Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit, 55352-55355 [2017-25160]

Download as PDF 55352 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 223 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / Notices necessary to make a preliminary determination. Under 19 CFR 351.205(e), the petitioner must submit a request for postponement 25 days or more before the scheduled date of the preliminary determination and must state the reasons for the request. The Department will grant the request unless it finds compelling reasons to deny the request. On November 8, 2017, The Timken Company (the petitioner) submitted a timely request that we postpone the preliminary determination in this LTFV investigation. In its request, the petitioner cited outstanding issues regarding affiliation and the particular market situation which affects the cost of production information, such that further supplemental questionnaires will be required to address all issues and develop the case record.2 In accordance with 19 CFR 351.205(e), the petitioner has stated the reasons for requesting a postponement of the preliminary determination, and the Department finds no compelling reason to deny the request. Therefore, pursuant to section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Act, we are postponing the deadline for the preliminary determination by 50 days (i.e., 190 days after the date on which these investigations were initiated). As a result, the Department will issue its preliminary determination no later than January 24, 2018. Pursuant to section 735(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(1), the deadline for the final determination will continue to be 75 days after the date of the preliminary determination, unless postponed at a later date. This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 733(c)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(f)(l). Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2017–25173 Filed 11–20–17; 8:45 am] asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P 2 See Letter from the petitioner, ‘‘Certain Tapered Roller Bearings from the Republic of Korea— Petitioner’s Request for Extension of the Preliminary Determination,’’ (November 8, 2017). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:56 Nov 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XD505 Endangered Species; File No. 18688 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a permit modification. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1601 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814 [Responsible Party: Michael Tosatto], has requested a modification to scientific research Permit No. 18688. DATES: Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before December 21, 2017. ADDRESSES: The modification request and related documents are available for review by selecting ‘‘Records Open for Public Comment’’ from the Features box on the Applications and Permits for Protected Species (APPS) home page, https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov, and then selecting File No. 18688 Mod 3 from the list of available applications. These documents are also available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427–8401; fax (301) 713–0376. Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713–0376, or by email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Please include the File No. in the subject line of the email comment. Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Hapeman or Erin Markin, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject modification to Permit No. 18688, issued on May 5, 2015 (80 FR 36769), is requested under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222–226). Permit No. 18688 authorizes the permit holder to conduct research on sea turtles bycaught in three longline fisheries in the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii and American Samoa to assess sea turtle post-hooking survival, movements, and ecology in pelagic habitats. The permit authorizes examination, morphometrics, biological sampling, and tagging of live hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles and the collection of carcasses, tissues and parts from dead sea turtles. Authorized take numbers for each species were consistent with the number of turtles allowed to be bycaught via the biological opinion prepared for each fishery. The permit holder requests authorization to increase the number of animals for each species that may be taken for research in the American Samoa longline fishery to match the incidental take statement of a new biological opinion prepared for this fishery after Permit No. 18688 was issued. Live sea turtles would undergo the same procedures as currently authorized by the permit. No other changes are requested. Dated: November 16, 2017. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–25163 Filed 11–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF760 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for exempted fishing permit. AGENCY: This notice announces the receipt of an application and the public comment period for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Mr. John Gauvin of Gauvin and Associates, LLC. If granted, this permit would allow the applicant to continue the development and testing of a salmon excluder device for the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 223 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / Notices The objective of the EFP application is to identify upgraded excluder design(s) and specific rigging configurations most likely to produce the greatest relative reduction in Chinook salmon bycatch rates on vessels from different horsepower and size classes of the Bering Sea pollock fishery. The most effective current salmon excluder designs and rigging configurations would be refined and tested systematically under conditions that approximate as closely as possible actual commercial fishing practices in that fishery. Testing will be conducted in 2018, 2019, and 2020, with results from each year guiding the device design for each vessel size class to be tested the subsequent year during the period of this EFP. This experiment has the potential to promote the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: Comments on this EFP application must be submitted to NMFS on or before December 12, 2017. In addition, public comments can be presented to The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) that will review and consider the application at its meeting from December 4, 2017, through December 12, 2017, in Anchorage, AK. ADDRESSES: The Council meeting will be held at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel, 500 W 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501. The agenda for the Council meeting is available at http://www.npfmc.org. In addition to submission of public comments at the Council meeting, you may submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2017–0127, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170127, 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. All comments received are a part of the public record and NMFS will post the comments 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:56 Nov 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 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 EFP application and the basis for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act, the final Environmental Impact Statement on Bering Sea Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management (Amendment 91 under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP)), and the Environmental Assessment prepared for Amendment 110 to the FMP are available from the Alaska Region, NMFS Web site at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bridget Mansfield, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the domestic groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) under the FMP, which the Council prepared under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing the BSAI groundfish fisheries appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. The FMP and the implementing regulations at § 600.745(b) and § 679.6 allow the NMFS Regional Administrator to authorize, for limited experimental purposes, fishing that would otherwise be prohibited. Procedures for issuing EFPs are contained in the implementing regulations Background Pacific salmon support large commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries and continue to be of great cultural importance throughout Alaska. Chinook salmon bycatch, where bycatch means fish caught and released while targeting another species or caught and released while targeting the same species, in the Bering Sea pollock fishery is a concern to those who depend on those salmon resources in Alaska and Canada, and further reduction in salmon bycatch is desired by those who use salmon resources and by the pollock fishing industry. Annual limits (PSC) are placed on the number of Chinook salmon that may be taken in the BSAI trawl fisheries. Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery is managed under a system of two PSC limits (described below); allocations among the Bering Sea pollock fishery sectors, inshore cooperatives, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups; and other measures designed to minimize bycatch below the higher PSC limit. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55353 The PSC limits became effective in 2011 as part of Amendment 91 to the FMP (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010) to manage Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Amendment 91 includes two Chinook salmon PSC limits: the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit is available to those who participate in an industrydeveloped incentive plan agreement (IPA) that provides incentives for each vessel to avoid Chinook salmon bycatch, and a 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit applies fleet-wide if industry does not form any IPAs. Currently all vessels in this fishery participate in an IPA. Amendment 110 to the FMP was implemented in 2016 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016) to modify the existing Chinook salmon bycatch program, specifically to make it more effective at avoiding Chinook salmon, particularly when Chinook salmon abundance is low. More details on Amendments 91 and 110 may be found in the final Environmental Impact Statement on Bering Sea Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management (Amendment 91), and the Environmental Assessment prepared for Amendment 110 (see ADDRESSES). The majority of pollock fishermen in the Bering Sea use salmon excluder devices on a regular basis as part of the overall effort by the fishery to reduce salmon bycatch under the Chinook PSC limits and bycatch avoidance incentive programs in place in the fishery. Improvements in Chinook salmon escapement and pollock retention rates for these excluder devices would provide an enhanced opportunity to minimize Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery to the extent practicable, while maintaining the potential for the full harvest of the pollock total allowable catch (TAC) within specified PSC limits. An EFP is needed to facilitate effective testing of improvements to the excluder devices, because exemptions from certain regulations, as described below, would be required to meet the needs of the experimental design. Exempted Fishing Permit On August 15, 2017, Mr. John Gauvin, of Gauvin and Associates, LLC, submitted an application for an EFP for 2018 through 2020 to improve the performance of the salmon excluder device developed under EFP 15–01 from 2015 to 2016, and to validate the performance of this device for pollock trawl gear used in the Bering Sea. The objective of the proposed 2018 EFP is to test refinements to existing salmon excluder devices on vessels from different horsepower and size classes in the Bering Sea pollock fishery to E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES 55354 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 223 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / Notices identify the excluder design(s) and specific rigging variations that are most likely to produce the greatest relative improvements to reductions in Chinook salmon bycatch rates without significantly lowering pollock catch rates. Salmon are designated as prohibited species that are incidentally caught in the pollock fishery (§ 679.21(e) and (f)). The most effective current excluder designs and rigging configurations will be refined and tested systematically under conditions that approximate as closely as possible actual commercial fishing practices in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Testing will be conducted in 2018, 2019, and 2020 during the ‘‘A’’ season for pollock from January 20 through June 10. Results from each year would guide the device design tests in each vessel size class for each subsequent year of this EFP. The experiment would be conducted on vessels authorized to fish in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Tests would be performed in each of the following three vessel classes: (1) Catcher vessels equal to or less than 1,800 horsepower, (2) catcher vessels greater than 1,800 horsepower, and (3) catcher processors. Experimental methods specify that each device and specific adjustments to be tested be inserted into a pollock trawl net with improved camera and lighting systems to monitor the flow of salmon and pollock within the net and the level of escapement through the excluder portal during normal fishing operations. The effectiveness of the excluder devices will be monitored under a set of systematic vessel operations for each vessel class. Approximately 600 non-Chinook salmon and 600 Chinook salmon from the ‘‘A’’ season for each year from 2018 through 2020 would be required to support the project. In total, the applicant would be limited to harvesting 1,800 non-Chinook and 1,800 Chinook salmon during the EFP period. The experimental design requires this quantity of salmon to ensure statistically valid results. A total of 2,500 metric tons (mt) of groundfish (primarily pollock) would be taken during each ‘‘A’’ season in 2018 through 2020 over the duration of the EFP. Approximately 97 to 99 percent of the groundfish harvested is expected to be pollock. The experimental design requires this quantity of pollock to ensure a statistically adequate sample size for measuring pollock escapement through the salmon excluder device. To test the salmon excluder devices, exemptions would be necessary from regulations for salmon bycatch VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:56 Nov 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 management, observer requirements, closure areas, TACs for groundfish, and PSC limits for the pollock fishery. Following the practice that the Council and NMFS have approved for past EFP experiments dedicated to salmon bycatch reduction, groundfish and prohibited species taken during the experiment would not be counted against the annual TAC and PSC limits (65 FR 55223, September 13, 2000). Chinook salmon taken during the experiment would not be counted toward the Chinook salmon PSC limits under § 679.21(f). If the EFP salmon were counted toward and exceeded PSC limits, possibly triggering additional management measures, those EFP salmon could create an additional burden on pollock trawl fishermen. The final 2018 Bering Sea pollock harvest specifications were published on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 11826). The acceptable biological catch (ABC) level is 2,979,000 mt, and the TAC is 1,345,000 mt. Up to 2,500 mt of pollock per year would be allowed to be harvested under the proposed EFP without accruing against the Bering Sea pollock TAC. That amount equates to 0.08 percent of the 2018 Bering Sea pollock ABC, 1.8 percent of the TAC, and 1.5 percent of the difference between the ABC and the TAC. The ABC and TAC levels for 2019 and 2020 would be set under the normal harvest specifications setting process as stipulated at § 679.20. If Bering Sea pollock ABC and TAC levels for those years are similar to 2018, the amount of pollock taken under the EFP would represent similarly low fractions of the ABC and TAC. The EFP fishing will be permitted for this proposed action if the ABC for Bering Sea pollock exceeds the TAC by at least 2,500 mt in 2019 and 2020. Very little groundfish incidental catch occurs in the pollock fishery, and the harvest of other fish species during the EFP fishing is expected to be 25 mt to 75 mt per season. The majority of these other species harvested under the EFP likely would be Pacific cod, skates, flatfish, halibut, and jellyfish. The amount of groundfish harvest under the EFP and by the commercial groundfish fisheries is not expected to cause the ABCs for any groundfish species to be exceeded in any year from 2018 through 2020 because other groundfish TACs are set with a sufficient difference between ABC and TAC to accommodate EFP fishing catch of groundfish species other than pollock. The EFP would include an exemption from selected observer requirements at § 679.50. Participating vessels would use ‘‘sea samplers,’’ who are NMFS- PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 trained observers. They would not be deployed as NMFS observers, however, at the time of the EFP fishing. Space limitations aboard the participating vessels would preclude placing both sea samplers and observers aboard and allowing for concurrent operations. The ‘‘sea samplers’’ would conduct the EFP data collection and perform other observer duties that normally would be required for vessels directed fishing for pollock. Vessels would not be exempt from observer requirements for non-EFP fishing during trips in which both EFP and non-EFP fishing occurs. The applicant also requested an exemption to fish in areas otherwise closed to fishing with trawl gear under 50 CFR part 679: § 679.22(a)(7)(ii) and the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA) (§ 679.22(a)(7)(vii)). Exempted fishing must be conducted outside Steller sea lion protection areas closed to pollock trawl fishing, as described at § 679.22(a)(7), except the sector closure of the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA) under § 679.22(a)(7)(vii)(C)(2). The SCA exemption will only apply as long as the combined amount of pollock taken from the SCA does not exceed the 28 percent annual total allowable catch limit (TAC) before April 1, as specified in the Steller sea lion protection measures (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C) and 679.22(a)(7)(vii)). The experimental design requires that the tests be conducted in areas of salmon concentration sufficient to ensure a statistically adequate sample size. The SCA includes areas of high salmon concentration and is therefore an ideal location for conducting the experiment and ensuring that the vessel encounters sufficient concentrations of salmon and pollock for meeting the experimental design. The applicant would be required to submit to NMFS a final report of the EFP results by December 31, 2020. The report would include the salmon excluder device designs and rigging configurations tested in the experiment; how the tests were conducted, including operational variables tested (such as towing speeds, water conditions, target catch rates); performance of the device in terms of salmon bycatch reduction, target catch escapement, handling, and maintenance; and the total catch of each groundfish species and Pacific halibut in metric tons and the total number of each salmon species caught during EFP fishing. The activities that would be conducted under this EFP are not expected to have a significant impact on the human environment, as detailed in the draft categorical exclusion prepared E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 223 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / Notices for this action (see ADDRESSES). The EFP would be subject to modifications pending any new relevant information regarding the 2018 through 2020 fishery, including the groundfish harvest specifications. In accordance with § 679.6 and 600 CFR 745(b)(3)(ii), NMFS has determined that the application warrants further consideration and has forwarded the application to the Council to initiate consultation. The Council is scheduled to consider the EFP application during its December 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel, 500 W 3rd Ave, Anchorage, AK. The applicant has been invited to appear in support of the application. Public Comments Interested persons may comment on the application at the December 2017 Council meeting during public testimony or until December 12, 2017. Information regarding the meeting is available at the Council’s Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. Copies of the application and categorical exclusion are available for review from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). Comments also may be submitted directly to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) by the end of the comment period (see DATES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 15, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–25160 Filed 11–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P BILLING CODE 3670–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED–2017–ICCD–0115] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Office of State Support Progress Check Quarterly Protocol In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, ED is proposing a new information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 21, 2017. ADDRESSES: To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED– 2017–ICCD–0115. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by SUMMARY: 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., November 27, 2017. PLACE: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, 625 Indiana Avenue NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20004. STATUS: Closed. During the closed meeting, the Board Members will discuss issues dealing with potential Recommendations to the Secretary of Energy. The Board is invoking the exemptions to close a meeting described in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(3) and (9)(B) and 10 CFR 1704.4(c) and (h). The Board has determined that it is necessary to close the meeting since conducting an open meeting is likely to disclose matters that are specifically exempted from disclosure by statute, and/or be likely to significantly frustrate implementation of a proposed agency action. In this case, the deliberations will pertain to TIME AND DATE: asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES [FR Doc. 2017–25270 Filed 11–17–17; 4:15 pm] Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Department of Education (ED). ACTION: Notice. Sunshine Act Meetings 18:56 Nov 20, 2017 Dated: November 17, 2017. Sean Sullivan, Chairman. AGENCY: DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD VerDate Sep<11>2014 potential Board Recommendations which, under 42 U.S.C. 2286d(b) and (h)(3), may not be made publicly available until after they have been received by the Secretary of Energy or the President, respectively. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: The meeting will proceed in accordance with the closed meeting agenda which is posted on the Board’s public Web site at www.dnfsb.gov. Technical staff may present information to the Board. The Board Members are expected to conduct deliberations regarding potential Recommendations to the Secretary of Energy. CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION: Glenn Sklar, General Manager, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, 625 Indiana Avenue NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20004–2901, (800) 788– 4016. This is a toll-free number. Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55355 postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 216–44, Washington, DC 20202–4537. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Patrick Carr, 202–708–8196. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department’s information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records. Title of Collection: Office of State Support Progress Check Quarterly Protocol. OMB Control Number: 1810–NEW. Type of Review: A new information collection. Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, and Tribal Governments. Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 53. Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 636. Abstract: The Office of State Support (OSS) administers Title I, Sections 1001–1004 (School Improvement); Title I, Part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies); Title I, Part B (Enhanced Assessments Grants (EAG), and Grants for State Assessments and Related Activities); Title II, Part A (Supporting Effective Instruction); Title III, Part A E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1

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[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 223 (Tuesday, November 21, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55352-55355]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25160]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF760


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Application 
for an Exempted Fishing Permit

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for exempted fishing permit.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces the receipt of an application and the 
public comment period for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Mr. 
John Gauvin of Gauvin and Associates, LLC. If granted, this permit 
would allow the applicant to continue the development and testing of a 
salmon excluder device for the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery.

[[Page 55353]]

The objective of the EFP application is to identify upgraded excluder 
design(s) and specific rigging configurations most likely to produce 
the greatest relative reduction in Chinook salmon bycatch rates on 
vessels from different horsepower and size classes of the Bering Sea 
pollock fishery. The most effective current salmon excluder designs and 
rigging configurations would be refined and tested systematically under 
conditions that approximate as closely as possible actual commercial 
fishing practices in that fishery. Testing will be conducted in 2018, 
2019, and 2020, with results from each year guiding the device design 
for each vessel size class to be tested the subsequent year during the 
period of this EFP. This experiment has the potential to promote the 
objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act.

DATES: Comments on this EFP application must be submitted to NMFS on or 
before December 12, 2017. In addition, public comments can be presented 
to The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) that will 
review and consider the application at its meeting from December 4, 
2017, through December 12, 2017, in Anchorage, AK.

ADDRESSES: The Council meeting will be held at the Anchorage Hilton 
Hotel, 500 W 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501. The agenda for the Council 
meeting is available at http://www.npfmc.org. In addition to submission 
of public comments at the Council meeting, you may submit your 
comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0127, by either of the following 
methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0127, 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. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and NMFS will post the comments 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 EFP application and the basis for a 
categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act, the 
final Environmental Impact Statement on Bering Sea Chinook Salmon 
Bycatch Management (Amendment 91 under the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area 
(FMP)), and the Environmental Assessment prepared for Amendment 110 to 
the FMP are available from the Alaska Region, NMFS Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bridget Mansfield, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the domestic groundfish 
fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) 
under the FMP, which the Council prepared under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. The FMP and 
the implementing regulations at Sec.  600.745(b) and Sec.  679.6 allow 
the NMFS Regional Administrator to authorize, for limited experimental 
purposes, fishing that would otherwise be prohibited. Procedures for 
issuing EFPs are contained in the implementing regulations

Background

    Pacific salmon support large commercial, recreational, and 
subsistence fisheries and continue to be of great cultural importance 
throughout Alaska. Chinook salmon bycatch, where bycatch means fish 
caught and released while targeting another species or caught and 
released while targeting the same species, in the Bering Sea pollock 
fishery is a concern to those who depend on those salmon resources in 
Alaska and Canada, and further reduction in salmon bycatch is desired 
by those who use salmon resources and by the pollock fishing industry. 
Annual limits (PSC) are placed on the number of Chinook salmon that may 
be taken in the BSAI trawl fisheries. Chinook salmon bycatch in the 
Bering Sea pollock fishery is managed under a system of two PSC limits 
(described below); allocations among the Bering Sea pollock fishery 
sectors, inshore cooperatives, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) 
groups; and other measures designed to minimize bycatch below the 
higher PSC limit.
    The PSC limits became effective in 2011 as part of Amendment 91 to 
the FMP (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010) to manage Chinook salmon bycatch 
in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Amendment 91 includes two 
Chinook salmon PSC limits: the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit is 
available to those who participate in an industry-developed incentive 
plan agreement (IPA) that provides incentives for each vessel to avoid 
Chinook salmon bycatch, and a 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit applies 
fleet-wide if industry does not form any IPAs. Currently all vessels in 
this fishery participate in an IPA. Amendment 110 to the FMP was 
implemented in 2016 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016) to modify the existing 
Chinook salmon bycatch program, specifically to make it more effective 
at avoiding Chinook salmon, particularly when Chinook salmon abundance 
is low. More details on Amendments 91 and 110 may be found in the final 
Environmental Impact Statement on Bering Sea Chinook Salmon Bycatch 
Management (Amendment 91), and the Environmental Assessment prepared 
for Amendment 110 (see ADDRESSES).
    The majority of pollock fishermen in the Bering Sea use salmon 
excluder devices on a regular basis as part of the overall effort by 
the fishery to reduce salmon bycatch under the Chinook PSC limits and 
bycatch avoidance incentive programs in place in the fishery. 
Improvements in Chinook salmon escapement and pollock retention rates 
for these excluder devices would provide an enhanced opportunity to 
minimize Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery to 
the extent practicable, while maintaining the potential for the full 
harvest of the pollock total allowable catch (TAC) within specified PSC 
limits. An EFP is needed to facilitate effective testing of 
improvements to the excluder devices, because exemptions from certain 
regulations, as described below, would be required to meet the needs of 
the experimental design.

Exempted Fishing Permit

    On August 15, 2017, Mr. John Gauvin, of Gauvin and Associates, LLC, 
submitted an application for an EFP for 2018 through 2020 to improve 
the performance of the salmon excluder device developed under EFP 15-01 
from 2015 to 2016, and to validate the performance of this device for 
pollock trawl gear used in the Bering Sea. The objective of the 
proposed 2018 EFP is to test refinements to existing salmon excluder 
devices on vessels from different horsepower and size classes in the 
Bering Sea pollock fishery to

[[Page 55354]]

identify the excluder design(s) and specific rigging variations that 
are most likely to produce the greatest relative improvements to 
reductions in Chinook salmon bycatch rates without significantly 
lowering pollock catch rates. Salmon are designated as prohibited 
species that are incidentally caught in the pollock fishery (Sec.  
679.21(e) and (f)). The most effective current excluder designs and 
rigging configurations will be refined and tested systematically under 
conditions that approximate as closely as possible actual commercial 
fishing practices in the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Testing will 
be conducted in 2018, 2019, and 2020 during the ``A'' season for 
pollock from January 20 through June 10. Results from each year would 
guide the device design tests in each vessel size class for each 
subsequent year of this EFP.
    The experiment would be conducted on vessels authorized to fish in 
the Bering Sea pollock trawl fishery. Tests would be performed in each 
of the following three vessel classes: (1) Catcher vessels equal to or 
less than 1,800 horsepower, (2) catcher vessels greater than 1,800 
horsepower, and (3) catcher processors. Experimental methods specify 
that each device and specific adjustments to be tested be inserted into 
a pollock trawl net with improved camera and lighting systems to 
monitor the flow of salmon and pollock within the net and the level of 
escapement through the excluder portal during normal fishing 
operations. The effectiveness of the excluder devices will be monitored 
under a set of systematic vessel operations for each vessel class.
    Approximately 600 non-Chinook salmon and 600 Chinook salmon from 
the ``A'' season for each year from 2018 through 2020 would be required 
to support the project. In total, the applicant would be limited to 
harvesting 1,800 non-Chinook and 1,800 Chinook salmon during the EFP 
period. The experimental design requires this quantity of salmon to 
ensure statistically valid results. A total of 2,500 metric tons (mt) 
of groundfish (primarily pollock) would be taken during each ``A'' 
season in 2018 through 2020 over the duration of the EFP. Approximately 
97 to 99 percent of the groundfish harvested is expected to be pollock. 
The experimental design requires this quantity of pollock to ensure a 
statistically adequate sample size for measuring pollock escapement 
through the salmon excluder device.
    To test the salmon excluder devices, exemptions would be necessary 
from regulations for salmon bycatch management, observer requirements, 
closure areas, TACs for groundfish, and PSC limits for the pollock 
fishery. Following the practice that the Council and NMFS have approved 
for past EFP experiments dedicated to salmon bycatch reduction, 
groundfish and prohibited species taken during the experiment would not 
be counted against the annual TAC and PSC limits (65 FR 55223, 
September 13, 2000). Chinook salmon taken during the experiment would 
not be counted toward the Chinook salmon PSC limits under Sec.  
679.21(f). If the EFP salmon were counted toward and exceeded PSC 
limits, possibly triggering additional management measures, those EFP 
salmon could create an additional burden on pollock trawl fishermen.
    The final 2018 Bering Sea pollock harvest specifications were 
published on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 11826). The acceptable biological 
catch (ABC) level is 2,979,000 mt, and the TAC is 1,345,000 mt. Up to 
2,500 mt of pollock per year would be allowed to be harvested under the 
proposed EFP without accruing against the Bering Sea pollock TAC. That 
amount equates to 0.08 percent of the 2018 Bering Sea pollock ABC, 1.8 
percent of the TAC, and 1.5 percent of the difference between the ABC 
and the TAC. The ABC and TAC levels for 2019 and 2020 would be set 
under the normal harvest specifications setting process as stipulated 
at Sec.  679.20. If Bering Sea pollock ABC and TAC levels for those 
years are similar to 2018, the amount of pollock taken under the EFP 
would represent similarly low fractions of the ABC and TAC. The EFP 
fishing will be permitted for this proposed action if the ABC for 
Bering Sea pollock exceeds the TAC by at least 2,500 mt in 2019 and 
2020.
    Very little groundfish incidental catch occurs in the pollock 
fishery, and the harvest of other fish species during the EFP fishing 
is expected to be 25 mt to 75 mt per season. The majority of these 
other species harvested under the EFP likely would be Pacific cod, 
skates, flatfish, halibut, and jellyfish. The amount of groundfish 
harvest under the EFP and by the commercial groundfish fisheries is not 
expected to cause the ABCs for any groundfish species to be exceeded in 
any year from 2018 through 2020 because other groundfish TACs are set 
with a sufficient difference between ABC and TAC to accommodate EFP 
fishing catch of groundfish species other than pollock.
    The EFP would include an exemption from selected observer 
requirements at Sec.  679.50. Participating vessels would use ``sea 
samplers,'' who are NMFS-trained observers. They would not be deployed 
as NMFS observers, however, at the time of the EFP fishing. Space 
limitations aboard the participating vessels would preclude placing 
both sea samplers and observers aboard and allowing for concurrent 
operations. The ``sea samplers'' would conduct the EFP data collection 
and perform other observer duties that normally would be required for 
vessels directed fishing for pollock. Vessels would not be exempt from 
observer requirements for non-EFP fishing during trips in which both 
EFP and non-EFP fishing occurs.
    The applicant also requested an exemption to fish in areas 
otherwise closed to fishing with trawl gear under 50 CFR part 679: 
Sec.  679.22(a)(7)(ii) and the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA) 
(Sec.  679.22(a)(7)(vii)). Exempted fishing must be conducted outside 
Steller sea lion protection areas closed to pollock trawl fishing, as 
described at Sec.  679.22(a)(7), except the sector closure of the 
Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA) under Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii)(C)(2). The SCA exemption will only apply as long as 
the combined amount of pollock taken from the SCA does not exceed the 
28 percent annual total allowable catch limit (TAC) before April 1, as 
specified in the Steller sea lion protection measures (Sec. Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(C) and 679.22(a)(7)(vii)). The experimental design 
requires that the tests be conducted in areas of salmon concentration 
sufficient to ensure a statistically adequate sample size. The SCA 
includes areas of high salmon concentration and is therefore an ideal 
location for conducting the experiment and ensuring that the vessel 
encounters sufficient concentrations of salmon and pollock for meeting 
the experimental design.
    The applicant would be required to submit to NMFS a final report of 
the EFP results by December 31, 2020. The report would include the 
salmon excluder device designs and rigging configurations tested in the 
experiment; how the tests were conducted, including operational 
variables tested (such as towing speeds, water conditions, target catch 
rates); performance of the device in terms of salmon bycatch reduction, 
target catch escapement, handling, and maintenance; and the total catch 
of each groundfish species and Pacific halibut in metric tons and the 
total number of each salmon species caught during EFP fishing.
    The activities that would be conducted under this EFP are not 
expected to have a significant impact on the human environment, as 
detailed in the draft categorical exclusion prepared

[[Page 55355]]

for this action (see ADDRESSES). The EFP would be subject to 
modifications pending any new relevant information regarding the 2018 
through 2020 fishery, including the groundfish harvest specifications.
    In accordance with Sec.  679.6 and 600 CFR 745(b)(3)(ii), NMFS has 
determined that the application warrants further consideration and has 
forwarded the application to the Council to initiate consultation. The 
Council is scheduled to consider the EFP application during its 
December 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Anchorage Hilton 
Hotel, 500 W 3rd Ave, Anchorage, AK. The applicant has been invited to 
appear in support of the application.

Public Comments

    Interested persons may comment on the application at the December 
2017 Council meeting during public testimony or until December 12, 
2017. Information regarding the meeting is available at the Council's 
Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. Copies of the application and 
categorical exclusion are available for review from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). Comments also may be submitted directly to NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES) by the end of the comment period (see DATES).

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

    Dated: November 15, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-25160 Filed 11-20-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P