Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP), 96437-96439 [2016-31704]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 251 / Friday, December 30, 2016 / Notices rate established for the most recently completed segment of this proceeding for the manufacturer of the merchandise; and (4) if neither the exporter nor the manufacturer is a firm covered in this or any previously completed segment of this proceeding, then the cash deposit rate will be the ‘‘all-others’’ rate of 7.00 percent established in the Amended Final Determination and Order.8 These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice. Disclosure and Public Comment srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES The Department intends to disclose the calculations performed in connection with these preliminary results within five days after the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b). Interested parties may submit case briefs no later than 30 days after the publication date of this notice.9 Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in the case briefs, may be filed not later than five days after the date for filing case briefs.10 Parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs are requested to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.11 Executive summaries should be limited to five pages total, including footnotes.12 All briefs must be filed electronically via ACCESS.13 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by ACCESS, by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the on which it is due.14 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance within 30 days of the publication date of this notice, filed electronically via ACCESS. Requests should contain: (1) The party’s name, address and telephone number; (2) the number of participants; and (3) a list of issues parties intend to discuss. Issues raised in the hearing will be limited to those raised in the respective case and rebuttal briefs. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of 8 See Notice of Amended Final Determination and Antidumping Duty Order: Certain Welded Stainless Steel Pipe from the Republic of Korea, 60 FR 10064 (February 23, 1995) (Amended Final Determination and Order). 9 See 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements). 10 See 19 CFR 351.309(c) and (d). 11 See 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2). 12 Id. 13 See 19 CFR 351.303. 14 See 19 CFR 351.303(b)(1). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:18 Dec 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a date and time to be determined.15 Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date. We intend to issue the final results of this review within 120 days after the date of publication of this notice, unless otherwise extended.16 This notice serves as a preliminary reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department’s presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties. Notification to Interested Parties These preliminary results of this review are issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h). Dated: December 20, 2016. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum: I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. No Shipments V. Discussion of Methodology A. Comparisons to Normal Value B. Date of Sale C. Product Comparisons D. Constructed Export Price E. Normal Value F. Cost of Production Analysis G. Calculation of Normal Value Based on Comparison Market Prices H. Currency Conversion VI. Recommendation [FR Doc. 2016–31728 Filed 12–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P 19 CFR 351.310(d). section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h)(1). 16 See PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF068 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of EFP application; request for comments. AGENCY: Notification to Importers 15 See 96437 NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit (EFP) application from the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Pacific Seafoods for an EFP Program to monitor and minimize salmon bycatch when vessels target rockfish in the shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery. The NMFS West Coast Region’s Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries has made a preliminary determination that the subject EFP application contains all the required information and the EFP Program warrants further consideration. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries proposes to recommend that EFPs be issued under an EFP Program that would allow as many as 50 commercial fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations governing the fisheries of the west coast of the United States. If awarded, the EFP Program would exempt participating limited entry bottom trawl vessels from the requirement to use selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the Trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) north of 40°10′ N. latitude in waters off the west coast. In addition, if awarded, the EFP Program would also allow participating bottom trawl vessels that fish any place along the west coast an exemption to the minimum mesh size requirement of 4.5 inches. The EFP Program is intended to provide additional flexibility in the configuration and use of bottom trawl gear for the vessels, as well as provide additional information on potential impacts to protected resources, particularly Chinook salmon bycatch, resulting from this added flexibility. The additional information would be used to enhance the management of the groundfish fishery and promote the objectives of the Pacific Coast SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 96438 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 251 / Friday, December 30, 2016 / Notices Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This EFP would be effective for 2017 and would expire no later than December 31, 2017, but could be terminated earlier under the terms and conditions of the EFP and other applicable laws. Additionally, NMFS, with input from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), may extend the EFP beyond 2017, if appropriate. Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed EFPs. DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on January 24, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by 0648–XF068, by any one of the following methods: • Email: nmfs.wcr.trawlgearefp@ noaa.gov. • Mail: Barry Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–0070, Attn: Melissa Hooper. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Hooper: (206) 526–4357 or melissa.hooper@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action is authorized by the FMP and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 600.745, which states that EFPs may be used to authorize fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited. If awarded, the EFP Program would give participating vessels an exemption from the current requirement at 50 CFR 660.130(b)(3)(ii)(A) to use selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the RCA and north of 40°10′ N. lat. EFP vessels would instead be subject to a small footrope requirement similar to what is required south of 40°10′ N. lat. Additionally, if awarded, the EFP Program would give participating vessels an exemption from the current requirement at 50 CFR 660.130(b)(2) to use a 4.5 inch (11.4 cm) mesh throughout the net for bottom trawl vessels with a Federal limited entry permit. Participating vessels would carry observers or electronic monitoring on 100-percent of trips, as is currently required in the IFQ program. This exempted fishing activity is designed to provide participants with additional flexibility to configure their gear to re-establish a targeted rockfish fishery for widow, yellowtail, and chilipepper rockfish. The annual catch limits (ACLs) for both widow and chilipepper rockfish are increasing to levels not seen in several years, and the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:18 Dec 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 additional fish available could provide an opportunity for the redevelopment of processing and harvesting in those areas of the coast that had been constrained by the lower ACLs for these overfished species. Additionally, according to the applicants, the two-seam design of the nets can make it difficult to include some types of bycatch excluders. Eliminating the selective flatfish trawl gear requirement could provide vessels with more flexibility in designing their gear and would increase the opportunity for using bycatch reduction devices of different types. Changes to the minimum mesh size would provide participating vessels with the flexibility to set their mesh size for the size of fish they intend to target. It is unlikely that vessels would set their mesh size much lower than the current minimum of 4.5 inches as smaller fish tend to be less marketable. However, a smaller mesh size may reduce the number of fish that are gilled (i.e. stuck in the mesh) and, as a result, are unmarketable. Information collected during under the EFP Program would be used to support the analysis for potential new and modification to existing gear regulations, including the Council’s trawl gear modifications regulatory amendment which the Council took final action on earlier in 2016. With many of the current gear regulations having been in place for more than ten years, it is difficult for NMFS, the Council, and industry to predict the impacts of removing these regulations. In the past ten years, the industry has changed significantly. Reduction in capacity, innovations in gear technologies, and changes in management have all contributed to these changes. The EFP Program would help demonstrate what potential impacts today’s fleet could have when some of the current gear regulations are eliminated. In the early 1990s, the Council redefined bottom trawl gear and established 4.5 inches as the minimum mesh size for bottom trawl codends coastwide, and then required the larger mesh throughout the remainder of the trawl nets. These initial mesh regulations were intended to: (1) Reduce the harvest of small and unmarketable fish, (2) reduce the incidental harvest of unwanted species, and (3) establish a standard, coastwide mesh requirement. However, the two different sizes throughout the mesh created a loophole for some vessels. By 1995, regulations were implemented by the Council to address this loophole. The new regulations required all bottom trawl nets to have a minimum of 4.5 inch PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mesh throughout the net (60 FR 13377, March 13, 1995). These measures were intended to give smaller-size fish the opportunity to escape from the entire trawl net, reducing the likelihood those fish would be caught. Beginning in 2005, the Council required the use of selective flatfish trawl for all groundfish trawling on the west coast north of 40°10′ N. lat. shoreward of the RCA. The selective flatfish trawl gear was originally designed and implemented to reduce the bycatch of round fish, such as canary rockfish and salmon, while increasing the catch of flatfish species. Previously, management actions to protect vulnerable rockfish had greatly expanded the boundaries of the trawl RCA, moving the eastern boundary shoreward. These changes, while addressing the issues with vulnerable rockfish, also severely limited access to productive flatfish stocks. Selective flatfish trawl was seen as a way for the fleet to still access the fishing grounds while protecting the vulnerable rockfish species. NMFS is concerned with the potential impacts a selective flatfish trawl exemption and minimum mesh size exemption may have on protected species. Available information suggests that bycatch rates of ESA-listed salmon, eulachon, and green sturgeon could increase as a result of the increased effort resulting from this EFP Program. NMFS is focused on developing an EFP that would meet the applicants’ objectives to better target pelagic rockfish species while collecting information about bycatch and minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable. To address NMFS’ concerns, the applicants are proposing that bycatch information, as well as haul level data and genetics will be collected on all salmon caught. Because a targeted fishery for chilipepper, widow, and yellowtail rockfish has not existed in more than a decade, there is limited information about expected bycatch in these target fisheries. The applicants are proposing that all salmon caught under this EFP Program would be counted against a salmon bycatch limit set by the NMFS for the EFP. The applicants are proposing the following additional measures to minimize and monitor bycatch under the EFP Program: • Enrollment provisions—Vessels will be required to contact NMFS prior to a specified deadline to enroll in the EFP for a minimum of one month. Vessels may opt in or out of the EFP Program on a monthly basis only, with the exception of the month of May, by notifying NMFS. During May, vessels E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 251 / Friday, December 30, 2016 / Notices using midwater gear after May 15th must declare out before they begin to use the gear and can only declare back in once they revert back to bottom trawl gear. • Salmon bycatch provisions— Vessels will be required to operate under a 3,500 Chinook salmon bycatch cap under this EFP, and a specific Chinook salmon sub-cap of 595 Chinook (17 percent of the total Chinook salmon cap) on EFP Program trips south of 43° N, also known as the Eureka Management Area. Once the sub-cap limit is reached, the Eureka Management Area would be closed to participating vessels, but participating vessels could continue to fish under this EFP north of 43° N. If the Chinook salmon bycatch cap for the EFP Program (3,500 Chinook) is reached, the entire EFP Program would be closed for the remainder of the year. Vessels will be required to retain and land all salmon bycatch on all trips that fall under this EFP. Vessels participating in the EFP Program are also required to provide all salmon bycatch information as quickly as possible and without any restrictions on confidentiality. • Monitoring provisions—Vessels participating in this EFP will be required to use 100 percent monitoring on all EFP Program trips, as is consistent with the requirements of the shoreside IFQ fishery. Vessels carrying observers must continue to sort their salmon bycatch by haul. Vessels participating in both the electronic monitoring EFP Program and this EFP Program must continue using the same monitoring and reporting provisions required under the electronic monitoring EFP Program. All vessels, regardless of using electronic monitoring or observers, will be required to have 100 percent shoreside monitoring. Æ Real-Time Bycatch Monitoring provisions—The participating vessels would work with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to provide realtime, or close to it, monitoring of salmon bycatch on all EFP Program trips through fishtickets and shoreside monitoring reports. The reports would include number of landing events (total and since last report) and number of Chinook salmon landed (total and since last report). • Fleet accountability provisions—In this EFP, the applicants have developed rules and definitions for bycatch avoidance and mitigation. These include definitions of a ‘‘high bycatch tow’’, ‘‘adult salmon’’, and ‘‘high bycatch trip.’’ Bycatch avoidances measures include moving locations when experiencing a ‘‘high bycatch VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:18 Dec 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 tow’’ and a ‘‘stand down’’ rule where a participating vessel would have to declare out of the EFP Program following a series of high bycatch trips as defined in the application. • Area-based Avoidance provisions— The EFP Program includes provisions regarding two closed areas: Æ Klamath River Salmon Conservation Zone—The Klamath River Conservation Zone, as defined in regulation at 50 CFR 660.131(c)(1), will be closed to participating vessels for the duration of the EFP Program. Æ Columbia River Salmon Conservation Zone—The Columbia River Salmon Conservation Zone, as defined in regulation at 50 CFR 660.131(c)(2), will be closed to participating vessels for the duration of the EFP Program. The Pacific Fishery Management Council reviewed the EFP application at its September and November 2016 meetings and recommended that NMFS issue permits, under this EFP Program, as proposed with the following amendments: • Set the Chinook salmon bycatch limit for this EFP Program at no more than 4,000 fish. • Include a sub-limit of 17 percent, or 680 Chinook, for the Eureka management area. • Remove the provision to trigger a closure of the Columbia River Salmon Conservation Zone to EFP fishing when 1,000 Chinook have been caught by EFP participants. • Include the following criteria in the definition of a high bycatch trip: 1 adult Chinook (defined as 20 inches or greater) caught in the California portion of the Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) defined consistent with salmon regulations as waters from the California/Oregon border south to Horse Mountain. • Vessels could fish concurrently under both this EFP Program and the electronic monitoring EFP Program. • Participants must submit an informal report for the April 2017 Council meeting and a formal report for the June 2017 Council meeting. • The permits under this EFP Program will not automatically renew for the 2018 year, but a resubmission of an application can be made to the Council in September 2017. The applicants have not proposed a specific list of participating vessels, as is traditionally the case, but rather are proposing an overall EFP program that any vessel in the fleet could enroll in by applying to NMFS. Depending on the diversity of interested vessels, NMFS may need to develop several EFPs within the overall EFP program to PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 96439 accommodate different protocols for different gear configurations and monitoring types (e.g., electronic monitoring vs. observers). Therefore, NMFS is proposing to approve an overall EFP program, covering all of the individual EFPs, with consistent general requirements following the conclusion of the public comment period. Subsequently, we will issue the actual permits for the EFPs to individual participants according to the nature of their fishing activities. NMFS intends to use an adaptive management approach in which NMFS may revise requirements and protocols to improve the program without issuing another Federal Register notice, provided that the modifications fall within the scope of the original EFP Program. In addition, the applicants may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP Program throughout the course of research. EFP Program modifications and extensions may be granted without further public notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and result in only a minimal change in the scope or impacts of the initially approved EFP request. In accordance with NAO Administrative Order 216–6, a Categorical Exclusion or other appropriate National Environmental Policy Act document would be completed prior to the issuance of any permits under this EFP Program. Further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the permits. After publication of this document in the Federal Register, the EFP Program, if approved by NMFS, may be implemented following the public comment period. NMFS will consider comments submitted, as well as the Council’s discussion at their November 2016 Council meeting, in deciding whether or not to approve the application as requested. NMFS may approve the application in its entirety or may make any alternations needed to achieve the goals of the EFP Program. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. Dated: December 27, 2016. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–31704 Filed 12–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 251 (Friday, December 30, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 96437-96439]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-31704]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF068


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish 
Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP)

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of EFP application; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit (EFP) 
application from the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, 
Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Pacific 
Seafoods for an EFP Program to monitor and minimize salmon bycatch when 
vessels target rockfish in the shorebased individual fishing quota 
(IFQ) fishery. The NMFS West Coast Region's Assistant Regional 
Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries has made a preliminary 
determination that the subject EFP application contains all the 
required information and the EFP Program warrants further 
consideration. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional 
Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries proposes to recommend that EFPs 
be issued under an EFP Program that would allow as many as 50 
commercial fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are 
otherwise restricted by the regulations governing the fisheries of the 
west coast of the United States. If awarded, the EFP Program would 
exempt participating limited entry bottom trawl vessels from the 
requirement to use selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the Trawl 
Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) north of 40[deg]10' N. latitude in 
waters off the west coast. In addition, if awarded, the EFP Program 
would also allow participating bottom trawl vessels that fish any place 
along the west coast an exemption to the minimum mesh size requirement 
of 4.5 inches.
    The EFP Program is intended to provide additional flexibility in 
the configuration and use of bottom trawl gear for the vessels, as well 
as provide additional information on potential impacts to protected 
resources, particularly Chinook salmon bycatch, resulting from this 
added flexibility. The additional information would be used to enhance 
the management of the groundfish fishery and promote the objectives of 
the Pacific Coast

[[Page 96438]]

Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This EFP would be effective 
for 2017 and would expire no later than December 31, 2017, but could be 
terminated earlier under the terms and conditions of the EFP and other 
applicable laws. Additionally, NMFS, with input from the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council), may extend the EFP beyond 2017, 
if appropriate. Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act require publication of this 
notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment 
on applications for proposed EFPs.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on 
January 24, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by 0648-XF068, by any 
one of the following methods:
     Email: nmfs.wcr.trawlgearefp@noaa.gov.
     Mail: Barry Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070, Attn: 
Melissa Hooper.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Hooper: (206) 526-4357 or 
melissa.hooper@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action is authorized by the FMP and 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 600.745, which states that EFPs may 
be used to authorize fishing activities that would otherwise be 
prohibited.
    If awarded, the EFP Program would give participating vessels an 
exemption from the current requirement at 50 CFR 660.130(b)(3)(ii)(A) 
to use selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the RCA and north of 
40[deg]10' N. lat. EFP vessels would instead be subject to a small 
footrope requirement similar to what is required south of 40[deg]10' N. 
lat. Additionally, if awarded, the EFP Program would give participating 
vessels an exemption from the current requirement at 50 CFR 
660.130(b)(2) to use a 4.5 inch (11.4 cm) mesh throughout the net for 
bottom trawl vessels with a Federal limited entry permit. Participating 
vessels would carry observers or electronic monitoring on 100-percent 
of trips, as is currently required in the IFQ program.
    This exempted fishing activity is designed to provide participants 
with additional flexibility to configure their gear to re-establish a 
targeted rockfish fishery for widow, yellowtail, and chilipepper 
rockfish. The annual catch limits (ACLs) for both widow and chilipepper 
rockfish are increasing to levels not seen in several years, and the 
additional fish available could provide an opportunity for the 
redevelopment of processing and harvesting in those areas of the coast 
that had been constrained by the lower ACLs for these overfished 
species. Additionally, according to the applicants, the two-seam design 
of the nets can make it difficult to include some types of bycatch 
excluders. Eliminating the selective flatfish trawl gear requirement 
could provide vessels with more flexibility in designing their gear and 
would increase the opportunity for using bycatch reduction devices of 
different types.
    Changes to the minimum mesh size would provide participating 
vessels with the flexibility to set their mesh size for the size of 
fish they intend to target. It is unlikely that vessels would set their 
mesh size much lower than the current minimum of 4.5 inches as smaller 
fish tend to be less marketable. However, a smaller mesh size may 
reduce the number of fish that are gilled (i.e. stuck in the mesh) and, 
as a result, are unmarketable.
    Information collected during under the EFP Program would be used to 
support the analysis for potential new and modification to existing 
gear regulations, including the Council's trawl gear modifications 
regulatory amendment which the Council took final action on earlier in 
2016. With many of the current gear regulations having been in place 
for more than ten years, it is difficult for NMFS, the Council, and 
industry to predict the impacts of removing these regulations. In the 
past ten years, the industry has changed significantly. Reduction in 
capacity, innovations in gear technologies, and changes in management 
have all contributed to these changes. The EFP Program would help 
demonstrate what potential impacts today's fleet could have when some 
of the current gear regulations are eliminated.
    In the early 1990s, the Council redefined bottom trawl gear and 
established 4.5 inches as the minimum mesh size for bottom trawl 
codends coastwide, and then required the larger mesh throughout the 
remainder of the trawl nets. These initial mesh regulations were 
intended to: (1) Reduce the harvest of small and unmarketable fish, (2) 
reduce the incidental harvest of unwanted species, and (3) establish a 
standard, coastwide mesh requirement. However, the two different sizes 
throughout the mesh created a loophole for some vessels. By 1995, 
regulations were implemented by the Council to address this loophole. 
The new regulations required all bottom trawl nets to have a minimum of 
4.5 inch mesh throughout the net (60 FR 13377, March 13, 1995). These 
measures were intended to give smaller-size fish the opportunity to 
escape from the entire trawl net, reducing the likelihood those fish 
would be caught.
    Beginning in 2005, the Council required the use of selective 
flatfish trawl for all groundfish trawling on the west coast north of 
40[deg]10' N. lat. shoreward of the RCA. The selective flatfish trawl 
gear was originally designed and implemented to reduce the bycatch of 
round fish, such as canary rockfish and salmon, while increasing the 
catch of flatfish species. Previously, management actions to protect 
vulnerable rockfish had greatly expanded the boundaries of the trawl 
RCA, moving the eastern boundary shoreward. These changes, while 
addressing the issues with vulnerable rockfish, also severely limited 
access to productive flatfish stocks. Selective flatfish trawl was seen 
as a way for the fleet to still access the fishing grounds while 
protecting the vulnerable rockfish species.
    NMFS is concerned with the potential impacts a selective flatfish 
trawl exemption and minimum mesh size exemption may have on protected 
species. Available information suggests that bycatch rates of ESA-
listed salmon, eulachon, and green sturgeon could increase as a result 
of the increased effort resulting from this EFP Program. NMFS is 
focused on developing an EFP that would meet the applicants' objectives 
to better target pelagic rockfish species while collecting information 
about bycatch and minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable. To 
address NMFS' concerns, the applicants are proposing that bycatch 
information, as well as haul level data and genetics will be collected 
on all salmon caught. Because a targeted fishery for chilipepper, 
widow, and yellowtail rockfish has not existed in more than a decade, 
there is limited information about expected bycatch in these target 
fisheries. The applicants are proposing that all salmon caught under 
this EFP Program would be counted against a salmon bycatch limit set by 
the NMFS for the EFP.
    The applicants are proposing the following additional measures to 
minimize and monitor bycatch under the EFP Program:
     Enrollment provisions--Vessels will be required to contact 
NMFS prior to a specified deadline to enroll in the EFP for a minimum 
of one month. Vessels may opt in or out of the EFP Program on a monthly 
basis only, with the exception of the month of May, by notifying NMFS. 
During May, vessels

[[Page 96439]]

using midwater gear after May 15th must declare out before they begin 
to use the gear and can only declare back in once they revert back to 
bottom trawl gear.
     Salmon bycatch provisions--Vessels will be required to 
operate under a 3,500 Chinook salmon bycatch cap under this EFP, and a 
specific Chinook salmon sub-cap of 595 Chinook (17 percent of the total 
Chinook salmon cap) on EFP Program trips south of 43[deg] N, also known 
as the Eureka Management Area. Once the sub-cap limit is reached, the 
Eureka Management Area would be closed to participating vessels, but 
participating vessels could continue to fish under this EFP north of 
43[deg] N. If the Chinook salmon bycatch cap for the EFP Program (3,500 
Chinook) is reached, the entire EFP Program would be closed for the 
remainder of the year. Vessels will be required to retain and land all 
salmon bycatch on all trips that fall under this EFP. Vessels 
participating in the EFP Program are also required to provide all 
salmon bycatch information as quickly as possible and without any 
restrictions on confidentiality.
     Monitoring provisions--Vessels participating in this EFP 
will be required to use 100 percent monitoring on all EFP Program 
trips, as is consistent with the requirements of the shoreside IFQ 
fishery. Vessels carrying observers must continue to sort their salmon 
bycatch by haul. Vessels participating in both the electronic 
monitoring EFP Program and this EFP Program must continue using the 
same monitoring and reporting provisions required under the electronic 
monitoring EFP Program. All vessels, regardless of using electronic 
monitoring or observers, will be required to have 100 percent shoreside 
monitoring.
    [cir] Real-Time Bycatch Monitoring provisions--The participating 
vessels would work with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to 
provide real-time, or close to it, monitoring of salmon bycatch on all 
EFP Program trips through fishtickets and shoreside monitoring reports. 
The reports would include number of landing events (total and since 
last report) and number of Chinook salmon landed (total and since last 
report).
     Fleet accountability provisions--In this EFP, the 
applicants have developed rules and definitions for bycatch avoidance 
and mitigation. These include definitions of a ``high bycatch tow'', 
``adult salmon'', and ``high bycatch trip.'' Bycatch avoidances 
measures include moving locations when experiencing a ``high bycatch 
tow'' and a ``stand down'' rule where a participating vessel would have 
to declare out of the EFP Program following a series of high bycatch 
trips as defined in the application.
     Area-based Avoidance provisions--The EFP Program includes 
provisions regarding two closed areas:
    [cir] Klamath River Salmon Conservation Zone--The Klamath River 
Conservation Zone, as defined in regulation at 50 CFR 660.131(c)(1), 
will be closed to participating vessels for the duration of the EFP 
Program.
    [cir] Columbia River Salmon Conservation Zone--The Columbia River 
Salmon Conservation Zone, as defined in regulation at 50 CFR 
660.131(c)(2), will be closed to participating vessels for the duration 
of the EFP Program.
    The Pacific Fishery Management Council reviewed the EFP application 
at its September and November 2016 meetings and recommended that NMFS 
issue permits, under this EFP Program, as proposed with the following 
amendments:
     Set the Chinook salmon bycatch limit for this EFP Program 
at no more than 4,000 fish.
     Include a sub-limit of 17 percent, or 680 Chinook, for the 
Eureka management area.
     Remove the provision to trigger a closure of the Columbia 
River Salmon Conservation Zone to EFP fishing when 1,000 Chinook have 
been caught by EFP participants.
     Include the following criteria in the definition of a high 
bycatch trip: 1 adult Chinook (defined as 20 inches or greater) caught 
in the California portion of the Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) defined 
consistent with salmon regulations as waters from the California/Oregon 
border south to Horse Mountain.
     Vessels could fish concurrently under both this EFP 
Program and the electronic monitoring EFP Program.
     Participants must submit an informal report for the April 
2017 Council meeting and a formal report for the June 2017 Council 
meeting.
     The permits under this EFP Program will not automatically 
renew for the 2018 year, but a resubmission of an application can be 
made to the Council in September 2017.
    The applicants have not proposed a specific list of participating 
vessels, as is traditionally the case, but rather are proposing an 
overall EFP program that any vessel in the fleet could enroll in by 
applying to NMFS. Depending on the diversity of interested vessels, 
NMFS may need to develop several EFPs within the overall EFP program to 
accommodate different protocols for different gear configurations and 
monitoring types (e.g., electronic monitoring vs. observers). 
Therefore, NMFS is proposing to approve an overall EFP program, 
covering all of the individual EFPs, with consistent general 
requirements following the conclusion of the public comment period. 
Subsequently, we will issue the actual permits for the EFPs to 
individual participants according to the nature of their fishing 
activities. NMFS intends to use an adaptive management approach in 
which NMFS may revise requirements and protocols to improve the program 
without issuing another Federal Register notice, provided that the 
modifications fall within the scope of the original EFP Program. In 
addition, the applicants may request minor modifications and extensions 
to the EFP Program throughout the course of research. EFP Program 
modifications and extensions may be granted without further public 
notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the 
proposed research and result in only a minimal change in the scope or 
impacts of the initially approved EFP request.
    In accordance with NAO Administrative Order 216-6, a Categorical 
Exclusion or other appropriate National Environmental Policy Act 
document would be completed prior to the issuance of any permits under 
this EFP Program. Further review and consultation may be necessary 
before a final determination is made to issue the permits. After 
publication of this document in the Federal Register, the EFP Program, 
if approved by NMFS, may be implemented following the public comment 
period. NMFS will consider comments submitted, as well as the Council's 
discussion at their November 2016 Council meeting, in deciding whether 
or not to approve the application as requested. NMFS may approve the 
application in its entirety or may make any alternations needed to 
achieve the goals of the EFP Program.

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

    Dated: December 27, 2016.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-31704 Filed 12-29-16; 8:45 am]
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