Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; Amendment 4 to Fishery Management Plan for West Coast Highly Migratory Species Fisheries; Revisions to the Biennial Management Cycle, 8414-8416 [2018-03963]

Download as PDF 8414 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 39 / Tuesday, February 27, 2018 / Proposed Rules daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS present new genetic evidence to suggest the spring-run Chinook salmon populations in the UKTR Basin may qualify as a separate ESU from the fallrun populations and request this new ESU to be listed based on the threats identified above. Based on biological, genetic, and ecological information compiled and reviewed as part of the status review for Chinook salmon (Myers et al., 1998), we included all spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon populations in the Klamath River Basin upstream from the confluence of the Klamath and Trinity rivers in the UKTR Chinook salmon ESU (63 FR 11482; March 9, 1998). In our 2012 not warranted decision (77 FR 19597; April 2, 2012), we reconfirmed the configuration of the UKTR Chinook salmon ESU. In both cases, we found that spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon populations in the UKTR Basin were genetically very similar and not reproductively isolated from each other. The Petitioners contend the findings from a recently published article on the evolutionary basis of premature migration in Pacific salmon (Prince et al. 2017) indicate that spring-run Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin should be considered a separate ESU, and therefore eligible to be listed as threatened or endangered. Prince et al. (2017) suggest that their results indicate that premature migration (e.g. springrun Chinook salmon) arose from a single evolutionary event within the species and, if lost, are not likely to re-evolve in time frames relevant to conservation planning. Therefore, the Petitioners contend that the new genetic information indicates that spring-run Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin satisfy the criteria for a species to be considered an ESU because: (1) They are substantially reproductively isolated, and (2) they represent an important component in the evolutionary legacy of the species. We have reviewed the new genetic information and find that a reasonable person may conclude that spring-run Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin would qualify as an ESU pursuant to our ESU Policy. Petition Finding After reviewing the information contained in the petition, as well as information readily available in our files, we conclude the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned actions to list as threatened or endangered the UKTR Chinook salmon ESU or, alternatively, to create a new ESU to describe springrun Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin and list the new ESU as threatened or endangered may be warranted. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:03 Feb 26, 2018 Jkt 244001 Therefore, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA and NMFS’ implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.14(h)(2)), we will commence a status review of the UKTR Chinook salmon ESU. During our status review, we will first consider the request to designate a new ESU to describe springrun Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin in light of our ESU Policy (56 FR 58612; November 20, 1991). If we determine that the spring-run component qualifies as a separate ESU, then we will evaluate its status to determine whether it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Otherwise, we will evaluate the status of the existing UKTR Chinook salmon ESU to determine if it warrants listing. As required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA, we will publish a finding as to whether listing an ESU as endangered or threatened is warranted. information concerning the impacts of environmental variability and climate change on survival, recruitment, distribution, and/or extinction risk. We are also requesting information on areas that may qualify as critical habitat for Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin. Please identify: Physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species that may require special management considerations; areas occupied by the species containing those physical and biological features; and unoccupied areas essential for conservation of the species (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A); 50 CFR 424.12). We request that all information be accompanied by: (1) Supporting documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications; and (2) the submitter’s name, address, and any association, institution, or business that the person represents. Information Solicited To ensure that our status review is informed by the best available scientific and commercial information, we are opening a 60-day public comment period to solicit information on Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin. We also solicited information on Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin with our 90day finding on the previous petition (76 FR 20302; April 12, 2011). Therefore, please do not re-submit information submitted in response to that previous finding. We request information from the public, concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, agricultural and forestry groups, conservation groups, fishing groups, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the current and/or historical status of Chinook salmon in the UKTR Basin. Specifically, we request information regarding: (1) Species abundance; (2) species productivity; (3) species distribution or population spatial structure; (4) patterns of phenotypic, genotypic, and life history diversity; (5) habitat conditions and associated limiting factors and threats; (6) ongoing or planned efforts to protect and restore the species and their habitats; (7) information on the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, whether protections are being implemented, and whether they are proving effective in conserving the species; (8) data concerning the status and trends of identified limiting factors or threats; (9) information on targeted harvest (commercial and recreational) and bycatch of the species; (10) other new information, data, or corrections including, but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes; and (11) References Cited PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The complete citations for the references used in this document can be obtained by contacting NMFS (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or on our web page at: www.westcoast. fisheries.noaa.gov. Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: February 21, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–03906 Filed 2–26–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 171026999–8049–01] RIN 0648–BH36 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; Amendment 4 to Fishery Management Plan for West Coast Highly Migratory Species Fisheries; Revisions to the Biennial Management Cycle National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\27FEP1.SGM 27FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 39 / Tuesday, February 27, 2018 / Proposed Rules Based on a recommendation from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) NMFS is proposing to revise regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to implement Amendment 4 to the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP). The intent of Amendment 4 is to bring descriptions of the management context for HMS fisheries up to date, to better describe the Council’s role in the process of making stock status determinations for highly migratory species (HMS), including the Council’s evaluations of the best scientific information available (BSIA), and to change the schedule of the Council’s three-meeting biennial management cycle for HMS stocks. Consistent with Amendment 4, this proposed rule would update and amend the descriptions of biennial management cycle activities in the regulations for the HMS FMP to allow the Council to shift the schedule of Council meetings for the consideration of HMS management actions from June, September, and November to September, November, and March. The changes proposed to biennial management cycle activities and the schedule are intended to better streamline international and domestic management processes for HMS. Amendment 4 and this proposed rule are administrative in nature and are not expected to affect activities authorized under the FMP or harvest levels of HMS. DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be submitted in writing by April 13, 2018. However, please note that comments regarding the decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP must be submitted by the end of the comment period for the Notice of Availability (NOA) for Amendment 4, which was published separately in the Federal Register on January 23, 2018 (see the NOA at 83 FR 3108). ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2017–0138, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docket Detail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0138, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:03 Feb 26, 2018 Jkt 244001 Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2017–0138’’ in the comments. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the proposed Amendment 4, Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA–NMFS–2017–0138, or contact Amber Rhodes, NMFS West Coast Region, 562–980–3231, Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov or Heidi Taylor, NMFS West Coast Region, 562– 980–4039, Heidi.Taylor@noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Rhodes, NMFS, 562–980–3231, Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov or Heidi Taylor, NMFS, 562–980–4039, Heidi.Taylor@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background During the Council’s 2016 biennial management cycle meetings for HMS and considerations for recent revisions to agency guidelines for National Standard 1 (81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016), key differences became evident regarding the management of HMS stocks versus other Council-managed stocks for which management activities are largely or fully within the scope of Council jurisdiction. In contrast to assessments for other Council-managed stocks, which are conducted by NMFS, most HMS assessments are conducted by teams of regional fishery management organization (RFMO) scientific committees, which may include scientists from the United States and other participating nations in Pacific HMS fisheries or international scientists who work at RFMOs. Additionally, NMFS employs peer review processes to determine whether PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8415 the output of international HMS assessments meet the BSIA standard. (See the August 16, 2016, notice of regional peer review processes, 81 FR 54561.) These peer review processes are consistent with BSIA determinations for most U.S.-targeted stocks subject to international agreements. Following these steps, NMFS uses assessment outputs that meet the BSIA standard to determine stock status by applying the status determination criteria (i.e., maximum fishing mortality thresholds and minimum stock size thresholds) in the HMS FMP. During its September 2017 meeting, the Council decided to submit Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP to NMFS for review. In a January 23, 2018, Notice of Availability (83 FR 3108), NMFS announced that the Council submitted Amendment 4 to the Secretary of Commerce for approval, and requested comments on Amendment 4. Amendment 4 intends to bring descriptions of the management context for HMS fisheries up to date and to shift the schedule for the Council’s biennial management cycle. Finalization of this proposed rule to revise regulations at 50 CFR 660.709 is contingent upon approval of Amendment 4 and NMFS responses to comments received on this proposed rule. Amendment 4 is intended to better align the Council’s biennial management cycle for HMS with the timing of international stock assessments and stock status determinations. Most HMS are internationally assessed, and stock assessments for HMS, unlike assessments for domestically-managed stocks, are not routinely subject to the review of the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee for purposes of determining BSIA. Therefore, the results from updated international assessments that have been determined to be BSIA may not be readily available to the Council during their June and September meetings for scoping, determining alternatives, and selecting preferred management recommendations to address the status of stocks deemed overfished or subject to overfishing. Thus, these decisions currently must occur on an ad hoc basis, sometimes resulting in inefficiencies and in difficulties in interpreting and applying outdated information. The changes to the current biennial management cycle included in Amendment 4 and implemented by this proposed rule would allow the Council to streamline domestic and international management activities, such as stock assessment and biological reference E:\FR\FM\27FEP1.SGM 27FEP1 8416 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 39 / Tuesday, February 27, 2018 / Proposed Rules point reviews, and to better align schedules to meet statutory timelines in section 304(e) and (i) of the MSA (16 U.S.C. 1854(e) and (i)) for making recommendations for domestic regulations and international measures when stocks are determined to be overfished or subject to overfishing. Additionally, this rule’s proposed revisions to 50 CFR 660.709 would ensure that the meeting schedule is not codified in regulations, thus allowing the Council to make changes to the schedule for its meetings in the biennial management cycle, consistent with the HMS FMP, without needing to seek a change in the regulatory language. Allowing the Council to make this type of adjustment without seeking a regulatory change improves the efficiency with which future changes to the biennial management cycle can be implemented. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Regulations This proposed rule would amend 50 CFR 660.709 to update the descriptions of biennial management cycle activities under the HMS FMP and shift the schedule of Council meetings from June, September, and November to September, November, and March by referring to the schedule specified in the HMS FMP. Thus, the proposed regulations remove the need to make future schedule changes to the Council’s biennial management cycle through a rulemaking. Classification Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA (16 U.S.C. 1854(b)(1)(A)), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, NMFS has established a size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:03 Feb 26, 2018 Jkt 244001 (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. However, this proposed rule to revise regulations at 50 CFR 660.709, consistent with Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP, is administrative in nature and will not directly affect the operations of any businesses, small or large, that are authorized to catch finfish under the HMS FMP. Because the proposed action does not include revisions to stock status determination criteria (i.e., minimum stock size thresholds or maximum fishing mortality thresholds) used to determine whether management unit species of the HMS FMP are subject to overfishing or are overfished, the proposed action will not directly affect fishing activities authorized under the HMS FMP or the harvest levels of these fisheries. Therefore, there are no significant economic impacts on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and none has been prepared. There are no new collection-ofinformation requirements associated with this action that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act; however, existing collection-of-information requirements associated with the HMS FMP still apply. These requirements have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB control numbers 0648–0204, 0648–0223, 0648– 0361, 0648–0498). Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection-ofinformation subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-ofinformation displays a currently valid OMB control number. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: February 22, 2018. 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 proposed to be amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES Subpart K—Highly Migratory Fisheries 1. The authority citation for part 660, subpart K, continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2. In § 660.709, remove paragraphs (a)(2) and (a)(3), redesignate paragraph (a)(4) as (a)(2), and revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (d) to read as follows: ■ § 660.709 Annual specifications. (a) Procedure. (1) Each year, the HMSMT will deliver a stock assessment and fishery evaluation report to the Council for all HMS with any necessary recommendations for harvest guidelines, quotas or other management measures to protect HMS, including updated maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and optimum yield (OY) estimates based on the best available science. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee may review the estimates and make a recommendation on their suitability for management. As described in the fishery management plan, the Council will periodically review these recommendations and decide whether to adopt updated numerical estimates of MSY and OY, which are then submitted as recommendations for NMFS to review as part of the management measures review process. * * * * * (d) Irrespective of the normal review process, the Council may propose management action to protect HMS at any time. The Council may adopt a management cycle different from the one described in the fishery management plan provided that such change is made by a majority vote of the Council and a 6-month notice of the change is given. [FR Doc. 2018–03963 Filed 2–26–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 600 [Docket No. 160908833–7999–01] RIN 0648–BG34 Requirements of the Vessel Monitoring System Type-Approval; Reopening of Public Comment Period National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period. AGENCY: The National Marine Fisheries Service is reopening the public comment period on the proposed rule on requirements of the Vessel SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27FEP1.SGM 27FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 39 (Tuesday, February 27, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8414-8416]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-03963]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 171026999-8049-01]
RIN 0648-BH36


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; 
Amendment 4 to Fishery Management Plan for West Coast Highly Migratory 
Species Fisheries; Revisions to the Biennial Management Cycle

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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[[Page 8415]]

SUMMARY: Based on a recommendation from the Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) NMFS is proposing to revise regulations under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to 
implement Amendment 4 to the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West 
Coast Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP). The intent of Amendment 4 is 
to bring descriptions of the management context for HMS fisheries up to 
date, to better describe the Council's role in the process of making 
stock status determinations for highly migratory species (HMS), 
including the Council's evaluations of the best scientific information 
available (BSIA), and to change the schedule of the Council's three-
meeting biennial management cycle for HMS stocks. Consistent with 
Amendment 4, this proposed rule would update and amend the descriptions 
of biennial management cycle activities in the regulations for the HMS 
FMP to allow the Council to shift the schedule of Council meetings for 
the consideration of HMS management actions from June, September, and 
November to September, November, and March. The changes proposed to 
biennial management cycle activities and the schedule are intended to 
better streamline international and domestic management processes for 
HMS. Amendment 4 and this proposed rule are administrative in nature 
and are not expected to affect activities authorized under the FMP or 
harvest levels of HMS.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be 
submitted in writing by April 13, 2018. However, please note that 
comments regarding the decision to approve, disapprove, or partially 
approve Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP must be submitted by the end of the 
comment period for the Notice of Availability (NOA) for Amendment 4, 
which was published separately in the Federal Register on January 23, 
2018 (see the NOA at 83 FR 3108).

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2017-0138, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0138, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to [email protected], 
NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 
4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ``NOAA-NMFS-2017-
0138'' in the comments.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by 
NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or 
individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be 
considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and 
will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov 
without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, 
address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    Copies of the proposed Amendment 4, Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) 
and other supporting documents are available via the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2017-
0138, or contact Amber Rhodes, NMFS West Coast Region, 562-980-3231, 
[email protected] or Heidi Taylor, NMFS West Coast Region, 562-980-
4039, [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Rhodes, NMFS, 562-980-3231, 
[email protected] or Heidi Taylor, NMFS, 562-980-4039, 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    During the Council's 2016 biennial management cycle meetings for 
HMS and considerations for recent revisions to agency guidelines for 
National Standard 1 (81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016), key differences 
became evident regarding the management of HMS stocks versus other 
Council-managed stocks for which management activities are largely or 
fully within the scope of Council jurisdiction. In contrast to 
assessments for other Council-managed stocks, which are conducted by 
NMFS, most HMS assessments are conducted by teams of regional fishery 
management organization (RFMO) scientific committees, which may include 
scientists from the United States and other participating nations in 
Pacific HMS fisheries or international scientists who work at RFMOs. 
Additionally, NMFS employs peer review processes to determine whether 
the output of international HMS assessments meet the BSIA standard. 
(See the August 16, 2016, notice of regional peer review processes, 81 
FR 54561.) These peer review processes are consistent with BSIA 
determinations for most U.S.-targeted stocks subject to international 
agreements. Following these steps, NMFS uses assessment outputs that 
meet the BSIA standard to determine stock status by applying the status 
determination criteria (i.e., maximum fishing mortality thresholds and 
minimum stock size thresholds) in the HMS FMP.
    During its September 2017 meeting, the Council decided to submit 
Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP to NMFS for review. In a January 23, 2018, 
Notice of Availability (83 FR 3108), NMFS announced that the Council 
submitted Amendment 4 to the Secretary of Commerce for approval, and 
requested comments on Amendment 4. Amendment 4 intends to bring 
descriptions of the management context for HMS fisheries up to date and 
to shift the schedule for the Council's biennial management cycle. 
Finalization of this proposed rule to revise regulations at 50 CFR 
660.709 is contingent upon approval of Amendment 4 and NMFS responses 
to comments received on this proposed rule.
    Amendment 4 is intended to better align the Council's biennial 
management cycle for HMS with the timing of international stock 
assessments and stock status determinations. Most HMS are 
internationally assessed, and stock assessments for HMS, unlike 
assessments for domestically-managed stocks, are not routinely subject 
to the review of the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee for 
purposes of determining BSIA. Therefore, the results from updated 
international assessments that have been determined to be BSIA may not 
be readily available to the Council during their June and September 
meetings for scoping, determining alternatives, and selecting preferred 
management recommendations to address the status of stocks deemed 
overfished or subject to overfishing. Thus, these decisions currently 
must occur on an ad hoc basis, sometimes resulting in inefficiencies 
and in difficulties in interpreting and applying outdated information. 
The changes to the current biennial management cycle included in 
Amendment 4 and implemented by this proposed rule would allow the 
Council to streamline domestic and international management activities, 
such as stock assessment and biological reference

[[Page 8416]]

point reviews, and to better align schedules to meet statutory 
timelines in section 304(e) and (i) of the MSA (16 U.S.C. 1854(e) and 
(i)) for making recommendations for domestic regulations and 
international measures when stocks are determined to be overfished or 
subject to overfishing. Additionally, this rule's proposed revisions to 
50 CFR 660.709 would ensure that the meeting schedule is not codified 
in regulations, thus allowing the Council to make changes to the 
schedule for its meetings in the biennial management cycle, consistent 
with the HMS FMP, without needing to seek a change in the regulatory 
language. Allowing the Council to make this type of adjustment without 
seeking a regulatory change improves the efficiency with which future 
changes to the biennial management cycle can be implemented.

Proposed Regulations

    This proposed rule would amend 50 CFR 660.709 to update the 
descriptions of biennial management cycle activities under the HMS FMP 
and shift the schedule of Council meetings from June, September, and 
November to September, November, and March by referring to the schedule 
specified in the HMS FMP. Thus, the proposed regulations remove the 
need to make future schedule changes to the Council's biennial 
management cycle through a rulemaking.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA (16 U.S.C. 
1854(b)(1)(A)), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that 
this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP, other 
provisions of the MSA, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, NMFS has 
established a size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, 
whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A 
business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is 
classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 
million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. However, this 
proposed rule to revise regulations at 50 CFR 660.709, consistent with 
Amendment 4 to the HMS FMP, is administrative in nature and will not 
directly affect the operations of any businesses, small or large, that 
are authorized to catch finfish under the HMS FMP. Because the proposed 
action does not include revisions to stock status determination 
criteria (i.e., minimum stock size thresholds or maximum fishing 
mortality thresholds) used to determine whether management unit species 
of the HMS FMP are subject to overfishing or are overfished, the 
proposed action will not directly affect fishing activities authorized 
under the HMS FMP or the harvest levels of these fisheries. Therefore, 
there are no significant economic impacts on a substantial number of 
small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required, and none has been prepared.
    There are no new collection-of-information requirements associated 
with this action that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act; 
however, existing collection-of-information requirements associated 
with the HMS FMP still apply. These requirements have been approved by 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB control numbers 0648-0204, 
0648-0223, 0648-0361, 0648-0498). Notwithstanding any other provision 
of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be 
subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection-of-
information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that 
collection-of-information displays a currently valid OMB control 
number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.


    Dated: February 22, 2018.
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 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

Subpart K--Highly Migratory Fisheries

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  660.709, remove paragraphs (a)(2) and (a)(3), redesignate 
paragraph (a)(4) as (a)(2), and revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (d) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.709   Annual specifications.

    (a) Procedure. (1) Each year, the HMSMT will deliver a stock 
assessment and fishery evaluation report to the Council for all HMS 
with any necessary recommendations for harvest guidelines, quotas or 
other management measures to protect HMS, including updated maximum 
sustainable yield (MSY) and optimum yield (OY) estimates based on the 
best available science. The Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee may review the estimates and make a recommendation on their 
suitability for management. As described in the fishery management 
plan, the Council will periodically review these recommendations and 
decide whether to adopt updated numerical estimates of MSY and OY, 
which are then submitted as recommendations for NMFS to review as part 
of the management measures review process.
* * * * *
    (d) Irrespective of the normal review process, the Council may 
propose management action to protect HMS at any time. The Council may 
adopt a management cycle different from the one described in the 
fishery management plan provided that such change is made by a majority 
vote of the Council and a 6-month notice of the change is given.

[FR Doc. 2018-03963 Filed 2-26-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P