Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2017-18 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Amendment 27; Correction, 60567-60570 [2017-27450]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 244 / Thursday, December 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations regulations so they are consistent with published coordinates in Federal navigation references and current positioning systems, and correct the regulations to clarify that harvest and possession of wild live rock in or from the Gulf EEZ is prohibited. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) during the proposed rule stage that this rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS did not receive any comments from SBA’s Office of Advocacy or the public regarding the economic analysis of Amendment 17B or the certification in the proposed rule. No changes to this rule were made in response to public comments. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. Because this final rule is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Permits, Shrimp. Dated: December 15, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.50, revise paragraph (b)(3)(ii) and add paragraphs (b)(3)(iii) and (e) to read as follows: ■ § 622.50 Permits, permit moratorium, and endorsements. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (ii) Except as provided for in paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section, a commercial vessel moratorium permit for Gulf shrimp that is not renewed will be terminated and will not be reissued during the moratorium. A permit is considered to be not renewed when an application for renewal, as required, is VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:05 Dec 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 not received by the RA within 1 year of the expiration date of the permit. (iii) When NMFS has determined that the number of commercial vessel moratorium permits for Gulf shrimp has reached the threshold number of permits as described in the FMP, then a commercial vessel moratorium permit for Gulf shrimp that is not renewed will be converted to a Gulf shrimp reserve pool permit and held by NMFS for possible reissuance. Gulf shrimp reserve pool permits will not be issued until eligibility requirements are developed and implemented through subsequent rulemaking. * * * * * (e) Gulf shrimp transit provision. A vessel that does not have a valid Gulf shrimp moratorium permit, as described in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, may possess Gulf shrimp when in transit in the Gulf EEZ provided that the shrimp fishing gear is appropriately stowed. For the purposes of this paragraph, transit means non-stop progression through the Gulf EEZ. Fishing gear appropriately stowed means trawl doors and nets must be out of the water and the bag straps must be removed from the net. ■ 3. Amend § 622.55 by: ■ a. Designating the table in paragraph (b) as Table 1 to paragraph (b); ■ b. Revising paragraph (c)(1); ■ c. Designating the table after paragraph (d)(2) as Table 1 to paragraph (d), the table after paragraph (d)(3) as Table 2 to paragraph (d), and the table after paragraph (d)(4) as Table 3 to paragraph (d); and ■ d. In paragraph (e) designating the table as Table 1 to paragraph (e). The revision reads as follows: 60567 4. In § 622.73, add paragraph (c) to read as follows: ■ § 622.73 Prohibited species. * * * * * (c) Wild live rock may not be harvested or possessed in or from the Gulf EEZ. [FR Doc. 2017–27449 Filed 12–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 160808696–799–03] RIN 0648–BG17 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2017–18 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Amendment 27; Correction National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; correcting amendment. AGENCY: This action corrects the 2017– 18 harvest specifications and management measures final rule that published on February 7, 2017. That rule established 2017–18 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California, consistent with the § 622.55 Closed area. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery * * * * * Conservation and Management Act (c) * * * (MSA) and the Pacific Coast Groundfish (1) The Tortugas shrimp sanctuary is Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), closed to trawling. The Tortugas shrimp including harvest specifications sanctuary is that part of the EEZ off consistent with default harvest control Florida shoreward of rhumb lines rules in the PCGFMP. That action also connecting, in order, the following included regulations to implement points: Amendment 27 to the PCGFMP, which added deacon rockfish to the PCGFMP, TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (C)(1) reclassified big skate as an actively managed stock, added a new inseason Point North lat. West long. management process for commercial N 1 ..................... 25°52′54″ 81°37′56″ and recreational groundfish fisheries in F ........................ 24°50′42″ 81°51′18″ waters off California, and made several G 2 ..................... 24°40′00″ 82°26′39″ clarifications to existing regulations. H 3 ..................... 24°34′44″ 82°35′27″ This action fixes errors in 2017–18 P 4 ..................... 24°35′00″ 82°08′00″ harvest specifications and management 1 Coon Key Light. measures final rule by correcting the 2 New Ground Shoals Light. definition of ecosystem component 3 Rebecca Shoals Light. species to remove big skates, making 4 Marquesas Keys. three corrections related to the * * * * * recreational groundfish retention PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1 60568 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 244 / Thursday, December 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations regulations in effect in waters off California, making a correction to the groundfish retention regulations in the limited entry fixed gear and in the open access fisheries, and correcting the unit of weight used to set the sablefish cumulative limit for Tier 2 of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery. Effective December 21, 2017. ADDRESSES: Information relevant to the February 7, 2017, final rule (82 FR 9634) and Amendment 27, which includes an Environmental Assessment (EA), the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), a regulatory impact review (RIR), final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), and amended PCGFMP, are available from Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115–0070. Electronic copies of this final rule are also available at the NMFS West Coast Region website: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keeley Kent, 206–526–4655, fax: 206– 526–6736, or email: keeley.kent@ noaa.gov. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Background The February 7, 2017, final rule (82 FR 9634) set groundfish harvest specifications for 2017–18 (overfishing limits, acceptable biological catches, and annual catch limits (ACLs)) and established management measures designed to keep catch within the ACLs. As part of that final rule, consistent with the Council’s recommendations and described in the preamble to that rule, NMFS implemented Amendment 27 to the PCGFMP. This action makes corrections to the implementing regulations for two components of Amendment 27: (1) Reclassification of big skate from an ecosystem component species to ‘‘in the fishery’’ and (2) the update of several sections of the PCGFMP to reflect that canary rockfish and petrale sole were declared rebuilt. This action makes corrections in certain provisions of the recreational groundfish retention regulations in effect in waters off California and the groundfish retention regulations in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries, as amended in the February 7, 2017, final rule to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish and petrale sole. In addition, this action makes two minor, technical corrections to the regulations implementing the 2017–18 harvest specifications by correcting the unit of weight used to set the sablefish 17:05 Dec 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 Need for Correction Reclassification of Big Skate The February 7, 2017, final rule made several changes necessary to reclassify big skate from an ecosystem component species to ‘‘in the fishery,’’ however, one necessary change was mistakenly omitted. In 50 CFR 660.11, the definition of ‘‘groundfish’’ includes a separate listing of the species included in the ecosystem component. Big skate was mistakenly not removed from that ecosystem component definition. Big skate was correctly listed in the definition under the skates category within the definition of ‘‘groundfish,’’ at 50 CFR 660.11, Groundfish (2) Skates. This rule will remove big skate from the ecosystem component category under the definition of ‘‘groundfish,’’ at 50 CFR 660.11, Groundfish (10) Ecosystem component species. California Recreational Fishery Management Measures SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 cumulative limit for Tier 2 of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery, and by correcting a typographical error in the season dates for the Mendocino Management Area recreational fisheries. NMFS is making three corrections to groundfish recreational fishery regulations in effect off of California. As noted above, one of the components of Amendment 27 was to amend the PCGFMP to reflect that canary rockfish and petrale sole were declared rebuilt. As a result of the rebuilt status of the canary rockfish and petrale sole fisheries, the State of California relaxed some of its restrictions on retention in the recreational fisheries. As noted in the proposed rule and the February 7, 2017, final rule, NMFS intended the federal regulations to be consistent with the changes in the California state restrictions. However, while the February 7, 2017, final rule correctly updated the federal regulations to remove the prohibition on retention of canary rockfish for the Washington state recreational fisheries, the final rule mistakenly did not remove the prohibition on retention of canary rockfish for recreational fisheries off of California and the Cowcod Conservation Area (50 CFR 660.360(c)(3)(i)(B)). This inadvertent omission is inconsistent with the Council’s intent in making its recommendation for the 2017–18 harvest specifications and management measures. Therefore, this correcting action will update § 660.360(c)(3)(i)(B) to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish. PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Additionally, in the preamble to the proposed rule (81 FR 75266, 75282; Oct. 28, 2016), NMFS noted that the rule would remove petrale sole and starry flounder from the California recreational season and depth restrictions, which are management measures to reduce regulatory discards. This change allows anglers to retain petrale sole and starry flounder year round without depth constraint. The February 7, 2017, final rule correctly revised § 660.360(c)(3) to note the exception for petrale sole and starry flounder. However, paragraphs (c)(3)(i)(B), (c)(3)(i)(C), and (c)(3)(iv) of § 660.360 were not similarly revised. Consistent with the revisions already made to paragraph (c)(3), this correcting action revises paragraphs, (c)(3)(i)(B), (c)(3)(i)(C), and (c)(3)(iv) of § 660.360 to exempt petrale sole and starry flounder from the season and depth restrictions for recreational fisheries off of California. Finally, NMFS is correcting the season dates for the Mendocino Management Area under § 660.360(c)(3)(ii)(A)(2). The final rule incorrectly stated that the season is open ‘‘May 1 through October December 31,’’ but correctly stated that the season is closed January 1 through April 30. This rule will correct the mistake by deleting the extra word ‘‘October’’ so that the correct open season is reflected in the language, ‘‘May 1 through December 31.’’ Fixed Gear Limited Entry and Open Access Fishery Management Measures As a result of canary rockfish being rebuilt, NMFS relaxed some of the restrictions on retention in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries. However, the February 7, 2017, final rule, as it pertained to the groundfish limited entry fixed gear fishery ((50 CFR 660.230(a)) and to the open access fishery (50 CFR 660.330(a)), mistakenly did not update the federal regulations to remove the prohibition on retention of canary rockfish, even though NMFS set trip limits for canary rockfish in the limited entry fixed gear fishery in Table 2 to Part 660, Subpart E, and in the open access fishery in Table 3 to Part 660, Subpart F. This was inconsistent with the Council’s intent in its recommendation of the 2017–18 harvest specifications and management measures. This rule will update both § 660.230(a) and § 660.330(a) to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish. Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Cumulative Limit The February 7, 2017, final rule included the cumulative limits for each of the three tiers of the limited entry E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 244 / Thursday, December 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations fixed gear sablefish primary fishery for both 2017 and 2018. Inadvertently, the cumulative limit for Tier 2 in 2017 was expressed in metric tons instead of in pounds. The final rule read ‘‘20,509 mt’’ (9,303 kg) instead of ‘‘20,509 lbs’’, which is the true equivalent of 9,303 kg. This rule corrects this error by stating that the Tier 2 cumulative limit for 2017 is ‘‘20,509 lbs (9,303 kg)’’ in 50 CFR 660.231(b)(3)(i). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.11, revise paragraph (10) of the definition for ‘‘Groundfish’’ to read as follows: ■ General definitions. * The Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment are unnecessary and would be contrary to the public interest. This correcting action is consistent with harvest specification and management measures recommended by the Council and described in the preambles to the proposed rule (81 FR 75266; Oct. 28, 2016) and final rule (81 FR 9634; Feb. 7, 2017) implementing Amendment 27 to the PCGFMP. Because the corrections included in this rule are consistent with actions on which NMFS has already requested and considered public comments, further notice and opportunity for public comment on this action is unnecessary. It would be contrary to the public interest to delay implementation of the minor corrections in this rule, because this correcting action will reduce confusion caused by unintentional technical errors, some of which also appear to create inconsistency between state and federal regulations. For the reasons above, the AA also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness and makes this rule effective immediately upon publication. This rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment. Therefore, RFA analysis is not required and none has been prepared. Dated: December 15, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is corrected by making the following correcting amendments: 17:05 Dec 20, 2017 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ § 660.11 Classification VerDate Sep<11>2014 PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES Jkt 244001 * * * * Groundfish * * * * * * * * (10) ‘‘Ecosystem component species’’ means species that are included in the PCGFMP but are not ‘‘in the fishery’’ and therefore not actively managed and do not require harvest specifications. Ecosystem component species are not targeted in any fishery, not generally retained for sale or personal use, and are not determined to be subject to overfishing, approaching an overfished condition, or overfished, nor are they likely to become subject to overfishing or overfished in the absence of conservation and management measures. Ecosystem component species include: All skates listed here in paragraph (2), except longnose skate and big skate; all grenadiers listed here in paragraph (5); soupfin shark; ratfish; and finescale codling. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.230, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 660.230 Fixed gear fishery— management measures. (a) General. Most species taken in limited entry fixed gear (longline and pot/trap) fisheries will be managed with cumulative trip limits (see trip limits in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this subpart), size limits (see § 660.60(h)(5)), seasons (see trip limits in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this subpart and sablefish primary season details in § 660.231), gear restrictions (see paragraph (b) of this section), and closed areas (see paragraph (d) of this section and §§ 660.70 through 660.79). Cowcod retention is prohibited in all fisheries, and groundfish vessels operating south of Point Conception must adhere to CCA restrictions (see paragraph (d)(10) of this section and § 660.70). Yelloweye rockfish retention is prohibited in the limited entry fixed gear fisheries. Regulations governing and tier limits for the limited entry, fixed gear sablefish primary season north of 36° N lat. are found in § 660.231. Vessels not participating in the sablefish primary season are subject to daily or weekly sablefish limits in addition to PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60569 cumulative limits for each cumulative limit period. Only one sablefish landing per week may be made in excess of the daily trip limit and, if the vessel chooses to make a landing in excess of that daily trip limit, then that is the only sablefish landing permitted for that week. The trip limit for black rockfish caught with hook-and-line gear also applies, see § 660.230(e). The trip limits in Table 2 (North) and Table 2 (South) of this subpart apply to vessels participating in the limited entry groundfish fixed gear fishery and may not be exceeded. Federal commercial groundfish regulations are not intended to supersede any more restrictive state commercial groundfish regulations relating to federally-managed groundfish. * * * * * 4. In § 660.231, revise paragraph (b)(3)(i) to read as follows: ■ § 660.231 Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (i) A vessel participating in the primary season will be constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with each of the permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary season, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph (a) of this section may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up to the cumulative limits for each of the permits registered for use with that vessel (i.e., stacked permits). If multiple limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements are registered for use with a single vessel, that vessel may land up to the total of all cumulative limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for those permits, except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Up to 3 permits may be registered for use with a single vessel during the primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess or land more than 3 primary season sablefish cumulative limits in any one year. A vessel registered for use with multiple limited entry permits is subject to per vessel limits for species other than sablefish, and to per vessel limits when participating in the daily trip limit fishery for sablefish under § 660.232. In 2017, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 45,120 lb (20,466 kg), Tier 2 at 20,509 lb (9,303 kg), and Tier 3 at 11,720 lb (5,316 kg). In 2018 and beyond, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 47,050 lb (21,342 kg), E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1 60570 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 244 / Thursday, December 21, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Tier 2 21,386 lb (9,701 kg), and Tier 3 12,221 lb (5,543 kg). * * * * * ■ 5. In § 660.330, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 660.330 Open access fishery— management measures. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES (a) General. Groundfish species taken in open access fisheries will be managed with cumulative trip limits (see trip limits in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart), size limits (see § 660.60(h)(5)), seasons (see seasons in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart), gear restrictions (see paragraph (b) of this section), and closed areas (see paragraph (d) of this section and §§ 660.70 through 660.79). Unless otherwise specified, a vessel operating in the open access fishery is subject to, and must not exceed any trip limit, frequency limit, and/or size limit for the open access fishery. Cowcod retention is prohibited in all fisheries and groundfish vessels operating south of Point Conception must adhere to CCA restrictions (see paragraph (d)(11) of this section and § 660.70). Retention of yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all open access fisheries. For information on the open access daily/weekly trip limit fishery for sablefish, see § 660.332 of this subpart and the trip limits in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart. Open access vessels are subject to daily or weekly sablefish limits in addition to cumulative limits for each cumulative limit period. Only one sablefish landing per week may be made in excess of the daily trip limit and, if the vessel chooses to make a landing in excess of that daily trip limit, then that is the only sablefish landing permitted for that week. The trip limit for black rockfish caught with hook-and-line gear also applies, see paragraph (e) of this section. Open access vessels that fish with non-groundfish trawl gear or in the salmon troll fishery north of 40°10′ N lat. are subject the cumulative limits and closed areas (except the pink shrimp fishery which is not subject to RCA restrictions) listed in Tables 3 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:05 Dec 20, 2017 Jkt 244001 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart. Federal commercial groundfish regulations are not intended to supersede any more restrictive state commercial groundfish regulations relating to federally managed groundfish. ■ 6. In § 660.360, revise paragraphs (c)(3)(i)(B) and (C), (c)(3)(ii)(A)(2), and (c)(3)(iv) to read as follows: § 660.360 Recreational fishery— management measures. (c) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * (B) Cowcod conservation areas. The latitude and longitude coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are specified at § 660.70. In general, recreational fishing for all groundfish is prohibited within the CCAs, except that fishing for petrale sole, starry flounder, and ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted within the CCAs as specified in paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section. However, recreational fishing for the following species is permitted shoreward of the 20 fm (37 m) depth contour when the season for those species is open south of 34°27′ N lat.: Minor nearshore rockfish, cabezon, kelp greenling, lingcod, California scorpionfish, shelf rockfish, petrale sole, starry flounder, and ‘‘other flatfish’’ (subject to gear requirements at paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section during January–February). Retention of yelloweye rockfish, bronzespotted rockfish and cowcod is prohibited within the CCA. [Note: California state regulations also permit recreational fishing for California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos shoreward of the 20 fm (37 m) depth contour in the CCAs when the season for the RCG complex is open south of 34°27′ N lat.] It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish within the CCAs, except for species authorized in this section. (C) Cordell Banks. Recreational fishing for groundfish is prohibited in PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates at § 660.70, subpart C, except that recreational fishing for petrale sole, starry flounder, and ‘‘other flatfish’’ is permitted around Cordell Banks as specified in paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section. [Note: California state regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish.] * * * * * (ii) * * * (A) * * * (2) Between 40°10′ N lat. and 38°57.50′ N lat. (Mendocino Management Area), recreational fishing for the RCG Complex is open from May 1 through December 31 (i.e., it’s closed from January 1 through April 30). * * * * * (iv) ‘‘Other flatfish,’’ petrale sole, and starry flounder. Coastwide off California, recreational fishing for ‘‘other flatfish,’’ petrale sole, and starry flounder, is permitted both shoreward of and within the closed areas described in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section. ‘‘Other flatfish’’ are defined at § 660.11, subpart C, and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. Recreational fishing for ‘‘other flatfish,’’ petrale sole, and starry flounder, is permitted within the closed areas. ‘‘Other flatfish,’’ except for Pacific sanddab, petrale sole, and starry flounder, are subject to the overall 20fish bag limit for all species of finfish, of which there may be no more than 10 fish of any one species. There is no season restriction or size limit for ‘‘other flatfish,’’ petrale sole, and starry flounder however, it is prohibited to filet ‘‘other flatfish,’’ petrale sole, and starry flounder, at sea. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–27450 Filed 12–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 244 (Thursday, December 21, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 60567-60570]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27450]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 160808696-799-03]
RIN 0648-BG17


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2017-18 Biennial Specifications and 
Management Measures; Amendment 27; Correction

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

ACTION: Final rule; correcting amendment.

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SUMMARY: This action corrects the 2017-18 harvest specifications and 
management measures final rule that published on February 7, 2017. That 
rule established 2017-18 harvest specifications and management measures 
for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts 
of Washington, Oregon, and California, consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Pacific 
Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), including harvest 
specifications consistent with default harvest control rules in the 
PCGFMP. That action also included regulations to implement Amendment 27 
to the PCGFMP, which added deacon rockfish to the PCGFMP, reclassified 
big skate as an actively managed stock, added a new inseason management 
process for commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries in waters 
off California, and made several clarifications to existing 
regulations. This action fixes errors in 2017-18 harvest specifications 
and management measures final rule by correcting the definition of 
ecosystem component species to remove big skates, making three 
corrections related to the recreational groundfish retention

[[Page 60568]]

regulations in effect in waters off California, making a correction to 
the groundfish retention regulations in the limited entry fixed gear 
and in the open access fisheries, and correcting the unit of weight 
used to set the sablefish cumulative limit for Tier 2 of the limited 
entry fixed gear sablefish fishery.

DATES: Effective December 21, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Information relevant to the February 7, 2017, final rule (82 
FR 9634) and Amendment 27, which includes an Environmental Assessment 
(EA), the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), a regulatory impact 
review (RIR), final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), and amended 
PCGFMP, are available from Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West 
Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115-0070. 
Electronic copies of this final rule are also available at the NMFS 
West Coast Region website: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keeley Kent, 206-526-4655, fax: 206-
526-6736, or email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The February 7, 2017, final rule (82 FR 9634) set groundfish 
harvest specifications for 2017-18 (overfishing limits, acceptable 
biological catches, and annual catch limits (ACLs)) and established 
management measures designed to keep catch within the ACLs. As part of 
that final rule, consistent with the Council's recommendations and 
described in the preamble to that rule, NMFS implemented Amendment 27 
to the PCGFMP. This action makes corrections to the implementing 
regulations for two components of Amendment 27: (1) Reclassification of 
big skate from an ecosystem component species to ``in the fishery'' and 
(2) the update of several sections of the PCGFMP to reflect that canary 
rockfish and petrale sole were declared rebuilt. This action makes 
corrections in certain provisions of the recreational groundfish 
retention regulations in effect in waters off California and the 
groundfish retention regulations in the limited entry fixed gear and 
open access fisheries, as amended in the February 7, 2017, final rule 
to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish and petrale sole. In 
addition, this action makes two minor, technical corrections to the 
regulations implementing the 2017-18 harvest specifications by 
correcting the unit of weight used to set the sablefish cumulative 
limit for Tier 2 of the limited entry fixed gear sablefish fishery, and 
by correcting a typographical error in the season dates for the 
Mendocino Management Area recreational fisheries.

Need for Correction

Reclassification of Big Skate

    The February 7, 2017, final rule made several changes necessary to 
reclassify big skate from an ecosystem component species to ``in the 
fishery,'' however, one necessary change was mistakenly omitted. In 50 
CFR 660.11, the definition of ``groundfish'' includes a separate 
listing of the species included in the ecosystem component. Big skate 
was mistakenly not removed from that ecosystem component definition. 
Big skate was correctly listed in the definition under the skates 
category within the definition of ``groundfish,'' at 50 CFR 660.11, 
Groundfish (2) Skates. This rule will remove big skate from the 
ecosystem component category under the definition of ``groundfish,'' at 
50 CFR 660.11, Groundfish (10) Ecosystem component species.

California Recreational Fishery Management Measures

    NMFS is making three corrections to groundfish recreational fishery 
regulations in effect off of California. As noted above, one of the 
components of Amendment 27 was to amend the PCGFMP to reflect that 
canary rockfish and petrale sole were declared rebuilt. As a result of 
the rebuilt status of the canary rockfish and petrale sole fisheries, 
the State of California relaxed some of its restrictions on retention 
in the recreational fisheries. As noted in the proposed rule and the 
February 7, 2017, final rule, NMFS intended the federal regulations to 
be consistent with the changes in the California state restrictions. 
However, while the February 7, 2017, final rule correctly updated the 
federal regulations to remove the prohibition on retention of canary 
rockfish for the Washington state recreational fisheries, the final 
rule mistakenly did not remove the prohibition on retention of canary 
rockfish for recreational fisheries off of California and the Cowcod 
Conservation Area (50 CFR 660.360(c)(3)(i)(B)). This inadvertent 
omission is inconsistent with the Council's intent in making its 
recommendation for the 2017-18 harvest specifications and management 
measures. Therefore, this correcting action will update Sec.  
660.360(c)(3)(i)(B) to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish.
    Additionally, in the preamble to the proposed rule (81 FR 75266, 
75282; Oct. 28, 2016), NMFS noted that the rule would remove petrale 
sole and starry flounder from the California recreational season and 
depth restrictions, which are management measures to reduce regulatory 
discards. This change allows anglers to retain petrale sole and starry 
flounder year round without depth constraint. The February 7, 2017, 
final rule correctly revised Sec.  660.360(c)(3) to note the exception 
for petrale sole and starry flounder. However, paragraphs (c)(3)(i)(B), 
(c)(3)(i)(C), and (c)(3)(iv) of Sec.  660.360 were not similarly 
revised. Consistent with the revisions already made to paragraph 
(c)(3), this correcting action revises paragraphs, (c)(3)(i)(B), 
(c)(3)(i)(C), and (c)(3)(iv) of Sec.  660.360 to exempt petrale sole 
and starry flounder from the season and depth restrictions for 
recreational fisheries off of California.
    Finally, NMFS is correcting the season dates for the Mendocino 
Management Area under Sec.  660.360(c)(3)(ii)(A)(2). The final rule 
incorrectly stated that the season is open ``May 1 through October 
December 31,'' but correctly stated that the season is closed January 1 
through April 30. This rule will correct the mistake by deleting the 
extra word ``October'' so that the correct open season is reflected in 
the language, ``May 1 through December 31.''

Fixed Gear Limited Entry and Open Access Fishery Management Measures

    As a result of canary rockfish being rebuilt, NMFS relaxed some of 
the restrictions on retention in the limited entry fixed gear and open 
access fisheries. However, the February 7, 2017, final rule, as it 
pertained to the groundfish limited entry fixed gear fishery ((50 CFR 
660.230(a)) and to the open access fishery (50 CFR 660.330(a)), 
mistakenly did not update the federal regulations to remove the 
prohibition on retention of canary rockfish, even though NMFS set trip 
limits for canary rockfish in the limited entry fixed gear fishery in 
Table 2 to Part 660, Subpart E, and in the open access fishery in Table 
3 to Part 660, Subpart F. This was inconsistent with the Council's 
intent in its recommendation of the 2017-18 harvest specifications and 
management measures. This rule will update both Sec.  660.230(a) and 
Sec.  660.330(a) to reflect the rebuilt status of canary rockfish.

Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Cumulative Limit

    The February 7, 2017, final rule included the cumulative limits for 
each of the three tiers of the limited entry

[[Page 60569]]

fixed gear sablefish primary fishery for both 2017 and 2018. 
Inadvertently, the cumulative limit for Tier 2 in 2017 was expressed in 
metric tons instead of in pounds. The final rule read ``20,509 mt'' 
(9,303 kg) instead of ``20,509 lbs'', which is the true equivalent of 
9,303 kg. This rule corrects this error by stating that the Tier 2 
cumulative limit for 2017 is ``20,509 lbs (9,303 kg)'' in 50 CFR 
660.231(b)(3)(i).

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice 
and comment are unnecessary and would be contrary to the public 
interest. This correcting action is consistent with harvest 
specification and management measures recommended by the Council and 
described in the preambles to the proposed rule (81 FR 75266; Oct. 28, 
2016) and final rule (81 FR 9634; Feb. 7, 2017) implementing Amendment 
27 to the PCGFMP. Because the corrections included in this rule are 
consistent with actions on which NMFS has already requested and 
considered public comments, further notice and opportunity for public 
comment on this action is unnecessary. It would be contrary to the 
public interest to delay implementation of the minor corrections in 
this rule, because this correcting action will reduce confusion caused 
by unintentional technical errors, some of which also appear to create 
inconsistency between state and federal regulations. For the reasons 
above, the AA also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive 
the 30-day delay in effectiveness and makes this rule effective 
immediately upon publication. This rule is exempt from the procedures 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because the rule is issued 
without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public 
comment. Therefore, RFA analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: December 15, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is 
corrected by making the following correcting amendments:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as 
follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  660.11, revise paragraph (10) of the definition for 
``Groundfish'' to read as follows:


Sec.  660.11   General definitions.

* * * * *
    Groundfish * * *
* * * * *
    (10) ``Ecosystem component species'' means species that are 
included in the PCGFMP but are not ``in the fishery'' and therefore not 
actively managed and do not require harvest specifications. Ecosystem 
component species are not targeted in any fishery, not generally 
retained for sale or personal use, and are not determined to be subject 
to overfishing, approaching an overfished condition, or overfished, nor 
are they likely to become subject to overfishing or overfished in the 
absence of conservation and management measures. Ecosystem component 
species include: All skates listed here in paragraph (2), except 
longnose skate and big skate; all grenadiers listed here in paragraph 
(5); soupfin shark; ratfish; and finescale codling.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  660.230, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.230   Fixed gear fishery--management measures.

    (a) General. Most species taken in limited entry fixed gear 
(longline and pot/trap) fisheries will be managed with cumulative trip 
limits (see trip limits in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this 
subpart), size limits (see Sec.  660.60(h)(5)), seasons (see trip 
limits in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) of this subpart and sablefish 
primary season details in Sec.  660.231), gear restrictions (see 
paragraph (b) of this section), and closed areas (see paragraph (d) of 
this section and Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.79). Cowcod retention is 
prohibited in all fisheries, and groundfish vessels operating south of 
Point Conception must adhere to CCA restrictions (see paragraph (d)(10) 
of this section and Sec.  660.70). Yelloweye rockfish retention is 
prohibited in the limited entry fixed gear fisheries. Regulations 
governing and tier limits for the limited entry, fixed gear sablefish 
primary season north of 36[deg] N lat. are found in Sec.  660.231. 
Vessels not participating in the sablefish primary season are subject 
to daily or weekly sablefish limits in addition to cumulative limits 
for each cumulative limit period. Only one sablefish landing per week 
may be made in excess of the daily trip limit and, if the vessel 
chooses to make a landing in excess of that daily trip limit, then that 
is the only sablefish landing permitted for that week. The trip limit 
for black rockfish caught with hook-and-line gear also applies, see 
Sec.  660.230(e). The trip limits in Table 2 (North) and Table 2 
(South) of this subpart apply to vessels participating in the limited 
entry groundfish fixed gear fishery and may not be exceeded. Federal 
commercial groundfish regulations are not intended to supersede any 
more restrictive state commercial groundfish regulations relating to 
federally-managed groundfish.
* * * * *

0
 4. In Sec.  660.231, revise paragraph (b)(3)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.231   Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) A vessel participating in the primary season will be 
constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit associated with each of 
the permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary 
season, each vessel authorized to fish in that season under paragraph 
(a) of this section may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up 
to the cumulative limits for each of the permits registered for use 
with that vessel (i.e., stacked permits). If multiple limited entry 
permits with sablefish endorsements are registered for use with a 
single vessel, that vessel may land up to the total of all cumulative 
limits announced in this paragraph for the tiers for those permits, 
except as limited by paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Up to 3 
permits may be registered for use with a single vessel during the 
primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess 
or land more than 3 primary season sablefish cumulative limits in any 
one year. A vessel registered for use with multiple limited entry 
permits is subject to per vessel limits for species other than 
sablefish, and to per vessel limits when participating in the daily 
trip limit fishery for sablefish under Sec.  660.232. In 2017, the 
following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 45,120 lb (20,466 kg), 
Tier 2 at 20,509 lb (9,303 kg), and Tier 3 at 11,720 lb (5,316 kg). In 
2018 and beyond, the following annual limits are in effect: Tier 1 at 
47,050 lb (21,342 kg),

[[Page 60570]]

Tier 2 21,386 lb (9,701 kg), and Tier 3 12,221 lb (5,543 kg).
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  660.330, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.330   Open access fishery--management measures.

    (a) General. Groundfish species taken in open access fisheries will 
be managed with cumulative trip limits (see trip limits in Tables 3 
(North) and 3 (South) of this subpart), size limits (see Sec.  
660.60(h)(5)), seasons (see seasons in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) 
of this subpart), gear restrictions (see paragraph (b) of this 
section), and closed areas (see paragraph (d) of this section and 
Sec. Sec.  660.70 through 660.79). Unless otherwise specified, a vessel 
operating in the open access fishery is subject to, and must not exceed 
any trip limit, frequency limit, and/or size limit for the open access 
fishery. Cowcod retention is prohibited in all fisheries and groundfish 
vessels operating south of Point Conception must adhere to CCA 
restrictions (see paragraph (d)(11) of this section and Sec.  660.70). 
Retention of yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all open access 
fisheries. For information on the open access daily/weekly trip limit 
fishery for sablefish, see Sec.  660.332 of this subpart and the trip 
limits in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart. Open access 
vessels are subject to daily or weekly sablefish limits in addition to 
cumulative limits for each cumulative limit period. Only one sablefish 
landing per week may be made in excess of the daily trip limit and, if 
the vessel chooses to make a landing in excess of that daily trip 
limit, then that is the only sablefish landing permitted for that week. 
The trip limit for black rockfish caught with hook-and-line gear also 
applies, see paragraph (e) of this section. Open access vessels that 
fish with non-groundfish trawl gear or in the salmon troll fishery 
north of 40[deg]10' N lat. are subject the cumulative limits and closed 
areas (except the pink shrimp fishery which is not subject to RCA 
restrictions) listed in Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) of this subpart. 
Federal commercial groundfish regulations are not intended to supersede 
any more restrictive state commercial groundfish regulations relating 
to federally managed groundfish.

0
6. In Sec.  660.360, revise paragraphs (c)(3)(i)(B) and (C), 
(c)(3)(ii)(A)(2), and (c)(3)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.360   Recreational fishery--management measures.

    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) Cowcod conservation areas. The latitude and longitude 
coordinates of the Cowcod Conservation Areas (CCAs) boundaries are 
specified at Sec.  660.70. In general, recreational fishing for all 
groundfish is prohibited within the CCAs, except that fishing for 
petrale sole, starry flounder, and ``other flatfish'' is permitted 
within the CCAs as specified in paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section. 
However, recreational fishing for the following species is permitted 
shoreward of the 20 fm (37 m) depth contour when the season for those 
species is open south of 34[deg]27' N lat.: Minor nearshore rockfish, 
cabezon, kelp greenling, lingcod, California scorpionfish, shelf 
rockfish, petrale sole, starry flounder, and ``other flatfish'' 
(subject to gear requirements at paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section 
during January-February). Retention of yelloweye rockfish, 
bronzespotted rockfish and cowcod is prohibited within the CCA. [Note: 
California state regulations also permit recreational fishing for 
California sheephead, ocean whitefish, and all greenlings of the genus 
Hexagrammos shoreward of the 20 fm (37 m) depth contour in the CCAs 
when the season for the RCG complex is open south of 34[deg]27' N lat.] 
It is unlawful to take and retain, possess, or land groundfish within 
the CCAs, except for species authorized in this section.
    (C) Cordell Banks. Recreational fishing for groundfish is 
prohibited in waters less than 100 fm (183 m) around Cordell Banks as 
defined by specific latitude and longitude coordinates at Sec.  660.70, 
subpart C, except that recreational fishing for petrale sole, starry 
flounder, and ``other flatfish'' is permitted around Cordell Banks as 
specified in paragraph (c)(3)(iv) of this section. [Note: California 
state regulations also prohibit fishing for all greenlings of the genus 
Hexagrammos, California sheephead and ocean whitefish.]
* * * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (2) Between 40[deg]10' N lat. and 38[deg]57.50' N lat. (Mendocino 
Management Area), recreational fishing for the RCG Complex is open from 
May 1 through December 31 (i.e., it's closed from January 1 through 
April 30).
* * * * *
    (iv) ``Other flatfish,'' petrale sole, and starry flounder. 
Coastwide off California, recreational fishing for ``other flatfish,'' 
petrale sole, and starry flounder, is permitted both shoreward of and 
within the closed areas described in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this 
section. ``Other flatfish'' are defined at Sec.  660.11, subpart C, and 
include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex 
sole, rock sole, and sand sole. Recreational fishing for ``other 
flatfish,'' petrale sole, and starry flounder, is permitted within the 
closed areas. ``Other flatfish,'' except for Pacific sanddab, petrale 
sole, and starry flounder, are subject to the overall 20-fish bag limit 
for all species of finfish, of which there may be no more than 10 fish 
of any one species. There is no season restriction or size limit for 
``other flatfish,'' petrale sole, and starry flounder however, it is 
prohibited to filet ``other flatfish,'' petrale sole, and starry 
flounder, at sea.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-27450 Filed 12-20-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P