Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 87863-87881 [2016-29152]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules sorting and weighing of fish by both fishermen and enforcement personnel. However, enforcement no longer uses totes for at-sea weight and volume estimates so the requirement for vessels to carry a tote is unnecessary. Lastly, this action would allow a sector with Handgear A vessels to request that Handgear A vessels be exempt from the requirement to use a Vessel Monitoring System. Instead, vessels would be required to declare trips through a call-in system. This measure is intended to encourage Handgear A vessels to enroll in a sector by reducing their operating expenses. Public comments are being solicited on the Amendment through the end of the comment period stated in the DATES section above. A proposed rule that would implement the Amendment will be published in the Federal Register for public comment, as part of our evaluation of Amendment 18 under requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Management Act. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period on Amendment 18 to be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision on the Amendment. All comments received by the end of the Amendment 18 comment period, whether specifically directed to the Amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision. Comments received after that day will not be considered in the approval/disapproval decision for Amendment 18. To be considered, comments must be received by the close of business on the last day of the comment period; that does not mean postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 1, 2016. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–29189 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 161020985–6985–01] RIN 0648–XE989 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 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 prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI 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–2016–0140, by any 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-2016-0140, 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 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 87863 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), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the 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 http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2015, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http:// www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2016 SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all groundfish species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, and Community E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87864 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 17 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest specifications for 2017 and 2018 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 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2016 SAFE reports prepared for the 2017 and 2018 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Affecting the 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (State), established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the BS. The Council recommends the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs to accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 255,000 mt. Accordingly, the Council set the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the BS to account for State GHLs. For 2017 and 2018, the BOF established a GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the AI. The Council recommends the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs to accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the AI. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 17,600 mt. Accordingly, the Council set the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs in the AI to account for State GHLs. In October 2015, the Council took final action to recommend for Secretarial Review Amendment 113 to the BSAI FMP. NMFS published a notice of availability for Amendment 113 on July 19, 2016 (81 FR 46883). The VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 public comment period for the notice of availability on Amendment 113 ended on September 19, 2016, and the Secretary approved Amendment 113 on October 17, 2016. Amendment 113 sets aside a portion of the Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC for catcher vessels that directed fish for Aleutian Islands Pacific cod and then deliver the catch to Aleutian Islands shoreplants for processing. NMFS published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 113 on August 1, 2016, and accepted public comment through August 31, 2016 (81 FR 50444). If NMFS approves the final rule, in November 2016, NMFS expects the authority to set aside Aleutian Islands Pacific cod for catcher vessels delivering to Aleutian Islands shoreplants for processing would be in effect by the beginning of the 2017 fisheries on January 1, 2017. Amendment 111 to the FMP (81 FR 24714, April 27, 2016) became effective May 27, 2016. Amendment 111 implemented BSAI halibut PSC limit reductions for the trawl and non-trawl sectors. These amounts are found in Table 8. Amendment 110 to the FMP (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016) became effective July 11, 2016. Amendment 110 improves the management of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery by creating a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program. Amendment 110 also changed the seasonal apportionments of the pollock TAC to allow more pollock to be harvested earlier in the year when Chinook salmon PSC use tends to be lower. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications At the October 2016 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council’s Plan Team compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2015 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The amounts proposed for the 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications are based on the 2015 SAFE report, and are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2016 meeting. In November 2016, the Plan Team updated the 2015 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2016, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. At its December 2016 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 meeting, the Council will consider information contained in the final 2016 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2016 Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December 2016 SSC and AP meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. 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, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. These changes were recommended by the Plan Team in November 2016 and are included in the final 2016 SAFE report. The final 2016 SAFE report includes the most recent information, such as 2016 catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts published here. If the final 2016 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the final 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. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2017 and 2018, the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2017 and 2018 will equal 2 million mt. The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest. In October 2016, 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. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2017 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2016 (81 FR 14773). The Council adopted the AP’s TAC recommendations. For 2017 and 2018, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2017 and 2018 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 3,128,135 mt, which is the same as the final 2017 ABC total in the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest specifications (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016). Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2017 and 2018 that are equal to proposed ABCs for Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Bering Sea sablefish, AI sablefish, and eastern Aleutian Islands (EAI) Pacific ocean perch. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2017 and 2018 that are less than the proposed ABCs for Bering Sea pollock, AI ‘‘other rockfish,’’ AI pollock, Bogoslof pollock, Bering Sea Pacific cod, AI Pacific cod, yellowfin sole, Bering Sea Greenland turbot, AI Greenland turbot, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, flathead sole, Alaska plaice, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ central Aleutian Islands (CAI) Pacific ocean perch, western Aleutian Islands (WAI) Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, eastern Bering Sea (EBS)/EAI rougheye rockfish, CAI/WAI rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, Bering Sea ‘‘other rockfish,’’ Bering Sea/ EAI, CAI, and WAI Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to 87865 accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2016 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications during its December 2016 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2015 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ‘‘warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2017 and 2018 Species Area ITAC 2 OFL Pollock 4 .............................. Pacific cod 5 ........................ Sablefish ............................. Yellowfin sole ...................... Greenland turbot ................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Arrowtooth flounder ............. Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole 6 .......................... Flathead sole 7 .................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish 8 ..................... Pacific Ocean perch ............ Northern rockfish ................. Rougheye ............................ rockfish 9 .............................. Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish 10 .................. Atka mackerel ..................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Bogoslof ............................. BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... EAI ...................................... CAI ..................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... EBS/EAI ............................. CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... EAI/BS ................................ 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00017 ABC TAC 3,540,000 44,455 31,906 412,000 23,400 1,241 1,681 219,200 7,416 n/a n/a 84,156 11,700 149,400 77,544 46,800 17,414 38,589 n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,085 855 n/a n/a 690 1,667 n/a n/a 99,490 n/a 2,019,000 36,664 23,850 255,000 17,600 1,052 1,423 203,500 6,132 4,734 1,398 72,216 10,000 145,000 64,580 39,100 13,061 31,724 7,953 7,537 7,002 9,232 11,468 694 216 478 518 1,250 695 555 85,840 29,296 1,340,643 19,000 500 238,680 12,839 1,052 1,423 144,000 2,873 2,673 200 14,000 5,000 57,100 21,000 14,500 2,500 31,490 7,953 7,537 7,000 9,000 4,500 300 100 200 200 875 325 550 55,000 28,500 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 1,206,579 17,100 500 213,141 11,465 447 302 128,592 2,442 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 50,990 18,753 12,325 2,125 27,779 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 255 85 170 170 744 276 468 49,115 25,451 CDQ 3 4 134,064 1,900 ........................ 25,539 1,374 39 27 15,408 n/a 286 ........................ 1,498 ........................ 6,110 2,247 ........................ ........................ n/a ........................ 806 749 963 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 5,885 3,050 87866 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI1— Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2017 and 2018 Species Area OFL ABC ITAC 2 TAC CDQ 3 4 Skates ................................. Sculpins ............................... Sharks ................................. Squids ................................. Octopuses ........................... CAI ..................................... WAI ..................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... n/a n/a 47,674 52,365 1,363 6,912 3,452 25,860 30,684 39,943 39,725 1,022 5,184 2,589 16,000 10,500 26,000 4,500 125 1,500 400 14,288 9,377 22,100 3,825 106 1,275 340 1,712 1,124 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ Total ............................. ............................................. 4,935,455 3,128,135 2,000,000 1,790,446 196,895 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, and 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear. The 2017 hook-and-line and pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a directed pollock fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. 5 The Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska guideline harvest level in state waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea. 6 ‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 9 ‘‘Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 10 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BS=Bering Sea subarea, AI=Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI=Eastern Aleutian district, CAI=Central Aleutian district, WAI=Western Aleutian district.) mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA (see § 679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 4.0 percent or 53,626 mt of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2016. During this 17-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 17-year average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2016. During this 14-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2013, with a 14-year average of 8 percent. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 4,000 mt of flathead sole, 5,000 mt of rock sole, 4,500 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS’ examination of the average incidental retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2016. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that Bering Sea pollock TAC be apportioned after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 4.0 percent for the ICA as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i)–(iii)). In the AI subarea, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2017 and 2018 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/ processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists 87867 the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 14 through 17 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The Bering Sea subarea inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2017 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2017 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2017 AFA inshore cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA before noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2017 and 2018 amounts by sector. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] A season 1 2017 and 2018 Allocations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Area and sector A season DFA 1,340,643 134,064 48,263 579,158 463,326 423,943 39,383 2,317 115,832 202,705 347,495 1,158,316 36,664 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a 10,999 5,500 1,833 n/a 60,329 n/a 260,621 208,497 190,775 17,722 1,042 52,124 n/a n/a 521,242 n/a n/a 760 1,200 13,520 n/a n/a n/a n/a Bering Sea subarea TAC .............................................................................. CDQ DFA ....................................................................................................... ICA 1 ............................................................................................................... AFA Inshore ................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................................................................. Catch by C/Ps ........................................................................................ Catch by C/Vs 3 ...................................................................................... Unlisted C/P Limit 4 .......................................................................... AFA Motherships ........................................................................................... Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 .......................................................................... Excessive Processing Limit 6 ......................................................................... Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ................................................................. Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ....................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ....................................................................... CDQ DFA ....................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................. Aleut Corporation ........................................................................................... Area harvest limit 7 ......................................................................................... Area 541 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................. Area 542 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................. Area 543 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 37,538 n/a 162,164 129,731 n/a n/a n/a 32,433 n/a n/a 324,328 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 73,735 n/a 318,537 254,829 233,169 21,661 1,274 63,707 n/a n/a 637,074 n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 1,180 n/a n/a n/a n/a 87868 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] A season 1 2017 and 2018 Allocations Area and sector A season DFA 100 n/a Bogoslof District ICA 8 .................................................................................... B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a B season DFA n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector 50 percent, catcher/processor sector 40 percent, and mothership sector 10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors (C/Ps) shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed C/Ps. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/ processor sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 The Regional Administrator proposes closing the Bogoslof pollock fishery for directed fishing under the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for the BSAI. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and nontrawl gear sectors (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel ITAC may be allocated to jig gear. The percentage of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2017 and 2018. This percentage is applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543; and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 3 lists these 2017 and 2018 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87869 TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 and 2018 Allocation by area Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ...................................................................................................... CDQ reserve ........................................................................................ n/a ............................. Total .......................... A ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... B ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... Total .......................... Total .......................... Total .......................... A ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... B ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... Total .......................... Total .......................... A ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... B ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... Total .......................... A ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... B ................................ Critical habitat 5 ......... ICA ....................................................................................................... Jig 6 ...................................................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access .................................................................... Amendment 80 7 .................................................................................. Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 ............................................ Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 ................................................. Eastern Aleutian District/ Bering Sea 28,500 3,050 1,525 n/a 1,525 n/a 1,000 122 2,433 1,216 n/a 1,216 n/a 21,895 12,326 6,163 n/a 6,163 n/a 9,570 4,785 n/a 4,785 n/a Central Aleutian District Western Aleutian District 16,000 1,712 856 514 856 514 75 ........................ 1,421 711 426 711 426 12,792 7,615 3,808 2,285 3,808 2,285 5,177 2,589 1,553 2,589 1,553 10,500 1,124 562 337 562 337 20 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 9,357 5,754 2,877 1,726 2,877 1,726 3,603 1,802 1,081 1,802 1,081 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of critical habitat; paragraph (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and paragraph (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. 7 The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council recommended and NMFS proposes separate BS and AI subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. However, if the nonCDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocates the Pacific cod TAC in the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ program, as VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line catcher/ processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2017 and 2018, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 500 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87870 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7), (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance will become available at the beginning of the next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2015 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2017 and 2018. NMFS first subtracted the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC and then multiplied the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod by the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543. Based on these calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 3,379 mt. The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector 2017 and 2018 share of gear sector total Percent 2017 and 2018 share of sector total n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 60.8 n/a n/a 48.7 238,680 25,539 213,141 12,839 1,374 11,465 3,379 224,606 136,561 n/a 136,061 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 500 n/a 108,983 Hook-and-line catcher vessels >60 ft LOA .. 0.2 n/a 448 Pot catcher/processors ................................. 1.5 n/a 3,357 Pot catcher vessels >60 ft LOA ................... 8.4 n/a 18,798 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hookand-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ................................... 2 n/a 4,476 22.1 49,638 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ....................... 2.3 5,166 n/a Amendment 80 ............................................. 13.4 30,097 n/a Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 3 ... n/a 4,751 n/a Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 3 ....... n/a 25,346 n/a Jig ................................................................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Total Bering Sea TAC .................................. Bering Sea CDQ ........................................... Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC ........................... Total Aleutian Islands TAC ........................... Aleutian Islands CDQ ................................... Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC .................... Western Aleutians Islands Limit ................... Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 .......................... Total hook-and-line/pot gear ......................... Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ................................ Hook-and-line/pot sub-total ........................... Hook-and-line catcher/processors ................ 1.4 3,144 n/a 2017 and 2018 seasonal apportionment Season Amount n/a ......................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ........ n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) ........ n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... n/a ......................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Dec 31 ..................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Dec 31 ..................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Sept 1–Dec 31 ...................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ........................ Sept 1–Dec 31 ...................... n/a ......................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,581 53,402 228 219 1,712 1,645 9,587 9,211 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 20–Apr 1 ........................ Apr 1–Jun 10 ........................ Jun 10–Nov 1 ....................... Jan 1–Apr 30 ........................ Apr 30–Aug 31 ..................... Aug 31–Dec 31 ..................... 36,732 5,460 7,446 3,874 1,291 0 22,573 7,524 0 3,563 1,188 0 19,010 6,337 0 1,887 629 629 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 500 mt for 2017 and 2018 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. 3 The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87871 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules Sablefish Gear Allocation Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) requires allocation of sablefish TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the Bering Sea subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hookand-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of the hook-andline or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the nonspecified reserves, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council has recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2017 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Percent of TAC Subarea and gear 2017 Share of TAC 2017 ITAC 1 2017 CDQ reserve 2018 Share of TAC 2018 ITAC 2018 CDQ reserve Bering Sea: Trawl ................................................. Hook-and-line gear 2 ......................... 50 50 526 526 447 n/a 39 105 526 n/a 447 n/a 39 n/a Total ........................................... 100 1,052 447 145 526 447 39 Aleutian Islands: Trawl ................................................. Hook-and-line gear 2 ......................... 25 75 356 1,067 302 n/a 27 213 356 n/a 302 n/a 27 n/a Total ........................................... 100 1,423 302 240 356 302 27 1 Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants. Section 679.20(b)(1) does not provide for the establishment of an ITAC for sablefish allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) requires that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 and 2018 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Flathead sole Eastern Aleutian district TAC ...................................................................... CDQ ..................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Central Aleutian district 7,537 806 Frm 00023 7,000 749 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Western Aleutian district 9,000 963 Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 21,000 2,247 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 57,100 6,110 144,000 15,408 87872 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2017 and 2018 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Flathead sole Eastern Aleutian district ICA ....................................................................... BSAI trawl limited access .................................... Amendment 80 ..................................................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 1 .......... Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 1 .............. Central Aleutian district 100 663 5,967 3,164 2,803 Western Aleutian district 60 619 5,572 2,954 2,617 10 161 7,866 4,171 3,695 Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 4,000 0 14,753 1,513 13,240 5,000 0 45,990 11,377 34,614 4,500 14,579 109,513 43,510 66,003 1 The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the 2017 and 2018 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 ABC SURPLUS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole ABC .............................................................................................................................................. TAC .............................................................................................................................................. ABC surplus ................................................................................................................................. ABC reserve ................................................................................................................................ CDQ ABC reserve ....................................................................................................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ....................................................................................................... Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 1 .................................................................................. Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 1 ...................................................................................... 64,580 21,000 43,580 43,580 4,663 38,917 3,992 34,925 Rock sole 145,000 57,100 87,900 87,900 9,405 78,495 19,417 59,077 Yellowfin sole 203,500 144,000 59,500 59,500 6,367 53,134 21,112 32,022 1 The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) sets forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the 2017 and 2018 BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program, 1,745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of halibut mortality for the BSAI non-trawl sector. Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorizes apportionment of the nontrawl halibut PSC limit into PSC VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 allowances among six fishery categories, and § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B) and §§ 679.21(e)(3)(i)(B) and 679.21(e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, and Table 11 lists the fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 679). As of November 2016, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 43,079 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 2 mt. The 2016 jig gear fishery harvested about 47 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State of Alaska provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3System Index for western Alaska based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping. If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and it is not a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). As of October 1, 2016, NMFS has determined that it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year based on the State of Alaska’s estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2017, the Chinook salmon VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PSC limit is 60,000, and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are seasonally allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery as stated in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). Additionally, in 2017, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010) and Amendment 110 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa. gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/ default.htm. Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2017 and 2018 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2017 and 2018 nonChinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, nonChinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2016 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2017 and 2018 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2015 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2016. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ program. Based on 2016 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 22.8 million red king crabs, which is above the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 42.2 million lbs (19,148 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 87873 estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 9). Based on 2016 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 285 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2017 and 2018 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,070,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 270 million and less than 400 million animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater than 175 million animals and less than 290 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2016 survey estimate of 8.169 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 9,105,477 animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2017 and 2018 herring biomass is 263,098 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on spawning location estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2017 and 2018 is 2,631 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2017 PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87874 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(i), § 679.21(e)(3)(vi), and § 679.91(d) through (f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits established for the Amendment 80 sector are then further established for Amendment 80 cooperatives as PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 12. Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The 2018 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC apportionments in Table 10 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS Non-trawl PSC PSC species and area 1 Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI ...................... Herring (mt) BSAI .................................... Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 .............. C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ....................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ............... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ............... Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ Total trawl PSC 710 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2,805 2,631 97,000 9,105,477 830,000 2,070,000 n/a n/a 86,621 8,131,191 741,190 1,848,510 CDQ PSQ reserve 2 315 n/a 10,379 974,286 88,810 221,490 Amendment 80 sector 1,745 n/a 43,293 3,996,480 312,115 437,542 BSAI trawl limited access fishery 745 n/a 26,489 2,613,365 348,285 865,288 1 Refer 2 The to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI Fishery categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 .................................................................................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..................................................................... Rockfish ................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ............................................................................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 ................................................................................................................... Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ........................................................................................ 179 29 19 13 40 2,151 199 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC ................................................................................................................................................ 2,631 97,000 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. 4 In October 2016 the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87875 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 10–PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access fisheries Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 Yellowfin sole ....................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish ........................................................................... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .......................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................ Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ................................. 150 0 23,338 0 2,463,587 ........................ 293,234 0 826,258 0 4 391 200 0 0 2,954 197 ........................ 4,069 105,008 40,701 0 0 50,816 4,235 697 34,848 3,485 Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC ........................... 745 26,489 2,613,365 348,285 865,288 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 ‘‘Other TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Catcher/ processor Non-trawl fisheries Seasons Catcher vessel All non-trawl Pacific cod ...................................................... Non-Pacific cod non-trawl—Total ................... Groundfish pot and jig .................................... Sablefish hook-and-line .................................. Annual Pacific cod ......................................... January 1–June 10 ..................................... June 10–August 15 .................................... August 15–December 31 ............................ May 1–December 31 .................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. 648 388 162 98 n/a n/a n/a 13 9 2 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 49 Exempt Exempt Total for all non-trawl PSC ...................... n/a .................................................................. n/a n/a 710 TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2017 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCE FOR THE BSAI AMENDMENT 80 COOPERATIVES Prohibited species and zones 1 Cooperative Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2 Alaska Groundfish Cooperative ........................................... Alaska Seafood Cooperative ............................................... 474 1,271 12,459 30,834 1,258,109 2,738,371 82,136 229,979 112,839 324,703 Total .............................................................................. 1,745 43,293 3,996,480 312,115 437,542 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs) 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 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 BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report. Historically, DMRs consisted of longterm averages of annual DMRs within target fisheries that were defined by management area, CDQ, gear, and target PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 species. Since the late 1990s, halibut 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 management area, CDQ, gear, and target species. Long-term averages are taken from annual estimates for the most recent ten-year period with the number of years with data to support E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87876 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules annual DMR estimates varying among fisheries. Fishery-specific DMRs, once calculated, have generally been put in place for three-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 BSAI 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 8, 10, 11, and 12). The DMRs proposed for 2017 and 2018 BSAI 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. • Incorporate CDQ with non-CDQ in the calculation of the DMRs instead of the currently specified DMRs, which calculate DMRs separately for CDQ and non-CDQ. Regulations allow assignment of CDQ status to a haul up to two hours after completion of gear retrieval. Most vessels fishing under the CDQ program also participate in the non-CDQ fisheries. The size of the haul, fishing operations, and catch-handling process do not tend to differ compared to the non-CDQ fisheries. For this reason, CDQ is not a recommended aggregation factor for estimating DMRs under the revised estimation method. • 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. • Change the reference time-frame for DMR calculations. Rather than using 10- year average rates, the revised methodology estimates DMRs based on 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 2,312 mt of halibut mortality, whereas using the recommended DMRs yielded 2,299 mt of halibut morality (a less than onepercent decrease). Calculating the 2016 halibut mortality (through September 2016) yielded 1,701 mt of halibut mortality, versus 1,663 mt of halibut mortality when applying the recommended DMRs (a two percent decrease). 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 13 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 DMRs. TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR THE BSAI mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Gear Sector Pelagic trawl ............................................ Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... Hook-and-line .......................................... Hook-and-line .......................................... Pot ........................................................... All ............................................................. Catcher/Processor and Mothership ......... Catcher vessel ......................................... Catcher vessel ......................................... Catcher/Processor ................................... All ............................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Groundfish fishery Sfmt 4702 All All All All All All ............................................................. ............................................................. ............................................................. ............................................................. ............................................................. ............................................................. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) 100 85 52 13 8 5 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as ‘‘sideboard’’ limits on catch. The basis for these proposed sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 14 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 catcher/ processor sideboard limits. 87877 All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/ processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 14. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/ processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2017 and 2018 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR LISTED AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSORS (C/PS) [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Area Retained catch Sablefish trawl ..................... Greenland turbot ................. Arrowtooth flounder ............. Kamchatka flounder ............ Rock sole ............................ Flathead sole ...................... Alaska plaice ....................... Other flatfish ........................ Pacific ocean perch ............ Northern rockfish ................. Rougheye rockfish .............. Shortraker rockfish .............. Other rockfish ...................... Atka mackerel ..................... Skates ................................. Sculpins ............................... Sharks ................................. Squids ................................. Octopuses ........................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BS ....................................... AI ........................................ BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... Eastern AI .......................... Central AI ........................... Western AI ......................... BSAI ................................... EBS/EAI ............................. CAI/WAI .............................. BSAI ................................... BS ....................................... AI ........................................ Central AI ........................... A season 2 .......................... B season 2 .......................... Western AI ......................... A season 2 .......................... B season 2 .......................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... BSAI ................................... Total catch 8 0 121 23 76 76 6,317 1,925 14 3,058 12 125 3 54 91 50 50 50 18 22 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 553 553 553 73 553 Ratio of retained catch to total catch 2017 and 2018 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2017 and 2018 AFA C/P sideboard limit 0.016 0 0.007 0.005 0.002 0.002 0.037 0.036 0.001 0.058 0.002 0.02 0.001 0.004 0.007 0.018 0.018 0.018 0.029 0.027 0.115 0.115 0.115 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.008 0.008 0.008 0.022 0.008 447 302 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 50,990 18,753 12,325 2,125 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 85 170 170 276 468 14,288 7,144 7,144 9,377 4,689 4,689 22,100 3,825 106 1,275 340 7 0 16 1 24 9 1,887 675 12 123 14 135 6 32 27 2 3 3 8 13 1,643 822 822 1,875 938 938 177 31 1 28 3 497 145 17,305 4,987 33,987 33,987 169,362 52,755 9,438 52,298 4,879 6,179 5,698 13,598 13,040 2,811 2,811 2,811 621 806 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 68,672 68,672 68,672 3,328 68,672 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). 2 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District. Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2017 and 2018 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PSC species listed in Table 15 that are caught by listed AFA catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii) and (e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 proposed 2017 or 2018 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached. Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/ Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 87878 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 BSAI PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSORS PSC species and Ratio of PSC to total PSC area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality .................................................................................................................. Red king crab Zone 1 .................................................................................................................. C. opilio (COBLZ) ........................................................................................................................ C. bairdi ....................................................................................................................................... Zone 1 .................................................................................................................................. Zone 2 .................................................................................................................................. 1 Refer n/a 0.007 0.153 n/a 0.14 0.05 Proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 86,621 8,131,191 n/a 741,190 1,848,510 Proposed 2017 and 2018 C/P sideboard limit 2 286 606 1,224,072 n/a 103,767 92,426 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 2 Halibut AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Tables 16 and 17 list the proposed 2017 and 2018 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits. All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will be deducted from the 2017 and 2018 sideboard limits listed in Table 16. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Fishery by area/gear/season Pacific cod ....................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Jig gear .......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ........................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Dec 31 ............................................... Pot gear CV ................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ............................................... CV <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl gear CV ................................................ Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................................. Apr 1–Jun 10 .................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. BS trawl gear ................................................. AI trawl gear ................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS trawl gear ................................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... Eastern AI ...................................................... Central AI ....................................................... Western AI ..................................................... BSAI ............................................................... EBS/EAI ......................................................... CAI/WAI .......................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... Eastern AI/BS ................................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Sablefish ......................................................... Greenland turbot ............................................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Kamchatka flounder ........................................ Rock sole ........................................................ Flathead sole .................................................. Alaska plaice ................................................... Other flatfish .................................................... Pacific ocean perch ........................................ Northern rockfish ............................................. Rougheye rockfish .......................................... Shortraker rockfish .......................................... Other rockfish .................................................. Atka mackerel ................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1995–1997 AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 2017 and 2018 initial TAC 1 2017 and 2018 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a 0 n/a 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 3,144 n/a 228 219 n/a 9,587 9,211 4,476 n/a 0 n/a 0 0 n/a 6 6 3 n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 0.0906 0.0645 0.0645 0.0205 0.069 0.069 0.0341 0.0505 0.0441 0.0441 0.1 0.0077 0.0025 0 0.0084 0.0037 0.0037 0.0037 0.0048 0.0095 n/a 0.0032 n/a 36,732 5,460 7,446 447 302 2,272 170 11,900 4,250 50,990 18,753 12,325 2,125 6,760 6,731 6,251 8,037 3,825 85 170 170 276 468 25,451 12,726 n/a 31,623 4,701 6,410 40 19 147 3 821 293 1,739 947 544 94 676 52 16 0 32 0 1 1 1 4 n/a 41 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 87879 TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS)—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Fishery by area/gear/season Skates ............................................................. Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. Central AI ....................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. Western AI ..................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Ratio of 1995–1997 AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 0.0032 n/a 0.0001 0.0001 n/a 0 0 0.0541 0.0541 0.0541 0.3827 0.0541 2017 and 2018 initial TAC 1 12,726 14,288 7,144 7,144 9,377 4,689 4,689 22,100 3,825 106 1,275 340 2017 and 2018 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits 41 n/a 1 1 n/a 0 0 1,196 207 6 488 18 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2017 and 2018 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 17 that are caught by AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2017 and 2018 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and (e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 17 is reached. The PSC that is caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and § 679.21(e)(3)(iv). TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2017 AND 2018 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut ..................................... Pacific cod trawl ..................................................................... Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot ............................................ Yellowfin sole total ................................................................. Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 4 ................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish .. Rockfish .................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 5 ................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... n/a ........................................................................................... Red king crab Zone 1 ............. C. opilio COBLZ ...................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ...................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ...................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.299 0.168 0.33 0.186 Proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 86,621 8,131,191 741,190 1,848,510 Proposed 2017 and 2018 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 887 2 101 228 0 2 5 25,900 1,366,040 244,593 343,823 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B). 3 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses. 2 Target mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 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, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 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 PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 87880 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Proposed Rules 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 evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology may produce 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other alternatives. 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 exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities operating catcher vessels and catcher/ processors 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 estimated directly regulated small entities in 2015 include approximately 152 catcher vessels, four catcher/ processors, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives, and, since under the RFA it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $11 million’’ threshold, they are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. Thus, the estimate of 152 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $520,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.29 million for small pot vessels, and $2.99 million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/ processors is confidential; however, in 2015, NMFS estimates that there were four catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less than $11 million. 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 BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI 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 BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2016, and reviewed and modified 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 BSAI OY of two million mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2017 and 2018 would be about 3,128,135 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to 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. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2017 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the BSAI, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The proposed harvest specifications 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 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because 2017 TACs in the proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2017 harvest specification 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 be large enough to have an impact on small entities. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 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

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 234 (Tuesday, December 6, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 87863-87881]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-29152]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 161020985-6985-01]
RIN 0648-XE989


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; 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.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the BSAI 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-2016-0140, by any 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-2016-0140, 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), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the 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 http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2015 
Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the 
groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2015, is available 
from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 
4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or 
from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2016 
SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish 
fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved 
it under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries 
also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum TAC for all 
groundfish species must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 
million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). 
Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest 
specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on 
proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species 
catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves 
established by Sec.  679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific 
cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, 
Amendment 80 allocations, and Community

[[Page 87864]]

Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  
679.20(b)(1)(ii). The proposed harvest specifications set forth in 
Tables 1 through 17 of this action satisfy these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest 
specifications for 2017 and 2018 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 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental 
EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the 
final 2016 SAFE reports prepared for the 2017 and 2018 groundfish 
fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting the 2017 and 2018 Harvest Specifications

    The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the 
State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (State), established a 
guideline harvest level (GHL) in State waters between 164 and 167 
degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 
percent of the Pacific cod acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the 
BS. The Council recommends the proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs 
to accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the 
BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 
255,000 mt. Accordingly, the Council set the proposed 2017 and 2018 
Pacific cod TACs in the BS to account for State GHLs.
    For 2017 and 2018, the BOF established a GHL in State waters in the 
Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod 
ABC for the AI. The Council recommends the proposed 2017 and 2018 
Pacific cod TACs to accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in 
State waters in the AI. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 
17,600 mt. Accordingly, the Council set the proposed 2017 and 2018 
Pacific cod TACs in the AI to account for State GHLs.
    In October 2015, the Council took final action to recommend for 
Secretarial Review Amendment 113 to the BSAI FMP. NMFS published a 
notice of availability for Amendment 113 on July 19, 2016 (81 FR 
46883). The public comment period for the notice of availability on 
Amendment 113 ended on September 19, 2016, and the Secretary approved 
Amendment 113 on October 17, 2016. Amendment 113 sets aside a portion 
of the Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC for catcher vessels that 
directed fish for Aleutian Islands Pacific cod and then deliver the 
catch to Aleutian Islands shoreplants for processing.
    NMFS published a proposed rule to implement Amendment 113 on August 
1, 2016, and accepted public comment through August 31, 2016 (81 FR 
50444). If NMFS approves the final rule, in November 2016, NMFS expects 
the authority to set aside Aleutian Islands Pacific cod for catcher 
vessels delivering to Aleutian Islands shoreplants for processing would 
be in effect by the beginning of the 2017 fisheries on January 1, 2017.
    Amendment 111 to the FMP (81 FR 24714, April 27, 2016) became 
effective May 27, 2016. Amendment 111 implemented BSAI halibut PSC 
limit reductions for the trawl and non-trawl sectors. These amounts are 
found in Table 8.
    Amendment 110 to the FMP (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016) became 
effective July 11, 2016. Amendment 110 improves the management of 
Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery by 
creating a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program. Amendment 
110 also changed the seasonal apportionments of the pollock TAC to 
allow more pollock to be harvested earlier in the year when Chinook 
salmon PSC use tends to be lower.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    At the October 2016 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council's Plan Team 
compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled 
by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2015 SAFE report for the 
BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2015 (see ADDRESSES). The 
amounts proposed for the 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications are based 
on the 2015 SAFE report, and are subject to change in the final harvest 
specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council's December 
2016 meeting. In November 2016, the Plan Team updated the 2015 SAFE 
report to include new information collected during 2016, such as NMFS 
stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. At its 
December 2016 meeting, the Council will consider information contained 
in the final 2016 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2016 
Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December 2016 SSC and AP 
meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations 
for the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications.
    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, 
which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. 
These changes were recommended by the Plan Team in November 2016 and 
are included in the final 2016 SAFE report. The final 2016 SAFE report 
includes the most recent information, such as 2016 catch data. The 
final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected 
to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts 
published here.
    If the final 2016 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2017 and 2018 harvest 
specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the final 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. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to 
an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to 
recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause TACs to exceed an OY of 
2 million mt. Generally, ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with 
a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2017 and 2018, 
the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the 
final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2017 and 2018 will equal 2 
million mt.
    The proposed ABCs and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the 
development of ABCs and

[[Page 87865]]

OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP 
specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the 
level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 
represents the highest level of information quality available, while 
Tier 6 represents the lowest.
    In October 2016, 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. These amounts 
are unchanged from the final 2017 harvest specifications published in 
the Federal Register on March 18, 2016 (81 FR 14773). The Council 
adopted the AP's TAC recommendations. For 2017 and 2018, the Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 
1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the 
specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2017 and 2018 ABCs for all 
assessed groundfish is 3,128,135 mt, which is the same as the final 
2017 ABC total in the final 2016 and 2017 BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2017 and 2018 that are 
equal to proposed ABCs for Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Bering Sea 
sablefish, AI sablefish, and eastern Aleutian Islands (EAI) Pacific 
ocean perch. The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2017 and 2018 
that are less than the proposed ABCs for Bering Sea pollock, AI ``other 
rockfish,'' AI pollock, Bogoslof pollock, Bering Sea Pacific cod, AI 
Pacific cod, yellowfin sole, Bering Sea Greenland turbot, AI Greenland 
turbot, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, flathead 
sole, Alaska plaice, ``other flatfish,'' central Aleutian Islands (CAI) 
Pacific ocean perch, western Aleutian Islands (WAI) Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, eastern Bering Sea (EBS)/EAI rougheye 
rockfish, CAI/WAI rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, Bering Sea 
``other rockfish,'' Bering Sea/EAI, CAI, and WAI Atka mackerel, skates, 
sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2016 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications during 
its December 2016 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with 
the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2015 
SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and 
socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, 
the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ``warranted on the 
basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2017 and 2018 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

  Table 1--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                     Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI\1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Proposed 2017 and 2018
                  Species                               Area             -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ 3 4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\...............................  BS..........................       3,540,000       2,019,000       1,340,643       1,206,579         134,064
                                            AI..........................          44,455          36,664          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                            Bogoslof....................          31,906          23,850             500             500  ..............
Pacific cod \5\...........................  BS..........................         412,000         255,000         238,680         213,141          25,539
                                            AI..........................          23,400          17,600          12,839          11,465           1,374
Sablefish.................................  BS..........................           1,241           1,052           1,052             447              39
                                            AI..........................           1,681           1,423           1,423             302              27
Yellowfin sole............................  BSAI........................         219,200         203,500         144,000         128,592          15,408
Greenland turbot..........................  BSAI........................           7,416           6,132           2,873           2,442             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           4,734           2,673           2,272             286
                                            AI..........................             n/a           1,398             200             170  ..............
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................          84,156          72,216          14,000          11,900           1,498
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................          11,700          10,000           5,000           4,250  ..............
Rock sole \6\.............................  BSAI........................         149,400         145,000          57,100          50,990           6,110
Flathead sole \7\.........................  BSAI........................          77,544          64,580          21,000          18,753           2,247
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................          46,800          39,100          14,500          12,325  ..............
Other flatfish \8\........................  BSAI........................          17,414          13,061           2,500           2,125  ..............
Pacific Ocean perch.......................  BSAI........................          38,589          31,724          31,490          27,779             n/a
                                            BS..........................             n/a           7,953           7,953           6,760  ..............
                                            EAI.........................             n/a           7,537           7,537           6,731             806
                                            CAI.........................             n/a           7,002           7,000           6,251             749
                                            WAI.........................             n/a           9,232           9,000           8,037             963
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................          14,085          11,468           4,500           3,825  ..............
Rougheye..................................  BSAI........................             855             694             300             255  ..............
rockfish \9\..............................  EBS/EAI.....................             n/a             216             100              85  ..............
                                            CAI/WAI.....................             n/a             478             200             170  ..............
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................             690             518             200             170  ..............
Other rockfish \10\.......................  BSAI........................           1,667           1,250             875             744  ..............
                                            BS..........................             n/a             695             325             276  ..............
                                            AI..........................             n/a             555             550             468  ..............
Atka mackerel.............................  BSAI........................          99,490          85,840          55,000          49,115           5,885
                                            EAI/BS......................             n/a          29,296          28,500          25,451           3,050

[[Page 87866]]

 
                                            CAI.........................             n/a          25,860          16,000          14,288           1,712
                                            WAI.........................             n/a          30,684          10,500           9,377           1,124
Skates....................................  BSAI........................          47,674          39,943          26,000          22,100  ..............
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................          52,365          39,725           4,500           3,825  ..............
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................           1,363           1,022             125             106  ..............
Squids....................................  BSAI........................           6,912           5,184           1,500           1,275  ..............
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................           3,452           2,589             400             340  ..............
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.................................  ............................       4,935,455       3,128,135       2,000,000       1,790,446         196,895
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the Bering Sea (BS) subarea includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line and pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian
  Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for
  these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves.
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, and 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear. The 2017 hook-and-line and pot gear
  portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. 10.7 percent of the TACs for
  Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10
  percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (4.0 percent), is further allocated by sector for a directed pollock fishery as follows:
  inshore--50 percent; catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships--10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual Aleutian
  Islands subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance
  (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery.
\5\ The Bering Sea subarea and Aleutian Islands subarea Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska guideline harvest level in state
  waters of the Aleutian Islands subarea.
\6\ ``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin
  sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice.
\9\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish.
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BS=Bering Sea subarea, AI=Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI=Eastern Aleutian district,
  CAI=Central Aleutian district, WAI=Western Aleutian district.)

Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for 
Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and 
AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line 
or pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a 
non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl 
gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland 
turbot and arrowtooth flounder to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs 
for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, 
flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 
679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent 
of the BS pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance 
(DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA 
(see Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii)). With the exception of the hook-and-line 
and pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further 
apportion the CDQ reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 4.0 percent or 53,626 mt of the Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC 
after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based 
on NMFS' examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded 
catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target 
fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2016. During this 17-
year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 
percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 17-year 
average of 3.2 percent. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) 
and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 2,400 mt of the AI subarea TAC 
after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on 
NMFS' examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 2003 through 2016. During this 14-year period, the incidental 
catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 
percent in 2013, with a 14-year average of 8 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
4,000 mt of flathead sole, 5,000 mt of rock sole, 4,500 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian 
District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka 
mackerel, and 1,000 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea

[[Page 87867]]

subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. 
These ICAs are based on NMFS' examination of the average incidental 
retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 
through 2016.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified 
reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments do not 
result in overfishing (see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that Bering Sea pollock TAC be 
apportioned after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ program and 4.0 
percent for the ICA as a DFA as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to 
the mothership sector. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA 
is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 55 percent of 
the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) 
(Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed 
pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of 
pollock remaining in the AI subarea after subtracting 1,900 mt for the 
CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i)-(iii)). In the AI subarea, the total A 
season apportionment of the pollock TAC may equal up to 40 percent of 
the ABC, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B 
season (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 
2017 and 2018 amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock 
harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC. 
In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 
percent of the Aleutian Islands ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific 
requirements regarding Bering Sea subarea pollock allocations. First, 
it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/
processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with 
catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional 
Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the 
distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher 
vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/
processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more 
than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor 
sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 allocations of pollock 
TAC. Tables 14 through 17 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher 
vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The Bering Sea subarea inshore 
pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the 
submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on 
December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative 
applications for 2017 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS 
therefore cannot calculate 2017 allocations, NMFS has not included 
inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest 
specifications. NMFS will post 2017 AFA inshore cooperative allocations 
on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior 
to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the 
harvest specifications effective on that date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA 
before noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A 
season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in 
proportion to each sector's allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 
lists these proposed 2017 and 2018 amounts by sector.

  Table 2--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Allocations of Pollock Tacs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                  2017 and 2018  -----------------------------------------------
                Area and sector                    Allocations                      SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC.........................        1,340,643             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA........................................          134,064          60,329          37,538          73,735
ICA \1\........................................           48,263             n/a             n/a             n/a
AFA Inshore....................................          579,158         260,621         162,164         318,537
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\.....................          463,326         208,497         129,731         254,829
    Catch by C/Ps..............................          423,943         190,775             n/a         233,169
    Catch by C/Vs \3\..........................           39,383          17,722             n/a          21,661
        Unlisted C/P Limit \4\.................            2,317           1,042             n/a           1,274
AFA Motherships................................          115,832          52,124          32,433          63,707
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\.................          202,705             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\.................          347,495             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ).................        1,158,316         521,242         324,328         637,074
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC...................           36,664             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC...................           19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA........................................            1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA............................................            2,400           1,200             n/a           1,200
Aleut Corporation..............................           14,700          13,520             n/a           1,180
Area harvest limit \7\.........................              n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 541 harvest limit \7\.....................           10,999             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 542 harvest limit \7\.....................            5,500             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 543 harvest limit \7\.....................            1,833             n/a             n/a             n/a

[[Page 87868]]

 
Bogoslof District ICA \8\......................              100             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (4.0 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector 50 percent,
  catcher/processor sector 40 percent, and mothership sector 10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent
  of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B
  season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock
  TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the
  Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of
  the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA
  before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/
  processors (C/Ps) shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed C/
  Ps.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting
  not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/processor sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0
  percent of the sum of the pollock DFAs not including CDQ.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ The Regional Administrator proposes closing the Bogoslof pollock fishery for directed fishing under the
  final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for the BSAI. The amounts specified are for incidental catch only
  and are not apportioned by season or sector.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, jig gear allocation, and ICAs for the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR 
part 679 and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 
2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka 
mackerel ITAC may be allocated to jig gear. The percentage of this 
allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several 
criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear 
fleet. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes a 0.5 percent 
allocation of the Atka mackerel ITAC in the Eastern Aleutian District 
and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2017 and 2018. This percentage is 
applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve and the ICA.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig 
gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to 
no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543; and 
equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined 
at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller 
sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in 
Areas 541, 542, and 543.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    Table 3 lists these 2017 and 2018 Atka mackerel season allowances, 
area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2018 allocations for 
Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 
2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 
limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

[[Page 87869]]



   Table 3--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                      Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI Atka Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         2017 and 2018 Allocation by area
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern
           Sector \1\                     Season \2 3 4\             Aleutian         Central         Western
                                                                     District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                                    Bering Sea       District        District
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.............................  n/a...........................          28,500          16,000          10,500
CDQ reserve.....................  Total.........................           3,050           1,712           1,124
                                  A.............................           1,525             856             562
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a             514             337
                                  B.............................           1,525             856             562
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a             514             337
ICA.............................  Total.........................           1,000              75              20
Jig \6\.........................  Total.........................             122  ..............  ..............
BSAI trawl limited access.......  Total.........................           2,433           1,421  ..............
                                  A.............................           1,216             711  ..............
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a             426  ..............
                                  B.............................           1,216             711  ..............
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a             426  ..............
Amendment 80 \7\................  Total.........................          21,895          12,792           9,357
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative     Total.........................          12,326           7,615           5,754
 for 2017.
                                  A.............................           6,163           3,808           2,877
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a           2,285           1,726
                                  B.............................           6,163           3,808           2,877
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a           2,285           1,726
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for    Total.........................           9,570           5,177           3,603
 2017.
                                  A.............................           4,785           2,589           1,802
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a           1,553           1,081
                                  B.............................           4,785           2,589           1,802
                                  Critical habitat \5\..........             n/a           1,553           1,081
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs, and the
  jig gear allocation, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for
  Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR
  part 679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.
  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of critical habitat; paragraph (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the
  A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and paragraph (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543
  shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this
  allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
\7\ The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80
  limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by
  November 1, 2017.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council recommended and NMFS proposes separate BS and AI 
subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC 
to the CDQ program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the 
respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific 
cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector 
allocations. However, if the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be 
reached in either the BS or AI subareas, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ 
directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocates the Pacific cod TAC in 
the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ 
program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent 
to hook-and-line or pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater 
than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line 
catcher/processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or 
equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 
percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to non-AFA trawl 
catcher/processors, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI 
ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the 
aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-
line and pot sectors. For 2017 and 2018, the Regional Administrator 
proposes a BSAI ICA of 500 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by 
these sectors in other fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.91. Two 
Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and

[[Page 87870]]

Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing 
year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective 
on that date.
    The Pacific cod ITAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to 
disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7), (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In 
accordance with Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion 
of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance will become available at the 
beginning of the next seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2015 stock assessment, the Regional 
Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 
26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2017 and 2018. NMFS first 
subtracted the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC 
and then multiplied the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod by the 
percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543. Based on these 
calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 3,379 mt.
    The CDQ and non-CDQ season allowances by gear based on the proposed 
2017 and 2018 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the 
sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A); and the seasonal allowances of 
Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

       Table 4--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific Cod TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     2017 and 2018 seasonal
                                                 2017 and 2018   2017 and 2018            apportionment
            Sector                  Percent      share of gear     share of    ---------------------------------
                                                 sector total    sector total        Season           Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC..........             n/a         238,680             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Bering Sea CDQ................             n/a          25,539             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC........             n/a         213,141             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC....             n/a          12,839             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ..........             n/a           1,374             n/a  See Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC..             n/a          11,465             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Western Aleutians Islands                  n/a           3,379             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
 Limit.
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\....             100         224,606             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear..            60.8         136,561             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\.....             n/a             n/a             500  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total...             n/a         136,061             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/                    48.7             n/a         108,983  Jan 1-Jun 10....          55,581
 processors.                                                                    Jun 10-Dec 31...          53,402
Hook-and-line catcher vessels              0.2             n/a             448  Jan 1-Jun 10....             228
 60 ft LOA.                                                          Jun 10-Dec 31...             219
Pot catcher/processors........             1.5             n/a           3,357  Jan 1-Jun 10....           1,712
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           1,645
Pot catcher vessels 60 ft LOA.                                                                  Sept 1-Dec 31...           9,211
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA                   2             n/a           4,476  n/a.............             n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessels.........            22.1          49,638             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          36,732
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           5,460
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....           7,446
AFA trawl catcher/processors..             2.3           5,166             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,874
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,291
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Amendment 80..................            13.4          30,097             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          22,573
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           7,524
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative              n/a           4,751             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,563
 for 2017 \3\.                                                                  Apr 1-Jun 10....           1,188
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for             n/a          25,346             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          19,010
 2017 \3\.                                                                      Apr 1-Jun 10....           6,337
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Jig...........................             1.4           3,144             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....           1,887
                                                                                Apr 30-Aug 31...             629
                                                                                Aug 31-Dec 31...             629
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI
  Pacific cod TACs. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for
  Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains.
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC
  allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 500 mt for 2017
  and 2018 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
\3\ The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited
  access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November
  1, 2017.


[[Page 87871]]

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) requires allocation of sablefish 
TACs for the Bering Sea and AI subareas between trawl gear and hook-
and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the Bering Sea 
subarea are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line 
or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI subarea are 25 
percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of 
the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ 
reserve. Additionally, Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 
percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the nonspecified 
reserves, established under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to 
the CDQ reserve. The Council has recommended that only trawl sablefish 
TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-
and-line gear and pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) 
fisheries are limited to the 2017 fishing year to ensure those 
fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. 
Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for 
discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ 
fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the 
final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in 
effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2017 and 2018 gear allocations of 
the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

                                   Table 5--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACS
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Percent of   2017 Share   2017 ITAC     2017 CDQ    2018 Share                 2018 CDQ
                       Subarea and gear                            TAC         of TAC        \1\        reserve       of TAC     2018 ITAC     reserve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl....................................................           50          526          447           39          526          447           39
    Hook-and-line gear \2\...................................           50          526          n/a          105          n/a          n/a          n/a
                                                                           -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total................................................          100        1,052          447          145          526          447           39
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl....................................................           25          356          302           27          356          302           27
    Hook-and-line gear \2\...................................           75        1,067          n/a          213          n/a          n/a          n/a
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total................................................          100        1,423          302          240          356          302           27
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC
  after the subtraction of these reserves.
\2\ For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by
  CDQ participants. Section 679.20(b)(1) does not provide for the establishment of an ITAC for sablefish allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI 
Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) requires that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access 
sectors, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA 
for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl 
gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in Sec.  
679.91.
    Two Amendment 80 cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing 
year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS 
will post 2017 Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date.
    The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2017 
and 2018 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead 
sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACS
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                 2017 and 2018 allocations
                                                                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Pacific ocean perch            Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                              Sector                              --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Eastern      Central      Western
                                                                     Aleutian     Aleutian     Aleutian        BSAI            BSAI            BSAI
                                                                     district     district     district
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC..............................................................        7,537        7,000        9,000          21,000          57,100         144,000
CDQ..............................................................          806          749          963           2,247           6,110          15,408

[[Page 87872]]

 
ICA..............................................................          100           60           10           4,000           5,000           4,500
BSAI trawl limited access........................................          663          619          161               0               0          14,579
Amendment 80.....................................................        5,967        5,572        7,866          14,753          45,990         109,513
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 \1\.......................        3,164        2,954        4,171           1,513          11,377          43,510
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 \1\..........................        2,803        2,617        3,695          13,240          34,614          66,003
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until
  eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2017.

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves 
minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each 
Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each 
cooperatives' quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share 
units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective 
species. Table 7 lists the 2017 and 2018 ABC surplus and ABC reserves 
for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

  Table 7--Proposed 2017 and 2018 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80
                    ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.............................................................          64,580         145,000         203,500
TAC.............................................................          21,000          57,100         144,000
ABC surplus.....................................................          43,580          87,900          59,500
ABC reserve.....................................................          43,580          87,900          59,500
CDQ ABC reserve.................................................           4,663           9,405           6,367
Amendment 80 ABC reserve........................................          38,917          78,495          53,134
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 \1\......................           3,992          19,417          21,112
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 \1\.........................          34,925          59,077          32,022
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2018 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited
  access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November
  1, 2017.

Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Section 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) sets forth the BSAI PSC 
limits. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1), the 2017 and 2018 BSAI halibut 
PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the 
halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
program, 1,745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 
mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 
710 mt of halibut mortality for the BSAI non-trawl sector.
    Section 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorizes apportionment of 
the non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery 
categories, and Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B) and Sec. Sec.  
679.21(e)(3)(i)(B) and 679.21(e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the 
BSAI trawl limited access halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC 
allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the fishery 
PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, and Table 
11 lists the fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS agrees, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from 
the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the 
Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-
and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for 
the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig 
gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery 
and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ 
fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ program 
requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-
line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard 
and is holding unused halibut IFQ (subpart D of 50 CFR part

[[Page 87873]]

679). As of November 2016, total groundfish catch for the pot gear 
fishery in the BSAI was 43,079 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch 
mortality of 2 mt.
    The 2016 jig gear fishery harvested about 47 mt of groundfish. Most 
vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage 
requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut 
bycatch in the jig gear fishery. However, as mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of 
the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut 
caught with jig gear and released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on 
whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are 
formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is 
less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State of Alaska 
provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-
System Index for western Alaska based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and 
Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping.
    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and it is not a 
low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of 
the 60,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6), and it is 
not a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 
Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA 
in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 
45,000 PSC limit to that sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) in a low 
abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook 
salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).
    As of October 1, 2016, NMFS has determined that it is not a low 
Chinook salmon abundance year based on the State of Alaska's estimate 
that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 
Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2017, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 
60,000, and the AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are seasonally 
allocated with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock 
fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock 
fishery as stated in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). Additionally, in 2017, 
the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C).
    The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final 
rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, 
August 30, 2010) and Amendment 110 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016). NMFS 
publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm.
    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2017 and 2018 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI subarea pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI 
subarea PSQ for the CDQ program and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook 
salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2017 and 2018 
non-Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area 
(CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, 
non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ for the CDQ program, and 
allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ 
fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2016 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2017 and 2018 
PSC limits and apportionments on the 2015 survey data. The Council will 
reconsider these amounts in December 2016.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl 
gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ program.
    Based on 2016 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated at 22.8 million red king crabs, which is above 
the threshold of 8.4 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning 
biomass is estimated at 42.2 million lbs (19,148 mt). Based on the 
criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2017 and 2018 
PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. 
This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more 
than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass 
estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 
million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS to 
up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need 
to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. 
NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the red king crab 
bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance 
within the RKCSS (Table 9).
    Based on 2016 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) 
abundance is estimated at 285 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set 
out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2017 and 2018 C. bairdi 
crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 
2,070,000 animals in Zone 2. In Zone 1, C. bairdi abundance was 
estimated to be greater than 270 million and less than 400 million 
animals. In Zone 2, C. bairdi abundance was estimated to be greater 
than 175 million animals and less than 290 million animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab 
(C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio 
bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering 
Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2016 survey 
estimate of 8.169 billion animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC 
limit is 9,105,477 animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2017 and 2018 herring biomass is 263,098 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
spawning location estimates. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed 
for 2017 and 2018 is 2,631 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 
and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The amount of the 2017 PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
specified in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting allocations of 
PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI

[[Page 87874]]

trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(i), Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(vi), and Sec.  679.91(d) through 
(f), crab and halibut trawl PSC limits established for the Amendment 80 
sector are then further established for Amendment 80 cooperatives as 
PSC cooperative quota as listed in Table 12. Two Amendment 80 
cooperatives have formed for the 2017 fishing year. Because all 
Amendment 80 vessels are part of a cooperative, no allocation to the 
Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. NMFS will post 2017 
Amendment 80 cooperative allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at 
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year 
on January 1, 2017, based on the harvest specifications effective on 
that date.
    The 2018 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives 
and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until 
eligible participants apply for participation in the program by 
November 1, 2017. NMFS will post 2018 Amendment 80 cooperatives and 
Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing 
year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective 
on that date.
    Section 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorizes NMFS, after consulting 
with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts 
for the BSAI trawl limited access and Amendment 80 limited access 
sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available 
groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) 
seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution 
of target groundfish species, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis 
relevant to prohibited species biomass, (4) expected variations in 
bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed 
groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and 
(7) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry 
sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC 
apportionments in Table 10 to maximize harvest among gear types, 
fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the 
above criteria.

   Table 8--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI
                                                              Trawl Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Trawl PSC                                      BSAI trawl
                PSC species and area \1\                   Non-trawl PSC    Total trawl      remaining        CDQ PSQ      Amendment 80   limited access
                                                                                PSC        after CDQ PSQ    reserve \2\       sector          fishery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI.............................             710           2,805             n/a             315           1,745             745
Herring (mt) BSAI.......................................             n/a           2,631             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1..........................             n/a          97,000          86,621          10,379          43,293          26,489
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ...............................             n/a       9,105,477       8,131,191         974,286       3,996,480       2,613,365
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1.........................             n/a         830,000         741,190          88,810         312,115         348,285
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2.........................             n/a       2,070,000       1,848,510         221,490         437,542         865,288
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
\2\ The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit.


    Table 9--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
    Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Red king crab
           Fishery categories              Herring (mt)      (animals)
                                               BSAI           Zone 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             179             n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish                29             n/a
 \1\....................................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                 19             n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish................................              13             n/a
Pacific cod.............................              40             n/a
Midwater trawl pollock..................           2,151             n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3.             199             n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-                   n/a          24,250
 pelagic trawl gear \4\.................
                                         -------------------------------
    Total trawl PSC.....................           2,631          97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder,
  flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and
  yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and
  ``other species'' fishery category.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks,
  skates, squids, and octopuses.
\4\ In October 2016 the Council recommended that the red king crab
  bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be
  limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 87875]]


 Table 10-Proposed 2017 and 2018 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Prohibited species and area \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BSAI trawl limited access         Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
            fisheries             mortality (mt)  (animals) Zone     (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI              1             COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..................             150          23,338       2,463,587         293,234         826,258
Rock sole/flathead sole/other                  0               0  ..............               0
 flatfish \2\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth                    0               0  ..............               0
 flounder/Kamchatka flounder/
 sablefish......................
Rockfish April 15-December 31...               4               0           4,069               0             697
Pacific cod.....................             391           2,954         105,008          50,816          34,848
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other                  200             197          40,701           4,235           3,485
 species \3\....................
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited                 745          26,489       2,613,365         348,285         865,288
     access PSC.................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin
  sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses.
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


     Table 11--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Catcher/
       Non-trawl fisheries                Seasons           processor    Catcher vessel       All non-trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod......................  Annual Pacific cod..             648              13  n/a
                                    January 1-June 10..             388               9  n/a
                                    June 10-August 15..             162               2  n/a
                                    August 15-December               98               2  n/a
                                    31.
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl--Total.   May 1-December 31..             n/a             n/a  49
Groundfish pot and jig...........  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  Exempt
Sablefish hook-and-line..........  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  Exempt
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
    Total for all non-trawl PSC..  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  710
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Table 12--Proposed 2017 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowance for the BSAI Amendment 80 Cooperatives
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Prohibited species and zones \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Cooperative                Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
                                  mortality (mt)  (animals) Zone     (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI              1             COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative...             474          12,459       1,258,109          82,136         112,839
Alaska Seafood Cooperative......           1,271          30,834       2,738,371         229,979         324,703
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................           1,745          43,293       3,996,480         312,115         437,542
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs)

    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 BSAI stock assessment process. 
The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the 
annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.
    Historically, DMRs consisted of long-term averages of annual DMRs 
within target fisheries that were defined by management area, CDQ, 
gear, and target species. Since the late 1990s, halibut 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 management area, CDQ, gear, and target species. Long-term 
averages are taken from annual estimates for the most recent ten-year 
period with the number of years with data to support

[[Page 87876]]

annual DMR estimates varying among fisheries. Fishery-specific DMRs, 
once calculated, have generally been put in place for three-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 BSAI 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 8, 10, 
11, and 12). The DMRs proposed for 2017 and 2018 BSAI 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.
     Incorporate CDQ with non-CDQ in the calculation of the 
DMRs instead of the currently specified DMRs, which calculate DMRs 
separately for CDQ and non-CDQ. Regulations allow assignment of CDQ 
status to a haul up to two hours after completion of gear retrieval. 
Most vessels fishing under the CDQ program also participate in the non-
CDQ fisheries. The size of the haul, fishing operations, and catch-
handling process do not tend to differ compared to the non-CDQ 
fisheries. For this reason, CDQ is not a recommended aggregation factor 
for estimating DMRs under the revised estimation method.
     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 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 2,312 mt of halibut 
mortality, whereas using the recommended DMRs yielded 2,299 mt of 
halibut morality (a less than one-percent decrease). Calculating the 
2016 halibut mortality (through September 2016) yielded 1,701 mt of 
halibut mortality, versus 1,663 mt of halibut mortality when applying 
the recommended DMRs (a two percent decrease).
    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 13 lists the proposed 
2017 and 2018 DMRs.

              Table 13--Proposed 2017 and 2018 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for the BSAI
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Halibut
                                                                                                      discard
                  Gear                              Sector                Groundfish fishery      mortality rate
                                                                                                     (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl...........................  All.......................  All.......................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  Catcher/Processor and       All.......................              85
                                           Mothership.
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  Catcher vessel............  All.......................              52
Hook-and-line...........................  Catcher vessel............  All.......................              13
Hook-and-line...........................  Catcher/Processor.........  All.......................               8
Pot.....................................  All.......................  All.......................               5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 87877]]

Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/
processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other 
than pollock, to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries 
from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery 
cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are 
set out as ``sideboard'' limits on catch. The basis for these proposed 
sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing 
the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and 
Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 14 lists the 
proposed 2017 and 2018 catcher/processor sideboard limits.
    All harvests of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/
processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 14. However, groundfish 
sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/processors 
by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2017 and 2018 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors.

              Table 14--Proposed 2017 and 2018 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Listed American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processors (C/Ps)
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             1995-1997
                                                                         ------------------------------------------------ 2017  and 2018  2017  and 2018
              Target species                            Area                                                 Ratio of     ITAC available      AFA C/P
                                                                          Retained catch    Total catch   retained catch  to all trawl C/    sideboard
                                                                                                          to total catch      Ps \1\           limit
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish trawl...........................  BS..........................               8             497           0.016             447               7
                                            AI..........................               0             145               0             302               0
Greenland turbot..........................  BS..........................             121          17,305           0.007           2,272              16
                                            AI..........................              23           4,987           0.005             170               1
Arrowtooth flounder.......................  BSAI........................              76          33,987           0.002          11,900              24
Kamchatka flounder........................  BSAI........................              76          33,987           0.002           4,250               9
Rock sole.................................  BSAI........................           6,317         169,362           0.037          50,990           1,887
Flathead sole.............................  BSAI........................           1,925          52,755           0.036          18,753             675
Alaska plaice.............................  BSAI........................              14           9,438           0.001          12,325              12
Other flatfish............................  BSAI........................           3,058          52,298           0.058           2,125             123
Pacific ocean perch.......................  BS..........................              12           4,879           0.002           6,760              14
                                            Eastern AI..................             125           6,179            0.02           6,731             135
                                            Central AI..................               3           5,698           0.001           6,251               6
                                            Western AI..................              54          13,598           0.004           8,037              32
Northern rockfish.........................  BSAI........................              91          13,040           0.007           3,825              27
Rougheye rockfish.........................  EBS/EAI.....................              50           2,811           0.018              85               2
                                            CAI/WAI.....................              50           2,811           0.018             170               3
Shortraker rockfish.......................  BSAI........................              50           2,811           0.018             170               3
Other rockfish............................  BS..........................              18             621           0.029             276               8
                                            AI..........................              22             806           0.027             468              13
Atka mackerel.............................  Central AI..................             n/a             n/a           0.115          14,288           1,643
                                            A season \2\................             n/a             n/a           0.115           7,144             822
                                            B season \2\................             n/a             n/a           0.115           7,144             822
                                            Western AI..................             n/a             n/a             0.2           9,377           1,875
                                            A season \2\................             n/a             n/a             0.2           4,689             938
                                            B season \2\................             n/a             n/a             0.2           4,689             938
Skates....................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008          22,100             177
Sculpins..................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008           3,825              31
Sharks....................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008             106               1
Squids....................................  BSAI........................              73           3,328           0.022           1,275              28
Octopuses.................................  BSAI........................             553          68,672           0.008             340               3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the
  TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
\2\ The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA
  catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC
  specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District.
Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2017 and 2018 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin
  sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 
establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for listed AFA 
catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described 
in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the 
AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, 
September 14, 2007).
    PSC species listed in Table 15 that are caught by listed AFA 
catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the proposed 2017 and 2018 PSC sideboard 
limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii) 
and (e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish 
other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 
2017 or 2018 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 15 is reached.
    Crab or halibut PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while 
fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually 
specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/
``other species'' fishery categories, according to Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(iv).

[[Page 87878]]



   Table 15--Proposed 2017 and 2018 BSAI Prohibited Species Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Listed
                                               Catcher/Processors
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Proposed 2017
                                                                                   and  2018 PSC
                                                                                   available  to   Proposed 2017
                    PSC species and area \1\                       Ratio of PSC   trawl  vessels   and  2018 C/P
                                                                   to total PSC        after         sideboard
                                                                                    subtraction      limit \2\
                                                                                    of PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality..........................................             n/a             n/a             286
Red king crab Zone 1............................................           0.007          86,621             606
C. opilio (COBLZ)...............................................           0.153       8,131,191       1,224,072
C. bairdi.......................................................             n/a             n/a             n/a
    Zone 1......................................................            0.14         741,190         103,767
    Zone 2......................................................            0.05       1,848,510          92,426
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to 
engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to 
protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed 
pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b) establishes formulas for setting AFA 
catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The 
basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final 
rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, 
December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). 
Tables 16 and 17 list the proposed 2017 and 2018 AFA catcher vessel 
sideboard limits.
    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will 
be deducted from the 2017 and 2018 sideboard limits listed in Table 16.

  Table 16--Proposed 2017 and 2018 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  2017 and  2018
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-  2017 and  2018   AFA  catcher
                Species                   Fishery by area/gear/     1997 AFA CV    initial  TAC       vessel
                                                 season           catch to 1995-        \1\          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                         limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  BSAI....................             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jig gear................               0           3,144               0
                                        Hook-and-line CV........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0006             228               0
                                        Jun 10-Dec 31...........          0.0006             219               0
                                        Pot gear CV.............             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0006           9,587               6
                                        Sept 1-Dec 31...........          0.0006           9,211               6
                                        CV <60 ft LOA using hook-         0.0006           4,476               3
                                         and-line or pot gear.
                                        Trawl gear CV...........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jan 20-Apr 1............          0.8609          36,732          31,623
                                        Apr 1-Jun 10............          0.8609           5,460           4,701
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.8609           7,446           6,410
Sablefish.............................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0906             447              40
                                        AI trawl gear...........          0.0645             302              19
Greenland turbot......................  BS......................          0.0645           2,272             147
                                        AI......................          0.0205             170               3
Arrowtooth flounder...................  BSAI....................           0.069          11,900             821
Kamchatka flounder....................  BSAI....................           0.069           4,250             293
Rock sole.............................  BSAI....................          0.0341          50,990           1,739
Flathead sole.........................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0505          18,753             947
Alaska plaice.........................  BSAI....................          0.0441          12,325             544
Other flatfish........................  BSAI....................          0.0441           2,125              94
Pacific ocean perch...................  BS......................             0.1           6,760             676
                                        Eastern AI..............          0.0077           6,731              52
                                        Central AI..............          0.0025           6,251              16
                                        Western AI..............               0           8,037               0
Northern rockfish.....................  BSAI....................          0.0084           3,825              32
Rougheye rockfish.....................  EBS/EAI.................          0.0037              85               0
                                        CAI/WAI.................          0.0037             170               1
Shortraker rockfish...................  BSAI....................          0.0037             170               1
Other rockfish........................  BS......................          0.0048             276               1
                                        AI......................          0.0095             468               4
Atka mackerel.........................  Eastern AI/BS...........             n/a          25,451             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0032          12,726              41

[[Page 87879]]

 
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.0032          12,726              41
                                        Central AI..............             n/a          14,288             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0001           7,144               1
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.0001           7,144               1
                                        Western AI..............             n/a           9,377             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............               0           4,689               0
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............               0           4,689               0
Skates................................  BSAI....................          0.0541          22,100           1,196
Sculpins..............................  BSAI....................          0.0541           3,825             207
Sharks................................  BSAI....................          0.0541             106               6
Squids................................  BSAI....................          0.3827           1,275             488
Octopuses.............................  BSAI....................          0.0541             340              18
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are
  multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.
  679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2017
  and 2018 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access
  sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 17 that are caught by 
AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the 2017 and 2018 PSC sideboard limits for 
the AFA catcher vessels. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and 
(e)(3)(v) authorizes NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish 
other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2017 and 
2018 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 17 is reached. The PSC that is 
caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the Bering 
Sea subarea will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually 
specified for either the midwater pollock or the pollock/Atka mackerel/
``other species'' fishery categories under Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) 
and Sec.  679.21(e)(3)(iv).

Table 17--Proposed 2017 and 2018 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Proposed  2017
                                                                    AFA catcher    and  2018 PSC  Proposed  2017
                                                                    vessel PSC      limit after    and  2018 AFA
      PSC species and area \1\       Target fishery category \2\     sideboard      subtraction   catcher vessel
                                                                    limit ratio       of PSQ       PSC sideboard
                                                                                   reserves \3\      limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut............................  Pacific cod trawl..........             n/a             n/a             887
                                     Pacific cod hook-and-line               n/a             n/a               2
                                      or pot.
                                     Yellowfin sole total.......             n/a             n/a             101
                                     Rock sole/flathead sole/                n/a             n/a             228
                                      other flatfish \4\.
                                     Greenland turbot/arrowtooth/            n/a             n/a               0
                                      Kamchatka flounder/
                                      sablefish.
                                     Rockfish...................             n/a             n/a               2
                                     Pollock/Atka mackerel/other             n/a             n/a               5
                                      species \5\.
Red king crab Zone 1...............  n/a........................           0.299          86,621          25,900
C. opilio COBLZ....................  n/a........................           0.168       8,131,191       1,366,040
C. bairdi Zone 1...................  n/a........................            0.33         741,190         244,593
C. bairdi Zone 2...................  n/a........................           0.186       1,848,510         343,823
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses.

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, and 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

[[Page 87880]]

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 
evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest 
strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone 
off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level 
that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of 
the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific 
numbers that the methodology may produce 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 BSAI. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other 
alternatives. 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 exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in 
parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities 
operating catcher vessels and catcher/processors 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 estimated directly regulated small entities in 2015 include 
approximately 152 catcher vessels, four catcher/processors, and six CDQ 
groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab 
Rationalization Program cooperatives, and, since under the RFA it is 
the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the 
cooperative that must meet the ``under $11 million'' threshold, they 
are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. 
Thus, the estimate of 152 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of 
the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $520,000 for 
small hook-and-line vessels, $1.29 million for small pot vessels, and 
$2.99 million for small trawl vessels. Revenue data for catcher/
processors is confidential; however, in 2015, NMFS estimates that there 
were four catcher/processor small entities with gross receipts less 
than $11 million.
    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 BSAI OY, in which 
case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have 
set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year 
average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the 
lower limit of the BSAI 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 BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2016, and reviewed and 
modified 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 BSAI OY of two million mt. As 
shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2017 and 2018 
would be about 3,128,135 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the 
OY range. The sum of TACs is equal to 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.
    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 TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, 
to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2017 
TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size 
would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these 
increases is very uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI 
would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the 
BSAI, these increases would still be constrained by production of 
substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from 
smaller production. Thus, this alternative action would have a 
detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to 
obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The proposed harvest specifications 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 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because 2017 TACs 
in the proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications are unchanged from 
the 2017 harvest specification 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 be large enough to have an impact on 
small entities.

[[Page 87881]]

    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