Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Biennial Specifications, 56204-56207 [2017-25614]

Download as PDF 56204 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 227 / Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / Proposed Rules Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. Executive Order 13771 This rule is not an Executive Order (E.O.) 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) regulatory action because this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866. Clarity of This Rule We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 91 Hunting, Wildlife. Proposed Regulation Promulgation For the reasons stated in the preamble, we propose to further amend 50 CFR part 91, as proposed to be amended at 81 FR 7279 (February 11, 2016), as set forth below: PART 91—MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING AND CONSERVATION STAMP CONTEST 1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 16 U.S.C. 718j; 31 U.S.C. 9701. 2. Amend § 91.4 by revising paragraphs (b) and (d) to read as follows: ■ jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with PROPOSALS § 91.4 Eligible species. * * * * * (b) Geese. (1) Emperor Goose (Anser canagicus) (2) Snow Goose (including ‘‘white’’ and ‘‘blue’’ morphs) (Anser caerulescens) (3) Ross’s Goose (Anser rossii) (4) Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) (5) Brant (Branta bernicla) VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:25 Nov 27, 2017 Jkt 244001 (6) Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) (7) Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) * * * * * (d) Dabbling Ducks. (1) Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) (2) Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors) (3) Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera) (4) Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) (5) Gadwall (Mareca strepera) (6) American Wigeon (Mareca americana) (7) Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (8) American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) (9) Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula) (10) Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (11) Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) * * * * * ■ 3. Revise § 91.14 to read as follows: § 91.15 § 91.14 entry. § 91.23 Restrictions on subject matter for (a) A live portrayal of any bird(s) of the five or fewer identified eligible waterfowl species must be the dominant feature of the design. The design may depict more than one of the eligible species. The judges’ overall mandate is to select the best design that will make an interesting, useful, and attractive duck stamp that will be accepted and prized by hunters, stamp collectors, conservationists, and others. The design must be the contestant’s original handdrawn creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet. Photographs, computer-generated art, or art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (airbrush method excepted) are not eligible to be entered into the contest and will be disqualified. An entry submitted in a prior contest that was not selected for a Federal or State stamp design may be submitted in the current contest if the entry meets the criteria set forth in this section. (b) The 2018 Contest. In addition to the restrictions set forth in paragraph (a), in 2018 only, designs will also be required to include appropriate huntingrelated accessories and/or scenes celebrating the Federal Duck Stamp’s long-standing connection as part of our Nation’s waterfowl hunting heritage and the contributions to conservation made by waterfowl hunters. Designs may include, but are not limited to, hunting dogs, hunting scenes, hunting equipment, waterfowl decoys, managed waterfowl areas as the background of habitat scenes, or other designs that represent our waterfowl hunting heritage. The design chosen will clearly meet the theme of ‘‘celebrating our hunting heritage.’’ PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 [Removed and Reserved] 4. Remove and reserve § 91.15. 5. In § 91.21, designate the text in paragraph (b) after the paragraph header as paragraph (b)(1) and add paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows: ■ ■ § 91.21 Selection and qualification of contest judges. * * * * * (b) Qualifications. (1) * * * (2) The 2018 Contest. In 2018 only, it will also be mandatory that all selected judges have an understanding and appreciation of the waterfowl hunting heritage and be able to recognize waterfowl hunting paraphernalia. * * * * * ■ 6. Revise § 91.23 to read as follows: Scoring criteria for contest. (a) Entries will be judged on the basis of anatomical accuracy, artistic composition, and suitability for reduction in the production of a stamp. (b) The 2018 Contest. In 2018 only, entries will also be judged on how well they illustrate the theme of ‘‘celebrating our hunting heritage.’’ Dated: November 8, 2017. Jason Larrabee, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2017–25661 Filed 11–27–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 170901861–7861–01] RIN 0648–BH08 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Biennial Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement annual harvest specifications and management measures to establish the allowable catch levels for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington) for the fishing years 2017–2018 and 2018– 2019. This rule is proposed pursuant to the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The proposed harvest guideline (HG) and SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\28NOP1.SGM 28NOP1 jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 227 / Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / Proposed Rules annual catch target (ACT) for the 2017– 2018 fishing year are 26,293 metric tons (mt) and 25,293 mt respectively. The proposed HG and ACT for the 2018– 2019 fishing year are 23,840 mt and 22,840 mt respectively. If the fishery attains the ACT in either fishing year, the directed fishery will close, reserving the difference between the HG and ACT as a 1,000 mt set-aside for incidental landings in other CPS fisheries and other sources of mortality. If the HG is reached, all retention would be prohibited through the end of the fishing year. This rule is intended to conserve and manage the Pacific mackerel stock off the U.S. West Coast. DATES: Comments must be received by December 28, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2017–0134, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170134, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Ste. 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802–4250; Attn: Joshua Lindsay. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. 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 will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the report, ‘‘Pacific Mackerel Biomass Projection Estimate for USA Management in 2017–2018 and 2018–2019’’ may be obtained from the West Coast Regional Office. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua Lindsay, West Coast Region, NMFS, (562) 980–4034. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:25 Nov 27, 2017 Jkt 244001 Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., NMFS manages the Pacific mackerel fishery in the U.S. EEZ off the West Coast in accordance with the CPS FMP. The CPS FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS to set annual harvest specifications for the Pacific mackerel fishery based on the annual specification framework and control rules in the FMP. The purpose of this proposed rule is to implement these harvest specifications, which include allowable harvest levels (ACT/ HG/annual catch level [ACL]), as well as annual catch reference points (overfishing limit [OFL] and acceptable biological catch [ABC]) that take into consideration uncertainty surrounding the current biomass estimates for Pacific mackerel for the 2017–2018 and 2018– 2019 fishing years. During public meetings each year, biomass estimates for Pacific mackerel are presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) CPS Management Team (CPSMT), the Council’s CPS Advisory Subpanel (CPSAS) and the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), where the biomass estimates and the status of the fisheries are reviewed and discussed. These biomass estimates are then presented to the Council along with the calculated OFL, ABC, ACL, HG and ACT recommendations and comments from the CPSMT, CPSAS and SSC. Following review by the Council and after hearing public comment, the Council adopts biomass estimates and makes its harvest specification recommendations to NMFS. Biennial specifications published in the Federal Register establish these allowable harvest levels (i.e., ACT/ACL/HG) for the upcoming two Pacific mackerel fishing years. This is the first proposed rule where harvest specifications are being adopted for the upcoming two fishing years (2017–2018 and 2018– 2019) per the recently published final rule (82 FR 35687; August 1, 2017) that changed the CPS FMP management framework so that Pacific mackerel harvest specifications could be adopted biennially instead of annually. The control rules in the CPS FMP include the HG control rule, which in conjunction with the OFL and ABC rules, are used to manage harvest levels for Pacific mackerel. According to the FMP, the quota for the principal commercial fishery, the HG, is determined using the FMP-specified HG formula. The HG is based, in large part, on the current estimate of stock biomass. The biomass estimate is an explicit part of the various harvest control rules for Pacific mackerel, and PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56205 as the estimated biomass decreases or increases from one year to the next, the resulting allowable catch levels similarly trend. The harvest control rule in the CPS FMP is HG = [(BiomassCutoff) * Fraction * Distribution] with the parameters described as follows: 1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific mackerel for the 2017–2018 management season is 143,403 mt. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific mackerel for the 2018–2019 management season 131,724 mt. 2. Cutoff. This is the biomass level below which no commercial fishery is allowed. The FMP established this level at 18,200 mt. 3. Fraction. The harvest fraction is the percentage of the biomass above 18,200 mt that may be harvested. This is set in the FMP at 30 percent. 4. Distribution. The average portion of the Pacific mackerel biomass estimated in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast is 70 percent and is based on the average historical larval distribution obtained from scientific cruises and the distribution of the resource according to the logbooks of aerial fish-spotters. The Council has recommended and NMFS is proposing, Pacific mackerel harvest specifications and management measures for both the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 fishing years. For the 2017– 2018 Pacific mackerel fishing year these include an OFL of 30,115 metric tons (mt), an ABC and ACL of 27,510 mt, a HG of 26,293 mt, and an annual ACT of 25,293 mt. For the 2018–2019 Pacific mackerel fishing year these include an OFL of 27,662 mt, and ABC and ACL of 25,269 mt, a HG of 23,840 mt, and an ACT of 22,840 mt. The Pacific mackerel fishing season runs from July 1 to June 30. These catch specifications are based on the control rules established in the CPS FMP and biomass estimates of 143,403 mt (2017–2018) and 131,724 mt (2018–2019); these biomass estimates are the result of a full stock assessment completed in June 2015 and a subsequent catch-only projection estimate completed in June 2017 by NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center and approved by the Council’s SSC and the Council at their June 2017 meeting as best available science (see ADDRESSES). Under this proposed action, upon the unlikely attainment of the ACT in either fishing year, directed fishing would close, reserving the difference between the HG and ACT (1,000 mt) as a set aside for incidental landings in other fisheries and other sources of mortality. For the remainder of the fishing year, incidental landings would be constrained to a 45-percent incidental E:\FR\FM\28NOP1.SGM 28NOP1 56206 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 227 / Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / Proposed Rules jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with PROPOSALS catch allowance when Pacific mackerel are landed with other CPS (in other words, no more than 45 percent by weight of the CPS landed per trip may be Pacific mackerel) or up to 3 mt of Pacific mackerel could be landed incidentally in non-CPS fisheries.1 Upon attainment or projected attainment of the HG, no retention of Pacific mackerel would be allowed even as incidental catch. The purpose of the incidental set-aside and allowance of an incidental fishery is to allow for the restricted incidental landings of Pacific mackerel in other fisheries, particularly other CPS fisheries, when the directed fishery is closed to reduce potential discard of Pacific mackerel and allow for continued prosecution of other important stocks that may school with Pacific mackerel. The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the date of any closure of either (1) directed fishing (when harvest levels near or take the ACT) or (2) retention—including by incidental fishing (when harvest levels near or attain the HG). Additionally, to ensure the regulated community is informed of any closure, NMFS will also make announcements through other means available, including fax, email, and mail to fishermen, processors, and state fishery management agencies. This rule would also add paragraph (p) to the prohibitions section at 50 CFR 660.505 referencing the prohibition on retention, possession, or landing of Pacific mackerel for the remainder of the year after the closure date specified in the Federal Register notice published by the Regional Administrator. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the CPS FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, for the following reasons: 1 Live bait fishing is excluded from closures of the directed fishery, and Amendment 16 to the CPS FMP, if approved, would allow very small directed fisheries to continue even when most directed were closed. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:25 Nov 27, 2017 Jkt 244001 For Regulatory Flexibility Act (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. Pacific mackerel are principally caught off southern California within the limited entry portion (south of 39 degrees N. latitude; Point Arena, California) of the CPS fishery and is one component of CPS fisheries off the U.S. West Coast, which also includes the fisheries for Pacific sardine, northern anchovy and market squid. The small entities that would be affected by the proposed action are those vessels that harvest Pacific mackerel as part of the West Coast CPS purse seine fleet and are all considered small business under the above size standards. Currently there are 58 vessels permitted in the Federal CPS limited entry fishery off California. The average annual per vessel revenue in 2016 for those vessels was well below the threshold level of $11 million; therefore, all of these vessels are considered small businesses under the RFA. Therefore, this rule would not create disproportionate costs between small and large vessels/businesses. NMFS used the ex-vessel revenue information for a profitability analysis, as the cost data for the harvesting operations of CPS finfish vessels was limited or unavailable. For the 2016– 2017 fishing year, the HG was 21,161 mt and was divided into an ACT of 20,161 mt and an incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. Approximately 1,492.16 mt of Pacific mackerel was harvested in the 2016–2017 fishing year with an estimated ex-vessel value of approximately $417,616. The HG for the 2017–2018 Pacific mackerel fishing year is 26,293 mt, with an ACT of 25,293 mt and an incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. The HG for the 2018–2019 Pacific mackerel fishing year is 23,840 mt with an ACT of 22,840 mt and an incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. These proposed ACTs are similar to the ACT established for the 2016–2017 fishing year (20,161 mt), thus it is highly unlikely that the ACTs proposed in this rule will limit the potential profitability to the fleet from catching Pacific mackerel compared to last season or recent catch levels, as shown below. The annual average U.S. Pacific mackerel harvest in recent years (2010– PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2015) has been about 5,000 mt. In this period, the landings have not exceeded 11,800 mt. Additionally, annual average landings during the last decade (2005– 2015) have not been restricted by the applicable quota. Accordingly, vessel income from fishing is not expected to be altered as a result of this rule as it compares to recent catches in the fishery, including under the previous season’s regulations. Based on the disproportionality and profitability analysis above, the proposed action, if adopted, will not have adverse or disproportional economic impact on these small business entities. As a result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and none has been prepared. This action does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: November 21, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.505, add paragraph (p) to read as follows: ■ § 660.505 Prohibitions. * * * * * (p) Retain, possess or land Pacific mackerel after an announcement under § 660.511(j) that the harvest guideline has been taken or is projected to be reached soon. ■ 3. In § 660.511, add paragraphs (i) and (j) to read as follows: § 660.511 Catch restrictions. * * * * * (i) The following harvest specifications apply for Pacific mackerel: (1) For the Pacific mackerel fishing season July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, the harvest guideline is 26,293 mt and the ACT is 25,293 mt; (2) For the Pacific mackerel fishing season July 1, 2018, through June 30, E:\FR\FM\28NOP1.SGM 28NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 227 / Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / Proposed Rules jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 2019, the harvest guideline is 23,840 mt and the ACT of 22,840 mt. (j) When an ACT in paragraph (i) of this section has been reached or is projected to be reached soon, then for the remainder of the Pacific mackerel fishing season, Pacific mackerel may not be targeted and landings of Pacific mackerel may not exceed 45 percent of landings when Pacific mackerel are VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:25 Nov 27, 2017 Jkt 244001 landed with other CPS (in other words, no more than 45 percent by weight of the CPS landed per trip may be Pacific mackerel), except that up to 3 mt of Pacific mackerel may be landed without landing any other CPS. When a harvest guideline in paragraph (i) of this section has been reached or is projected to be reached soon, no further retention of Pacific mackerel is allowed through the PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 56207 end of the Pacific mackerel fishing season. The Regional Administer shall announce in the Federal Register the date that an ACT or the harvest guideline is reached or is expected to be reached, and the date and time that the restrictions described in this paragraph go into effect. [FR Doc. 2017–25614 Filed 11–27–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\28NOP1.SGM 28NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 227 (Tuesday, November 28, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56204-56207]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25614]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 170901861-7861-01]
RIN 0648-BH08


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species 
Fisheries; Biennial Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement annual harvest specifications and 
management measures to establish the allowable catch levels for Pacific 
mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the West Coast 
(California, Oregon and Washington) for the fishing years 2017-2018 and 
2018-2019. This rule is proposed pursuant to the Coastal Pelagic 
Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The proposed harvest 
guideline (HG) and

[[Page 56205]]

annual catch target (ACT) for the 2017-2018 fishing year are 26,293 
metric tons (mt) and 25,293 mt respectively. The proposed HG and ACT 
for the 2018-2019 fishing year are 23,840 mt and 22,840 mt 
respectively. If the fishery attains the ACT in either fishing year, 
the directed fishery will close, reserving the difference between the 
HG and ACT as a 1,000 mt set-aside for incidental landings in other CPS 
fisheries and other sources of mortality. If the HG is reached, all 
retention would be prohibited through the end of the fishing year. This 
rule is intended to conserve and manage the Pacific mackerel stock off 
the U.S. West Coast.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 28, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2017-0134, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0134, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Barry A. Thom, Regional 
Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Ste. 4200, 
Long Beach, CA 90802-4250; Attn: Joshua Lindsay.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. 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 will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous).
    Copies of the report, ``Pacific Mackerel Biomass Projection 
Estimate for USA Management in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019'' may be 
obtained from the West Coast Regional Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joshua Lindsay, West Coast Region, 
NMFS, (562) 980-4034.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 
et seq., NMFS manages the Pacific mackerel fishery in the U.S. EEZ off 
the West Coast in accordance with the CPS FMP. The CPS FMP and its 
implementing regulations require NMFS to set annual harvest 
specifications for the Pacific mackerel fishery based on the annual 
specification framework and control rules in the FMP. The purpose of 
this proposed rule is to implement these harvest specifications, which 
include allowable harvest levels (ACT/HG/annual catch level [ACL]), as 
well as annual catch reference points (overfishing limit [OFL] and 
acceptable biological catch [ABC]) that take into consideration 
uncertainty surrounding the current biomass estimates for Pacific 
mackerel for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 fishing years.
    During public meetings each year, biomass estimates for Pacific 
mackerel are presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council's 
(Council) CPS Management Team (CPSMT), the Council's CPS Advisory 
Subpanel (CPSAS) and the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC), where the biomass estimates and the status of the fisheries are 
reviewed and discussed. These biomass estimates are then presented to 
the Council along with the calculated OFL, ABC, ACL, HG and ACT 
recommendations and comments from the CPSMT, CPSAS and SSC. Following 
review by the Council and after hearing public comment, the Council 
adopts biomass estimates and makes its harvest specification 
recommendations to NMFS. Biennial specifications published in the 
Federal Register establish these allowable harvest levels (i.e., ACT/
ACL/HG) for the upcoming two Pacific mackerel fishing years. This is 
the first proposed rule where harvest specifications are being adopted 
for the upcoming two fishing years (2017-2018 and 2018-2019) per the 
recently published final rule (82 FR 35687; August 1, 2017) that 
changed the CPS FMP management framework so that Pacific mackerel 
harvest specifications could be adopted biennially instead of annually.
    The control rules in the CPS FMP include the HG control rule, which 
in conjunction with the OFL and ABC rules, are used to manage harvest 
levels for Pacific mackerel. According to the FMP, the quota for the 
principal commercial fishery, the HG, is determined using the FMP-
specified HG formula. The HG is based, in large part, on the current 
estimate of stock biomass. The biomass estimate is an explicit part of 
the various harvest control rules for Pacific mackerel, and as the 
estimated biomass decreases or increases from one year to the next, the 
resulting allowable catch levels similarly trend. The harvest control 
rule in the CPS FMP is HG = [(Biomass-Cutoff) * Fraction * 
Distribution] with the parameters described as follows:
    1. Biomass. The estimated stock biomass of Pacific mackerel for the 
2017-2018 management season is 143,403 mt. The estimated stock biomass 
of Pacific mackerel for the 2018-2019 management season 131,724 mt.
    2. Cutoff. This is the biomass level below which no commercial 
fishery is allowed. The FMP established this level at 18,200 mt.
    3. Fraction. The harvest fraction is the percentage of the biomass 
above 18,200 mt that may be harvested. This is set in the FMP at 30 
percent.
    4. Distribution. The average portion of the Pacific mackerel 
biomass estimated in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast is 70 percent 
and is based on the average historical larval distribution obtained 
from scientific cruises and the distribution of the resource according 
to the logbooks of aerial fish-spotters.
    The Council has recommended and NMFS is proposing, Pacific mackerel 
harvest specifications and management measures for both the 2017-2018 
and 2018-2019 fishing years. For the 2017-2018 Pacific mackerel fishing 
year these include an OFL of 30,115 metric tons (mt), an ABC and ACL of 
27,510 mt, a HG of 26,293 mt, and an annual ACT of 25,293 mt. For the 
2018-2019 Pacific mackerel fishing year these include an OFL of 27,662 
mt, and ABC and ACL of 25,269 mt, a HG of 23,840 mt, and an ACT of 
22,840 mt. The Pacific mackerel fishing season runs from July 1 to June 
30. These catch specifications are based on the control rules 
established in the CPS FMP and biomass estimates of 143,403 mt (2017-
2018) and 131,724 mt (2018-2019); these biomass estimates are the 
result of a full stock assessment completed in June 2015 and a 
subsequent catch-only projection estimate completed in June 2017 by 
NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center and approved by the Council's 
SSC and the Council at their June 2017 meeting as best available 
science (see ADDRESSES).
    Under this proposed action, upon the unlikely attainment of the ACT 
in either fishing year, directed fishing would close, reserving the 
difference between the HG and ACT (1,000 mt) as a set aside for 
incidental landings in other fisheries and other sources of mortality. 
For the remainder of the fishing year, incidental landings would be 
constrained to a 45-percent incidental

[[Page 56206]]

catch allowance when Pacific mackerel are landed with other CPS (in 
other words, no more than 45 percent by weight of the CPS landed per 
trip may be Pacific mackerel) or up to 3 mt of Pacific mackerel could 
be landed incidentally in non-CPS fisheries.\1\ Upon attainment or 
projected attainment of the HG, no retention of Pacific mackerel would 
be allowed even as incidental catch. The purpose of the incidental set-
aside and allowance of an incidental fishery is to allow for the 
restricted incidental landings of Pacific mackerel in other fisheries, 
particularly other CPS fisheries, when the directed fishery is closed 
to reduce potential discard of Pacific mackerel and allow for continued 
prosecution of other important stocks that may school with Pacific 
mackerel.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Live bait fishing is excluded from closures of the directed 
fishery, and Amendment 16 to the CPS FMP, if approved, would allow 
very small directed fisheries to continue even when most directed 
were closed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator will publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing the date of any closure of either (1) 
directed fishing (when harvest levels near or take the ACT) or (2) 
retention--including by incidental fishing (when harvest levels near or 
attain the HG). Additionally, to ensure the regulated community is 
informed of any closure, NMFS will also make announcements through 
other means available, including fax, email, and mail to fishermen, 
processors, and state fishery management agencies. This rule would also 
add paragraph (p) to the prohibitions section at 50 CFR 660.505 
referencing the prohibition on retention, possession, or landing of 
Pacific mackerel for the remainder of the year after the closure date 
specified in the Federal Register notice published by the Regional 
Administrator.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the CPS FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after 
public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
for the following reasons:
    For Regulatory Flexibility Act (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.
    Pacific mackerel are principally caught off southern California 
within the limited entry portion (south of 39 degrees N. latitude; 
Point Arena, California) of the CPS fishery and is one component of CPS 
fisheries off the U.S. West Coast, which also includes the fisheries 
for Pacific sardine, northern anchovy and market squid. The small 
entities that would be affected by the proposed action are those 
vessels that harvest Pacific mackerel as part of the West Coast CPS 
purse seine fleet and are all considered small business under the above 
size standards. Currently there are 58 vessels permitted in the Federal 
CPS limited entry fishery off California. The average annual per vessel 
revenue in 2016 for those vessels was well below the threshold level of 
$11 million; therefore, all of these vessels are considered small 
businesses under the RFA. Therefore, this rule would not create 
disproportionate costs between small and large vessels/businesses.
    NMFS used the ex-vessel revenue information for a profitability 
analysis, as the cost data for the harvesting operations of CPS finfish 
vessels was limited or unavailable. For the 2016-2017 fishing year, the 
HG was 21,161 mt and was divided into an ACT of 20,161 mt and an 
incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. Approximately 1,492.16 mt of Pacific 
mackerel was harvested in the 2016-2017 fishing year with an estimated 
ex-vessel value of approximately $417,616.
    The HG for the 2017-2018 Pacific mackerel fishing year is 26,293 
mt, with an ACT of 25,293 mt and an incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. 
The HG for the 2018-2019 Pacific mackerel fishing year is 23,840 mt 
with an ACT of 22,840 mt and an incidental set-aside of 1,000 mt. These 
proposed ACTs are similar to the ACT established for the 2016-2017 
fishing year (20,161 mt), thus it is highly unlikely that the ACTs 
proposed in this rule will limit the potential profitability to the 
fleet from catching Pacific mackerel compared to last season or recent 
catch levels, as shown below. The annual average U.S. Pacific mackerel 
harvest in recent years (2010-2015) has been about 5,000 mt. In this 
period, the landings have not exceeded 11,800 mt. Additionally, annual 
average landings during the last decade (2005-2015) have not been 
restricted by the applicable quota. Accordingly, vessel income from 
fishing is not expected to be altered as a result of this rule as it 
compares to recent catches in the fishery, including under the previous 
season's regulations.
    Based on the disproportionality and profitability analysis above, 
the proposed action, if adopted, will not have adverse or 
disproportional economic impact on these small business entities. As a 
result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and 
none has been prepared.
    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 21, 2017.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  660.505, add paragraph (p) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.505   Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (p) Retain, possess or land Pacific mackerel after an announcement 
under Sec.  660.511(j) that the harvest guideline has been taken or is 
projected to be reached soon.

0
3. In Sec.  660.511, add paragraphs (i) and (j) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.511   Catch restrictions.

* * * * *
    (i) The following harvest specifications apply for Pacific 
mackerel:
    (1) For the Pacific mackerel fishing season July 1, 2017, through 
June 30, 2018, the harvest guideline is 26,293 mt and the ACT is 25,293 
mt;
    (2) For the Pacific mackerel fishing season July 1, 2018, through 
June 30,

[[Page 56207]]

2019, the harvest guideline is 23,840 mt and the ACT of 22,840 mt.
    (j) When an ACT in paragraph (i) of this section has been reached 
or is projected to be reached soon, then for the remainder of the 
Pacific mackerel fishing season, Pacific mackerel may not be targeted 
and landings of Pacific mackerel may not exceed 45 percent of landings 
when Pacific mackerel are landed with other CPS (in other words, no 
more than 45 percent by weight of the CPS landed per trip may be 
Pacific mackerel), except that up to 3 mt of Pacific mackerel may be 
landed without landing any other CPS. When a harvest guideline in 
paragraph (i) of this section has been reached or is projected to be 
reached soon, no further retention of Pacific mackerel is allowed 
through the end of the Pacific mackerel fishing season. The Regional 
Administer shall announce in the Federal Register the date that an ACT 
or the harvest guideline is reached or is expected to be reached, and 
the date and time that the restrictions described in this paragraph go 
into effect.

[FR Doc. 2017-25614 Filed 11-27-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P