Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 57906-57924 [2017-26477]

Download as PDF 57906 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS child interactions and classroom processes in three broad domains that support children’s learning and development: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. Changes to CLASS Condition Under Consideration Since HHS established the DRS, all grantees that had indefinite project periods have completed the DRS process. Based on CLASS data, observations collected throughout these cohorts, results of a recent evaluation, and feedback from the community, we are considering changes to the CLASS condition of the DRS in order to better improve implementation of the system. There are concerns about some aspects of the CLASS condition of the DRS that have been raised by Head Start grantees as well as in the recent evaluation. First, the requirement for grantees with the lowest 10 percent of scores on any of the three CLASS domains to compete may not be optimally targeting the grantees for competition with the lowest measures of classroom quality. For example, grantees have been required to compete due to an Emotional Support score of 5.69, which is very close to the Standard of Excellence (a 6—which developers of the CLASS deem the highest quality), while grantees very close to the minimum threshold in Instructional Support (e.g., score of 2.3) do not have to compete. We are considering an approach to establish higher specific thresholds that demonstrate an established acceptable level of quality in Emotional Support and Classroom Organization and an adjustable threshold for the Instructional Support domain where there is the greatest potential and need for program improvement. Second, we understand that the delay between completion of the CLASS review and grantees knowing their DRS designation status, due to the need to collect and analyze a full monitoring year’s CLASS scores to determine the lowest 10 percent, creates uncertainty, stress, and concern among grantees, grantee staff, and families. Because classroom quality in Head Start programs is improving, as demonstrated by recent analysis of data from the 2006, 2009, and 2014 cohorts of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES),1 we are exploring options for the CLASS condition that would better balance an ability to drive quality 1 Aikens, N., Bush, C., Gleason, P., Malone, L., & Tarullo, L. (2016). Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 improvement over time with an approach that would be more transparent, timely, and less burdensome for programs. To inform our development of a notice of proposed rulemaking to change the DRS CLASS condition to meet the objectives described above, we are requesting public comments on several specific changes being considered. The changes under consideration are as follows: 1. Remove the ‘‘lowest 10 percent’’ provision of the CLASS condition described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(2). 2. Increase the minimum threshold described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(i) for the Emotional Support domain from 4 to 5. 3. Increase the minimum threshold described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(ii) for Classroom Organization from 3 to 5. 4. Remove the minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(iii) and instead provide authority for the Secretary to set an absolute minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain, considering the most recent CLASS data, by August 1 of each year to be used for CLASS Reviews conducted in the following fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). Together, these changes would allow grantees to know by August 1, before CLASS Reviews are conducted for the coming fiscal year, the exact threshold of classroom quality in each of the three domains that will be used to determine which grantees will be subject to an open competition for funding and which grantees will receive renewed funding non-competitively. Grantees would no longer have to wait until several months following the conclusion of the CLASS reviews for the fiscal year (September 30) to learn the lowest 10 percent cutoff in each of the 3 domains. Setting minimum thresholds of 5 in the Emotional Support and Classroom Organization domains would set a clear and consistent expectation of quality for all Head Start programs. Allowing the Secretary to set the minimum threshold in the Instructional Support domain prior to the start of each program year and monitoring year would allow for consideration of the most recent CLASS data for Head Start grantees while still supporting continuous quality improvement across the program as a whole. What We Are Looking for in Public Comments We invite comments about the specific changes being considered for the DRS CLASS condition. We also invite comments about any unintended PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 consequences of removing the lowest 10 percent condition and whether an absolute threshold could influence scores. We are particularly interested in recommendations related to how the Secretary would consider establishing the minimum threshold for Instructional Support each year. For example, the regulation could establish an initial Instructional Support threshold (e.g., 2.3 or 2.5) that could be raised in increments of 0.1 based on certain criteria related to the available CLASS data from all prior years of Head Start monitoring, or the threshold could be set one standard deviation below the mean Instructional Support score over the 3 or 5 previous fiscal years. We are interested in other ideas of ways the Instructional Support threshold could be set and/or adjusted that would incentivize program improvement while acknowledging the current state of the field. We are also interested in feedback on another potential change to establish or maintain a minimum absolute threshold (such as a 2) that would require competition and a higher threshold (such as 2.5 or 3) and require grantees to focus on quality improvement before they were reevaluated to see if their Instructional Support score has improved. Only grantees without improvement or still below the threshold would then have to compete. We are interested in feedback on each of these possible approaches as well as others suggested by the field. If commenters do not support the changes being considered, comments offering alternative proposals to the CLASS condition or to other conditions of the DRS would be particularly helpful. Dated: December 5, 2017. Ann Linehan, Acting Director, Office of Head Start. [FR Doc. 2017–26483 Filed 12–7–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170817779–7779–01] RIN 0648–XF636 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. NMFS proposes 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: Comments must be received by January 8, 2018. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2017–0108, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170108, 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: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. 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 is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2016 Stock sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2016, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s Web site at http://www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2017 SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii), and acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 16 of this action satisfy these requirements. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest specifications for 2018 and 2019 after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2017 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the SIR to the EIS that assesses the need to prepare a PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 57907 Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2017 SAFE reports prepared for the 2018 and 2019 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Affecting the 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications Amendment 117: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species In June 2017, the Council recommended for Secretarial review Amendment 117 to the FMP. Amendment 117 would reclassify squid in the FMP as an ‘‘Ecosystem Component’’ species, which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Currently, NMFS annually sets an Overfishing Level (OFL), ABC, and TAC for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Under Amendment 117, OFL, ABC, and TAC specifications would no longer be required. Proposed regulations to implement Amendment 117 would prohibit directed fishing for squid, require recordkeeping and reporting to monitor and report catch of squid species annually, and establish a squid maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage retention, while allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish fisheries. Further details will be available on publication of the proposed rule for Amendment 117. If Amendment 117 and its implementing regulations are approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 117 and its implementing regulations are anticipated to be effective by 2019. Until Amendment 117 is effective, NMFS will continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State of Alaska (State) waters between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the BS. The Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 208,265 mt. E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57908 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Accordingly, the Council recommends the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the BS to account for State GHLs. For 2018 and 2019, the BOF established a GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the AI. The Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the AI. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 21,500 mt. Accordingly, the Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for State GHLs. Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications At the October 2017 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2016 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2016 (see ADDRESSES). The Council recommends and NMFS proposes a reduction in the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC levels as compared to those levels implemented for Pacific cod in the 2017 and 2018 final BSAI groundfish harvest specifications published in February 2017 (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The only changes to the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications from the final 2018 harvest specifications are associated with a decrease in Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS and increases in pollock TAC amounts in the BS, Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, and rock sole TAC amounts in the BSAI. The net increases of TAC equal the decrease of Pacific cod TAC, and leave the sum of the TACs equal to 2.0 million mt. The Council concurred with its SSC’s recommendation to reduce the Pacific cod OFL and ABC, as well as its AP’s recommendation for a corresponding reduction in the Pacific cod TAC. The reductions to the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC are the result of preliminary 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey data, as well as other data, that recently became available to stock assessment scientists. Based on the results of the 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey estimates and preliminary modeling for the Pacific cod stock assessment, the Pacific cod VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 biomass and abundance has decreased significantly since the 2016 BSAI bottom trawl survey. This decrease is corroborated by additional data sets that appear to support the trawl survey results associated with a decrease in the Pacific cod biomass. This information led to the recommended reduction in the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod OFL and ABC. The SSC opted to recommend a proposed 2018 OFL and ABC based on the average of the current 2018 OFL and ABC amounts and preliminary Tier 5 OFL and ABC amounts provided by the Pacific cod stock assessment author. This precautionary approach provides a strong indication of decreases in the OFL and ABC amounts for the final harvest specifications. However, this was a temporary approach used only for these proposed specifications, and Pacific cod remains in Tier 3a. The SSC also strongly noted that the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for Pacific cod could be even lower than those recommended in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications once the stock assessment process has been completed and reviewed by December 2017. The proposed Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts likely will further change once the Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council’s groundfish Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. The proposed reductions to Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts apply in the BS, while for the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are unchanged from the final 2018 amounts. The Council increased the proposed TACs of Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole to match the decrease of Pacific cod TAC in the BS, and these TACs could also change in the final specifications based on the final Pacific cod harvest amounts. The amounts proposed for the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are based on the 2016 SAFE report, and initial survey data, and are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council’s December 2017 meeting. In November 2017, the Plan Team will update the 2016 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2017, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. At its December 2017 meeting, the Council will consider information contained in the final 2017 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2017 Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2017 SSC and AP meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. Any changes will be recommended by the Plan Team in November 2017 and then included in the final 2017 SAFE report. The final 2017 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as catch data. The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts published here, except that Pacific cod harvest amounts could change and even decrease further, which could impact other TAC amounts in order to achieve OY, as explained earlier in this preamble. If the final 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the final 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause total TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2018 and 2019, the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2018 and 2019 will equal 2 million mt each year. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest. In October 2017, the SSC adopted the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species, with the exception of the decreases for Pacific cod OFL and ABC in the BS. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2018 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 11826), with the exception of the decreases for BS Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC and the related increases for Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. The Council adopted the AP’s TAC recommendations. For 2018 and 2019, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2018 and 2019 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 4,167,913 mt, which is less than the final 2018 ABC total in the final 2017 and 2018 BSAI harvest specifications to account for the decrease in BS Pacific cod ABC (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The sum of TACs is the same as the final 2018 TAC total in the final 2017 and 2018 BSAI harvest specifications, but the proposed harvest specifications reflect the decrease in the BS Pacific cod TAC amount and the corresponding increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2018 and 2019 Bering Sea and Eastern Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel that are equal to the proposed ABCs. The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the respective proposed ABCs for all other TACs. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch 57909 amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY. The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2017 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications during its December 2017 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2016 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ‘‘warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.’’ Table 1 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2018 and 2019 Species Area ITAC 2 OFL Pollock 4 ................................................... Pacific cod 5 ............................................. Sablefish .................................................. Yellowfin sole ........................................... Greenland turbot ...................................... sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Arrowtooth flounder ................................. Kamchatka flounder ................................. Rock sole 6 ............................................... Flathead sole 7 ......................................... Alaska plaice ........................................... Other flatfish 8 .......................................... Pacific Ocean perch ................................ Northern rockfish ..................................... Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish 10 .. Shortraker rockfish ................................... Other rockfish 10 ....................................... Atka mackerel .......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 BS .................. AI ................... Bogoslof ......... BS .................. AI ................... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. EAI ................. CAI ................. WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... EBS/EAI ......... CAI/WAI ......... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... EAI/BS ........... CAI ................. PO 00000 Frm 00024 ABC TAC 4,360,000 49,291 130,428 258,687 28,700 1,519 2,072 276,000 12,831 n/a n/a 67,023 10,700 147,300 79,136 36,900 17,591 51,950 n/a n/a n/a n/a 15,854 750 n/a n/a 666 1,816 n/a n/a 99,900 n/a n/a 2,979,000 40,788 97,428 208,265 21,500 1,291 1,758 250,800 10,864 9,484 1,380 58,633 9,200 143,100 66,164 32,100 13,193 42,735 11,924 10,074 7,828 12,909 12,947 614 374 240 499 1,362 791 571 85,000 34,000 29,600 1,359,858 19,000 500 194,936 15,695 1,274 1,735 154,000 4,500 4,375 125 14,000 5,000 50,100 15,500 13,000 2,500 40,400 11,000 9,900 7,500 12,000 5,000 225 100 125 125 875 325 550 69,410 34,000 21,500 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 1,223,872 17,100 500 174,078 14,016 541 369 137,522 3,825 3,719 106 11,900 4,250 44,739 13,842 11,050 2,125 35,604 9,350 8,841 6,698 10,716 4,250 191 85 106 106 744 276 468 61,983 30,362 19,200 CDQ 3 4 135,986 1,900 ........................ 20,858 1,679 175 293 16,478 n/a 468 ........................ 1,498 ........................ 5,361 1,659 ........................ ........................ n/a ........................ 1,059 803 1,284 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 7,427 3,638 2,301 57910 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 OVERFISHING LEVEL (OFL), ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH (ABC), TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC), INITIAL TAC (ITAC), AND CDQ RESERVE ALLOCATION OF GROUNDFISH IN THE BSAI 1— Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Proposed 2018 and 2019 Species Area OFL ABC ITAC 2 TAC CDQ 3 4 Skates ...................................................... Sculpins ................................................... Sharks ...................................................... Squids ...................................................... Octopuses ................................................ WAI ................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... n/a 46,583 56,582 689 6,912 4,769 21,400 39,008 42,387 517 5,184 3,576 13,910 26,000 4,500 125 1,342 400 12,422 22,100 3,825 106 1,141 340 1,488 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ TOTAL .............................................. ........................ 5,764,649 4,167,913 2,000,000 1,790,119 196,927 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the BS includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC. 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2018 hook-and-line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, ‘‘other flatfish,’’ Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ Program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is set less than 6.4 percent of the BS ABC to account for the State’s guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the AI ABC to account for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI. 6 ‘‘Rock sole’’ includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 ‘‘Flathead sole’’ includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 9 ‘‘Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish’’ includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye). 10 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BSAI=Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS=Bering Sea subarea, AI=Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI=Eastern Aleutian district, CAI=Central Aleutian district, WAI=Western Aleutian district.) sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof Area is closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (§ 679.22(a)(7)(i)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 3.9 percent or 47,731 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2017. During this 18-year period, the pollock PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 18-year average of 3.3 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI TAC after subtracting the 10-percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS’ examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2017. During this 15-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 15-year average of 8 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 4,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS’ examination of the average incidental retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2017. The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)). Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ allowance, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 amounts. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/ processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/ processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/ processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 57911 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13 through 16 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2018 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2018 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2018 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector’s allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 amounts by sector. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACs TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 and 2019 allocations sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Area and sector Bering Sea subarea TAC ................................................................................ CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................................................................. AFA Inshore ..................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................................................................... Catch by C/Ps .......................................................................................... Catch by C/Vs 3 ........................................................................................ Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ............................................................................ AFA Motherships ............................................................................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................................................................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................................................................... Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) ................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC ......................................................................... CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................................................................. Area harvest limit 7 ........................................................................................... Area 541 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................... Area 542 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................... Area 543 harvest limit 7 .................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 1,359,858 135,986 47,731 588,071 470,456 430,468 39,989 2,352 117,614 205,825 352,842 1,176,141 40,788 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a 12,236 6,118 2,039 A season 1 A season DFA n/a 61,194 n/a 264,632 211,705 193,710 17,995 1,059 52,926 n/a n/a 529,264 n/a n/a 760 1,200 14,355 n/a n/a n/a n/a E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a 38,076 n/a 164,660 131,728 n/a n/a n/a 32,932 n/a n/a 329,320 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a B season DFA n/a 74,792 n/a 323,439 258,751 236,757 21,994 1,294 64,688 n/a n/a 646,878 n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 345 n/a n/a n/a n/a 57912 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACs TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 and 2019 allocations Area and sector Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................................................................... A season 1 A season DFA 500 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 n/a B season DFA n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector–50 percent, catcher/processor sector(C/Ps)–40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(c), no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed CPs. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted C/Ps are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the C/Ps sector’s allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(i)(B), the amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector. Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2018 and 2019. This percentage is applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. Table 3 lists the 2018 and 2019 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2019 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 and 2019 allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ................................................................. n/a .................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34,000 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 Central Aleutian District 5 21,500 Western Aleutian District 5 13,910 57913 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 and 2019 allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 CDQ reserve ................................................... Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. B ..................................................................... Critical habitat 5 .............................................. non-CDQ TAC ................................................. Jig 6 ................................................................. ICA .................................................................. BSAI trawl limited access ............................... Amendment 80 ................................................ 3,638 1,819 n/a 1,819 n/a 30,362 152 800 2,941 1,471 n/a 1,471 n/a 26,469 13,235 n/a 13,235 n/a Central Aleutian District 5 Western Aleutian District 5 2,301 1,150 690 1,150 690 19,200 ........................ 75 1,912 956 574 956 574 17,212 8,606 5,164 8,606 5,164 1,488 744 447 744 447 12,422 ........................ 20 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 12,402 6,201 3,720 6,201 3,720 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, the jig gear allocation, and ICAs, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve. The amount of this allocation is proposed at 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC The Council separated Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or the AI, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii). As explained earlier in the ‘‘Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications’’ section, the Council recommended reduced Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts in the BS as a result of preliminary data indicating a decrease in biomass. For the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are unchanged from those amounts implemented through the final 2018 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 harvest specifications published in February 2017. The proposed amounts could likely change, including a further decrease, once the 2017 Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council’s Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line catcher/ processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2018 and 2019, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries. The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57914 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. The Pacific cod TAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with §§ 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance for any sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the beginning of that sector’s next seasonal allowance. Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2016 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2018 and 2019. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 4,128 mt. Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) requires specification of the 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod allocations for the Aleutian Islands ICA, non-CDQ DFA, CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as well as the Bering Sea Trawl CV ASeason Sector Limitation. If NMFS receives notification of intent to process AI Pacific cod from either the city of Adak or the city of Atka, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018 or 2019. Notification of intent to process AI Pacific cod must be postmarked by October 31 of the previous year, and submitted electronically to NMFS by October 31 of the previous year. Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice from the City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod in 2018. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018, subject to the performance requirements outlined in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii). Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) contains specific performance requirements that (1) if less than 1,000 mt of the Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants by February 28 of that year, the Aleutian Islands CV Harvest SetAside is lifted and the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation is suspended; and (2) if the entire Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is fully harvested and delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants before March 15 of that year, the Bering Sea Trawl CV ASeason Sector Limitation is suspended. The CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A) and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5). TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI 1 PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector 2018 and 2019 share of gear sector total Percent 2018 and 2019 share of sector total n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 60.8 n/a n/a 48.7 194,936 20,858 174,078 15,695 1,679 14,016 4,128 188,093 114,361 n/a 113,961 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 400 n/a 91,281 Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA. Pot catcher/processors .......................... 0.2 n/a 375 1.5 n/a 2,812 Pot catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA ............. 8.4 n/a 15,745 Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hookand-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessels ............................ 2 n/a 3,749 22.1 41,569 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processors ................ sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Total Bering Sea TAC ............................ Bering Sea CDQ .................................... Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC .................... Total Aleutian Islands TAC .................... Aleutian Islands CDQ ............................ Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC ............. Western Aleutians Islands Limit ............ Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 ................... Total hook-and-line/pot gear .................. Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 ......................... Hook-and-line/pot sub-total .................... Hook-and-line catcher/processors ......... 2.3 4,326 n/a Amendment 80 ....................................... 13.4 25,205 n/a Jig ........................................................... 1.4 2,633 n/a 2018 and 2019 seasonal apportionment Season Amount n/a ............................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .............. n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .............. n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... n/a ............................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................. Jun 10–Dec 31 ............................ Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................. Jun 10–Dec 31 ............................ Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ............................ Jan 1–Jun 10 .............................. Sept–1–Dec 31 ........................... n/a ............................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 46,553 44,728 191 184 1,434 1,378 8,030 7,715 n/a Jan 20–Apr 1 ............................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ............................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .............................. Jan 20–Apr 1 ............................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ............................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .............................. Jan 20–Apr 1 ............................... Apr 1–Jun 10 ............................... Jun 10–Nov 1 .............................. Jan 1–Apr 30 ............................... Apr 30–Aug 31 ............................ Aug 31–Dec 31 ........................... 30,761 4,573 6,235 3,245 1,082 0 18,903 6,301 0 1,580 527 527 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:33 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57915 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2018 and 2019 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. TABLE 4a—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 BSAI A-SEASON PACIFIC COD LIMITS IF ALEUTIAN ISLANDS SHOREPLANTS INTEND TO PROCESS PACIFIC COD 1 Amount (mt) 2018 and 2019 allocations under Aleutian Islands CV harvest set-aside AI non-CDQ TAC ............................................................................................................................................................................. AI ICA .............................................................................................................................................................................................. AI DFA ............................................................................................................................................................................................. BS non-CDQ TAC ........................................................................................................................................................................... BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation ............................................................................................................................................... BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation minus Sector Limitation 2 ...................................................................................................... BS Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation ....................................................................................................................................... AI CV Harvest Set-Aside ................................................................................................................................................................. AI Unrestricted Fishery .................................................................................................................................................................... 14,016 2,500 11,516 174,078 30,761 25,761 5,000 5,000 6,516 1 These allocations will apply in 2018 or 2019 only if NMFS receives notice of intent to process AI Pacific cod by October 31 of the previous year, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7)(viii), and if the performance requirements set forth in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii) are likewise met. Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice from the City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod for the 2018 season. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018, subject to the performance requirements outlined in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii). 2 This is the amount of the BSAI trawl CV A season allocation that may be harvested in the Bering Sea prior to March 21 of that year, unless modified because the performance requirements were not met. Sablefish Gear Allocation Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TACs for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the BS are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of the hook-and- line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the non-specified reserves, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council has recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-andline gear or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2018 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 GEAR SHARES AND CDQ RESERVE OF BSAI SABLEFISH TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Percent of TAC 2018 Share of TAC Bering Sea: Trawl ........................................................................................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ............................................................. 50 50 637 637 541 n/a 48 127 637 n/a 541 n/a 48 n/a Total ..................................................................................... 100 1,274 541 175 637 541 48 Aleutian Islands: Trawl ........................................................................................... Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 ............................................................. 25 75 434 1,301 369 n/a 33 260 434 n/a 369 n/a 33 n/a Total ..................................................................................... 100 1,735 369 293 434 369 33 Subarea and gear 2018 ITAC 1 2018 CDQ reserve sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Except 2019 Share of TAC 2019 ITAC 2019 CDQ reserve for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:33 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57916 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) RESERVES, INCIDENTAL CATCH AMOUNTS (ICAS), AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH, AND BSAI FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 and 2019 allocations Pacific ocean perch Sector Flathead sole Eastern Aleutian District TAC .......................................................... CDQ ......................................................... ICA ........................................................... BSAI trawl limited access ........................ Amendment 80 ......................................... Central Aleutian District 9,900 1,059 100 874 7,867 Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 Western Aleutian District 7,500 803 60 664 5,974 12,000 1,284 10 214 10,492 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be Rock sole Yellowfin sole BSAI BSAI BSAI 15,500 1,659 4,000 0 9,842 50,100 5,361 6,000 0 38,739 154,000 16,478 4,000 18,351 115,171 the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives’ quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the 2018 and 2019 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 ABC SURPLUS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT QUOTA (CDQ) ABC RESERVES, AND AMENDMENT 80 ABC RESERVES IN THE BSAI FOR FLATHEAD SOLE, ROCK SOLE, AND YELLOWFIN SOLE [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS ABC .............................................................................................................................................. TAC .............................................................................................................................................. ABC surplus ................................................................................................................................. ABC reserve ................................................................................................................................ CDQ ABC reserve ....................................................................................................................... Amendment 80 ABC reserve ....................................................................................................... Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring Sections 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the 2018 and 2019 BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 1,745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66,164 15,500 50,664 50,664 5,421 45,243 Rock sole 143,100 50,100 93,000 93,000 9,951 83,049 Yellowfin sole 250,800 154,000 96,800 96,800 10,358 86,442 Sections 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery categories, and § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules access halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, and Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries. Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, that certain specified nontrawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)). As of November 2017, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 42,662 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 3 mt. The 2017 jig gear fishery harvested about 13 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released. Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3System Index for western Alaska based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) and if it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and it is not a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D). As of October 1, 2017, NMFS has determined that it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State’s estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2018, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery, as provided in § 679.21(f)(3)(i) and § 679.23(e)(2). Additionally, in 2017, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010) and Amendment 110 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/ bycatch/default.htm. Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2018 and 2019 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program and allocates the remaining 647 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 57917 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries. Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2018 and 2019 nonChinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, nonChinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 nonChinook salmon in the CVOA to the non-CDQ fisheries. PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2017 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2018 and 2019 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2016 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2017. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program. Based on 2017 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 18.5 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 39,776 million lbs (18,042 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt). Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS bycatch to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council’s recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 9). Based on 2017 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 344 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2018 and 2019 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 million animals, which is greater than E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57918 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules 270 million and less than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 million animals, which is greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2017 survey estimate of 8.182 billion animals, which is above the minimum PSC limit of 4.5 million and below the maximum PSC limit of 13 million animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 9,120,539 animals. Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2018 and 2019 herring biomass is 201,278 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2018 and 2019 is 2,013 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9. Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2018 crab and halibut PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required. The 2019 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaska fisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Sections 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 APPORTIONMENT OF PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES TO NON-TRAWL GEAR, THE CDQ PROGRAM, AMENDMENT 80, AND THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTORS PSC species and area 1 Total PSC Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI ...................... Herring (mt) BSAI .................................... Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 .............. C. opilio (animals) COBLZ ....................... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 ............... C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 ............... Non-trawl PSC 3,515 2,013 97,000 9,120,539 830,000 2,520,000 CDQ PSQ reserve 2 710 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 315 n/a 10,379 975,898 88,810 269,640 Trawl PSC remaining after CDQ PSQ n/a n/a 86,621 8,144,641 741,190 2,250,360 Amendment 80 sector 3 1,745 n/a 43,293 4,003,091 312,115 532,660 BSAI trawl limited access fishery 745 n/a 26,489 2,617,688 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. 2 The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors. 3 The TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 HERRING AND RED KING CRAB SAVINGS SUBAREA PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCES FOR ALL TRAWL SECTORS Herring (mt) BSAI sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Fishery categories Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ........................................................................................................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 .................................................................................................................... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish ..................................................................... Rockfish ................................................................................................................................................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................................................................................................... Midwater trawl pollock ............................................................................................................................................. Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 .................................................................................................................. Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 ........................................................................................ 100 43 5 5 10 1,800 50 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC ................................................................................................................................................ 2,013 97,000 1 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ fishery category. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57919 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. October 2017 the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. 4 In TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR THE BSAI TRAWL LIMITED ACCESS SECTOR Prohibited species and area 1 BSAI trawl limited access fisheries Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Yellowfin sole ....................................................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 ................................. Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/ sablefish ........................................................................... Rockfish April 15–December 31 .......................................... Pacific cod ............................................................................ Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 ................................. 150 ........................ 23,338 ........................ 2,467,662 ........................ 293,234 ........................ 1,005,879 0 ........................ 4 391 200 ........................ ........................ 2,954 197 ........................ 4,076 105,182 40,768 ........................ ........................ 50,816 4,235 0 849 42,424 4,243 Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC ........................... 745 26,489 2,617,688 348,285 1,053,394 Zone 2 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. 2 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES BYCATCH ALLOWANCES FOR NON-TRAWL FISHERIES Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Catcher/ processor Non-trawl fisheries Seasons Pacific cod ...................................................... Annual Pacific cod ......................................... January 1–June 10 ........................................ June 10–August 15 ........................................ August 15–December 31 ............................... May 1–December 31 ...................................... n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total ..................... Groundfish pot and jig .................................... Sablefish hook-and-line .................................. Total for all non-trawl PSC ............................. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 findings are included as an appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council’s directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group’s statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group’s revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, as well as transparency and transferability in the methodology used, for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Catcher vessel 648 388 162 98 n/a n/a n/a n/a 13 9 2 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a All non-trawl n/a. n/a. n/a. n/a. 49. Exempt. Exempt. 710. to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. At the December 2016 meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council concurred in the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted the DMRs calculated under the revised methodology for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. In October 2017, E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57920 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the 2016 process for the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs. The proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs maintain the new estimation method adopted in 2016 using an updated 3-year reference period of 2014 through 2016. The proposed DMR for motherships and catcher/processors using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 84 percent from 85 percent, the proposed DMR for catcher vessels using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 60 percent from 52 percent, the proposed DMR for catcher vessels using hookand-line gear increased to 17 percent from 14 percent, and the proposed DMR for pot gear increased to 9 percent from 6 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 PACIFIC HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES FOR THE BSAI Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) Gear Sector Pelagic trawl ............................................................................... Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Non-pelagic trawl ........................................................................ Hook-and-line ............................................................................. Hook-and-line ............................................................................. Pot .............................................................................................. All ................................................................................................ Mothership and catcher/processor ............................................. Catcher vessel ............................................................................ Catcher vessel ............................................................................ Catcher/processor ...................................................................... All ................................................................................................ Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as ‘‘sideboard’’ limits on catch. The basis for these proposed sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 13 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 catcher/ processor sideboard limits. 100 84 60 17 8 9 All harvest of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/ processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 13. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/ processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR LISTED AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSORS (C/PS) [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Area Retained catch Sablefish trawl ......................................... Greenland turbot ...................................... Arrowtooth flounder ................................. Kamchatka flounder ................................. Rock sole ................................................. Flathead sole ........................................... Alaska plaice ........................................... Other flatfish ............................................ Pacific ocean perch ................................. Northern rockfish ..................................... Rougheye rockfish ................................... sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Shortraker rockfish ................................... Other rockfish .......................................... Atka mackerel .......................................... Skates ...................................................... Sculpins ................................................... Sharks ...................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 BS .................. AI ................... BS .................. AI ................... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BS .................. Eastern AI ...... Central AI ....... Western AI ..... BSAI ............... EBS/EAI ......... CAI/WAI ......... BSAI ............... BS .................. AI ................... Central AI ....... A season 2 ..... B season 2 ..... Western AI ..... A season 2 ..... B season 2 ..... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... BSAI ............... PO 00000 Total catch 8 ........................ 121 23 76 76 6,317 1,925 14 3,058 12 125 3 54 91 50 50 50 18 22 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 553 553 553 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 497 145 17,305 4,987 33,987 33,987 169,362 52,755 9,438 52,298 4,879 6,179 5,698 13,598 13,040 2,811 2,811 2,811 621 806 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 68,672 68,672 68,672 Ratio of retained catch to total catch 0.0160 ........................ 0.0070 0.0050 0.0020 0.0020 0.0370 0.0360 0.0010 0.0580 0.0020 0.0200 0.0010 0.0040 0.0070 0.0180 0.0180 0.0180 0.0290 0.0270 0.1150 0.1150 0.1150 0.2000 0.2000 0.2000 0.0080 0.0080 0.0080 E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 2018 and 2019 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2018 and 2019 AFA C/P sideboard limit 541 369 3,825 106 11,900 4,250 44,739 13,842 11,050 2,125 9,350 8,841 6,698 10,716 4,250 85 106 106 276 468 19,200 9,600 9,600 12,422 6,211 6,211 22,100 3,825 106 9 ........................ 27 1 24 9 1,655 498 11 123 19 177 7 43 30 2 2 2 8 13 2,208 1,104 1,104 2,484 1,242 1,242 177 31 1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules 57921 TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR LISTED AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER/PROCESSORS (C/PS)—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] 1995–1997 Target species Area Retained catch Squids ...................................................... Octopuses ................................................ BSAI ............... BSAI ............... Total catch 73 553 Ratio of retained catch to total catch 2018 and 2019 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2018 and 2019 AFA C/P sideboard limit 0.0220 0.0080 1,141 340 25 3 3,328 68,672 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). 2 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District. Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018 and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut and crab caught by listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). PSC species listed in Table 14 that are caught by listed AFA catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and (e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/ processors once a proposed 2018 or 2019 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 14 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/‘‘other species’’ fishery categories, according to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 BSAI PROHIBITED SPECIES SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT LISTED CATCHER/PROCESSORS Ratio of PSC to total PSC PSC species and area 1 BSAI Halibut mortality ................................................................................................ Red king crab Zone 1 ................................................................................................ C. opilio (COBLZ) ...................................................................................................... C. bairdi Zone 1 ......................................................................................................... C. bairdi Zone 2 ......................................................................................................... 1 Refer Proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC available to trawl vessels after subtraction of PSQ 2 n/a 0.007 0.153 0.140 0.050 n/a 86,621 8,144,641 741,190 2,250,360 Proposed 2018 and 2019 C/P sideboard limit 2 286 606 1,246,130 103,767 112,518 to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 2 Halibut AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 September 14, 2007). Tables 15 and 16 list the proposed 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits. All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits listed in Table 15. E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57922 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 BSAI GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSELS (CVS) [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Fishery by area/gear/season Pacific cod ....................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Jig gear .......................................................... Hook-and-line CV >60 ft LOA ........................ Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Dec 31 ............................................... Pot gear CV >60 ft LOA ................................ Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Sept 1–Dec 31 ............................................... CV <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl gear CV ................................................ Jan 20–Apr 1 .................................................. Apr 1–un 10 ................................................... Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. BS trawl gear ................................................. AI trawl gear ................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS trawl gear ................................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... Eastern AI ...................................................... Central AI ....................................................... Western AI ..................................................... BSAI ............................................................... EBS/EAI ......................................................... CAI/WAI .......................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BS ................................................................... AI .................................................................... Eastern AI/BS ................................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. Central AI ....................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. Western AI ..................................................... Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................................. Jun 10–Nov 1 ................................................. BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... BSAI ............................................................... Sablefish ......................................................... Greenland turbot ............................................. Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Kamchatka flounder ........................................ Rock sole ........................................................ Flathead sole .................................................. Alaska plaice ................................................... Other flatfish .................................................... Pacific ocean perch ........................................ Northern rockfish ............................................. Rougheye rockfish .......................................... Shortraker rockfish .......................................... Other rockfish .................................................. Atka mackerel ................................................. Skates ............................................................. Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Squids ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Ratio of 1995– 1997 AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 2018 and 2019 initial TAC 1 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits n/a ........................ n/a 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 n/a 2,633 n/a 191 184 n/a 8,030 7,715 3,749 n/a ........................ n/a 0 0 n/a 5 5 2 n/a 0.8609 0.8609 0.8609 0.0906 0.0645 0.0645 0.0205 0.0690 0.0690 0.0341 0.0505 0.0441 0.0441 0.1000 0.0077 0.0025 ........................ 0.0084 0.0037 0.0037 0.0037 0.0048 0.0095 n/a 0.0032 0.0032 n/a 0.0001 0.0001 n/a ........................ ........................ 0.0541 0.0541 0.0541 0.3827 0.0541 n/a 30,761 4,573 6,235 541 369 3,719 106 11,900 4,250 44,739 13,842 11,050 2,125 9,350 8,841 6,698 10,716 4,250 85 106 106 276 468 30,362 15,181 15,181 19,200 9,600 9,600 12,422 6,211 6,211 22,100 3,825 106 1,141 340 n/a 26,482 3,937 5,368 49 24 240 2 821 293 1,526 699 487 94 935 68 17 ........................ 36 0 0 0 1 4 n/a 49 49 n/a 1 1 n/a ........................ ........................ 1,196 207 6 437 18 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018 and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt. Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 16 that are caught by AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 and (e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 16 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the BS will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/ ‘‘other species’’ fishery categories under § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv). E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 57923 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2018 AND 2019 AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE BSAI 1 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio PSC species and area 1 Target fishery category 2 Halibut ............................................................. Pacific cod trawl ............................................. Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot .................... Yellowfin sole total ......................................... Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish.4 .......... Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/ Kamchatka flounder/sablefish. Rockfish .......................................................... Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species.5 ........... n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. n/a .................................................................. Red king crab Zone 1 ..................................... C. opilio COBLZ .............................................. C. bairdi Zone 1 .............................................. C. bairdi Zone 2 .............................................. Proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC limit after subtraction of PSQ reserves 3 Proposed 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 887 2 101 228 n/a n/a 0.2990 0.1680 0.3300 0.1860 n/a n/a 86,621 8,144,641 741,190 2,250,360 2 5 25,900 1,368,300 244,593 418,567 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B). amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 ‘‘Other flatfish’’ for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 ‘‘Other species’’ for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses. 2 Target 3 Halibut sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Classification NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, and subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives. NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As described in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology may produce vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other alternatives. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities operating catcher vessels and catcher/ processors within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The estimated number of directly regulated small entities in 2016 include approximately 119 catcher vessels, five catcher/processors, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives, and, since under the RFA the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative must meet the ‘‘under $11 million’’ threshold, the cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. Thus, the estimate of 119 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $690,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.25 million for small pot vessels, and $3.44 million for small trawl vessels. The average gross revenue for catcher/processor hook and line vessels was $2.90 million. The revenue data for other catcher/processor’s data are not reported, due to confidentiality considerations. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 57924 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 235 / Friday, December 8, 2017 / Proposed Rules to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI OY range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action’’ alternative, would have set TACs equal to zero. The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest strategy, are those adopted by the Council in October 2017. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2017, and reviewed and modified by the Council’s SSC in October 2017. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2018 and 2019 would be about 4,214,648 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the OY range. Under Alternative 1, the sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to small entity impacts of the preferred alternative. However, NMFS cannot set TACs equal to the sum of ABCs in the BSAI due to the constraining OY limit of 2.0 million mt, which Alternative 1 would exceed. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action (as reflected in Alternative 2, the Council’s preferred harvest strategy) because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 07, 2017 Jkt 244001 Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species and reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2018 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size would alter the supply, and, therefore, would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these associated price increases is uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the BSAI, these increases would be constrained by production of substitutes, and are unlikely to completely offset revenue declines resulting from reductions in harvests of these species by small entities. Thus, this alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to the requirement for achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2018 and 2019, with the exceptions for decreases of Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS and related increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2017, when it reviews the November 2017 SAFE report from its groundfish Plan Team, and the reports of the SSC and AP at the December Council meeting. Because most of the TACs in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2018 harvest specification TACs, with the exception of modifications for TACs for five species, and because the sum of all TACs remains within the upper limit of OY for the BSAI of 2.0 million mt, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2017 to be large enough to have an impact on small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2017 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 SIR (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ sites/default/files/sir-2017-18.pdf). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109–479. Dated: December 4, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–26477 Filed 12–6–17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170816769–7769–01] RIN 0648–XF633 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2018 and 2019 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. SUMMARY: Comments must be received by January 8, 2018. ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2017–0107, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170107, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. DATES: E:\FR\FM\08DEP1.SGM 08DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 235 (Friday, December 8, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 57906-57924]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-26477]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 170817779-7779-01]
RIN 0648-XF636


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for 
Groundfish

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

[[Page 57907]]

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) 
management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits 
for groundfish during the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, and to 
accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 8, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0108, by 
either of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0108, 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: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by 
any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after 
the comment period ends. 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 
is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/
A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action 
may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2016 
Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the 
groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2016, is available 
from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 
4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or 
from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2017 
SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 
implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea 
and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish 
fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved 
it, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries 
also appear at 50 CFR part 600.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable 
catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all 
groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) 
range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to 
publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and 
solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments 
thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species 
quota (PSQ) reserves established by Sec.  679.21, seasonal allowances 
of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act 
allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, Community Development Quota 
(CDQ) reserve amounts established by Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(ii), and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups 
and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 16 of this action satisfy these requirements.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest 
specifications for 2018 and 2019 after (1) considering comments 
received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the 
Council at its December 2017 meeting, (3) considering information 
presented in the SIR to the EIS that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information 
presented in the final 2017 SAFE reports prepared for the 2018 and 2019 
groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting the 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications

Amendment 117: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species

    In June 2017, the Council recommended for Secretarial review 
Amendment 117 to the FMP. Amendment 117 would reclassify squid in the 
FMP as an ``Ecosystem Component'' species, which is a category of non-
target species that are not in need of conservation and management. 
Currently, NMFS annually sets an Overfishing Level (OFL), ABC, and TAC 
for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Under 
Amendment 117, OFL, ABC, and TAC specifications would no longer be 
required. Proposed regulations to implement Amendment 117 would 
prohibit directed fishing for squid, require recordkeeping and 
reporting to monitor and report catch of squid species annually, and 
establish a squid maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for 
groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage retention, while 
allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish fisheries. Further details 
will be available on publication of the proposed rule for Amendment 
117. If Amendment 117 and its implementing regulations are approved by 
the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 117 and its implementing 
regulations are anticipated to be effective by 2019. Until Amendment 
117 is effective, NMFS will continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs 
for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications.

Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels

    The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the 
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, established a guideline harvest 
level (GHL) in State of Alaska (State) waters between 164 and 167 
degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 
percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the BS. The Council recommends that 
the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State's 
GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the BS. The Council and its 
BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of 
all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed 
the proposed ABC recommendations of 208,265 mt.

[[Page 57908]]

Accordingly, the Council recommends the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific 
cod TACs in the BS to account for State GHLs.
    For 2018 and 2019, the BOF established a GHL in State waters in the 
Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod 
ABC for the AI. The Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 
Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State 
waters in the AI. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 
21,500 mt. Accordingly, the Council recommends that the proposed 2018 
and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for State GHLs.

Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    At the October 2017 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council 
reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the 
condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and 
presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan 
Team and presented in the final 2016 SAFE report for the BSAI 
groundfish fisheries, dated November 2016 (see ADDRESSES).
    The Council recommends and NMFS proposes a reduction in the Pacific 
cod OFL, ABC, and TAC levels as compared to those levels implemented 
for Pacific cod in the 2017 and 2018 final BSAI groundfish harvest 
specifications published in February 2017 (82 FR 11826, February 27, 
2017). The only changes to the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications from the final 2018 harvest specifications are 
associated with a decrease in Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS 
and increases in pollock TAC amounts in the BS, Atka mackerel, Pacific 
ocean perch, and rock sole TAC amounts in the BSAI. The net increases 
of TAC equal the decrease of Pacific cod TAC, and leave the sum of the 
TACs equal to 2.0 million mt. The Council concurred with its SSC's 
recommendation to reduce the Pacific cod OFL and ABC, as well as its 
AP's recommendation for a corresponding reduction in the Pacific cod 
TAC. The reductions to the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC are the result 
of preliminary 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey data, as well as other 
data, that recently became available to stock assessment scientists.
    Based on the results of the 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey estimates 
and preliminary modeling for the Pacific cod stock assessment, the 
Pacific cod biomass and abundance has decreased significantly since the 
2016 BSAI bottom trawl survey. This decrease is corroborated by 
additional data sets that appear to support the trawl survey results 
associated with a decrease in the Pacific cod biomass. This information 
led to the recommended reduction in the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific 
cod OFL and ABC. The SSC opted to recommend a proposed 2018 OFL and ABC 
based on the average of the current 2018 OFL and ABC amounts and 
preliminary Tier 5 OFL and ABC amounts provided by the Pacific cod 
stock assessment author. This precautionary approach provides a strong 
indication of decreases in the OFL and ABC amounts for the final 
harvest specifications. However, this was a temporary approach used 
only for these proposed specifications, and Pacific cod remains in Tier 
3a. The SSC also strongly noted that the final 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications for Pacific cod could be even lower than those 
recommended in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications once 
the stock assessment process has been completed and reviewed by 
December 2017.
    The proposed Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts likely will 
further change once the Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, 
reviewed by the Council's groundfish Plan Team in November, and then 
subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. The 
proposed reductions to Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts apply in 
the BS, while for the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are 
unchanged from the final 2018 amounts. The Council increased the 
proposed TACs of Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock 
sole to match the decrease of Pacific cod TAC in the BS, and these TACs 
could also change in the final specifications based on the final 
Pacific cod harvest amounts.
    The amounts proposed for the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications 
are based on the 2016 SAFE report, and initial survey data, and are 
subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published 
by NMFS following the Council's December 2017 meeting. In November 
2017, the Plan Team will update the 2016 SAFE report to include new 
information collected during 2017, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised 
stock assessments, and catch data. At its December 2017 meeting, the 
Council will consider information contained in the final 2017 SAFE 
report, recommendations from the November 2017 Plan Team meeting, 
public testimony from the December 2017 SSC and AP meetings, and 
relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2018 and 2019 harvest specifications.
    In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most 
significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of 
fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been 
for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys, 
which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. 
Any changes will be recommended by the Plan Team in November 2017 and 
then included in the final 2017 SAFE report. The final 2017 SAFE report 
will include the most recent information, such as catch data.
    The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not 
expected to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification 
amounts published here, except that Pacific cod harvest amounts could 
change and even decrease further, which could impact other TAC amounts 
in order to achieve OY, as explained earlier in this preamble. If the 
final 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is 
increasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest 
specifications. Conversely, if the final 2017 SAFE report indicates 
that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the 
final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from 
the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by 
biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs 
exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to 
an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to 
recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan 
Team and the SSC, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause total TACs 
to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 
million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates 
that, both for 2018 and 2019, the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million 
mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2018 
and 2019 will equal 2 million mt each year.
    The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available 
biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
technical methods used to calculate stock

[[Page 57909]]

biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and OFLs involves 
statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of 
six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable 
information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the 
highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents 
the lowest.
    In October 2017, the SSC adopted the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs 
and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species, with 
the exception of the decreases for Pacific cod OFL and ABC in the BS. 
The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. These 
amounts are unchanged from the final 2018 harvest specifications 
published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 11826), 
with the exception of the decreases for BS Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and 
TAC and the related increases for Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, 
pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. The Council adopted the AP's TAC 
recommendations. For 2018 and 2019, the Council recommended and NMFS 
proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs 
reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum 
of the proposed 2018 and 2019 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 
4,167,913 mt, which is less than the final 2018 ABC total in the final 
2017 and 2018 BSAI harvest specifications to account for the decrease 
in BS Pacific cod ABC (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The sum of TACs 
is the same as the final 2018 TAC total in the final 2017 and 2018 BSAI 
harvest specifications, but the proposed harvest specifications reflect 
the decrease in the BS Pacific cod TAC amount and the corresponding 
increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole 
TAC amounts.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2018 and 2019 Bering Sea 
and Eastern Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel that are equal to the 
proposed ABCs. The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the 
respective proposed ABCs for all other TACs. Section 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 
mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof 
pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are 
set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.
    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change 
pending the completion of the final 2017 SAFE report and the Council's 
recommendations for final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications during 
its December 2017 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with 
the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2016 
SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and 
socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, 
the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if ``warranted on the 
basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or 
socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum 
of the TACs to fall within the OY range.'' Table 1 lists the proposed 
2018 and 2019 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for 
groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts 
among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

  Table 1--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ
                                                    Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI \1\
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Proposed 2018 and 2019
                 Species                               Area              -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                OFL             ABC             TAC          ITAC \2\         CDQ 3 4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \4\.............................  BS............................       4,360,000       2,979,000       1,359,858       1,223,872         135,986
                                          AI............................          49,291          40,788          19,000          17,100           1,900
                                          Bogoslof......................         130,428          97,428             500             500  ..............
Pacific cod \5\.........................  BS............................         258,687         208,265         194,936         174,078          20,858
                                          AI............................          28,700          21,500          15,695          14,016           1,679
Sablefish...............................  BS............................           1,519           1,291           1,274             541             175
                                          AI............................           2,072           1,758           1,735             369             293
Yellowfin sole..........................  BSAI..........................         276,000         250,800         154,000         137,522          16,478
Greenland turbot........................  BSAI..........................          12,831          10,864           4,500           3,825             n/a
                                          BS............................             n/a           9,484           4,375           3,719             468
                                          AI............................             n/a           1,380             125             106  ..............
Arrowtooth flounder.....................  BSAI..........................          67,023          58,633          14,000          11,900           1,498
Kamchatka flounder......................  BSAI..........................          10,700           9,200           5,000           4,250  ..............
Rock sole \6\...........................  BSAI..........................         147,300         143,100          50,100          44,739           5,361
Flathead sole \7\.......................  BSAI..........................          79,136          66,164          15,500          13,842           1,659
Alaska plaice...........................  BSAI..........................          36,900          32,100          13,000          11,050  ..............
Other flatfish \8\......................  BSAI..........................          17,591          13,193           2,500           2,125  ..............
Pacific Ocean perch.....................  BSAI..........................          51,950          42,735          40,400          35,604             n/a
                                          BS............................             n/a          11,924          11,000           9,350  ..............
                                          EAI...........................             n/a          10,074           9,900           8,841           1,059
                                          CAI...........................             n/a           7,828           7,500           6,698             803
                                          WAI...........................             n/a          12,909          12,000          10,716           1,284
Northern rockfish.......................  BSAI..........................          15,854          12,947           5,000           4,250  ..............
Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish \10\.  BSAI..........................             750             614             225             191  ..............
                                          EBS/EAI.......................             n/a             374             100              85  ..............
                                          CAI/WAI.......................             n/a             240             125             106  ..............
Shortraker rockfish.....................  BSAI..........................             666             499             125             106  ..............
Other rockfish \10\.....................  BSAI..........................           1,816           1,362             875             744  ..............
                                          BS............................             n/a             791             325             276  ..............
                                          AI............................             n/a             571             550             468  ..............
Atka mackerel...........................  BSAI..........................          99,900          85,000          69,410          61,983           7,427
                                          EAI/BS........................             n/a          34,000          34,000          30,362           3,638
                                          CAI...........................             n/a          29,600          21,500          19,200           2,301

[[Page 57910]]

 
                                          WAI...........................             n/a          21,400          13,910          12,422           1,488
Skates..................................  BSAI..........................          46,583          39,008          26,000          22,100  ..............
Sculpins................................  BSAI..........................          56,582          42,387           4,500           3,825  ..............
Sharks..................................  BSAI..........................             689             517             125             106  ..............
Squids..................................  BSAI..........................           6,912           5,184           1,342           1,141  ..............
Octopuses...............................  BSAI..........................           4,769           3,576             400             340  ..............
                                                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL...............................  ..............................       5,764,649       4,167,913       2,000,000       1,790,119         196,927
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these
  harvest specifications, the BS includes the Bogoslof District.
\2\ Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian
  Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for
  these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ
  allocation of TAC.
\3\ For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7
  percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is
  allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea
  Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2018 hook-and-
  line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. Aleutian
  Islands Greenland turbot, ``other flatfish,'' Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker
  rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ
  Program.
\4\ Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and
  second for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore--50
  percent; catcher/processor--40 percent; and motherships--10 percent. Under Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI subarea pollock TAC, after
  subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the
  Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery.
\5\ The BS Pacific cod TAC is set less than 6.4 percent of the BS ABC to account for the State's guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The
  AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the AI ABC to account for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI.
\6\ ``Rock sole'' includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole).
\7\ ``Flathead sole'' includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder).
\8\ ``Other flatfish'' includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin
  sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice.
\9\ ``Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish'' includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish.
Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2 (BSAI=Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS=Bering Sea subarea,
  AI=Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI=Eastern Aleutian district, CAI=Central Aleutian district, WAI=Western Aleutian district.)

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

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the 
TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line 
and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a 
non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to 
allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl 
gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland 
turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of 
the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, 
rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 
679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent 
of the BS pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance 
(DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA 
pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof Area is closed 
to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(i)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot 
gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion 
the CDQ reserves by gear.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock 
ICA of 3.9 percent or 47,731 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting 
the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS' 
examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, 
including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries 
other than pollock from 2000 through 2017. During this 18-year period, 
the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 
to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 18-year average of 3.3 
percent. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), 
NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI TAC 
after subtracting the 10-percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on 
NMFS' examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the 
incidental catch by CDQ vessels in target fisheries other than pollock 
from 2003 through 2017. During this 15-year period, the incidental 
catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 
percent in 2014, with a 15-year average of 8 percent.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 
4,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin 
sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of 
Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern 
Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20

[[Page 57911]]

mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central 
Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian 
District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 
10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS' examination of 
the average incidental retained and discarded catch in other target 
fisheries from 2003 through 2017.
    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified 
reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be 
apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified 
reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are 
consistent with Sec.  679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing 
(see Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i)).

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

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be 
apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program 
and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore 
sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to 
the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is 
allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (Sec. Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock 
fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock 
TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 
percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In 
the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including 
the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ allowance, and the ICA) may 
equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of 
the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 
amounts.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in 
the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In 
Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent 
of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock 
harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands 
pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more 
than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific 
requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 
8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector be 
available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/processor 
sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a 
cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA 
catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all 
members. Second, AFA catcher/processors not listed in the AFA are 
limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock 
allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 
2018 and 2019 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13 through 16 list the 
AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. 
The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations 
are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due 
to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore 
cooperative applications for 2018 have not been submitted to NMFS, and 
NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2018 allocations, NMFS has not included 
inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest 
specifications. NMFS will post 2018 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and 
open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.
    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and 
harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The 
harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at Sec.  
679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA 
before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). 
The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each 
sector in proportion to each sector's allocated percentage of the DFA. 
Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 amounts by sector.

  Table 2--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Allocations of Pollock TACs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ
                                      Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           A season \1\            B season \1\
                                                   2018 and 2019 -----------------------------------------------
                 Area and sector                    allocations                     SCA harvest
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC..........................       1,359,858             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................         135,986          61,194          38,076          74,792
ICA \1\.........................................          47,731             n/a             n/a             n/a
AFA Inshore.....................................         588,071         264,632         164,660         323,439
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................         470,456         211,705         131,728         258,751
    Catch by C/Ps...............................         430,468         193,710             n/a         236,757
    Catch by C/Vs \3\...........................          39,989          17,995             n/a          21,994
        Unlisted C/P Limit \4\..................           2,352           1,059             n/a           1,294
AFA Motherships.................................         117,614          52,926          32,932          64,688
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................         205,825             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................         352,842             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ)..................       1,176,141         529,264         329,320         646,878
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................          40,788             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC....................          19,000             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................           1,900             760             n/a           1,140
ICA.............................................           2,400           1,200             n/a           1,200
Aleut Corporation...............................          14,700          14,355             n/a             345
Area harvest limit \7\..........................             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 541 harvest limit \7\......................          12,236             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 542 harvest limit \7\......................           6,118             n/a             n/a             n/a
Area 543 harvest limit \7\......................           2,039             n/a             n/a             n/a

[[Page 57912]]

 
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................             500             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ
  DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector-50 percent,
  catcher/processor sector(C/Ps)-40 percent, and mothership sector--10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45
  percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to
  the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC,
  after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the
  Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40
  percent of the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery.
\2\ In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(c), no more than 28 percent of each sector's
  annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps
  shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed CPs.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted C/Ps are limited to harvesting not more than
  0.5 percent of the C/Ps sector's allocation of pollock.
\5\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\6\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0
  percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs.
\7\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in
  Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent
  of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.
\8\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.22(a)(7)(i)(B), the amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not
  apportioned by season or sector.

Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the 
Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting 
the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and 
non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The 
percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 
and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR 
part 679 and in Sec.  679.91. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 
2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka 
mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of 
this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several 
criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear 
fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent 
allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District 
and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2018 and 2019. This percentage is 
applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into 
two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first 
seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 
through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 
10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies 
Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig 
gear allocations are not apportioned by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel 
catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in 
Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178[deg] W longitude to 
no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and 
equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined 
at Sec.  679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the 
annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in 
Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested 
Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be 
prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller 
sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in 
Areas 541, 542, and 543.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.
    Table 3 lists the 2018 and 2019 Atka mackerel season allowances, 
area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2019 allocations for 
Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 
limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants 
apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will 
post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access 
allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on 
January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that 
date.

   Table 3--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch
                      Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         2018 and 2019 allocation by area
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern
              Sector \1\                      Season 2 3 4           Aleutian         Central         Western
                                                                     District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                                    Bering Sea     District \5\    District \5\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...................................  n/a.....................          34,000          21,500          13,910

[[Page 57913]]

 
CDQ reserve...........................  Total...................           3,638           2,301           1,488
                                        A.......................           1,819           1,150             744
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             690             447
                                        B.......................           1,819           1,150             744
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             690             447
non-CDQ TAC...........................  n/a.....................          30,362          19,200          12,422
Jig \6\...............................  Total...................             152  ..............  ..............
ICA...................................  Total...................             800              75              20
BSAI trawl limited access.............  Total...................           2,941           1,912  ..............
                                        A.......................           1,471             956  ..............
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             574  ..............
                                        B.......................           1,471             956  ..............
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a             574  ..............
Amendment 80..........................  Total...................          26,469          17,212          12,402
                                        A.......................          13,235           8,606           6,201
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a           5,164           3,720
                                        B.......................          13,235           8,606           6,201
                                        Critical habitat \5\....             n/a           5,164           3,720
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, the jig gear
  allocation, and ICAs, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC
  for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part
  679 and Sec.   679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see Sec.  Sec.
   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31).
\2\ Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel
  fishery.
\3\ The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season.
\4\ Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from
  January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31.
\5\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to
  be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the
  annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and Sec.   679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2)
  requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve. The amount of this allocation is
  proposed at 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.

Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands subarea OFLs, 
ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). 
Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and 
the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted 
from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI 
Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod 
sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be 
reached in either the BS or the AI, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed 
fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii).
    As explained earlier in the ``Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest 
Specifications'' section, the Council recommended reduced Pacific cod 
OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts in the BS as a result of preliminary data 
indicating a decrease in biomass. For the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, 
and TAC amounts are unchanged from those amounts implemented through 
the final 2018 harvest specifications published in February 2017. The 
proposed amounts could likely change, including a further decrease, 
once the 2017 Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by 
the Council's Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by 
the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017.
    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in 
the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ 
Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent 
to hook-and-line or pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length 
overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater 
than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line 
catcher/processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or 
equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 
percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 
80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI ICA for 
the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate 
portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot 
sectors. For 2018 and 2019, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI 
ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors 
in other fisheries.
    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector 
is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and Sec.  679.91. One 
Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because 
all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to 
the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.
    The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov

[[Page 57914]]

prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the 
harvest specifications effective on that date.
    The Pacific cod TAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to 
disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). 
In accordance with Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused 
portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance for any sector, except the 
jig sector, will become available at the beginning of that sector's 
next seasonal allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to 
establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod 
abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2016 stock assessment, the Regional 
Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 
26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2018 and 2019. NMFS will 
first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod 
ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by 
multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 by the 
remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, the Area 
543 harvest limit is 4,128 mt.
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) requires specification of the 2018 and 
2019 Pacific cod allocations for the Aleutian Islands ICA, non-CDQ DFA, 
CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as well as the Bering 
Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation. If NMFS receives notification 
of intent to process AI Pacific cod from either the city of Adak or the 
city of Atka, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018 
or 2019. Notification of intent to process AI Pacific cod must be 
postmarked by October 31 of the previous year, and submitted 
electronically to NMFS by October 31 of the previous year.
    Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice from the 
City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod in 2018. 
Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018, 
subject to the performance requirements outlined in Sec.  
679.20(a)(7)(viii).
    Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) contains specific performance 
requirements that (1) if less than 1,000 mt of the Aleutian Islands CV 
Harvest Set-Aside is delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants by 
February 28 of that year, the Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is 
lifted and the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation is 
suspended; and (2) if the entire Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside 
is fully harvested and delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants before 
March 15 of that year, the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector 
Limitation is suspended.
    The CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the 
proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on 
the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at 
Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A) and the seasonal 
allowances of Pacific cod set forth at Sec.  679.23(e)(5).

                           Table 4--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI \1\ Pacific Cod TAC
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2018 and 2019   2018 and 2019                 2018 and 2019 seasonal apportionment
                Sector                     Percent      share of gear     share of    ------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        sector total    sector total                         Season                           Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Bering Sea TAC.................             n/a         194,936             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Bering Sea CDQ.......................             n/a          20,858             n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)....................             n/a
Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC...............             n/a         174,078             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Total Aleutian Islands TAC...........             n/a          15,695             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Aleutian Islands CDQ.................             n/a           1,679             n/a  See Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(i)(B)....................             n/a
Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC.........             n/a          14,016             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Western Aleutians Islands Limit......             n/a           4,128             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\...........             100         188,093             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear.........            60.8         114,361             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\............             n/a             n/a             400  n/a..............................................             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total..........             n/a         113,961             n/a  n/a..............................................             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/processors.....            48.7             n/a          91,281  Jan 1-Jun 10.....................................          46,553
                                                                                       Jun 10-Dec 31....................................          44,728
Hook-and-line catcher vessels >=60 ft             0.2             n/a             375  Jan 1-Jun 10.....................................             191
 LOA.                                                                                  Jun 10-Dec 31....................................             184
Pot catcher/processors...............             1.5             n/a           2,812  Jan 1-Jun 10.....................................           1,434
                                                                                       Sept 1-Dec 31....................................           1,378
Pot catcher vessels >=60 ft LOA......             8.4             n/a          15,745  Jan 1-Jun 10.....................................           8,030
                                                                                       Sept-1-Dec 31....................................           7,715
Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-              2             n/a           3,749  n/a..............................................             n/a
 and-line or pot gear.
Trawl catcher vessels................            22.1          41,569             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1.....................................          30,761
                                                                                       Apr 1-Jun 10.....................................           4,573
                                                                                       Jun 10-Nov 1.....................................           6,235
AFA trawl catcher/processors.........             2.3           4,326             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1.....................................           3,245
                                                                                       Apr 1-Jun 10.....................................           1,082
                                                                                       Jun 10-Nov 1.....................................               0
Amendment 80.........................            13.4          25,205             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1.....................................          18,903
                                                                                       Apr 1-Jun 10.....................................           6,301
                                                                                       Jun 10-Nov 1.....................................               0
Jig..................................             1.4           2,633             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30.....................................           1,580
                                                                                       Apr 30-Aug 31....................................             527
                                                                                       Aug 31-Dec 31....................................             527
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of CDQ.
  If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI
  allowance remains.

[[Page 57915]]

 
\2\ The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot
  sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2018 and 2019 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.


  Table 4a--Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI A-Season Pacific Cod Limits if
     Aleutian Islands Shoreplants Intend To Process Pacific Cod \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2018 and 2019 allocations under Aleutian Islands CV
                   harvest set-aside                      Amount  (mt)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
AI non-CDQ TAC........................................            14,016
AI ICA................................................             2,500
AI DFA................................................            11,516
BS non-CDQ TAC........................................           174,078
BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation.....................            30,761
BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation minus Sector                    25,761
 Limitation \2\.......................................
BS Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation................             5,000
AI CV Harvest Set-Aside...............................             5,000
AI Unrestricted Fishery...............................             6,516
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These allocations will apply in 2018 or 2019 only if NMFS receives
  notice of intent to process AI Pacific cod by October 31 of the
  previous year, pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(viii), and if the
  performance requirements set forth in Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(viii) are
  likewise met. Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice
  from the City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod
  for the 2018 season. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will
  be in effect in 2018, subject to the performance requirements outlined
  in Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(viii).
\2\ This is the amount of the BSAI trawl CV A season allocation that may
  be harvested in the Bering Sea prior to March 21 of that year, unless
  modified because the performance requirements were not met.

Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish 
TACs for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot 
gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the BS are 50 percent for trawl 
gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for 
the TACs for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for 
hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to 
apportion 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of 
sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, Sec.  
679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear 
allocation of sablefish from the non-specified reserves, established 
under Sec.  679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The 
Council has recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established 
biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear or 
pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited 
to the 2018 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted 
concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and 
halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and 
sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed 
at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest 
specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 
lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC 
and CDQ reserve amounts.

               Table 5--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACS
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2018                          2019
             Subarea and gear                Percent  Share of    2018    2018 CDQ  Share of    2019    2019 CDQ
                                             of TAC      TAC    ITAC \1\   reserve     TAC      ITAC     reserve
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea:
    Trawl.................................        50       637       541        48       637       541        48
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\............        50       637       n/a       127       n/a       n/a       n/a
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.............................       100     1,274       541       175       637       541        48
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aleutian Islands:
    Trawl.................................        25       434       369        33       434       369        33
    Hook-and-line gear/pot \2\............        75     1,301       n/a       260       n/a       n/a       n/a
                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.............................       100     1,735       369       293       434       369        33
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-
  specified reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves.
\2\ For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the
  allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended
  that specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 57916]]

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

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI 
Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin 
sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited 
access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and 
an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-
trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and 
BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 
sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in 
Sec.  679.91.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.
    The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 
cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be 
known until eligible participants apply for participation in the 
program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 
cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska 
Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start 
of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest 
specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2018 
and 2019 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead 
sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the
                            Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACS
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             2018 and 2019 allocations
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                        Pacific ocean perch                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
                         Sector                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Eastern         Central         Western
                                                             Aleutian        Aleutian        Aleutian          BSAI            BSAI            BSAI
                                                             District        District        District
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC.....................................................           9,900           7,500          12,000          15,500          50,100         154,000
CDQ.....................................................           1,059             803           1,284           1,659           5,361          16,478
ICA.....................................................             100              60              10           4,000           6,000           4,000
BSAI trawl limited access...............................             874             664             214               0               0          18,351
Amendment 80............................................           7,867           5,974          10,492           9,842          38,739         115,171
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, 
and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for 
each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for 
flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the 
ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, 
environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the 
CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a 
continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. 
NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at 
or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC 
below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves 
will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and 
yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves 
minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each 
Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each 
cooperatives' quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share 
units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective 
species. Table 7 lists the 2018 and 2019 ABC surplus and ABC reserves 
for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

  Table 7--Proposed 2018 and 2019 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80
                    ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Sector                                Flathead sole     Rock sole    Yellowfin sole
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.............................................................          66,164         143,100         250,800
TAC.............................................................          15,500          50,100         154,000
ABC surplus.....................................................          50,664          93,000          96,800
ABC reserve.....................................................          50,664          93,000          96,800
CDQ ABC reserve.................................................           5,421           9,951          10,358
Amendment 80 ABC reserve........................................          45,243          83,049          86,442
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

    Sections 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC 
limits. Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1), the 2018 and 2019 BSAI halibut 
PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the 
halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ 
Program, 1,745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 
mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 
710 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector.
    Sections 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of 
the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six 
fishery categories, and Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), 
(e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl 
limited

[[Page 57917]]

access halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven 
fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances 
for the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, and Table 11 lists the 
proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries.
    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and 
NMFS proposes, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt 
from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with 
the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ 
hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions 
for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut 
bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig 
gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery 
and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ 
fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program 
requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-
line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard 
and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ 
regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)).
    As of November 2017, total groundfish catch for the pot gear 
fishery in the BSAI was 42,662 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch 
mortality of 3 mt. The 2017 jig gear fishery harvested about 13 mt of 
groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer 
coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on 
halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS 
estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of 
the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut 
caught with jig gear and released.
    Under Sec.  679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of 
either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits 
among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on 
whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are 
formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon 
abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is 
less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to 
NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-System Index 
for western Alaska based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon 
aggregate stock grouping.
    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not 
exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) and if it is 
not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if 
the sector has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6), and it is not a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates 
in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under 
Sec.  679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a 
portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as 
specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if 
the sector has exceeded its performance standard under Sec.  
679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of 
the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in 
Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).
    As of October 1, 2017, NMFS has determined that it is not a low 
Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State's estimate that 
Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 
Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2018, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 
60,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in Sec.  
679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are 
also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A 
season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B 
season pollock fishery, as provided in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(i) and Sec.  
679.23(e)(2). Additionally, in 2017, the Chinook salmon bycatch 
performance standard under Sec.  679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, 
allocated to each sector as specified in Sec.  679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C).
    The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final 
rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, 
August 30, 2010) and Amendment 110 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016). NMFS 
publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm.
    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2018 and 2019 
Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 
679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI 
PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook 
salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.
    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2018 and 2019 
non-Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area 
(CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, 
non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, 
and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to 
the non-CDQ fisheries.
    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on 
abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as 
of October 2017 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the 
Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2018 and 2019 
PSC limits and apportionments on the 2016 survey data. The Council will 
reconsider these amounts in December 2017.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl 
gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the 
groundfish CDQ Program.
    Based on 2017 survey data, the red king crab mature female 
abundance is estimated at 18.5 million red king crabs, and the 
effective spawning biomass is estimated at 39,776 million lbs (18,042 
mt). Based on the criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(i), the 
proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl 
gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female 
abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the 
effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs 
(6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt).
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which 
NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red 
King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS 
bycatch to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on 
the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab 
bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the red king 
crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC 
allowance within the RKCSS (Table 9). Based on 2017 survey data, Tanner 
crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 344 million 
animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(ii), the 
calculated 2018 and 2019 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 
830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit 
in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 
million animals, which is greater than

[[Page 57918]]

270 million and less than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is 
based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 million animals, 
which is greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million 
animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab 
(C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual 
bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio 
bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering 
Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2017 survey 
estimate of 8.182 billion animals, which is above the minimum PSC limit 
of 4.5 million and below the maximum PSC limit of 13 million animals, 
the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 9,120,539 animals.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring 
caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 
percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best 
estimate of 2018 and 2019 herring biomass is 201,278 mt. This amount 
was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on 
biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit 
proposed for 2018 and 2019 is 2,013 mt for all trawl gear as listed in 
Tables 8 and 9.
    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted 
from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2018 crab and halibut PSC limits 
assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are 
specified in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting allocations of 
PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl 
limited access sector are listed in Table 8.
    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. 
Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no 
allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.
    The 2019 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives 
and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until 
eligible participants apply for participation in the program by 
November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and 
Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site 
at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing 
year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective 
on that date.
    Sections 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting 
with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts 
for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 
limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest 
the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors 
considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) 
seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to 
prohibited species distribution, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal 
basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of 
target groundfish species, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates 
throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish 
fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic 
effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council 
recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 
10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons 
while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria.

   Table 8--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI
                                                              Trawl Limited Access Sectors
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                             Trawl PSC                      BSAI trawl
                PSC species and area \1\                     Total PSC     Non-trawl PSC      CDQ PSQ        remaining     Amendment 80   limited access
                                                                                            reserve \2\    after CDQ PSQ    sector \3\        fishery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI.............................           3,515             710             315             n/a           1,745             745
Herring (mt) BSAI.......................................           2,013             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a             n/a
Red king crab (animals) Zone 1..........................          97,000             n/a          10,379          86,621          43,293          26,489
C. opilio (animals) COBLZ...............................       9,120,539             n/a         975,898       8,144,641       4,003,091       2,617,688
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1.........................         830,000             n/a          88,810         741,190         312,115         348,285
C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2.........................       2,520,000             n/a         269,640       2,250,360         532,660       1,053,394
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of zones.
\2\ The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit.
\3\ The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to
  other gear types or sectors.


    Table 9--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Herring and Red King Crab Savings
    Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Red king crab
           Fishery categories              Herring (mt)   (animals) Zone
                                               BSAI              1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..........................             100             n/a
Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish                43             n/a
 \1\....................................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/                  5             n/a
 Kamchatka flounder/sablefish...........
Rockfish................................               5             n/a
Pacific cod.............................              10             n/a
Midwater trawl pollock..................           1,800             n/a
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3.              50             n/a
Red king crab savings subarea non-                   n/a          24,250
 pelagic trawl gear \4\.................
                                         -------------------------------
    Total trawl PSC.....................           2,013          97,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species,
  except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder,
  flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and
  yellowfin sole.
\2\ Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and
  ``other species'' fishery category.

[[Page 57919]]

 
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks,
  skates, squids, and octopuses.
\4\ In October 2017 the Council recommended that the red king crab
  bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be
  limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see Sec.
  679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)).
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


 Table 10--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Prohibited species and area \1\
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BSAI trawl limited access         Halibut      Red king crab     C. opilio          C. bairdi (animals)
            fisheries             mortality (mt)  (animals) Zone     (animals)   -------------------------------
                                       BSAI              1             COBLZ          Zone 1          Zone 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yellowfin sole..................             150          23,338       2,467,662         293,234       1,005,879
Rock sole/flathead sole/other     ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............               0
 flatfish \2\...................
Greenland turbot/arrowtooth       ..............  ..............  ..............  ..............               0
 flounder/Kamchatka flounder/
 sablefish......................
Rockfish April 15-December 31...               4  ..............           4,076  ..............             849
Pacific cod.....................             391           2,954         105,182          50,816          42,424
Pollock/Atka mackerel/other                  200             197          40,768           4,235           4,243
 species \3\....................
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total BSAI trawl limited                 745          26,489       2,617,688         348,285       1,053,394
     access PSC.................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin
  sole.
\3\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses.
Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


     Table 11--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Catcher/
       Non-trawl fisheries                Seasons           processor    Catcher vessel       All non-trawl
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod......................  Annual Pacific cod..             648              13  n/a.
                                   January 1-June 10...             388               9  n/a.
                                   June 10-August 15...             162               2  n/a.
                                   August 15-December                98               2  n/a.
                                    31.
Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total..  May 1-December 31...             n/a             n/a  49.
Groundfish pot and jig...........  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  Exempt.
Sablefish hook-and-line..........  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  Exempt.
Total for all non-trawl PSC......  n/a.................             n/a             n/a  710.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific 
information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, 
Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that 
have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary 
of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 
2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863, December 6, 2016), and the 
comprehensive discussion of the working group's statistical methodology 
is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's 
revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, as well 
as transparency and transferability in the methodology used, for 
calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider 
improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, 
including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data 
used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on 
additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent 
and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation 
and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to 
ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut 
mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated 
halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods 
that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector.
    At the December 2016 meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council concurred in 
the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted the DMRs 
calculated under the revised methodology for the 2016 and 2017 harvest 
specifications. In October 2017,

[[Page 57920]]

the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the 2016 
process for the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs. The proposed 2018 and 2019 
DMRs maintain the new estimation method adopted in 2016 using an 
updated 3-year reference period of 2014 through 2016. The proposed DMR 
for motherships and catcher/processors using non-pelagic trawl gear 
decreased to 84 percent from 85 percent, the proposed DMR for catcher 
vessels using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 60 percent from 52 
percent, the proposed DMR for catcher vessels using hook-and-line gear 
increased to 17 percent from 14 percent, and the proposed DMR for pot 
gear increased to 9 percent from 6 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 
2018 and 2019 DMRs.

Table 12--Proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates
                              for the BSAI
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Halibut
                                                              discard
               Gear                        Sector         mortality rate
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl.....................  All.................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.................  Mothership and                    84
                                     catcher/processor.
Non-pelagic trawl.................  Catcher vessel......              60
Hook-and-line.....................  Catcher vessel......              17
Hook-and-line.....................  Catcher/processor...               8
Pot...............................  All.................               9
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/
processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other 
than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from 
adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in 
the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as 
``sideboard'' limits on catch. The basis for these proposed sideboard 
limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major 
provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 
(72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 13 lists the proposed 2018 and 
2019 catcher/processor sideboard limits.
    All harvest of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/
processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 13. However, groundfish 
sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/processors 
by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 
sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors.

              Table 13--Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Listed American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processors (C/Ps)
                                                              [Amounts are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             1995-1997
                                                                         ------------------------------------------------  2018 and 2019   2018 and 2019
                                                                                                             Ratio of     ITAC available      AFA C/P
             Target species                            Area                                               retained catch  to all trawl C/    sideboard
                                                                          Retained catch    Total catch       to total        Ps \1\           limit
                                                                                                               catch
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish trawl.........................  BS............................               8             497          0.0160             541               9
                                          AI............................  ..............             145  ..............             369  ..............
Greenland turbot........................  BS............................             121          17,305          0.0070           3,825              27
                                          AI............................              23           4,987          0.0050             106               1
Arrowtooth flounder.....................  BSAI..........................              76          33,987          0.0020          11,900              24
Kamchatka flounder......................  BSAI..........................              76          33,987          0.0020           4,250               9
Rock sole...............................  BSAI..........................           6,317         169,362          0.0370          44,739           1,655
Flathead sole...........................  BSAI..........................           1,925          52,755          0.0360          13,842             498
Alaska plaice...........................  BSAI..........................              14           9,438          0.0010          11,050              11
Other flatfish..........................  BSAI..........................           3,058          52,298          0.0580           2,125             123
Pacific ocean perch.....................  BS............................              12           4,879          0.0020           9,350              19
                                          Eastern AI....................             125           6,179          0.0200           8,841             177
                                          Central AI....................               3           5,698          0.0010           6,698               7
                                          Western AI....................              54          13,598          0.0040          10,716              43
Northern rockfish.......................  BSAI..........................              91          13,040          0.0070           4,250              30
Rougheye rockfish.......................  EBS/EAI.......................              50           2,811          0.0180              85               2
                                          CAI/WAI.......................              50           2,811          0.0180             106               2
Shortraker rockfish.....................  BSAI..........................              50           2,811          0.0180             106               2
Other rockfish..........................  BS............................              18             621          0.0290             276               8
                                          AI............................              22             806          0.0270             468              13
Atka mackerel...........................  Central AI....................             n/a             n/a          0.1150          19,200           2,208
                                          A season \2\..................             n/a             n/a          0.1150           9,600           1,104
                                          B season \2\..................             n/a             n/a          0.1150           9,600           1,104
                                          Western AI....................             n/a             n/a          0.2000          12,422           2,484
                                          A season \2\..................             n/a             n/a          0.2000           6,211           1,242
                                          B season \2\..................             n/a             n/a          0.2000           6,211           1,242
Skates..................................  BSAI..........................             553          68,672          0.0080          22,100             177
Sculpins................................  BSAI..........................             553          68,672          0.0080           3,825              31
Sharks..................................  BSAI..........................             553          68,672          0.0080             106               1

[[Page 57921]]

 
Squids..................................  BSAI..........................              73           3,328          0.0220           1,141              25
Octopuses...............................  BSAI..........................             553          68,672          0.0080             340               3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the
  TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.   679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
\2\ The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA
  catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC
  specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District.
Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018 and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin
  sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 
establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut 
and crab caught by listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these 
sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing 
the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and 
Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007).
    PSC species listed in Table 14 that are caught by listed AFA 
catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard 
limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Sections 
679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and (e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close 
directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA 
catcher/processors once a proposed 2018 or 2019 PSC sideboard limit 
listed in Table 14 is reached.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or 
crab PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for 
pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for 
the pollock/Atka mackerel/``other species'' fishery categories, 
according to Sec.  679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

   Table 14--Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Prohibited Species Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Listed
                                               Catcher/Processors
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Proposed 2018 and
                                                                                 2019 PSC
                                                                               available to    Proposed 2018 and
                PSC species and area \1\                  Ratio of PSC to     trawl vessels         2019 C/P
                                                             total PSC            after         sideboard limit
                                                                              subtraction of          \2\
                                                                                 PSQ \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BSAI Halibut mortality.................................                n/a                n/a                286
Red king crab Zone 1...................................              0.007             86,621                606
C. opilio (COBLZ)......................................              0.153          8,144,641          1,246,130
C. bairdi Zone 1.......................................              0.140            741,190            103,767
C. bairdi Zone 2.......................................              0.050          2,250,360            112,518
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.

AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is 
responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to 
engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to 
protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects 
resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed 
pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for 
setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the 
BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in 
the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 
79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 
2007). Tables 15 and 16 list the proposed 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher 
vessel sideboard limits.
    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will 
be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits listed in Table 15.

[[Page 57922]]



  Table 15--Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels
                                                      (CVs)
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   2018 and 2019
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-   2018 and 2019    AFA catcher
                Species                   Fishery by area/gear/     1997 AFA CV     initial TAC       vessel
                                                 season           catch to 1995-        \1\          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                         limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod...........................  BSAI....................             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jig gear................  ..............           2,633  ..............
                                        Hook-and-line CV >60 ft              n/a             n/a             n/a
                                         LOA.
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0006             191               0
                                        Jun 10-Dec 31...........          0.0006             184               0
                                        Pot gear CV >60 ft LOA..             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0006           8,030               5
                                        Sept 1-Dec 31...........          0.0006           7,715               5
                                        CV <60 ft LOA using hook-         0.0006           3,749               2
                                         and-line or pot gear.
                                        Trawl gear CV...........             n/a             n/a             n/a
                                        Jan 20-Apr 1............          0.8609          30,761          26,482
                                        Apr 1-un 10.............          0.8609           4,573           3,937
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.8609           6,235           5,368
Sablefish.............................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0906             541              49
                                        AI trawl gear...........          0.0645             369              24
Greenland turbot......................  BS......................          0.0645           3,719             240
                                        AI......................          0.0205             106               2
Arrowtooth flounder...................  BSAI....................          0.0690          11,900             821
Kamchatka flounder....................  BSAI....................          0.0690           4,250             293
Rock sole.............................  BSAI....................          0.0341          44,739           1,526
Flathead sole.........................  BS trawl gear...........          0.0505          13,842             699
Alaska plaice.........................  BSAI....................          0.0441          11,050             487
Other flatfish........................  BSAI....................          0.0441           2,125              94
Pacific ocean perch...................  BS......................          0.1000           9,350             935
                                        Eastern AI..............          0.0077           8,841              68
                                        Central AI..............          0.0025           6,698              17
                                        Western AI..............  ..............          10,716  ..............
Northern rockfish.....................  BSAI....................          0.0084           4,250              36
Rougheye rockfish.....................  EBS/EAI.................          0.0037              85               0
                                        CAI/WAI.................          0.0037             106               0
Shortraker rockfish...................  BSAI....................          0.0037             106               0
Other rockfish........................  BS......................          0.0048             276               1
                                        AI......................          0.0095             468               4
Atka mackerel.........................  Eastern AI/BS...........             n/a          30,362             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0032          15,181              49
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.0032          15,181              49
                                        Central AI..............             n/a          19,200             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............          0.0001           9,600               1
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............          0.0001           9,600               1
                                        Western AI..............             n/a          12,422             n/a
                                        Jan 1-Jun 10............  ..............           6,211  ..............
                                        Jun 10-Nov 1............  ..............           6,211  ..............
Skates................................  BSAI....................          0.0541          22,100           1,196
Sculpins..............................  BSAI....................          0.0541           3,825             207
Sharks................................  BSAI....................          0.0541             106               6
Squids................................  BSAI....................          0.3827           1,141             437
Octopuses.............................  BSAI....................          0.0541             340              18
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole
  are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under Sec.
    679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C).
Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018
  and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access
  sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 16 that are caught by 
AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than 
pollock will accrue against the 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limits for 
the AFA catcher vessels. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and 
(e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other 
than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC 
sideboard limit listed in Table 16 is reached. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC caught by 
AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the BS will accrue 
against the bycatch allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka 
mackerel/``other species'' fishery categories under Sec.  
679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

[[Page 57923]]



Table 16--Proposed 2018 and 2019 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits
                                                for the BSAI \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Proposed 2018
                                                                    AFA catcher    and 2019 PSC    Proposed 2018
                                        Target fishery  category    vessel PSC      limit after    and 2019 AFA
       PSC species and area \1\                    \2\               sideboard    subtraction of  catcher vessel
                                                                    limit ratio    PSQ reserves    PSC sideboard
                                                                                        \3\          limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halibut...............................  Pacific cod trawl.......             n/a             n/a             887
                                        Pacific cod hook-and-                n/a             n/a               2
                                         line or pot.
                                        Yellowfin sole total....             n/a             n/a             101
                                        Rock sole/flathead sole/             n/a             n/a             228
                                         other flatfish.\4\.
                                        Greenland turbot/                    n/a             n/a
                                         arrowtooth flounder/
                                         Kamchatka flounder/
                                         sablefish.
                                        Rockfish................             n/a             n/a               2
                                        Pollock/Atka mackerel/               n/a             n/a               5
                                         other species.\5\.
Red king crab Zone 1..................  n/a.....................          0.2990          86,621          25,900
C. opilio COBLZ.......................  n/a.....................          0.1680       8,144,641       1,368,300
C. bairdi Zone 1......................  n/a.....................          0.3300         741,190         244,593
C. bairdi Zone 2......................  n/a.....................          0.1860       2,250,360         418,567
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Refer to Sec.   679.2 for definitions of areas.
\2\ Target fishery categories are defined at Sec.   679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B).
\3\ Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
\4\ ``Other flatfish'' for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited
  species), arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin
  sole.
\5\ ``Other species'' for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, and subject to further review after public 
comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the 
public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS 
issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental 
Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the 
Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of 
the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest 
strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no 
significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its 
alternatives.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA 
evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest 
strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone 
off Alaska. As described in the methodology, TACs are set to a level 
that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of 
the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific 
numbers that the methodology may produce vary from year to year, the 
methodology itself remains constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the BSAI. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other 
alternatives. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared 
by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in 
parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities 
operating catcher vessels and catcher/processors within the action area 
and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide.
    The estimated number of directly regulated small entities in 2016 
include approximately 119 catcher vessels, five catcher/processors, and 
six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore 
pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI 
Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives, and, since under the RFA the 
aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the 
cooperative must meet the ``under $11 million'' threshold, the 
cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of 
the RFA. Thus, the estimate of 119 catcher vessels may be an 
overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues 
were $690,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.25 million for small 
pot vessels, and $3.44 million for small trawl vessels. The average 
gross revenue for catcher/processor hook and line vessels was $2.90 
million. The revenue data for other catcher/processor's data are not 
reported, due to confidentiality considerations.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal

[[Page 57924]]

to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless 
the sum of TACs exceeded the BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have 
been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce 
fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. 
Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI 
OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action'' alternative, would have set 
TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest 
strategy, are those adopted by the Council in October 2017. OFLs and 
ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2017, and reviewed and 
modified by the Council's SSC in October 2017. The Council based its 
TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the 
SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As 
shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2018 and 2019 
would be about 4,214,648 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the 
OY range. Under Alternative 1, the sum of TACs is equal to the sum of 
ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred 
alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and 
has small entity impacts that are equivalent to small entity impacts of 
the preferred alternative. However, NMFS cannot set TACs equal to the 
sum of ABCs in the BSAI due to the constraining OY limit of 2.0 million 
mt, which Alternative 1 would exceed.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on 
the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action (as 
reflected in Alternative 2, the Council's preferred harvest strategy) 
because it does not take account of the most recent biological 
information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock 
surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to 
estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest 
rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and 
of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. 
Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the 
SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species and reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, 
to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2018 
TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in 
harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size 
would alter the supply, and, therefore, would be associated with 
offsetting price increases, the size of these associated price 
increases is uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would 
undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the BSAI, these 
increases would be constrained by production of substitutes, and are 
unlikely to completely offset revenue declines resulting from 
reductions in harvests of these species by small entities. Thus, this 
alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to 
the requirement for achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the 
current 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2018 and 2019, with the exceptions 
for decreases of Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS and related 
increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole 
TAC amounts. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, 
ABCs, and TACs in December 2017, when it reviews the November 2017 SAFE 
report from its groundfish Plan Team, and the reports of the SSC and AP 
at the December Council meeting. Because most of the TACs in the 
proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 
2018 harvest specification TACs, with the exception of modifications 
for TACs for five species, and because the sum of all TACs remains 
within the upper limit of OY for the BSAI of 2.0 million mt, NMFS does 
not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not 
expect any changes made by the Council in December 2017 to be large 
enough to have an impact on small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities 
conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final 
EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2017 SIR (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/sir-2017-18.pdf).

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

    Dated: December 4, 2017.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-26477 Filed 12-6-17; 4:15 pm]
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