, in April 2016 the SSC reviewed the methodology 
and made a number of suggestions for improving and refining it. The 
working group has incorporated those suggestions into its DMR 
estimation methodology. The working group's discussion of the revised 
halibut DMR methodology, including the comparative assessment, is 
available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). Table 12 lists the proposed 
2017 and 2018 DMRs.

   Table 12--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
                               [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Discard
                  Gear                              Sector                      Program           mortality rate
                                                                                                     (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hook-and-line...........................  C/P.......................  non-Rockfish Program......              11
Hook-and-line...........................  CV........................  non-Rockfish Program......              12
Pot.....................................  CV and C/P................  non-Rockfish Program......              10
Pelagic trawl...........................  CV........................  Rockfish Program..........             100
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  CV........................  Rockfish Program..........              85
Pelagic trawl...........................  CV........................  non-Rockfish Program......             100

[[Page 87894]]

 
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  CV........................  non-Rockfish Program......              63
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  C/P and Mothership........  non-Rockfish Program......              85
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  C/P.......................  Rockfish Program..........              85
Pelagic trawl...........................  C/P.......................  Rockfish Program..........             100
Pelagic trawl...........................  C/P.......................  non-Rockfish Program......             100
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limit

    Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established 
separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in 
the directed pollock trawl fishery. These limits require NMFS to close 
the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory 
areas of the GOA if the applicable limit is reached (Sec.  
679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock 
directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon 
in the Central GOA are set in Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). In 
addition, all salmon (regardless of species), taken in the pollock 
directed fisheries in the Western and Central GOA must be retained 
until an observer at the processing facility that takes delivery of the 
catch is provided an opportunity to count the number of salmon and to 
collect any scientific data or biological samples from the salmon 
(Sec.  679.21(h)(6)).
    Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established 
an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock 
groundfish fisheries. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 
3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs 
participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to 
trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program that are fishing 
for groundfish species other than pollock (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)). NMFS 
will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish 
fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook 
salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl 
CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in 
subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and 
their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon 
PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limits its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2016, that sector 
will receive an incremental increase to its 2017 Chinook salmon PSC 
limit (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook 
salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2016 
fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook 
salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2016 
Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/P sector will receive an 
incremental increase of its Chinook salmon PSC limit, as will the non-
Rockfish Program CV sector. This evaluation will be completed in 
conjunction with the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications.
    As described earlier in this preamble, Amendment 103 to the FMP 
became effective in 2016. The regulations associated with Amendment 103 
authorize NMFS to use inseason management actions to reapportion unused 
Chinook salmon PSC among the pollock and non-pollock sectors. As of 
November 15, 2016, NMFS has not exercised this authority, as none of 
the trawl sectors have needed such reapportionments.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from 
harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock 
harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish 
harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits 
under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs 
operating in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of 
TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 
679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in 
the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each 
sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that 
species over the same period.
    Table 13 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 13.

[[Page 87895]]



 Table 13--Proposed 2017 and 2018 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard
                                                     Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of  1995-                  Proposed 2017
                                                                    1997  non-     Proposed 2017  and  2018 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component  exempt AFA  CV  and  2018 TACs   exempt AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch  to 1995-       \3\          sideboard
                                                                      1997 TAC                         limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,769           2,279
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.1167          42,732           4,987
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          12,272           2,489
                               B Season--March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047           3,769           2,279
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          49,996           5,835
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           5,007           1,015
                               C Season--August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,060          14,549
                                25-October 1.    Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,176           1,771
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,529           3,960
                               D Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047          24,060          14,549
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          15,175           1,771
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          19,529           3,960
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           9,209           3,219
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495           9,920           3,467
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\--    W..............          0.1331          14,699           1,956
                                January 1-June   C..............          0.0692          19,175           1,327
                                10.
                               B Season \2\--    W..............          0.1331           9,799           1,304
                                September 1-     C..............          0.0692          12,783             885
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           5,124              40
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             569               4
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             233               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0642             736              47
                                                 E..............          0.0433             173               8
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          17,680           1,038
                                                 E..............          0.0126           3,925              49
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             187               0
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,516             227
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,578              71
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           1,318               1
                                                 C..............          0.0384           4,453             171
                                                 E..............          0.0029           1,736               5
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          75,000           2,100
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           3,800               3
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           2,709               6
                                                 C..............          0.0748          16,860           1,261
                                                 E..............          0.0466           4,620             215
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003             430               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,338              92
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              38               0
                                                 C..............          0.0218             301               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             947              10
Dusky Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             159               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,791               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067             334               2
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             105               0
                                                 C..............          0.0237             705              17
                                                 E..............          0.0124             515               6
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             231               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             291               8
                                                 C..............          0.0280             988              28
                                                 E..............          0.0280             682              19
Other Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.1699           1,534             261
                                                 E..............          0.0000             774               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           2,000              62
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             908               6
                                                 C..............          0.0063           1,850              12
                                                 E..............          0.0063           1,056               7
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063              61               0
                                                 C..............          0.0063           2,513              16

[[Page 87896]]

 
                                                 E..............          0.0063             632               4
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,919              12
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,591              35
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,514              28
Squids.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,148               7
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,878              31
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 non-
exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the 
GOA.

  Table 14--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut Prohibited Species
                           Catch (PSC) Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                               [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Ratio of  1995-
                                                            1997  non-exempt                     Proposed  2017
                                                             AFA CV retained   Proposed  2017     and 2018 non-
       Season            Season dates     Fishery category   catch to total     and 2018 PSC      exempt AFA CV
                                                             retained catch         limit           PSC limit
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1...................  January 20-April   shallow-water....             0.340               384               131
                       1.
                                         deep-water.......             0.070                85                 6
2...................  April 1-July 1...  shallow-water....             0.340                85                29
                                         deep-water.......             0.070               256                18
3...................  July 1-September   shallow-water....             0.340               171                58
                       1.
                                         deep-water.......             0.070               341                24
4...................  September 1-       shallow-water....             0.340               128                44
                       October 1.
                                         deep-water.......             0.070                 0                 0
5...................  October 1-         all targets......             0.205               256                52
                       December 31.
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Annual..........  .................  Total shallow-     ................  ................               262
                                          water.
                                         Total deep-water.  ................  ................                48
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                         Grand Total, all   ................             1,706               362
                                          seasons and
                                          categories.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels 
with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation 
in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict 
these vessels' catch to their collective historical landings in each 
GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). 
Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license 
derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP 
license is used on another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the Crab 
Rationalization Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs 
(Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP 
(76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, 
December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 
19, 2015).
    Table 15 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 groundfish sideboard 
limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch 
of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

[[Page 87897]]



                         Table 15--Proposed 2017 and 2018 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Ratio of 1996-
                                                                                                      2000 non-AFA                        Proposed 2017
                                                                                                       crab vessel      Proposed 2017   and 2018 non-AFA
                 Species                          Season/gear              Area/component/gear       catch to 1996-     and 2018 TACs      crab vessel
                                                                                                       2000 total                        sideboard limit
                                                                                                         harvest
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................  A Season--January 20-March   Shumagin (610).............            0.0098             3,769                37
                                           10.                         Chirikof (620).............            0.0031            42,732               132
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.0002            12,272                 2
                                          B Season--March 10-May 31..  Shumagin (610).............            0.0098             3,769                37
                                                                       Chirikof (620).............            0.0031            49,996               155
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.0002             5,007                 1
                                          C Season--August 25-October  Shumagin (610).............            0.0098            24,060               236
                                           1.                          Chirikof (620).............            0.0031            15,176                47
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.0002            19,529                 4
                                          D Season--October 1-         Shumagin (610).............            0.0098            24,060               236
                                           November 1.                 Chirikof (620).............            0.0031            15,175                47
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............            0.0002            19,529                 4
                                          Annual.....................  WYK (640)..................            0.0000             9,209
                                                                       SEO (650)..................            0.0000             9,920
Pacific cod.............................  A Season \1\--January 1-     W Jig CV...................            0.0000            14,699  ................
                                           June 10.                    W Hook-and-line CV.........            0.0004            14,699                 6
                                                                       W Pot CV...................            0.0997            14,699             1,466
                                                                       W Pot C/P..................            0.0078            14,699               115
                                                                       W Trawl CV.................            0.0007            14,699                10
                                                                       C Jig CV...................            0.0000            19,175  ................
                                                                       C Hook-and-line CV.........            0.0001            19,175                 2
                                                                       C Pot CV...................            0.0474            19,175               909
                                                                       C Pot C/P..................            0.0136            19,175               261
                                                                       C Trawl CV.................            0.0012            19,175                23
                                          B Season \2\--September 1-   W Jig CV...................            0.0000             9,799  ................
                                           December 31                 W Hook-and-line CV.........            0.0004             9,799                 4
                                                                       W Pot CV...................            0.0997             9,799               977
                                                                       W Pot C/P..................            0.0078             9,799                76
                                                                       W Trawl CV.................            0.0007             9,799                 7
                                                                       C Jig CV...................            0.0000            12,783  ................
                                                                       C Hook-and-line CV.........            0.0001            12,783                 1
                                                                       C Pot CV...................            0.0474            12,783               606
                                                                       C Pot C/P..................            0.0136            12,783               174
                                                                       C Trawl CV.................            0.0012            12,783                15
                                          Annual.....................  E inshore..................            0.0110             5,124                56
                                                                       E offshore.................            0.0000               569  ................
Sablefish...............................  Annual, trawl gear.........  W..........................            0.0000               233  ................
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000               736  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000               173  ................
Flatfish, shallow-water.................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0059            13,250                78
                                                                       C..........................            0.0001            17,680                 2
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             3,925  ................
Flatfish, deep-water....................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0035               187                 1
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000             3,516  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             5,578  ................
Rex sole................................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0000             1,318  ................
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000             4,453  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             1,736  ................
Arrowtooth flounder.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0004            14,500                 6
                                                                       C..........................            0.0001            75,000                 8
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000            13,800  ................
Flathead sole...........................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0002             8,650                 2
                                                                       C..........................            0.0004            15,400                 6
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             3,800  ................
Pacific ocean perch.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0000             2,709  ................
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000            16,860  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             4,620  ................
Northern rockfish.......................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0005               430                 0
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000             3,338  ................
Shortraker rockfish.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0013                38                 0
                                                                       C..........................            0.0012               301                 0
                                                                       E..........................            0.0009               947                 1
Dusky rockfish..........................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0017               159                 0
                                                                       C..........................            0.0000             3,791  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000               334  ................
Rougheye rockfish.......................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0067               105                 1
                                                                       C..........................            0.0047               705                 3
                                                                       E..........................            0.0008               515                 0
Demersal shelf rockfish.................  Annual.....................  SEO........................            0.0000               231  ................
Thornyhead rockfish.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0047               291                 1
                                                                       C..........................            0.0066               988                 7
                                                                       E..........................            0.0045               682                 3
Other rockfish..........................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0035             1,534                 5

[[Page 87898]]

 
                                                                       C..........................            0.0033               774  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             2,000  ................
Atka mackerel...........................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0000               908                36
Big skate...............................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0392             1,850                29
                                                                       C..........................            0.0159             1,056  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000                61                 2
Longnose skate..........................  Annual.....................  W..........................            0.0392             2,513                40
                                                                       C..........................            0.0159               632  ................
                                                                       E..........................            0.0000             1,919                34
Other skates............................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0176             5,591                98
Sculpins................................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0176             4,514                79
Sharks..................................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0176             1,148                20
Squids..................................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0176             4,878                86
Octopuses...............................  Annual.....................  Gulfwide...................            0.0176                38                 0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish 
sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions. 
These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish 
harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific 
ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat Districts from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited 
from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of 
participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access 
those sideboard limits that are not assigned to Rockfish Program 
cooperatives. Table 16 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 Rockfish 
Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West 
Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with 
fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are 
not displayed.

Table 16--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District
                                by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Proposed 2017 and
             Area                   Fishery       C/P sector (% of TAC)    Proposed 2017     2018 C/P sideboard
                                                                           and 2018 TACs           limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA..................  Dusky rockfish..  72.3..................               159  115
                               Pacific ocean     50.6..................             2,709  1,371
                                perch.
                               Northern          74.3..................               430  319
                                rockfish.
West Yakutat District........  Dusky rockfish..     Confidential \1\                  251     Confidential \1\
                               Pacific ocean        Confidential \1\                2,818     Confidential \1\
                                perch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut 
PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31. No halibut PSC sideboard limits 
apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish 
cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps 
that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that 
portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit 
not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for 
C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative 
are described in Sec.  679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are 
linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt 
out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of 
the Rockfish Program in 2017, and will know the ratios and amounts used 
to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any 
applicable opt-out sideboard limits and

[[Page 87899]]

post these limits on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/rockfish/. Table 17 lists 
the 2017 and 2018 proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the 
C/P sector.

                       Table 17--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Shallow-water        Deep-water                         Annual shallow-      Annual deep-
                                                            species  fishery   species  fishery    Annual halibut     water species      water species
                          Sector                              halibut PSC        halibut PSC      mortality limit    fishery halibut    fishery  halibut
                                                            sideboard ratio    sideboard ratio          (mt)          PSC sideboard      PSC  sideboard
                                                               (percent)          (percent)                             limit (mt)         limit (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor........................................              0.10               2.50              1,706                  2                 43
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/
P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut 
PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability 
of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. 
Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from 
directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky 
rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004. Table 18 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 sideboard 
limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted 
or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program 
vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18.

                            Table 18--Proposed 2017 and 2018 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                        Ratio of                          Proposed 2017
                                                                                                      Amendment 80      Proposed 2017       and 2018
                 Species                             Season                        Area              sector vessels     and 2018 TAC      Amendment 80
                                                                                                     1998-2004 catch        (mt)        vessel sideboard
                                                                                                         to TAC                           limits  (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................  A Season--January 20-        Shumagin (610).............             0.003             3,769                11
                                           February 25.                Chirikof (620).............             0.002            42,732                85
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002            12,272                25
                                          B Season--March 10-May 31..  Shumagin (610).............             0.003             3,769                11
                                                                       Chirikof (620).............             0.002            49,996               100
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002             5,007                10
                                          C Season--August 25-         Shumagin (610).............             0.003            24,060                72
                                           September 15.               Chirikof (620).............             0.002            15,176                30
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002            19,529                39
                                          D Season--October 1-         Shumagin (610).............             0.003            24,060                72
                                           November 1.                 Chirikof (620).............             0.002            15,175                30
                                                                       Kodiak (630)...............             0.002            19,529                39
                                          Annual.....................  WYK (640)..................             0.002             9,209                18
Pacific cod.............................  A Season \1\--January 1-     W..........................             0.020            14,699               294
                                           June 10.                    C..........................             0.044            19,175               844
                                          B Season \2\--September 1-   W..........................             0.020             9,799               196
                                           December 31.                C..........................             0.044            12,783               562
                                          Annual.....................  WYK........................             0.034             5,693               194
Pacific ocean perch.....................  Annual.....................  W..........................             0.994             2,709             2,693
                                                                       WYK........................             0.961             2,818             2,708
Northern rockfish.......................  Annual.....................  W..........................             1.000               430               430
Dusky rockfish..........................  Annual.....................  W..........................             0.764               159               121
                                                                       WYK........................             0.896               251               225
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 
Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to 
accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative

[[Page 87900]]

quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden 
Fleece from this restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the 
proposed 2017 and 2018 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 
Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of 
the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 
Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679.

    Table 19--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  Proposed 2017
                                                                Historic                            and 2018
                                                            Amendment 80 use    Proposed 2017     Amendment 80
       Season            Season dates     Fishery category    of the annual    and 2018 annual     vessel PSC
                                                               halibut PSC     PSC limit  (mt)   sideboard limit
                                                             limit  (ratio)                           (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1...................  January 20-April   shallow-water....            0.0048             1,706                 8
                       1.
                                         deep-water.......            0.0115             1,706                20
2...................  April 1-July 1...  shallow-water....            0.0189             1,706                32
                                         deep-water.......            0.1072             1,706               183
3...................  July 1-September   shallow-water....            0.0146             1,706                25
                       1.
                                         deep-water.......            0.0521             1,706                89
4...................  September 1-       shallow-water....            0.0074             1,706                13
                       October 1.
                                         deep-water.......            0.0014             1,706                 2
5...................  October 1-         shallow-water....            0.0227             1,706                39
                       December 31.
                                         deep-water.......            0.0371             1,706                63
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
    Annual..........  .................  Total shallow-     ................  ................               117
                                          water.
                                         Total deep-water.  ................  ................               357
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                         Grand Total, all   ................  ................               474
                                          seasons and
                                          categories.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the 
public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS 
issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental 
Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the 
Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of 
the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest 
strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no 
significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its 
alternatives.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA 
evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest 
strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set 
forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the 
range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve 
the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the 
methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself 
remains constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP 
prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries 
within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and 
C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations 
of groundfish.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide.
    The IRFA shows that, in 2015, there were 969 individual CVs with 
gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate 
accounts for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative 
affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels 
operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, 
GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program 
cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross 
receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet 
the ``under $11 million'' threshold. Vessels that participate in these 
cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of 
the RFA. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there 
are an estimated 969 small CV entities remaining in the GOA

[[Page 87901]]

groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average gross 
revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-
line CVs, pot gear vessels, and trawl gear vessels are estimated to be 
$350,000, $760,000, and $1.85 million, respectively. Revenue data for 
the three C/Ps considered to be small entities are confidential. There 
are three C/Ps that are considered to be small entities; however, their 
revenue data is confidential.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC 
were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which 
case TACs would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs 
to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average 
fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower 
limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action 
alternative,'' would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those 
adopted by the Council in October 2016, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and 
ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's GOA Plan Team in September 2016, and reviewed by the 
Council's SSC in October 2016. The Council based its TAC 
recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in 
Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2017 and 2018 would be 
708,629 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum 
of TACs is 573,872 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this 
instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small 
entity impacts that are equivalent to the preferred alternative. In 
some instances, the selection of Alternative 1 would not reflect the 
practical implications that increased TACs (where the sum of TACs 
equals the sum of ABCs) for some species probably would not be fully 
harvested. This could be due to a lack of commercial or market interest 
in such species. Additionally, an underharvest of some TACs could 
result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore 
constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA 
groundfish species.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or for the 
most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, 
the Council's preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take 
account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. 
NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as 
well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible 
harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component 
of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray 
stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species 
category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the 
GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2017 
TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of 
this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size 
of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for 
GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. While production 
declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with significant 
price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained 
by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue 
declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative would have a 
detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be 
contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as 
mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 969 
individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. 
Additionally, the three small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would 
have gross revenues of $0.
    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the 
current 2017 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2017 and 2018. As noted in the 
IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 
2016, when it reviews the November 2016 SAFE report from its Groundfish 
Plan Team, and the December 2016 Council meeting reports of its SSC and 
AP. Because the 2017 TACs in the proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest 
specifications are unchanged from the 2017 TACs, NMFS does not expect 
adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any 
changes made by the Council in December 2016 to have significant 
adverse impacts on small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting 
from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the 
Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-
31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-
241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: November 30, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-29150 Filed 12-5-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P