Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2018 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka Mackerel, and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts, 60329-60333 [2017-27428]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Rules and Regulations prior notice and opportunity for public comment. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until January 4, 2018. This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 15, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–27429 Filed 12–19–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 161020985–7181–02] RIN 0648–XF866 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2018 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka Mackerel, and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS is adjusting the 2018 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate amounts based on the best available scientific information. Also, NMFS is announcing the Aleutian Islands Catcher Vessel (CV) Harvest Set-Aside and Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation will be in effect for 2018, and TACs in this inseason adjustment will apply for 2018. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. DATES: Effective 0000 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2018, until the effective date of the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for BSAI ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:19 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 groundfish, unless otherwise modified or superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal Register. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 4, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0140, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160140, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Furuness, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) set the 2018 Bering Sea (BS) pollock TAC at 1,345,000 mt, the 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC at 65,000 mt, the 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC at 223,704 mt, and the 2018 AI Pacific cod TAC at 15,695 mt. In December 2017, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended a 2018 BS PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60329 pollock TAC of 1,364,341 mt, which is more than the 1,345,000 mt TAC established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council also recommended a 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC of 71,000 mt, which is more than the 65,000 mt TAC established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council recommended a 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC of 188,136 mt, and an AI Pacific cod TAC of 15,695 mt, which is less than the BS Pacific cod TAC of 223,704 mt, and the same as the AI Pacific cod TAC of 15,695 mt established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council’s recommended 2018 TACs, and the area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2017, which NMFS has determined is the best available scientific information for these fisheries. Amendment 113 to the FMP (81 FR 84434, November 23, 2016) and regulations at § 679.20(a)(7)(viii) require NMFS to announce whether the Aleutian Islands incidental catch allowance, directed fishing allowance, CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as well as the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation will be in effect for 2018. NMFS received notification from Adak that a shoreplant will be processing Aleutian Islands Pacific cod in 2018. Therefore, the Pacific cod TACs in Table 9A of this inseason adjustment will be effective for 2018 and the harvest limits will apply in 2018. Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod are a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The seasonal apportionment of pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. NMFS published regulations and the revised harvest limit amounts for Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and pollock fisheries to implement Steller sea lion protection measures to insure that groundfish fisheries of the BSAI are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions or destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat (79 FR 70286, November 25, 2014). The regulations at E:\FR\FM\20DER1.SGM 20DER1 60330 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Rules and Regulations § 679.20(a)(5)(i) specify how the BS pollock TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(7) specify how the BSAI Pacific cod TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at § 679.20(a)(8) specify how the BSAI Atka mackerel TAC will be apportioned. In accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(iii), (a)(2)(i)(B), and (a)(2)(iv), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2017 SAFE report for this fishery, the current BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. Pursuant to § 679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2018 BS pollock TAC to 1,364,341 mt, the 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC to 71,000 mt, and the 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC to 188,136 mt. Therefore, Table 2 of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) is revised consistent with this adjustment. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i), Table 5 of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 BS allocations of pollock TAC to the directed pollock fisheries and to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) directed fishing allowances consistent with this adjustment. The Steller sea lion protection measure final rule (79 FR 70286, November 25, 2014), sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541, see § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6). In Area 541, the 2018 A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent, or 12,236 mt, of the AI ABC of 40,788 mt. In Area 542, the 2018 A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent, or 6,118 mt, of the AI ABC of 40,788 mt. In Area 543, the 2018 A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent, or 2,039 mt, of the AI pollock ABC of 40,788 mt. TABLE 5—FINAL 2018 ALLOCATIONS OF POLLOCK TACS TO THE DIRECTED POLLOCK FISHERIES AND TO THE CDQ DIRECTED FISHING ALLOWANCES (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 A season 1 2018 allocations Area and sector ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES Bering Sea subarea TAC 1 .............................................................................. CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA 1 ................................................................................................................. Total Bering Sea non-CDQ DFA ..................................................................... AFA Inshore ..................................................................................................... AFA Catcher/Processors 3 ............................................................................... Catch by C/Ps .......................................................................................... Catch by CVs 3 ......................................................................................... Unlisted C/P Limit 4 ................................................................................... AFA Motherships ............................................................................................. Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 ............................................................................ Excessive Processing Limit 6 ........................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea ABC ......................................................................... Aleutian Islands subarea TAC 1 ....................................................................... CDQ DFA ......................................................................................................... ICA ................................................................................................................... Aleut Corporation ............................................................................................. Area harvest limit: 7 541 ............................................................................................................ 542 ............................................................................................................ 543 ............................................................................................................ Bogoslof District ICA 8 ...................................................................................... A season DFA 2018 B season 1 SCA harvest limit 2 B season DFA 1,364,341 164,434 47,888 1,180,019 590,009 472,007 431,887 40,121 2,360 118,002 206,503 354,006 40,788 19,000 1,900 2,400 14,700 n/a 61,395 n/a 531,008 265,504 212,403 194,349 18,054 1,062 53,101 n/a n/a n/a n/a 760 1,200 12,355 n/a 38,202 n/a 330,405 165,203 132,162 n/a n/a n/a 33,041 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 75,093 n/a 649,010 324,505 259,604 237,538 21,754 1,280 64,901 n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,140 1,200 345 12,236 6,118 2,039 500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, 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/P)—40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the BS subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20–June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10–November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery. 2 In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector’s annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/processors shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/processors. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/ processors 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 The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8), Table 7 of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:19 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 seasonal and spatial allowances, gear shares, CDQ PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 reserve, incidental catch allowance, and Amendment 80 allocation of the BSAI E:\FR\FM\20DER1.SGM 20DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Rules and Regulations 60331 Atka mackerel TAC consistent with this adjustment. TABLE 7—FINAL 2018 SEASONAL AND SPATIAL ALLOWANCES, GEAR SHARES, CDQ RESERVE, INCIDENTAL CATCH ALLOWANCE, AND AMENDMENT 80 ALLOCATIONS OF THE BSAI ATKA MACKEREL TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] 2018 Allocation by area Eastern Aleutian District/ Bering Sea Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 TAC ................................................................. CDQ reserve ................................................... n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ B ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ n/a .................................................................. Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... Total ............................................................... A ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ B ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ Total 6 ............................................................. A ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ B ..................................................................... Critical Habitat ................................................ Non-CDQ TAC ................................................ Jig 6 ................................................................. ICA .................................................................. BSAI trawl limited access ............................... Amendment 80 sector ..................................... 36,500 3,906 1,953 n/a 1,953 n/a 32,595 163 800 3,163 1,582 n/a 1,582 n/a 28,468 14,234 n/a 14,234 n/a Central Aleutian District 5 21,000 2,247 1,124 674 1,124 674 18,753 0 75 1,868 934 560 934 560 16,810 8,405 5,043 8,405 5,043 Western Aleutian District 13,500 1,445 722 433 722 433 12,056 0 20 0 0 0 0 0 12,036 6,018 3,611 6,018 3,611 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, 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 critical habitat; (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7), Table 9 of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 gear shares and seasonal allowances of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC consistent with this adjustment. TABLE 9—FINAL 2018 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI PACIFIC COD TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES Gear sector 2018 share of gear sector total Percent 2018 share of sector total BS TAC ............................................. BS CDQ ............................................ BS non-CDQ TAC ............................. AI TAC .............................................. AI CDQ .............................................. AI non-CDQ TAC .............................. Western Aleutian Island 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/processor ...... n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 100 60.8 n/a n/a 48.7 188,136 20,131 168,005 15,695 1,679 14,016 4,018 182,021 110,669 400 110,269 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 88,324 Hook-and-line catcher vessel ≥60 ft LOA. Pot catcher/processor ....................... 0.2 n/a 363 1.5 n/a 2,720 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:19 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2018 seasonal apportionment Seasons n/a see n/a n/a see n/a n/a n/a n/a see n/a Jan Jun Jan Jun Jan .................................................... § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .................... .................................................... .................................................... § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) .................... .................................................... .................................................... .................................................... .................................................... § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(B) ................... .................................................... 1–Jun 10 ................................... 10–Dec 31 ................................. 1–Jun 10 ................................... 10–Dec 31 ................................. 1–Jun 10 ................................... E:\FR\FM\20DER1.SGM 20DER1 Amount n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 45,045 43,279 185 178 1,387 60332 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 9—FINAL 2018 GEAR SHARES AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF THE BSAI PACIFIC COD TAC—Continued [Amounts are in metric tons] Gear sector 2018 share of gear sector total Percent 2018 share of sector total Pot catcher vessel ≥60 ft LOA .......... 8.4 n/a 15,235 Catcher vessel <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Trawl catcher vessel ......................... 2 n/a 3,627 22.1 40,227 n/a AFA trawl catcher/processor ............. 2.3 4,186 n/a Amendment 80 .................................. 13.4 24,391 n/a Jig ...................................................... 1.4 2,548 n/a 2018 seasonal apportionment Seasons Amount Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................. Jan 1–Jun 10 ................................... Sept 1–Dec 31 ................................. n/a .................................................... 1,333 7,770 7,465 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 ................................ 29,768 4,425 6,034 3,140 1,047 0 18,293 6,098 0 1,529 510 510 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 the 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. 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 approves an ICA of 400 mt for 2018 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7)(viii), the Pacific cod TACs in Table 9A of this inseason adjustment will be effective for 2018 and the harvest limits will apply in 2018. TABLE 9a—FINAL 2018 BSAI A-SEASON PACIFIC COD LIMITS ALEUTIAN ISLANDS FOR SHOREPLANTS INTENTION TO PROCESS PACIFIC COD 1 Amount (mt) 2018 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 11,516 168,005 29,768 24,768 5,000 5,000 6,516 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES 1 These allocations will apply in 2018 because NMFS received notice of intent to process AI Pacific cod by October 31 of the previous year, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7)(viii), and 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 intent to process AI Pacific cod for the 2018 season. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 9a 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, 2018, unless modified because the performance requirements were not met. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:19 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\20DER1.SGM 20DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Classification ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:19 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod in the BSAI based on the best scientific information available. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of December 20, 2017, and additional time for prior public comment would result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 60333 prior notice and opportunity for public comment. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until January 4, 2018. This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 15, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–27428 Filed 12–19–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20DER1.SGM 20DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 20, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 60329-60333]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27428]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 161020985-7181-02]
RIN 0648-XF866


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2018 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka 
Mackerel, and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the 2018 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts 
for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, 
and Pacific cod fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has 
determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the 
BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate 
amounts based on the best available scientific information. Also, NMFS 
is announcing the Aleutian Islands Catcher Vessel (CV) Harvest Set-
Aside and Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation will be in 
effect for 2018, and TACs in this inseason adjustment will apply for 
2018. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the 
Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area.

DATES: Effective 0000 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 
2018, until the effective date of the final 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications for BSAI groundfish, unless otherwise modified or 
superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 
Register.
    Comments must be received at the following address no later than 
4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 4, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0140, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0140, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the 
BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area 
(FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with 
the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.
    The final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in 
the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) set the 2018 Bering Sea (BS) 
pollock TAC at 1,345,000 mt, the 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC at 65,000 
mt, the 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC at 223,704 mt, and the 2018 AI Pacific 
cod TAC at 15,695 mt. In December 2017, the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council) recommended a 2018 BS pollock TAC of 
1,364,341 mt, which is more than the 1,345,000 mt TAC established by 
the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the 
BSAI. The Council also recommended a 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC of 
71,000 mt, which is more than the 65,000 mt TAC established by the 
final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. 
The Council recommended a 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC of 188,136 mt, and an 
AI Pacific cod TAC of 15,695 mt, which is less than the BS Pacific cod 
TAC of 223,704 mt, and the same as the AI Pacific cod TAC of 15,695 mt 
established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI. The Council's recommended 2018 TACs, and the 
area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2017, which NMFS has 
determined is the best available scientific information for these 
fisheries.
    Amendment 113 to the FMP (81 FR 84434, November 23, 2016) and 
regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(viii) require NMFS to announce 
whether the Aleutian Islands incidental catch allowance, directed 
fishing allowance, CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as 
well as the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation will be in 
effect for 2018. NMFS received notification from Adak that a shoreplant 
will be processing Aleutian Islands Pacific cod in 2018. Therefore, the 
Pacific cod TACs in Table 9A of this inseason adjustment will be 
effective for 2018 and the harvest limits will apply in 2018.
    Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the pollock, Atka 
mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific 
cod are a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The 
seasonal apportionment of pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod 
harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely 
to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat for Steller sea lions. NMFS published regulations and the 
revised harvest limit amounts for Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and 
pollock fisheries to implement Steller sea lion protection measures to 
insure that groundfish fisheries of the BSAI are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of the western distinct population 
segment of Steller sea lions or destroy or adversely modify their 
designated critical habitat (79 FR 70286, November 25, 2014). The 
regulations at

[[Page 60330]]

Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i) specify how the BS pollock TAC will be 
apportioned. The regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(7) specify how the BSAI 
Pacific cod TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at Sec.  
679.20(a)(8) specify how the BSAI Atka mackerel TAC will be 
apportioned.
    In accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), (a)(2)(i)(B), and 
(a)(2)(iv), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional 
Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 2017 SAFE 
report for this fishery, the current BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and 
Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. Pursuant to Sec.  
679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2018 BS 
pollock TAC to 1,364,341 mt, the 2018 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC to 71,000 
mt, and the 2018 BS Pacific cod TAC to 188,136 mt. Therefore, Table 2 
of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the 
BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) is revised consistent with this 
adjustment.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i), Table 5 of the final 2017 and 
2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, 
February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 BS allocations of pollock 
TAC to the directed pollock fisheries and to the Community Development 
Quota (CDQ) directed fishing allowances consistent with this 
adjustment. The Steller sea lion protection measure final rule (79 FR 
70286, November 25, 2014), sets harvest limits for pollock in the A 
season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541, see Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6). In Area 541, the 2018 A season pollock harvest 
limit is no more than 30 percent, or 12,236 mt, of the AI ABC of 40,788 
mt. In Area 542, the 2018 A season pollock harvest limit is no more 
than 15 percent, or 6,118 mt, of the AI ABC of 40,788 mt. In Area 543, 
the 2018 A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent, or 
2,039 mt, of the AI pollock ABC of 40,788 mt.

    Table 5--Final 2018 Allocations of Pollock TACs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed
                                          Fishing Allowances (DFA) \1\
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         2018 A season \1\         2018 B season
                                                       2018      --------------------------------       \1\
                 Area and sector                    allocations                     SCA harvest  ---------------
                                                                   A season DFA      limit \2\     B season DFA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bering Sea subarea TAC \1\......................       1,364,341             n/a             n/a             n/a
CDQ DFA.........................................         164,434          61,395          38,202          75,093
ICA \1\.........................................          47,888             n/a             n/a             n/a
Total Bering Sea non-CDQ DFA....................       1,180,019         531,008         330,405         649,010
AFA Inshore.....................................         590,009         265,504         165,203         324,505
AFA Catcher/Processors \3\......................         472,007         212,403         132,162         259,604
    Catch by C/Ps...............................         431,887         194,349             n/a         237,538
    Catch by CVs \3\............................          40,121          18,054             n/a          21,754
    Unlisted C/P Limit \4\......................           2,360           1,062             n/a           1,280
AFA Motherships.................................         118,002          53,101          33,041          64,901
Excessive Harvesting Limit \5\..................         206,503             n/a             n/a             n/a
Excessive Processing Limit \6\..................         354,006             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea ABC....................          40,788             n/a             n/a             n/a
Aleutian Islands subarea TAC \1\................          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          12,355             n/a             345
Area harvest limit: \7\
    541.........................................          12,236             n/a             n/a             n/a
    542.........................................           6,118             n/a             n/a             n/a
    543.........................................           2,039             n/a             n/a             n/a
Bogoslof District ICA \8\.......................             500             n/a             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the BS subarea pollock, 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/P)--40 percent, and mothership sector--10 percent. In the BS subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is
  allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-
  November 1). Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), the annual AI pollock TAC, after
  subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second the ICA (2,400 mt), is
  allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a pollock directed fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is
  allocated 40 percent of the ABC and the B season is allocated the remainder of the pollock directed fishery.
\2\ In the BS subarea, no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before
  April 1.
\3\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed catcher/
  processors shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels delivering to listed catcher/
  processors.
\4\ Pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted catcher/processors are limited to harvesting
  not more than 0.5 percent of the catcher/processors 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\ The Bogoslof District is closed by the final harvest specifications to directed fishing for pollock. The
  amounts specified are for ICA only and are not apportioned by season or sector.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8), Table 7 of the final 2017 and 2018 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, 
February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 seasonal and spatial 
allowances, gear shares, CDQ reserve, incidental catch allowance, and 
Amendment 80 allocation of the BSAI

[[Page 60331]]

Atka mackerel TAC consistent with this adjustment.

 Table 7--Final 2018 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance, and
                             Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI Atka Mackerel TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              2018 Allocation by area
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                                                      Eastern
              Sector \1\                      Season 2 3 4           Aleutian         Central         Western
                                                                     District/       Aleutian        Aleutian
                                                                    Bering Sea     District \5\      District
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAC...................................  n/a.....................          36,500          21,000          13,500
CDQ reserve...........................  Total...................           3,906           2,247           1,445
                                        A.......................           1,953           1,124             722
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             674             433
                                        B.......................           1,953           1,124             722
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             674             433
Non-CDQ TAC...........................  n/a.....................          32,595          18,753          12,056
Jig \6\...............................  Total...................             163               0               0
ICA...................................  Total...................             800              75              20
BSAI trawl limited access.............  Total...................           3,163           1,868               0
                                        A.......................           1,582             934               0
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             560               0
                                        B.......................           1,582             934               0
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a             560               0
Amendment 80 sector...................  Total \6\...............          28,468          16,810          12,036
                                        A.......................          14,234           8,405           6,018
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a           5,043           3,611
                                        B.......................          14,234           8,405           6,018
                                        Critical Habitat........             n/a           5,043           3,611
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, 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 critical habitat; (a)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B
  seasons as defined at Sec.   679.23(e)(3); and (a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more
  than 65 percent of ABC.
\6\ Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and the Bering Sea
  subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtracting the CDQ reserve and ICA. The amount of this allocation
  is 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(7), Table 9 of the final 2017 and 2018 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, 
February 27, 2017) is revised for the 2018 gear shares and seasonal 
allowances of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC consistent with this adjustment.

               Table 9--Final 2018 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI Pacific Cod TAC
                                          [Amounts are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                2018 share  of                     2018 seasonal apportionment
          Gear sector               Percent      gear  sector   2018 share  of ---------------------------------
                                                     total       sector  total       Seasons          Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BS TAC........................             n/a         188,136             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
BS CDQ........................             n/a          20,131             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
BS non-CDQ TAC................             n/a         168,005             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
AI TAC........................             n/a          15,695             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
AI CDQ........................             n/a           1,679             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(i)
                                                                                 (B).
AI non-CDQ TAC................             n/a          14,016             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Western Aleutian Island Limit.             n/a           4,018             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC \1\....             100         182,021             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Total hook-and-line/pot gear..            60.8         110,669             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line/pot ICA \2\.....             n/a             400             n/a  see Sec.                     n/a
                                                                                 679.20(a)(7)(ii
                                                                                 )(B).
Hook-and-line/pot sub-total...             n/a         110,269             n/a  n/a.............             n/a
Hook-and-line catcher/                    48.7             n/a          88,324  Jan 1-Jun 10....          45,045
 processor.
                                                                                Jun 10-Dec 31...          43,279
Hook-and-line catcher vessel               0.2             n/a             363  Jan 1-Jun 10....             185
 [gteqt]60 ft LOA.                                                              Jun 10-Dec 31...             178
Pot catcher/processor.........             1.5             n/a           2,720  Jan 1-Jun 10....           1,387

[[Page 60332]]

 
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           1,333
Pot catcher vessel [gteqt]60               8.4             n/a          15,235  Jan 1-Jun 10....           7,770
 ft LOA.
                                                                                Sept 1-Dec 31...           7,465
Catcher vessel <60 ft LOA                    2             n/a           3,627  n/a.............             n/a
 using hook-and-line or pot
 gear.
Trawl catcher vessel..........            22.1          40,227             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          29,768
                                                                                Apr 1-Jun 10....           4,425
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....           6,034
AFA trawl catcher/processor...             2.3           4,186             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....           3,140
                                                                                Apr 1- Jun 10...           1,047
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Amendment 80..................            13.4          24,391             n/a  Jan 20-Apr 1....          18,293
                                                                                Apr 1- Jun 10...           6,098
                                                                                Jun 10-Nov 1....               0
Jig...........................             1.4           2,548             n/a  Jan 1-Apr 30....           1,529
                                                                                Apr 30-Aug 31...             510
                                                                                Aug 31-Dec 31...             510
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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 the 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.
\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 approves an ICA of 400 mt for 2018
  based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(7)(viii), the Pacific cod TACs in Table 
9A of this inseason adjustment will be effective for 2018 and the 
harvest limits will apply in 2018.

 Table 9a--Final 2018 BSAI A-Season Pacific Cod Limits Aleutian Islands
          for Shoreplants Intention To Process Pacific Cod \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 2018 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..........................................         168,005
BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation.......................          29,768
BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation minus Sector                    24,768
 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 because NMFS received notice of
  intent to process AI Pacific cod by October 31 of the previous year,
  pursuant to Sec.   679.20(a)(7)(viii), and 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 intent to process AI Pacific cod for the 2018
  season. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 9a 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, 2018, unless
  modified because the performance requirements were not met.


[[Page 60333]]

Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior 
notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set 
forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from 
responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and 
would allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for 
pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod in the BSAI based on the best 
scientific information available. NMFS was unable to publish a notice 
providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant 
data only became available as of December 20, 2017, and additional time 
for prior public comment would result in conservation concerns for the 
ESA-listed Steller sea lions.
    The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the 
effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is 
based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment.
    Under Sec.  679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit 
written comments on this action to the above address until January 4, 
2018.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.20 and Sec.  679.25 and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 15, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-27428 Filed 12-19-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P