Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 62794-62814 [2018-26390]

Download as PDF 62794 * * Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules * * * Dated: October 11, 2018. James W. Kurth, Deputy Director, Exercising the Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2018–26388 Filed 12–4–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–C DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 180831813–8813–01] RIN 0648–XG471 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. SUMMARY: Comments must be received by January 7, 2019. ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2018–0103, by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20180103, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http:// www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region website at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. An updated SIR for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications will be available from the same sources. The final 2017 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2017, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907–271– 2809, or from the Council’s website at http://www.npfmc.org. The 2018 SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680. The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (§ 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this rule satisfy these requirements. For 2019 and 2020, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 375,280 mt. Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2018 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2019 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2018 SAFE report prepared for the 2019 and 2020 groundfish fisheries. Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications Amendment 106: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species On July 6, 2018, NMFS published the final rule to implement Amendment 106 to the FMP (83 FR 31460). This rule reclassified squid in the FMP as an ‘‘Ecosystem Component’’ species, which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Accordingly, NMFS will no longer set an Overfishing Level (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), and TAC for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Amendment 106 prohibits directed fishing for squid, while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting requirements for squid. Amendment 106 also establishes a squid maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage targeting squid species. Rulemaking To Prohibit Directed Fishing for American Fisheries Act (AFA) and Crab Rationalization (CR) Program Sideboard Limits On August 16, 2018, NMFS published a proposed rule (83 FR 40733) that would modify regulations for the AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to limits on the catch of specific species (sideboard limits) in the GOA. Sideboard limits are intended to prevent participants who benefit from receiving exclusive harvesting privileges in a particular fishery from shifting effort into other fisheries. Specifically, the proposed rule would primarily establish regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. The proposed rule would streamline and simplify NMFS’s management of applicable groundfish sideboard limits. Currently, NMFS calculates numerous AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits as part of the annual GOA groundfish harvest specifications process and publishes these limits in the Federal Register. Concurrently, NMFS prohibits directed fishing for the majority of the groundfish sideboard limits because most limits are too small to support directed fishing. Rather than continue this annual process, this action proposes to revise regulations to prohibit directed fishing in regulation for most AFA Program and CR Program groundfish sideboard limits. NMFS would no longer calculate and publish AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for most groundfish species in the annual GOA harvest specifications. If the final rulemaking implementing these changes is effective prior to the publication of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, NMFS would no longer publish the majority of the sideboard limits contained in Tables 13 and 15 of this proposed action. Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications At the October 2018 Council meeting, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2017 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2017 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species’ biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends—and the SSC sets—an OFL and ABC for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 2019 and 2020 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2017 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2018 SAFE report. The draft stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2018 SAFE report are available at https://www.npfmc.org/fisherymanagement-plan-team/goa-bsaigroundfish-plan-team/. The final SAFE report will be available from the same source. In November 2018, the Plan Team will update the 2017 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2018, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and present the draft 2018 SAFE report at the December 2018 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council will review the 2018 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2018 SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2018 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2018 Plan Team meeting and December 2018 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(2) and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs to fall within the optimum yield range. In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, potential changes to assessment models, and accompanying, preliminary stock estimates at the September 2018 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2018 Council meeting. The species with possible significant model changes are demersal shelf rockfish, northern rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, and sharks. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs. In November 2018, the Plan Team will consider updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2018 SAFE report. If the 2018 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2019 and 2020 PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 62795 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the 2018 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. The proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the tiers to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The tiers applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council adopted the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations. These amounts have changed from the final 2019 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2018 (83 FR 8768) as a result of the removal of squid as a specified species. This results in an OFL reduction of 1,516 mt, and ABC and TAC reductions of 1,137 mt. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts The Council recommended proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of pollock in the Western and Central GOA and the West Yakutat District of the Eastern GOA, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, ‘‘other rockfish’’ in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, and Atka mackerel. The combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock TACs and GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska’s (State’s) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for the State water pollock and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62796 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards of the species in that complex. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. These reductions are described below. NMFS’ proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on these apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here. The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western and Central Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2019 and 2020, the SSC recommended and the Council recommended the combined W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2017 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2019, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 2,664 mt, a decrease from the 2018 PWS GHL of 4,037 mt. After accounting for PWS GHL, the 2019 and 2020 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/WYK areas is then apportioned between four statistical areas (Areas 67, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2019 and 2020 pollock ABC is 106,569 mt, and the proposed TAC is 103,905 mt. Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be ‘‘apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)’’ rather than ‘‘ABCs.’’ This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 67, 620, and 630 pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded. NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610), Central (Areas 620 and 630), and the West Yakutat District (Area 640) and the SEO District (Area 650) of the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA between Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (§§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts. The proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Therefore, the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,290 mt; (2) Central GOA, 1,917 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 425 mt. These amounts reflect the State’s 2019 and 2020 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA proposed ABCs. NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionments of the Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 7, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line and pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational sectors. Additional detail is provided below; Table 3 lists the amounts apportioned to each sector. The Council’s recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (§ 679.7(b)(1)) and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to vessels using trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other trawl groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2019 and 2020 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA. For 2019 and 2020, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. Table 1 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2017 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 375,280 mt for 2019 and 2020, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the 2018 SAFE report and the Council’s recommendations for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications during its December 2018 meeting. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... Shumagin (610) .............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4702 OFL Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM ABC n/a 06DEP1 19,921 TAC 2 19,921 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules 62797 TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Pacific cod 3 .................................................... Sablefish 4 ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Flathead sole .................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 OFL ABC TAC 2 Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) ....................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a 131,170 11,697 52,459 27,016 4,509 106,569 8,773 52,459 27,016 4,509 103,905 8,773 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 142,867 n/a n/a n/a 115,341 7,633 7,667 1,700 112,678 5,343 5,750 1,275 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... 21,412 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 17,000 2,174 7,260 2,573 4,187 6,760 12,368 2,174 7,260 2,573 4,187 6,760 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 35,989 n/a n/a n/a n/a 16,194 25,544 25,655 2,272 1,951 16,194 13,250 25,655 2,272 1,951 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 68,114 n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,422 416 3,442 3,279 2,361 43,128 416 3,442 3,279 2,361 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 11,431 n/a n/a n/a n/a 9,499 2,909 8,236 1,657 1,727 9,499 2,909 8,236 1,657 1,727 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 17,692 n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,529 35,844 70,700 15,845 22,845 14,529 14,500 48,000 6,900 6,900 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 173,872 n/a n/a n/a n/a 145,234 13,222 21,087 2,013 424 76,300 8,650 15,400 2,013 424 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... W/C/WYK ....................................................... SEO ................................................................ 44,822 n/a n/a n/a 31,170 2,840 36,746 3,240 19,678 3,298 26,216 2,389 26,487 3,240 19,678 3,298 26,216 2,389 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 34,010 n/a n/a n/a 28,605 382 2,965 3 28,605 382 2,965 ........................ Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 3,984 n/a n/a n/a 3,350 44 305 514 3,347 44 305 514 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... 1,151 n/a n/a n/a 863 135 3,246 215 863 135 3,246 215 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62798 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, AND EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL SEO ................................................................ n/a 72 72 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,488 n/a n/a n/a 3,668 174 550 703 3,668 174 550 703 Total ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 1,715 394 n/a n/a n/a 1,427 250 344 921 773 1,427 250 344 921 773 Total ............................................................... W/C combined ................................................ WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 2,717 n/a n/a n/a 2,038 1,737 368 3,488 2,038 1,737 368 200 Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 7,356 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 5,593 4,700 504 1,774 570 2,305 3,000 504 1,774 570 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 3,797 n/a n/a n/a 2,848 149 2,804 619 2,848 149 2,804 619 Other skates 18 ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Octopuses ....................................................... Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. 4,763 1,845 6,958 6,020 1,300 3,572 1,384 5,301 4,514 975 3,572 1,384 5,301 4,514 975 Total 19 ..................................................... ......................................................................... 602,897 479,050 375,280 Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish 13 .................................... Other rockfish 14 15 .......................................... Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skates 16 .................................................... Longnose skates 17 ......................................... 1 Regulatory khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL TAC 2 ABC areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2 The total for the W/C/WYK management area pollock ABC is 106,569 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,664 mt) of that ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 103,905 mt (for the W/C/WYK management areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 67, 620, 630, and 640). These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2. In the West Yakutat (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to fixed and trawl gear in 2019 and trawl gear in 2020. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2019 and 2020 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 ‘‘Shallow-water flatfish’’ means flatfish not including ‘‘deep-water flatfish,’’ flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 ‘‘Deep-water flatfish’’ means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area has been included in the other rockfish species group. 9 ‘‘Shortraker rockfish’’ means Sebastes borealis. 10 ‘‘Dusky rockfish’’ means Sebastes variabilis. 11 ‘‘Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish’’ means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 ‘‘Demersal shelf rockfish’’ means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 ‘‘Thornyhead rockfish’’ means Sebastes species. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, ‘‘other rockfish’’ also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish species included in the ‘‘other rockfish’’ and demersal shelf rockfish categories. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 16 ‘‘Big skates’’ means Raja binoculata. 17 ‘‘Longnose skates’’ means Raja rhina. 18 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules 62799 19 On July 6, 2018, the final rule to implement Amendment 106 to the FMP was published (83 FR 31460). This rule reclassified squid in the FMP as an ‘‘Ecosystem Component’’ species, which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. NMFS will no longer set an OFL, ABC, and TAC for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Proposed Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all or part of these reserves. In 2018, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary and the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the abovementioned species or species groups contains the full TAC recommended by the Council. Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 7, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments had historically, since 2000, been based on the proportional distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments were in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2019 and 2020, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, following the methodology that was used for the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. This methodology averages the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the best available information about migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 73 percent, and 24 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 85 percent, and 11 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 37 percent, 27 percent, and 37 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630, respectively. The pollock chapter of the 2017 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment process and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments. Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2019 and 2020 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 4,509 mt and the SEO District of 8,773 mt are not allocated by season. Table 2 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, the incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined during the 2019 fishing year during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component. TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season 2 A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:08 Dec 04, 2018 Shumagin (Area 610) 869 869 Jkt 247001 Chirikof (Area 620) (3.50%) (3.50%) PO 00000 Frm 00064 18,025 21,219 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Total 3 Kodiak (Area 630) (72.54%) (85.39%) E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 5,955 2,761 06DEP1 (23.97%) (11.11%) 24,849 24,849 62800 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION, AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC 1—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... 9,091 (36.59%) 6,608 (26.59%) 9,150 (36.82%) 24,849 D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 9,091 (36.59%) 6,608 (26.59%) 9,150 (36.82%) 24,849 Annual Total .......... 19,921 ........................ 52,459 ........................ 27,016 ........................ 99,395 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also proposes allocating the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/ processors (C/Ps) using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season. Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishing year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years. NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical harvest performance through 2017. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 1.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and no additional performance increase. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional performance increase. The 2014–2017 Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Figure 1. FIGURE 1—SUMMARY OF WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA PACIFIC COD CATCH BY JIG GEAR IN 2014 THROUGH 2017, AND CORRESPONDING PERCENT ALLOCATION CHANGES khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Area Initial percent of TAC (%) Year Initial TAC allocation Percent of initial allocation (%) Catch (mt) >90% of initial allocation? Change to percent allocation WGOA .......... 2014 2015 2016 2017 2.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 573 948 992 635 785 55 52 49 137 6 5 8 Y N N N Increase 1%. None. Decrease 1%. Decrease 1%. CGOA .......... 2014 2015 2016 2017 2.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 797 460 370 331 262 355 267 18 33 77 72 6 N N N N Decrease 1%. None. None. None. NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2018 harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:08 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 when the 2018 fishing year is complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 action in conjunction with the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. The current catch through October 2018 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62801 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules by the Western GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector would probably increase by 1 percent in 2019 (from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent). Also, the current catch by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector’s Pacific cod allocation percentage would not change in 2019, and would remain at 1 percent. NMFS prohibited directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using jig gear in the Central GOA in 2018, due to the small apportionment of Pacific cod to this sector and the potential for the Central GOA jig sector to exceed the TAC, were directed fishing to be open. The jig sector allocations for the Western and Central GOA are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) seasons (§§ 679.20(a)(12)(i) and 679.23(d)(3)(iii)). Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs. TABLE 3—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATIONS OF PACIFIC COD TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA FOR PROCESSING BY THE INSHORE AND OFFSHORE COMPONENTS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] A Season Annual allocation (mt) Regulatory area and sector Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC B Season Seasonal allowances (mt) Sector percentage of annual non-jig TAC Seasonal allowances (mt) Western GOA Jig (1.5% of TAC) ................................................................ Hook-and-line CV ................................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ................................................................ Trawl CV .............................................................................. Trawl C/P ............................................................................. Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................................. 80 74 1,042 2,021 126 2,000 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 48 37 574 1,458 47 1,042 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 23 37 468 563 79 958 Total .............................................................................. 5,343 60.00 3,206 40.00 2,137 Central GOA Jig (1.0% of TAC) ................................................................ Hook-and-line <50 CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line ≥50 CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ................................................................ Trawl CV 1 ............................................................................ Trawl C/P ............................................................................. Pot CV and Pot C/P ............................................................. 58 831 382 291 2,367 239 1,583 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.13 2.00 17.83 35 530 319 234 1,203 114 1,015 N/A 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 32 301 62 57 1,164 125 568 Total .............................................................................. 5,750 60.00 3,450 40.00 2,300 Eastern GOA ........................................................................ ........................ Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 1,148 128 1,275 1 Trawl khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 219 mt, of the annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC. This apportionment percentage is specified in Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679. This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA). Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish, while directed fishing for other target species using trawl gear (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:47 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District. The remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC is available to vessels using fixed gear. This proposed action allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This results in a proposed 2019 allocation of 338 mt to trawl gear and 2,235 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 2019 allocation of 4,187 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a proposed 2020 allocation of 338 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2019 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 proposed 2020 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2019 and 2020 trawl allocations, respectively. The Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62802 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 4 lists the proposed 2019 fixed gear allocations, and the 2020 fixed gear allocations will be specified in the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. TABLE 4—PROPOSED 2019 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO FIXED AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Fixed gear allocation TAC Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central 1 ....................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... Total ...................................................................................................................................... 2,174 7,260 2,573 4,187 16,194 1,739 5,808 2,235 4,187 13,969 Trawl allocation 435 1,452 338 0 2,225 1 The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (747 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 705 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 5—PROPOSED 2020 SABLEFISH TAC AMOUNTS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATION TO TRAWL GEAR 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Fixed gear allocation TAC Western ...................................................................................................... Central 2 ..................................................................................................... West Yakutat 3 ........................................................................................... Southeast Outside ..................................................................................... Total .................................................................................................... 2,174 7,260 2,573 4,187 16,194 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a .................................................... .................................................... .................................................... .................................................... .................................................... Trawl allocation 435 1,452 338 0 2,225 1 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (747 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 705 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 3 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. 2 The khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the Rockfish Program These proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear. Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries (§ 679.81(a)(2)). Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d) and Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish Program also establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters that operate under the Rockfish Program PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions, as well as halibut PSC limits, are discussed in a subsequent section titled ‘‘Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.’’ Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2019 and 2020. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2018, the catch for all three primary species did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62803 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules level longline fishery 2019 and 2020 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives (§ 679.81(a)(2)(iii)). Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the potential incremental increases for future years, and the maximum percentages of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery. TABLE 6—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA Rockfish primary species 2019 and 2020 allocations Incremental increase in 2020 if ≥90 percent of 2019 allocation is harvested Pacific ocean perch ................................ Northern rockfish .................................... Dusky rockfish ........................................ 5 metric tons ......................................... 5 metric tons ......................................... 50 metric tons ....................................... 5 metric tons ......................................... 5 metric tons ......................................... 20 metric tons ....................................... Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 allocations of rockfish primary species in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and C/ P cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central Up to maximum percent of each TAC of: 1% 2% 5% P cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2019 and 2020 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2019 allocations on the Alaska Region website at http:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/ central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1. GOA of 4,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries. Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and C/ TABLE 7—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 ALLOCATIONS OF ROCKFISH PRIMARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF ALASKA TO THE ENTRY LEVEL LONGLINE FISHERY AND ROCKFISH COOPERATIVES IN THE ROCKFISH PROGRAM [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Central GOA TAC Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance (ICA) TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the rockfish cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 19,678 2,965 3,246 4,000 300 250 15,678 2,665 2,996 5 5 50 15,673 2,660 2,946 Total .............................................................................. 25,889 4,550 21,339 60 21,279 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (§ 679.2). cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (§ 679.81). Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and C/ P cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/ P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives. TABLE 8—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are in metric tons] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye rockfish ............................................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:47 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.0 0.0 7.84 219 492 0 0 72 0.0 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 0 255 122 324 244 5,750 7,260 305 550 921 Fmt 4702 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62804 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2018, the Council recommended proposed halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District. The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) The duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of the 250 mt TAC for DSR in 2018, 50 mt were available for directed fishing by the DSR commercial fishery, of which 26 mt were harvested (through November 6, 2018). The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2019 and 2020. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear. The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2018. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 30, 2018, is 1,037 mt for trawl gear and 44 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,081 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region’s catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery. Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment and the information presented in the 2018 SAFE report, the Council may recommend, or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications pursuant to § 679.21(d)(1) and (d)(4). The final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) summarized the Council’s and NMFS’ findings with respect to halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council’s and NMFS’ findings for 2019 are unchanged from 2018. Table 9 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at § 679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specifies that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. TABLE 9—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent Season khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL DSR Amount January 20–April 1 ........... April 1–July 1 .................... July 1–September 1 ......... 27.5 20 30 469 341 512 September 1–October 1 ... October 1–December 31 .. 7.5 15 Total .......................... ................ Percent Amount Season Amount 86 2 12 221 5 31 January 1–December 31 .......................................... .......................................... 9 ................ ................ 128 256 January 1–June 10 ......... June 10–September 1 ..... September 1–December 31. .......................................... .......................................... ................ ................ ................ ................ .......................................... .......................................... ................ ................ 1,706 .......................................... ................ 257 .......................................... 9 1 The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories listed in VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:47 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 § 679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallowwater species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, and ‘‘other species’’ (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004). NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent practicable. This provides the deep-water and shallow-water trawl fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year. Table 10 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries. Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/ P sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This 62805 includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery’s halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment. Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be reapportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the remainder of the fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)). TABLE 10—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS OF THE PACIFIC HALIBUT PSC LIMIT APPORTIONED BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR SHALLOW-WATER AND DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Deep-water 1 Shallow-water Total January 20–April 1 ....................................................... April 1–July 1 ................................................................ July 1–September 1 ..................................................... September 1–October 1 ............................................... 384 85 171 128 85 .................................................................................. 256 ................................................................................ 341 ................................................................................ Any remainder .............................................................. 469 341 512 128 Subtotal, January 20–October 1 .................................. 768 682 ................................................................................ 1,450 October 1–December 31 2 ............................................ ........................ ....................................................................................... 256 Total ....................................................................... ........................ ....................................................................................... 1,706 1 Vessels khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through September 1) deepwater species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments of 120 mt and 137 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2019 and 2020 annual halibut PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors in the GOA. No later than November 1 each year, any halibut PSC limit allocated under § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(B) not projected by the PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Regional Administrator to be used by one of the hook-and-line sectors during the remainder of the fishing year will be made available to the other sector. NMFS calculates the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either the CV hook-and-line or the C/P hookand-line sectors of the ‘‘other hook-andline fishery’’ for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of these sectors is made available to the remaining hook-and-line sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)). E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62806 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 11—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERIES’’ HALIBUT PSC ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-andline sector 257 ............... Catcher Vessel .............. 120 Catcher/Processor ......... 137 Sector annual amount Halibut Discard Mortality Rates To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery’s halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers’ estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report. In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council’s directive. An interagency Seasonal percentage Season January 1–June 10 ................................................ June 10–September 1 ........................................... September 1–December 31 .................................. January 1–June 10 ................................................ June 10–September 1 ........................................... September 1–December 31 .................................. halibut working group (International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group’s statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group’s revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, and transferability in the methodology used for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data, and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 103 2 14 118 3 16 using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. In October 2018, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2019 and 2020 DMRs. The proposed 2019 and 2020 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference period of 2016 and 2017. Comparing the proposed DMRs to the final DMRs from the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 49 percent from 62 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Ps and motherships using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 79 percent from 84 percent, and the proposed DMRs for C/Ps and CVs using hook-and-line gear increased to 11 percent from 10 percent, and to 21 percent from 17 percent, respectively. Finally, the DMR for C/Ps and CVs using pot gear decreased to 4 percent from 7 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 DMRs. TABLE 12—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 DMRS FOR VESSELS FISHING IN THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Groundfish fishery Pelagic trawl ............................................ Catcher vessel ......................................... Catcher/processor ................................... Catcher vessel ......................................... Catcher vessel ......................................... Mothership and catcher/processor .......... Catcher/processor ................................... Catcher vessel ......................................... Catcher vessel and catcher/processor .... All ............................................................. All ............................................................. Rockfish Program .................................... All others ................................................. All ............................................................. All ............................................................. All ............................................................. All ............................................................. Non-pelagic trawl ..................................... khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Hook-and-line .......................................... Pot ........................................................... Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in the directed pollock trawl fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) 100 100 49 67 79 11 21 4 directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii). Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit. The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2018 (3,120 for trawl C/Ps and 2,340 for trawl CVs), that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2019 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 for trawl C/Ps and 3,060 for trawl CVs) (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2018 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2018 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/P sector and the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2019. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. AFA C/P and CV Groundfish Sideboard Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 62807 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes for CVs the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period. As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a proposed rule (83 FR 40733, August 16, 2018) that would, if implemented, establish regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for non-exempt AFA CV sideboards through the GOA annual harvest specifications. This would apply to most, but not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Table 13. If the final rulemaking to implement the proposed changes to sideboard management is effective prior to the publication of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, NMFS would incorporate such changes into the specification and management of nonexempt AFA CV sideboard limits. Table 13 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 13. TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/ gear Area/component Pollock ................................... A Season .............................. January 20–March 10 ........... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... B Season .............................. March 10–May 31 ................. khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL C Season .............................. August 25–October 1 ........... D Season .............................. October 1–November 1 ........ Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 A Season 1 ............................ January 1–June 10 ............... B Season 2 ............................ September 1–December 31 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.6047 0.1167 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs 3 869 18,025 5,955 869 21,219 2,761 9,091 6,608 9,150 9,091 6,608 9,150 4,509 8,773 3,206 3,450 2,137 2,300 Proposed 2019 and 2020 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 525 2,103 1,208 525 2,476 560 5,498 771 1,856 5,498 771 1,856 1,576 3,066 427 239 284 159 62808 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 13—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area/component Annual ................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Sablefish ................................ Annual, trawl gear ................ Flatfish, shallow-water ........... Annual ................................... Flatfish, deep-water ............... Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky Rockfish ...................... Annual ................................... Rougheye rockfish ................. Annual ................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ......... Thornyhead rockfish .............. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other Rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ........................ Big skates .............................. Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skates ................... Annual ................................... Other skates .......................... Sculpins ................................. Sharks ................................... Octopuses ............................. Annual Annual Annual Annual 1 The 2 The 3 The khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Apportionments by season/ gear ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 0.0079 0.0078 0.0000 0.0642 0.0433 0.0156 0.0587 0.0126 0.0000 0.0647 0.0128 0.0007 0.0384 0.0029 0.0021 0.0280 0.0002 0.0036 0.0213 0.0009 0.0023 0.0748 0.0466 0.0003 0.0277 0.0000 0.0218 0.0110 0.0001 0.0000 0.0067 0.0000 0.0237 0.0124 0.0020 0.0280 0.0280 0.0280 0.1699 0.0000 0.0309 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 0.0063 Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs 3 1,148 128 435 1,452 338 13,250 25,655 4,223 416 3,442 5,640 2,909 8,236 3,384 14,500 48,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,437 3,240 19,678 5,687 382 2,965 44 305 514 135 3,246 287 174 550 703 250 344 921 773 1,737 568 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 4,514 975 Proposed 2019 and 2020 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 9 1 0 93 15 207 1,506 53 0 223 72 2 316 10 30 1,344 3 31 328 2 7 1,472 265 0 82 0 7 6 0 0 2 0 13 9 1 10 26 22 295 0 93 3 11 4 1 18 4 9 33 28 6 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs. Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:34 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules 62809 TABLE 14—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ............... January 20–April 1 .............................. 2 ............... April 1–July 1 ....................................... 3 ............... July 1–September 1 ............................ 4 ............... September 1–October 1 ...................... 5 ............... October 1–December 31 ..................... shallow-water ....................................... deep-water ........................................... shallow-water ....................................... deep-water ........................................... shallow-water ....................................... deep-water ........................................... shallow-water ....................................... deep-water ........................................... all targets ............................................. Annual Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch Proposed 2019 and 2020 PSC limit 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 85 85 256 171 341 128 0 256 Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the CR Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels’ catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. 131 6 29 18 58 24 44 0 52 Total shallow-water ............................. 262 Total deep-water ................................. 48 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits Proposed 2019 and 2020 nonexempt AFA CV PSC limit The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015). As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a proposed rule (83 FR 40733, August 16, 2018) that would, if implemented, establish regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting 1,706 362 directed fishing for non-AFA crab vessel sideboards through the GOA annual harvest specifications. This would apply to most, but not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Table 15. If the final rulemaking to implement the proposed changes to sideboard management is effective prior to the publication of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, NMFS would incorporate such changes into the specification and the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limits. Table 15 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard limits for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits. TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/ gear Pollock .............................................. A Season ......................................... January 20–March 10 ...................... Shumagin (610) ............................... Chirikof (620) ................................... Kodiak (630) ..................................... Shumagin (610) ............................... Chirikof (620) ................................... Kodiak (630) ..................................... Shumagin (610) ............................... Chirikof (620) ................................... Kodiak (630) ..................................... Shumagin (610) ............................... B Season ......................................... March 10–May 31 ............................ C Season ......................................... August 25–October 1 ....................... D Season ......................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 06DEP1 Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs 869 18,025 5,955 869 21,219 2,761 9,091 6,608 9,150 9,091 Proposed 2019 and 2020 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 9 56 1 9 66 1 89 20 2 89 62810 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season/gear Area/component/ gear October 1–November 1 ................... Chirikof (620) ................................... Kodiak (630) ..................................... WYK (640) ....................................... SEO (650) ........................................ W Jig CV .......................................... W Hook-and-line CV ........................ W Pot CV ......................................... W Pot C/P ........................................ W Trawl CV ...................................... C Jig CV ........................................... C Hook-and-line CV ......................... C Pot CV .......................................... C Pot C/P ......................................... C Trawl CV ...................................... W Jig CV .......................................... W Hook-and-line CV ........................ W Pot CV ......................................... W Pot C/P ........................................ W Trawl CV ...................................... C Jig CV ........................................... C Hook-and-line CV ......................... C Pot CV .......................................... C Pot C/P ......................................... C Trawl CV ...................................... E inshore .......................................... E offshore ......................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... SEO .................................................. W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W/C .................................................. E ....................................................... Gulfwide ........................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... W ...................................................... C ....................................................... E ....................................................... Gulfwide ........................................... Gulfwide ........................................... Gulfwide ........................................... Species Annual .............................................. Pacific cod ........................................ A Season 1 ....................................... January 1–June 10 .......................... B Season 2 ....................................... September 1–December 31 ............. khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Annual .............................................. Sablefish .......................................... Annual, trawl gear ............................ Flatfish, shallow-water ..................... Annual .............................................. Flatfish, deep-water ......................... Annual .............................................. Rex sole ........................................... Annual .............................................. Arrowtooth flounder .......................... Annual .............................................. Flathead sole ................................... Annual .............................................. Pacific ocean perch ......................... Annual .............................................. Northern rockfish .............................. Annual .............................................. Shortraker rockfish ........................... Annual .............................................. Dusky rockfish .................................. Annual .............................................. Rougheye rockfish ........................... Annual .............................................. Demersal shelf rockfish ................... Thornyhead rockfish ........................ Annual .............................................. Annual .............................................. Other Rockfish ................................. Annual .............................................. Atka mackerel .................................. Big skate .......................................... Annual .............................................. Annual .............................................. Longnose skate ................................ Annual .............................................. Other skates ..................................... Sculpins ............................................ Sharks .............................................. Annual .............................................. Annual .............................................. Annual .............................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 0.0031 0.0002 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0000 0.0004 0.0997 0.0078 0.0007 0.0000 0.0001 0.0474 0.0136 0.0012 0.0110 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0059 0.0001 0.0000 0.0035 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000 0.0002 0.0004 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0005 0.0000 0.0013 0.0012 0.0009 0.0017 0.0000 0.0000 0.0067 0.0047 0.0008 0.0000 0.0047 0.0066 0.0045 0.0033 0.0000 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0392 0.0159 0.0000 0.0176 0.0176 0.0176 06DEP1 Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs 6,608 9,150 4,509 8,773 3,206 3,206 3,206 3,206 3,206 3,450 3,450 3,450 3,450 3,450 2,137 2,137 2,137 2,137 2,137 2,300 2,300 2,300 2,300 2,300 1,148 128 435 1,452 338 13,250 25,655 4,223 416 3,442 5,640 2,909 8,236 3,384 14,500 48,000 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,437 3,240 19,678 5,687 382 2,965 44 305 514 135 3,246 287 174 550 703 250 344 921 773 1,737 568 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 4,514 Proposed 2019 and 2020 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 20 2 0 0 0 1 320 25 2 0 0 164 47 4 0 1 213 17 1 0 0 109 31 3 13 0 0 0 0 78 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 5 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 2 6 3 6 0 0 20 28 0 6 45 0 24 93 79 62811 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 15—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1996– 2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996– 2000 total harvest Species Season/gear Area/component/ gear Octopuses ........................................ Annual .............................................. Gulfwide ........................................... Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs 0.0176 Proposed 2019 and 2020 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 975 17 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (§ 679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries. CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)). C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(2)). Holders of C/Pdesignated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access those sideboard limits that are not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives (§ 679.82(e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District is set forth in § 679.82(e)(4). Table 16 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 16—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR (C/P) SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Fishery C/P sector (% of TAC) Western GOA .............................. Dusky rockfish ............................ Pacific ocean perch .................... Northern rockfish ........................ Dusky rockfish ............................ Pacific ocean perch .................... 72.3 ............................................. 50.6 ............................................. 74.3 ............................................. Confidential 1 ............................... Confidential 1 ............................... West Yakutat District ................... 1 Not 135 3,240 382 215 3,298 Proposed 2019 and 2020 C/P sideboard limit 98. 1,639. 284. Confidential. 1 Confidential. 1 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deepwater and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in § 679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs Area VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 able to access that portion of the deepwater and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have optedout of the Rockfish Program in 2019, and will know the ratios and amounts PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboard limits and post these limits on the Alaska Region website at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/ central-goa-rockfish-program. Table 17 lists the 2019 and 2020 proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector. E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 62812 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 17—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT PSC LIMITS FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Deep-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard ratio (percent) Annual halibut PSC limit (mt) 0.10 2.50 1,706 Catcher/processor ................................................................ Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA. Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. Annual shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 2 Annual deepwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) 43 Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 18 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18. TABLE 18–PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season Area Pollock ................................... A Season .............................. January 20–March 10 ........... ............................................... B Season .............................. March 10–May 31 ................. ............................................... C Season .............................. August 25–October 1 ............ ............................................... D Season .............................. October 1–November 1 ........ ............................................... Annual ................................... A Season 1 ............................ January 1–June 10 ............... B Season 2 ............................ September 1–December 31 Annual ................................... Annual ................................... ............................................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... ............................................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ W ........................................... C ........................................... W ........................................... C ........................................... WYK ...................................... W ........................................... WYK ...................................... W ........................................... W ........................................... WYK ...................................... Pacific cod ............................. Pacific ocean perch .............. Northern rockfish ................... Dusky rockfish ....................... khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC 1 The 2 The 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.003 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.020 0.044 0.020 0.044 0.034 0.994 0.961 1.000 0.764 0.896 Proposed 2019 and 2020 TAC (mt) 869 18,025 5,955 869 21,219 2,761 9,091 6,608 9,150 9,091 6,608 9,150 4,509 3,206 3,450 2,137 2,300 1,275 3,240 3,298 382 135 215 Proposed 2019 and 2020 Amendment 80 vessel sideboard limits (mt) 3 36 12 3 42 6 27 13 18 27 13 18 9 64 152 43 101 43 3,221 3,169 382 103 193 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:22 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules Table 19 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 62813 679. Any residual amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 sideboard halibut PSC limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)). TABLE 19—PROPOSED 2019 AND 2020 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit (ratio) Season Season dates Fishery category 1 ................. January 20–April 1 ............................. ............................................................. April 1–July 1 ...................................... ............................................................. July 1–September 1 ........................... ............................................................. September 1–October 1 ..................... ............................................................. October 1–December 31 .................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... shallow-water ...................................... deep-water .......................................... 2 ................. 3 ................. 4 ................. 5 ................. Annual 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 Total shallow-water ............................ 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 357 Grand Total, all seasons and categories. Classification khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 Proposed 2019 and 2020 Amendment 80 vessel PSC sideboard limit (mt) 117 Total deepwater. NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment. This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final harvest specifications. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and annual SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred Alternative VerDate Sep<11>2014 Proposed 2019 and 2020 annual PSC limit (mt) 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 (Alternative 2) provides the best balance among relevant environmental, social, and economic considerations and allows for continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on the most recent, best scientific information. NMFS prepared an IRFA as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the economic impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 474 alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The IRFA shows that, in 2017, there were 821 individual CVs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate accounts for E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1 khammond on DSK30JT082PROD with PROPOSAL 62814 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 234 / Thursday, December 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI CR Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the ‘‘under $11 million’’ threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 821 small CV entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear CVs, and trawl gear CVs are estimated to be $380,000, $790,000, and $1.97 million, respectively. Revenue data for the three C/Ps considered to be small entities are confidential. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which case TACs would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ‘‘no action alternative,’’ would have set TACs equal to zero. The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest strategy, are those recommended by the Council in October 2018. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council’s Plan Team in September 2018, and reviewed by the Council’s SSC in October 2018. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2019 and 2020 would be 479,050 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is 375,280 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Dec 04, 2018 Jkt 247001 has small entity impacts that may be equivalent to the preferred alternative. However, it is not likely that Alternative 1 would result in reduced adverse economic impacts to directly-regulated small entities relative to Alternative 2. The selection of Alternative 1, which could increase all TACs up to the sum of ABCs, would not reflect the practical implications that increased TACs for some species probably would not be fully harvested. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including the lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, an underharvest of flatfish TACs could result due to other factors, such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. Furthermore, TACs may be set lower than ABC for conservation purposes, as is the case with other rockfish in the Eastern GOA. Finally, the TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for the State’s GHLs in these fisheries. Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all groundfish species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this alternative would reduce 2019 TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While production declines in the GOA would be associated with offsetting price increases in the GOA, the size of these increases is uncertain and would still be constrained by production of substitutes. There are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Thus, price increases associated with reduction production are not likely to fully offset revenue declines from reduced production, and this alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 821 individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. Additionally, the three small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would have gross revenues of $0. The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2019 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2019 and 2020, with the exceptions of the removal of the squid OFL, ABC, and TAC. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify its recommendations for final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2018, when it reviews the November 2018 SAFE report from its Groundfish Plan Team, and the December 2018 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because the 2019 TACs (with the exception of squid) in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2019 TACs, and because the sum of all TACs remains within OY for the GOA, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2018 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules. Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105–277; Pub. L. 106– 31; Pub. L. 106–554; Pub. L. 108–199; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 109–241; Pub. L. 109– 479. Dated: November 29, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–26390 Filed 12–4–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06DEP1.SGM 06DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 234 (Thursday, December 6, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 62794-62814]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-26390]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 180831813-8813-01]
RIN 0648-XG471


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, 
apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for 
the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2019 
and 2020 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of 
the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 
intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish 
resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 7, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2018-0103, by either of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0103, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by 
any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after 
the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public 
record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/
A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS, the annual Supplementary Information Reports 
(SIRs) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region website at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. An updated SIR for the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications will be available from the same sources. The 
final 2017 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for 
the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2017, is available 
from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 
4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from 
the Council's website at http://www.npfmc.org. The 2018 SAFE report for 
the GOA will be available from the same source.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch 
(TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the 
optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to 
publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and 
apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) 
limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The 
proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this rule 
satisfy these requirements. For 2019 and 2020, the sum of the proposed 
TAC amounts is 375,280 mt.
    Under Sec.  679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within 
the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its 
December 2018 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 
2019 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see 
ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2018 
SAFE report prepared for the 2019 and 2020 groundfish fisheries.

Other Actions Affecting or Potentially Affecting the 2019 and 2020 
Harvest Specifications

Amendment 106: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species

    On July 6, 2018, NMFS published the final rule to implement 
Amendment 106 to the FMP (83 FR 31460). This rule reclassified squid in 
the FMP as an ``Ecosystem Component'' species, which is a category of 
non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. 
Accordingly, NMFS will no longer set an Overfishing Level (OFL), 
acceptable biological catch (ABC), and TAC for squid in the GOA 
groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with the proposed 2019 and 
2020 harvest specifications. Amendment 106 prohibits directed fishing 
for squid, while maintaining recordkeeping and reporting requirements 
for squid. Amendment 106 also establishes a squid maximum retainable 
amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to 
discourage targeting squid species.

Rulemaking To Prohibit Directed Fishing for American Fisheries Act 
(AFA) and Crab Rationalization (CR) Program Sideboard Limits

    On August 16, 2018, NMFS published a proposed rule (83 FR 40733) 
that would modify regulations for the AFA Program and CR Program 
participants subject to limits on the catch of specific species 
(sideboard limits) in the GOA. Sideboard limits are intended to prevent 
participants who benefit from receiving exclusive harvesting privileges 
in a particular fishery from shifting effort into other fisheries.
    Specifically, the proposed rule would primarily establish 
regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard

[[Page 62795]]

limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than 
prohibiting directed fishing for AFA and CR Program sideboard limits 
through the GOA annual harvest specifications. The proposed rule would 
streamline and simplify NMFS's management of applicable groundfish 
sideboard limits. Currently, NMFS calculates numerous AFA Program and 
CR Program sideboard limits as part of the annual GOA groundfish 
harvest specifications process and publishes these limits in the 
Federal Register. Concurrently, NMFS prohibits directed fishing for the 
majority of the groundfish sideboard limits because most limits are too 
small to support directed fishing. Rather than continue this annual 
process, this action proposes to revise regulations to prohibit 
directed fishing in regulation for most AFA Program and CR Program 
groundfish sideboard limits. NMFS would no longer calculate and publish 
AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for most groundfish 
species in the annual GOA harvest specifications. If the final 
rulemaking implementing these changes is effective prior to the 
publication of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, NMFS 
would no longer publish the majority of the sideboard limits contained 
in Tables 13 and 15 of this proposed action.

Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications

    At the October 2018 Council meeting, the Council, its Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed 
the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition 
of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the 
GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2017 
SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2017 (see 
ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific 
analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and other biological 
parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the 
GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries 
off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team recommends--and 
the SSC sets--an OFL and ABC for each species or species group. The 
amounts proposed for the 2019 and 2020 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 
2017 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2019 
and 2020 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species 
groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed 
below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final 
harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific 
information contained in the final 2018 SAFE report. The draft stock 
assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2018 SAFE report are 
available at https://www.npfmc.org/fishery-management-plan-team/goa-bsai-groundfish-plan-team/. The final SAFE report will be available 
from the same source.
    In November 2018, the Plan Team will update the 2017 SAFE report to 
include new information collected during 2018, such as NMFS stock 
surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will 
compile this information and present the draft 2018 SAFE report at the 
December 2018 Council meeting. At that meeting, the SSC and the Council 
will review the 2018 SAFE report, and the Council will approve the 2018 
SAFE report. The Council will consider information in the 2018 SAFE 
report, recommendations from the November 2018 Plan Team meeting and 
December 2018 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant 
written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 
2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(2) 
and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted 
based on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of 
socioeconomic considerations, or if required to cause the sum of TACs 
to fall within the optimum yield range.
    In previous years, the most significant changes (relative to the 
amount of assessed tonnage of fish) to the OFLs and ABCs from the 
proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on the 
most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates 
of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models 
used for producing stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated 
and new survey results, potential changes to assessment models, and 
accompanying, preliminary stock estimates at the September 2018 Plan 
Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2018 
Council meeting. The species with possible significant model changes 
are demersal shelf rockfish, northern rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, 
and sharks. Model changes can result in changes to final OFLs, ABCs, 
and TACs.
    In November 2018, the Plan Team will consider updated stock 
assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2018 
SAFE report. If the 2018 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass 
trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the 
proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the 2018 SAFE report 
indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, 
then the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications may reflect a 
decrease from the proposed harvest specifications.
    The proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the 
best available biological and socioeconomic information, including 
projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock 
biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. 
The FMP specifies the tiers to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The 
tiers applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined 
by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries 
scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of 
six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the 
highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing 
the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used 
the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish 
species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs and ABCs 
recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species. The Council 
adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC 
recommendations. These amounts have changed from the final 2019 harvest 
specifications published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2018 (83 
FR 8768) as a result of the removal of squid as a specified species. 
This results in an OFL reduction of 1,516 mt, and ABC and TAC 
reductions of 1,137 mt.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs that are equal 
to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception 
of pollock in the Western and Central GOA and the West Yakutat District 
of the Eastern GOA, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western 
GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, 
``other rockfish'' in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, and Atka 
mackerel. The combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock TACs 
and GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to account for the State of Alaska's 
(State's) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for the State water pollock 
and Pacific cod fisheries so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The 
shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole

[[Page 62796]]

TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these 
target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other 
fisheries. The ``other rockfish'' TAC is set to reduce the potential 
amount of discards of the species in that complex. The Atka mackerel 
TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. 
These reductions are described below.
    NMFS' proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on 
the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on these 
apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat District of the Eastern 
Regulatory Area (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established 
by the State for the Prince William Sound (PWS) pollock fishery. The 
Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State 
water and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC 
recommendations. For 2019 and 2020, the SSC recommended and the Council 
recommended the combined W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to 
account for the State's PWS GHL. At the November 2017 Plan Team 
meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 
2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2019, this yields a 
PWS pollock GHL of 2,664 mt, a decrease from the 2018 PWS GHL of 4,037 
mt. After accounting for PWS GHL, the 2019 and 2020 pollock ABC for the 
combined W/C/WYK areas is then apportioned between four statistical 
areas (Areas 67, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described 
below and detailed in Table 1. The total ABCs and TACs for the four 
statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/
WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2019 and 2020 pollock ABC is 106,569 mt, 
and the proposed TAC is 103,905 mt.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be ``apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)'' rather 
than ``ABCs.'' This more accurately reflects that such apportionments 
address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. 
In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to 
balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 67, 620, and 630 pursuant to 
Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the combined W/C/WYK ACL, ABC, 
and TAC are not exceeded.
    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610), Central 
(Areas 620 and 630), and the West Yakutat District (Area 640) and the 
SEO District (Area 650) of the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (see 
Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual 
pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
between Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630. These apportionments are 
divided equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season 
(January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), 
the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 
through November 1) (Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and 
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; 
Table 2 lists these amounts.
    The proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate 
the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, 
and Council recommended that the sum of all State water and Federal 
water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. 
Therefore, the proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are less than 
the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,290 mt; 
(2) Central GOA, 1,917 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 425 mt. These amounts 
reflect the State's 2019 and 2020 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 
percent of the Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern 
and Central GOA proposed ABCs.
    NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern 
GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionments of the 
Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 7, and for trawl 
gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC 
is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through 
December 31, for hook-and-line and pot gear from September 1 through 
December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 
(Sec. Sec.  679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational 
sectors. Additional detail is provided below; Table 3 lists the amounts 
apportioned to each sector.
    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments 
takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (Sec.  679.7(b)(1)) and makes 
available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to 
vessels using trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other trawl 
groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)). 
Additional detail is provided below. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 
2019 and 2020 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl 
gear in the GOA.
    For 2019 and 2020, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the 
OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect 
harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. 
Table 1 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area 
apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent 
with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 
2017 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic 
considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required 
OY range. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 
375,280 mt for 2019 and 2020, which is within the OY range specified by 
the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and 
sector are subject to change pending consideration of the 2018 SAFE 
report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications during its December 2018 meeting.

    Table 1--Proposed 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat,
 Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas, the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern
                          Regulatory Area, and Gulfwide District of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC           TAC \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          19,921          19,921

[[Page 62797]]

 
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a          52,459          52,459
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          27,016          27,016
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           4,509           4,509
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal)......         131,170         106,569         103,905
                                        SEO (650)...............          11,697           8,773           8,773
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         142,867         115,341         112,678
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a           7,633           5,343
                                        C.......................             n/a           7,667           5,750
                                        E.......................             n/a           1,700           1,275
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          21,412          17,000          12,368
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           2,174           2,174
                                        C.......................             n/a           7,260           7,260
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,573           2,573
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           4,187           4,187
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           6,760           6,760
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          35,989          16,194          16,194
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          25,544          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          25,655          25,655
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,272           2,272
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,951           1,951
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          68,114          55,422          43,128
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             416             416
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,442           3,442
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,279           3,279
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,361           2,361
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          11,431           9,499           9,499
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           2,909           2,909
                                        C.......................             n/a           8,236           8,236
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,657           1,657
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,727           1,727
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          17,692          14,529          14,529
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          35,844          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a          70,700          48,000
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          15,845           6,900
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          22,845           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         173,872         145,234          76,300
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          13,222           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          21,087          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,013           2,013
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             424             424
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          44,822          36,746          26,487
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................             n/a           3,240           3,240
                                        C.......................             n/a          19,678          19,678
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,298           3,298
                                        W/C/WYK.................          31,170          26,216          26,216
                                        SEO.....................           2,840           2,389           2,389
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          34,010          28,605          28,605
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a             382             382
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,965           2,965
                                        E.......................             n/a               3  ..............
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           3,984           3,350           3,347
Shortraker rockfish \9\...............  W.......................             n/a              44              44
                                        C.......................             n/a             305             305
                                        E.......................             n/a             514             514
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           1,151             863             863
Dusky rockfish \10\...................  W.......................             n/a             135             135
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,246           3,246
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             215             215

[[Page 62798]]

 
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              72              72
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           4,488           3,668           3,668
Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             174             174
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             550             550
                                        E.......................             n/a             703             703
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           1,715           1,427           1,427
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             394             250             250
Thornyhead rockfish \13\..............  W.......................             n/a             344             344
                                        C.......................             n/a             921             921
                                        E.......................             n/a             773             773
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           2,717           2,038           2,038
Other rockfish 14 15..................  W/C combined............             n/a           1,737           1,737
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             368             368
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,488             200
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           7,356           5,593           2,305
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           3,000
Big skates \16\.......................  W.......................             n/a             504             504
                                        C.......................             n/a           1,774           1,774
                                        E.......................             n/a             570             570
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           3,797           2,848           2,848
Longnose skates \17\..................  W.......................             n/a             149             149
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,804           2,804
                                        E.......................             n/a             619             619
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           4,763           3,572           3,572
Other skates \18\.....................  GW......................           1,845           1,384           1,384
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           6,958           5,301           5,301
Sharks................................  GW......................           6,020           4,514           4,514
Octopuses.............................  GW......................           1,300             975             975
                                                                 ===============================================
    Total \19\........................  ........................         602,897         479,050         375,280
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at Sec.   679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide).
\2\ The total for the W/C/WYK management area pollock ABC is 106,569 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,664 mt)
  of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 103,905 mt (for the W/C/WYK
  management areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 67, 620, 630, and 640). These
  apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes.
The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2. In the West Yakutat
  (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided
  into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the
  Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA is
  allocated 90 percent to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent
  to vessels harvesting Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2019
  and 2020 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to fixed and trawl gear in 2019 and trawl gear in 2020. Tables 4 and 5 list the
  proposed 2019 and 2020 allocations of sablefish TACs.
\5\ ``Shallow-water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep-water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ ``Deep-water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Regulatory Area has been included in the other rockfish species group.
\9\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\10\ ``Dusky rockfish'' means Sebastes variabilis.
\11\ ``Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus
  (blackspotted).
\12\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\13\ ``Thornyhead rockfish'' means Sebastes species.
\14\ ``Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S.
  goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA
  only, ``other rockfish'' also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous).
\15\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District of the
  Eastern Regulatory Area means all rockfish species included in the ``other rockfish'' and demersal shelf
  rockfish categories. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish.
\16\ ``Big skates'' means Raja binoculata.
\17\ ``Longnose skates'' means Raja rhina.
\18\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.

[[Page 62799]]

 
\19\ On July 6, 2018, the final rule to implement Amendment 106 to the FMP was published (83 FR 31460). This
  rule reclassified squid in the FMP as an ``Ecosystem Component'' species, which is a category of non-target
  species that are not in need of conservation and management. NMFS will no longer set an OFL, ABC, and TAC for
  squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications, beginning with the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest
  specifications.

Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each 
TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses 
in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the 
fishing year. Section 679.20(b)(3) authorizes NMFS to reapportion all 
or part of these reserves. In 2018, NMFS reapportioned all of the 
reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS 
proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific 
cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses back into the original 
TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent 
harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary and the entire 
TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 
reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts for these 
species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above-
mentioned species or species groups contains the full TAC recommended 
by the Council.

Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory 
Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore 
Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 through March 7, March 10 
through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through 
November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630 in proportion 
to the distribution of pollock biomass, pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments had 
historically, since 2000, been based on the proportional distribution 
of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. 
In the C and D seasons, the apportionments were in proportion to the 
distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS 
summer surveys. For 2019 and 2020, the Council recommends, and NMFS 
proposes, following the methodology that was used for the 2018 and 2019 
harvest specifications. This methodology averages the winter and summer 
distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season 
instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The 
average is intended to reflect the best available information about 
migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the 
fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the 
apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate of the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 73 
percent, and 24 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630, 
respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the 
relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 85 
percent, and 11 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 630, 
respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on 
the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 37 
percent, 27 percent, and 37 percent in Statistical Areas 67, 620, and 
630, respectively. The pollock chapter of the 2017 SAFE report (see 
ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment 
process and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments.
    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance 
is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount 
is limited to 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment for the 
statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit 
could be further distributed to the subsequent season in other 
statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass and in an 
amount no more than 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment in 
those statistical areas (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2019 
and 2020 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 4,509 mt and the SEO 
District of 8,773 mt are not allocated by season.
    Table 2 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 seasonal biomass 
distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 
area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock 
for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. 
Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the 
pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal 
allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore 
component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional 
Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component 
incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the 
amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock 
for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be 
taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish 
species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts 
allowed by Sec.  [thinsp]679.20(e) and (f). At this time, the 
incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined 
during the 2019 fishing year during the course of fishing activities by 
the offshore component.

       Table 2--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass
                                      Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC \1\
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Season \2\                            Shumagin
                                                     Chirikof
                                                      Kodiak                   Total \3\
                                                    (Area 610)
                                                    (Area 620)
                                                    (Area 630)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................             869         (3.50%)          18,025        (72.54%)           5,955        (23.97%)          24,849
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................             869         (3.50%)          21,219        (85.39%)           2,761        (11.11%)          24,849
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 62800]]

 
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................           9,091        (36.59%)           6,608        (26.59%)           9,150        (36.82%)          24,849
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................           9,091        (36.59%)           6,608        (26.59%)           9,150        (36.82%)          24,849
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          19,921  ..............          52,459  ..............          27,016  ..............          99,395
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding.
\2\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10
  through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and
  offshore components are not shown in this table.
\3\ The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in
  this table.

Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for 
the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS 
also proposes allocating the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs annually 
between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern Regulatory 
Area of the GOA (Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the 
Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig 
gear, and then among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length 
overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet 
in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) 
using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, 
and vessels using pot gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western 
GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels 
using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using 
hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and 
vessels using pot gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall 
seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent 
of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to 
the B season.
    Under Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the 
Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be subtracted from, or 
added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion 
of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is 
determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be 
reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the 
fishing year.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the 
annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be 
allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear 
before the TACs are apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In 
accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase 
to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod 
TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 
1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig 
sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011)). Jig sector 
allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years.
    NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig 
sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the proposed 
2019 and 2020 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its 
historical harvest performance through 2017. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS 
proposes that the jig sector receive 1.5 percent of the annual Pacific 
cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 
percent and no additional performance increase. NMFS also proposes that 
the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the 
Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no 
additional performance increase. The 2014-2017 Pacific cod jig 
allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Figure 
1.

    Figure 1--Summary of Western GOA and Central GOA Pacific Cod Catch by Jig Gear in 2014 Through 2017, and Corresponding Percent Allocation Changes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Initial                                       Percent of
          Area                Year       percent of TAC    Initial TAC     Catch (mt)        initial     >90% of initial   Change to percent allocation
                                               (%)         allocation                    allocation (%)    allocation?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WGOA...................            2014             2.5             573             785             137               Y   Increase 1%.
                                   2015             3.5             948              55               6               N   None.
                                   2016             3.5             992              52               5               N   Decrease 1%.
                                   2017             2.5             635              49               8               N   Decrease 1%.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CGOA...................            2014             2.0             797             262              33               N   Decrease 1%.
                                   2015             1.0             460             355              77               N   None.
                                   2016             1.0             370             267              72               N   None.
                                   2017             1.0             331              18               6               N   None.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2018 harvest performance of the 
jig sector in the Western and Central GOA when the 2018 fishing year is 
complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations 
proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications. The current catch through October 2018

[[Page 62801]]

by the Western GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation 
percentage to this sector would probably increase by 1 percent in 2019 
(from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent). Also, the current catch by the 
Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector's Pacific cod 
allocation percentage would not change in 2019, and would remain at 1 
percent. NMFS prohibited directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels 
using jig gear in the Central GOA in 2018, due to the small 
apportionment of Pacific cod to this sector and the potential for the 
Central GOA jig sector to exceed the TAC, were directed fishing to be 
open. The jig sector allocations for the Western and Central GOA are 
further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) 
seasons (Sec. Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) and 679.23(d)(3)(iii)).
    Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 
proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs.

 Table 3--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod TAC Amounts in the GOA;
  Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA for Processing by the Inshore and
                                               Offshore Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             A Season                        B Season
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Annual          Sector                          Sector
   Regulatory area and sector       allocation     percentage of     Seasonal      percentage of     Seasonal
                                       (mt)       annual non-jig    allowances    annual non-jig    allowances
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA
Jig (1.5% of TAC)...............              80             N/A              48             N/A              23
Hook-and-line CV................              74            0.70              37            0.70              37
Hook-and-line C/P...............           1,042           10.90             574            8.90             468
Trawl CV........................           2,021           27.70           1,458           10.70             563
Trawl C/P.......................             126            0.90              47            1.50              79
Pot CV and Pot C/P..............           2,000           19.80           1,042           18.20             958
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................           5,343           60.00           3,206           40.00           2,137
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA
Jig (1.0% of TAC)...............              58             N/A              35             N/A              32
Hook-and-line <50 CV............             831            9.32             530            5.29             301
Hook-and-line >=50 CV...........             382            5.61             319            1.10              62
Hook-and-line C/P...............             291            4.11             234            1.00              57
Trawl CV \1\....................           2,367           21.13           1,203           20.45           1,164
Trawl C/P.......................             239            2.00             114            2.19             125
Pot CV and Pot C/P..............           1,583           17.83           1,015            9.97             568
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................           5,750           60.00           3,450           40.00           2,300
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA.....................  ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           1,275               1,148
                                                128
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 219 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC. This apportionment percentage is specified in Table 28c to 50 CFR part
  679. This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 8: Apportionments of
  Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA).

Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using 
Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) requires allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl 
gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated 
to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is 
allocated to fixed gear, and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The 
trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may only be used 
to support incidental catch of sablefish, while directed fishing for 
other target species using trawl gear (Sec.  679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO 
District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and 
NMFS proposes specifying for incidental catch the allocation of 5 
percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl 
gear in the WYK District. The remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC is 
available to vessels using fixed gear. This proposed action allocates 
100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using 
fixed gear. This results in a proposed 2019 allocation of 338 mt to 
trawl gear and 2,235 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 
2019 allocation of 4,187 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a 
proposed 2020 allocation of 338 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. 
Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2019 sablefish TACs to 
fixed and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 
2020 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established 
for 2 years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl 
gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish 
harvest specifications. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2019 and 2020 
trawl allocations, respectively.
    The Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is 
conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the 
most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for 
sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be 
published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the 
Council

[[Page 62802]]

recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather 
than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information 
could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. 
Accordingly, Table 4 lists the proposed 2019 fixed gear allocations, 
and the 2020 fixed gear allocations will be specified in the 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications.
    With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to 
the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), 
directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the 
fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is 
prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the 
sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the 
effective date of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.

   Table 4--Proposed 2019 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Fixed and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Fixed gear         Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           2,174           1,739             435
Central \1\.....................................................           7,260           5,808           1,452
West Yakutat \2\................................................           2,573           2,235             338
Southeast Outside...............................................           4,187           4,187               0
    Total.......................................................          16,194          13,969           2,225
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (747 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the
  Central GOA. This results in 705 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\2\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


       Table 5--Proposed 2020 Sablefish TAC Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                       Trawl
                 Area/district                        TAC             Fixed gear allocation         allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.......................................           2,174  n/a.............................             435
Central \2\...................................           7,260  n/a.............................           1,452
West Yakutat \3\..............................           2,573  n/a.............................             338
Southeast Outside.............................           4,187  n/a.............................               0
    Total.....................................          16,194  n/a.............................           2,225
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota
  fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the
  Rockfish Program cooperatives (747 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the
  Central GOA. This results in 705 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\3\ The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West
  Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Proposed Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limitations for the 
Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for the GOA 
include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations 
established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily 
trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using 
longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative 
quota to participants for primary species (Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific 
cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead 
rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program 
(LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative 
with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out 
of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery 
for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline 
gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.
    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central 
GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch 
needs in other directed groundfish fisheries (Sec.  679.81(a)(2)). 
Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the 
Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. Besides groundfish 
species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC 
limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery 
allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants 
(Sec.  679.81(d) and Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). The Rockfish 
Program also establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of 
harvesters that operate under the Rockfish Program to increase their 
participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These 
restrictions, as well as halibut PSC limits, are discussed in a 
subsequent section titled ``Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and 
Halibut PSC Limitations.''
    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 require 
allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, 
and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2019 
and 2020. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may 
increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the 
allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation 
would continue each year until it reaches the maximum percentage of the 
TAC for that species. In 2018, the catch for all three primary species 
did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, 
NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry

[[Page 62803]]

level longline fishery 2019 and 2020 allocations in the Central GOA. 
The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be 
allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives (Sec.  679.81(a)(2)(iii)). 
Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2019 and 2020 TACs for 
each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the 
potential incremental increases for future years, and the maximum 
percentages of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery.

 Table 6--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in
                                           the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Incremental increase in
                                                                     2020 if >=90 percent of     Up to maximum
        Rockfish primary species         2019 and 2020 allocations      2019 allocation is      percent of each
                                                                            harvested               TAC of:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch....................  5 metric tons............  5 metric tons............                 1%
Northern rockfish......................  5 metric tons............  5 metric tons............                 2%
Dusky rockfish.........................  50 metric tons...........  20 metric tons...........                 5%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species 
among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the 
proposed 2019 and 2020 allocations of rockfish primary species in the 
Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV and C/
P cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting 
aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in 
the Central GOA of 4,000 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern 
rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on 
recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other 
groundfish fisheries.
    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are 
not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program 
applications for CV cooperatives and C/P cooperatives are not due to 
NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot 
calculate 2019 and 2020 allocations in conjunction with these proposed 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2019 allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1.

  Table 7--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the
                 Entry Level Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Incidental                     Allocation to   Allocation to
                                    Central GOA        catch                         the entry     the rockfish
    Rockfish primary species            TAC          allowance     TAC minus ICA  level longline   cooperatives
                                                       (ICA)                        \1\ fishery         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          19,678           4,000          15,678               5          15,673
Northern rockfish...............           2,965             300           2,665               5           2,660
Dusky rockfish..................           3,246             250           2,996              50           2,946
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          25,889           4,550          21,339              60          21,279
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (Sec.   679.2).
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (Sec.   679.81).

    Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires 
allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV and C/P cooperatives in 
the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, 
sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/P 
cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl 
allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead 
rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2019 and 
2020 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/
P cooperatives.

   Table 8--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher
                                    Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Catcher vessel cooperatives   Catcher/processor cooperatives
                                    Central GOA  ---------------------------------------------------------------
   Rockfish secondary species       annual TAC     Percentage of   Apportionment   Percentage of   Apportionment
                                                        TAC            (mt)             TAC            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................           5,750            3.81             219             0.0               0
Sablefish.......................           7,260            6.78             492            3.51             255
Shortraker rockfish.............             305             0.0               0           40.00             122
Rougheye rockfish...............             550             0.0               0           58.87             324
Thornyhead rockfish.............             921            7.84              72           26.50             244
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 62804]]

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2018, the 
Council recommended proposed halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl 
gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf 
rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District.
    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut 
PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. 
NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) The 
duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) 
the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when there is less overlap in the 
distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR 
fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets 
the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of 
DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and 
subsistence); and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of 
the 250 mt TAC for DSR in 2018, 50 mt were available for directed 
fishing by the DSR commercial fishery, of which 26 mt were harvested 
(through November 6, 2018).
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes 
to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear 
fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2019 and 
2020. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions 
because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch 
mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if 
any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ 
for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the 
vessel is operating (Sec.  679.7(f)(11)); (3) some sablefish IFQ permit 
holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain 
the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and (4) NMFS 
estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries given 
the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective 
nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and 
released with jig gear.
    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch 
consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2018. The 
calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 30, 2018, is 1,037 
mt for trawl gear and 44 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut 
mortality of 1,081 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using 
groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's catch 
accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and 
recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. 
Based on public comment and the information presented in the 2018 SAFE 
report, the Council may recommend, or NMFS may make changes to the 
seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC 
limits for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications pursuant to 
Sec.  679.21(d)(1) and (d)(4).
    The final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 
1, 2018) summarized the Council's and NMFS' findings with respect to 
halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council's and 
NMFS' findings for 2019 are unchanged from 2018. Table 9 lists the 
proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and 
apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the 
halibut PSC limits set forth at Sec.  679.21(d)(2) and (3). Section 
679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specifies that any underages or overages of 
a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or 
deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the 
fishing year.

                               Table 9--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Trawl gear                                                             Hook-and-line gear \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Other than DSR                                    DSR
                 Season                    Percent     Amount  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Season             Percent     Amount             Season              Amount
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1......................       27.5        469  January 1-June 10..........         86        221  January 1-December 31.....          9
April 1-July 1..........................         20        341  June 10-September 1........          2          5  ..........................  .........
July 1-September 1......................         30        512  September 1-December 31....         12         31  ..........................  .........
September 1-October 1...................        7.5        128  ...........................  .........  .........  ..........................  .........
October 1-December 31...................         15        256  ...........................  .........  .........  ..........................  .........
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................  .........      1,706  ...........................  .........        257  ..........................          9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and
  fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery 
categories listed in Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments 
are based on each category's proportional share of the anticipated 
halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the 
total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The 
fishery categories for the trawl halibut

[[Page 62805]]

PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, 
rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and 
(2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, 
shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, and ``other 
species'' (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (Sec.  
679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing 
for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water species 
fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004).
    NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments 
in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water fisheries for 
use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (Sec.  
679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest 
while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent 
practicable. This provides the deep-water and shallow-water trawl 
fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to participate in 
fisheries at times of the year that may have lower halibut PSC rates 
relative to other times of the year.
    Table 10 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 seasonal apportionments 
of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the 
shallow-water species fisheries.
    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl 
halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV and C/P sectors that are 
participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt 
of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to 
the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water 
species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC 
limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-
apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 
percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish 
Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program 
halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the 
remainder of the fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)).

  Table 10--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Seasonal Apportionments of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limit Apportioned Between
                          the Trawl Gear Shallow-Water and Deep-Water Species Fisheries
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Season                       Shallow-water           Deep-water \1\                Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1............................             384  85..............................             469
April 1-July 1................................              85  256.............................             341
July 1-September 1............................             171  341.............................             512
September 1-October 1.........................             128  Any remainder...................             128
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
Subtotal, January 20-October 1................             768  682.............................           1,450
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
October 1-December 31 \2\.....................  ..............  ................................             256
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.....................................  ..............  ................................           1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July
  1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth
  season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-
line gear must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the 
halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line 
CVs and C/Ps in accordance with Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction 
with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and 
example of the calculations necessary to apportion the ``other hook-
and-line fishery'' halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and 
C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 
83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here.
    For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments of 120 mt and 137 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-
and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2019 and 2020 annual halibut 
PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using 
seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 
lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal 
apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P 
sectors in the GOA.
    No later than November 1 each year, any halibut PSC limit allocated 
under Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(ii)(B) not projected by the Regional 
Administrator to be used by one of the hook-and-line sectors during the 
remainder of the fishing year will be made available to the other 
sector. NMFS calculates the projected unused amount of halibut PSC 
limit by either the CV hook-and-line or the C/P hook-and-line sectors 
of the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' for the remainder of the year. 
The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of these 
sectors is made available to the remaining hook-and-line sector for the 
remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional 
amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector to continue 
its directed fishing operations (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)).

[[Page 62806]]



 Table 11--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries'' Halibut PSC Allowance
                   Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Sector
  ``Other than DSR''      Hook-and- line      Sector annual         Season           Seasonal        seasonal
      allowance               sector             amount                             percentage        amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
257..................  Catcher Vessel......             120  January 1-June 10..              86             103
                                                             June 10-September 1               2               2
                                                             September 1-                     12              14
                                                              December 31.
                       Catcher/Processor...             137  January 1-June 10..              86             118
                                                             June 10-September 1               2               3
                                                             September 1-                     12              16
                                                              December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, 
the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch 
rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of 
groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality 
allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental 
catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental 
catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion 
of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned 
to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a 
particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the 
estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific 
information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock 
assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an 
appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report.
    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the 
Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group 
(International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) 
developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the 
Plan Team, the SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised 
methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest 
specifications (81 FR 87881, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive 
discussion of the working group's statistical methodology is available 
from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's revised 
methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, transparency, 
and transferability in the methodology used for calculating DMRs. The 
working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology 
used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the 
reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). 
Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, 
which could provide more recent and accurate data, and which could 
improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new 
methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more 
accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different 
sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors 
to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, 
the DMR for that sector.
    In October 2018, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs 
derived from the revised methodology for the proposed 2019 and 2020 
DMRs. The proposed 2019 and 2020 DMRs use an updated 2-year reference 
period of 2016 and 2017. Comparing the proposed DMRs to the final DMRs 
from the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, the proposed DMR for 
Rockfish Program CVs using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 49 
percent from 62 percent, the proposed DMR for C/Ps and motherships 
using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 79 percent from 84 percent, 
and the proposed DMRs for C/Ps and CVs using hook-and-line gear 
increased to 11 percent from 10 percent, and to 21 percent from 17 
percent, respectively. Finally, the DMR for C/Ps and CVs using pot gear 
decreased to 4 percent from 7 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2019 
and 2020 DMRs.

                 Table 12--Proposed 2019 and 2020 DMRs for Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
                               [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Halibut
                                                                                                      discard
                  Gear                              Sector                Groundfish fishery      mortality rate
                                                                                                     (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic trawl...........................  Catcher vessel............  All.......................             100
                                          Catcher/processor.........  All.......................             100
Non-pelagic trawl.......................  Catcher vessel............  Rockfish Program..........              49
                                          Catcher vessel............  All others................              67
                                          Mothership and catcher/     All.......................              79
                                           processor.
Hook-and-line...........................  Catcher/processor.........  All.......................              11
                                          Catcher vessel............  All.......................              21
Pot.....................................  Catcher vessel and catcher/ All.......................               4
                                           processor.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limits

    Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established 
separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in 
the directed pollock trawl fishery. These limits require NMFS to close 
the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory 
areas of the GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached 
(Sec.  679.21(h)(8)). The

[[Page 62807]]

annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 
6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA 
are set in Sec.  679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii).
    Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established 
an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock 
groundfish trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit 
is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 
1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish 
Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the 
Rockfish Program (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook 
salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an 
applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit.
    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl 
CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in 
subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and 
their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon 
PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2018 (3,120 for 
trawl C/Ps and 2,340 for trawl CVs), that sector will receive an 
incremental increase to its 2019 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 for 
trawl C/Ps and 3,060 for trawl CVs) (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will 
evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish 
Program CVs when the 2018 fishing year is complete to determine whether 
to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based 
on preliminary 2018 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawl C/P sector and 
the non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector may receive an incremental 
increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2019. This evaluation will be 
completed in conjunction with the final 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications.

AFA C/P and CV Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits 
are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who 
do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and 
processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges 
under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from 
harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from processing any pollock 
harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish 
harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA 
groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish 
sideboard limits under Sec.  679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for 
non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest 
levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 
679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes for CVs the groundfish sideboard 
limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA 
CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC 
for that species over the same period.
    As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a proposed 
rule (83 FR 40733, August 16, 2018) that would, if implemented, 
establish regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits 
for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than 
prohibiting directed fishing for non-exempt AFA CV sideboards through 
the GOA annual harvest specifications. This would apply to most, but 
not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Table 13. If 
the final rulemaking to implement the proposed changes to sideboard 
management is effective prior to the publication of the final 2019 and 
2020 harvest specifications, NMFS would incorporate such changes into 
the specification and management of non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits.
    Table 13 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or 
incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from 
the sideboard limits listed in Table 13.

 Table 13--Proposed 2019 and 2020 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard
                                                     Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-                   Proposed 2019
                                                                     1997 non-     Proposed 2019   and 2020 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component   exempt AFA CV   and 2020 TACs   exempt AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-        \3\          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.6047             869             525
                               January 20-March  Chirikof (620).          0.1167          18,025           2,103
                                10.              Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           5,955           1,208
                               B Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.6047             869             525
                               March 10-May 31.  Chirikof (620).          0.1167          21,219           2,476
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           2,761             560
                               C Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.6047           9,091           5,498
                               August 25-        Chirikof (620).          0.1167           6,608             771
                                October 1.       Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           9,150           1,856
                               D Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.6047           9,091           5,498
                               October 1-        Chirikof (620).          0.1167           6,608             771
                                November 1.      Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           9,150           1,856
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           4,509           1,576
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495           8,773           3,066
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\....  W..............          0.1331           3,206             427
                               January 1-June    C..............          0.0692           3,450             239
                                10.
                               B Season \2\....  W..............          0.1331           2,137             284
                               September 1-      C..............          0.0692           2,300             159
                                December 31.

[[Page 62808]]

 
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           1,148               9
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             128               1
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             435               0
                                gear.            C..............          0.0642           1,452              93
                                                 E..............          0.0433             338              15
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          25,655           1,506
                                                 E..............          0.0126           4,223              53
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             416               0
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,442             223
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,640              72
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           2,909               2
                                                 C..............          0.0384           8,236             316
                                                 E..............          0.0029           3,384              10
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          48,000           1,344
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           2,437               2
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           3,240               7
                                                 C..............          0.0748          19,678           1,472
                                                 E..............          0.0466           5,687             265
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003             382               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           2,965              82
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              44               0
                                                 C..............          0.0218             305               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             514               6
Dusky Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             135               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,246               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067             287               2
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             174               0
                                                 C..............          0.0237             550              13
                                                 E..............          0.0124             703               9
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             250               1
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             344              10
                                                 C..............          0.0280             921              26
                                                 E..............          0.0280             773              22
Other Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.1699           1,737             295
                                                 E..............          0.0000             568               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           3,000              93
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             504               3
                                                 C..............          0.0063           1,774              11
                                                 E..............          0.0063             570               4
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0063             149               1
                                                 C..............          0.0063           2,804              18
                                                 E..............          0.0063             619               4
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           1,384               9
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           5,301              33
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063           4,514              28
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0063             975               6
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ The Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA 
are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA 
CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the 
retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 
(Sec.  679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 
non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in 
the GOA.

[[Page 62809]]



 Table 14--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits
                                     for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                               [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                     Proposed 2019
                                                                   exempt AFA CV   Proposed 2019   and 2020 non-
       Season             Season dates        Fishery category    retained catch   and 2020 PSC    exempt AFA CV
                                                                     to total          limit         PSC limit
                                                                  retained catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..................  January 20-April 1...  shallow-water.......           0.340             384             131
                                            deep-water..........           0.070              85               6
2..................  April 1-July 1.......  shallow-water.......           0.340              85              29
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             256              18
3..................  July 1-September 1...  shallow-water.......           0.340             171              58
                                            deep-water..........           0.070             341              24
4..................  September 1-October 1  shallow-water.......           0.340             128              44
                                            deep-water..........           0.070               0               0
5..................  October 1-December 31  all targets.........           0.205             256              52
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual.........                         Total shallow-water.                                             262
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
                                            Total deep-water....                                              48
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
                                            Grand Total, all                               1,706             362
                                             seasons and
                                             categories.
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels 
with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to 
prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by 
the CR Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA 
groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels' 
catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish 
fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits 
also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the 
history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on 
another vessel.
    The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail 
in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the CR Program, 
including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for 
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 
10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 
20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), 
and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015).
    As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a proposed 
rule (83 FR 40733, August 16, 2018) that would, if implemented, 
establish regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits 
for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than 
prohibiting directed fishing for non-AFA crab vessel sideboards through 
the GOA annual harvest specifications. This would apply to most, but 
not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Table 15. If 
the final rulemaking to implement the proposed changes to sideboard 
management is effective prior to the publication of the final 2019 and 
2020 harvest specifications, NMFS would incorporate such changes into 
the specification and the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboard 
limits.
    Table 15 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard 
limits for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP 
licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

     Table 15--Proposed 2019 and 2020 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-                   Proposed 2019
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                    and 2020 non-
                                                 Area/component/    crab vessel    Proposed 2019     AFA crab
           Species                Season/gear          gear       catch to 1996-   and 2020 TACs      vessel
                                                                    2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                      harvest                          limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.0098             869               9
                               January 20-March  Chirikof (620).          0.0031          18,025              56
                                10.              Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           5,955               1
                               B Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.0098             869               9
                               March 10-May 31.  Chirikof (620).          0.0031          21,219              66
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           2,761               1
                               C Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.0098           9,091              89
                               August 25-        Chirikof (620).          0.0031           6,608              20
                                October 1.       Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           9,150               2
                               D Season........  Shumagin (610).          0.0098           9,091              89

[[Page 62810]]

 
                               October 1-        Chirikof (620).          0.0031           6,608              20
                                November 1.      Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           9,150               2
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.0000           4,509               0
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.0000           8,773               0
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\....  W Jig CV.......          0.0000           3,206               0
                                                 W Hook-and-line          0.0004           3,206               1
                                                  CV.
                               January 1-June    W Pot CV.......          0.0997           3,206             320
                                10.              W Pot C/P......          0.0078           3,206              25
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007           3,206               2
                                                 C Jig CV.......          0.0000           3,450               0
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001           3,450               0
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474           3,450             164
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136           3,450              47
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012           3,450               4
                               B Season \2\....  W Jig CV.......          0.0000           2,137               0
                                                 W Hook-and-line          0.0004           2,137               1
                                                  CV.
                               September 1-      W Pot CV.......          0.0997           2,137             213
                                December 31.
                                                 W Pot C/P......          0.0078           2,137              17
                                                 W Trawl CV.....          0.0007           2,137               1
                                                 C Jig CV.......          0.0000           2,300               0
                                                 C Hook-and-line          0.0001           2,300               0
                                                  CV.
                                                 C Pot CV.......          0.0474           2,300             109
                                                 C Pot C/P......          0.0136           2,300              31
                                                 C Trawl CV.....          0.0012           2,300               3
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0110           1,148              13
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0000             128               0
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             435               0
                                gear.            C..............          0.0000           1,452               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000             338               0
Flatfish, shallow-water......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                 C..............          0.0001          25,655               3
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,223               0
Flatfish, deep-water.........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             416               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,442               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           5,640               0
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           2,909               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           8,236               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,384               0
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0004          14,500               6
                                                 C..............          0.0001          48,000               5
                                                 E..............          0.0000          13,800               0
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                 C..............          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                 E..............          0.0000           2,437               0
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           3,240               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000          19,678               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           5,687               0
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0005             382               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           2,965               0
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0013              44               0
                                                 C..............          0.0012             305               0
                                                 E..............          0.0009             514               0
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0017             135               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,246               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000             287               0
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0067             174               1
                                                 C..............          0.0047             550               3
                                                 E..............          0.0008             703               1
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0000             250               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0047             344               2
                                                 C..............          0.0066             921               6
                                                 E..............          0.0045             773               3
Other Rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.0033           1,737               6
                                                 E..............          0.0000             568               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0000           3,000               0
Big skate....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             504              20
                                                 C..............          0.0159           1,774              28
                                                 E..............          0.0000             570               0
Longnose skate...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             149               6
                                                 C..............          0.0159           2,804              45
                                                 E..............          0.0000             619               0
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           1,384              24
Sculpins.....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           5,301              93
Sharks.......................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,514              79

[[Page 62811]]

 
Octopuses....................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176             975              17
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard 
provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions, C/P rockfish 
sideboard restrictions, and C/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions 
(Sec.  679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the 
ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries.
    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in 
directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific 
ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for 
arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from 
July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(d)).
    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted 
by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited 
from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 
through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(2)). Holders of C/P-designated LLP 
licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program 
cooperative will be able to access those sideboard limits that are not 
assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives (Sec.  679.82(e)(7)). The 
sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in the Western GOA and West 
Yakutat District is set forth in Sec.  679.82(e)(4). Table 16 lists the 
proposed 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits 
in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality 
requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for 
the West Yakutat District are not displayed.

Table 16--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District
                                by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Sector
                                  [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    C/P sector (% of   Proposed 2019  Proposed 2019 and 2020 C/P
             Area                    Fishery              TAC)         and 2020 TACs        sideboard limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA...................  Dusky rockfish...  72.3.............             135  98.
                                Pacific ocean      50.6.............           3,240  1,639.
                                 perch.
                                Northern rockfish  74.3.............             382  284.
West Yakutat District.........  Dusky rockfish...  Confidential \1\.             215  Confidential. \1\
                                Pacific ocean      Confidential \1\.           3,298  Confidential. \1\
                                 perch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut 
PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species 
fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (Sec.  679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). 
Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, 
as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of 
the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program 
would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-
water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish 
cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out 
of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in Sec.  
679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch 
history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, 
NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of the Rockfish Program 
in 2019, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out 
sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out 
sideboard limits and post these limits on the Alaska Region website at 
https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program. Table 17 lists the 2019 and 2020 proposed Rockfish Program 
halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector.

[[Page 62812]]



      Table 17--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program Halibut PSC Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Shallow-water    Deep-water
                                      species         species                     Annual shallow-  Annual deep-
                                      fishery         fishery                      water species   water species
             Sector                 halibut PSC     halibut PSC   Annual halibut      fishery         fishery
                                     sideboard       sideboard    PSC limit (mt)    halibut PSC     halibut PSC
                                       ratio           ratio                         sideboard       sideboard
                                     (percent)       (percent)                      limit (mt)      limit (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor...............            0.10            2.50           1,706               2              43
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) 
established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/
P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut 
PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability 
of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA.
    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, 
to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 
679. Under Sec.  679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from 
directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky 
rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 
1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 18 lists the 
proposed 2019 and 2020 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program 
vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard 
species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits 
in Table 18.

        Table 18-Proposed 2019 and 2020 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Proposed 2019
                                                                     Ratio of                        and 2020
                                                                   Amendment 80    Proposed 2019   Amendment 80
           Species                  Season             Area       sector vessels   and 2020 TAC       vessel
                                                                     1998-2004         (mt)          sideboard
                                                                   catch to TAC                     limits (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season........  Shumagin (610).           0.003             869               3
                               January 20-March  Chirikof (620).           0.002          18,025              36
                                10.
                               ................  Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,955              12
                               B Season........  Shumagin (610).           0.003             869               3
                               March 10-May 31.  Chirikof (620).           0.002          21,219              42
                               ................  Kodiak (630)...           0.002           2,761               6
                               C Season........  Shumagin (610).           0.003           9,091              27
                               August 25-        Chirikof (620).           0.002           6,608              13
                                October 1.
                               ................  Kodiak (630)...           0.002           9,150              18
                               D Season........  Shumagin (610).           0.003           9,091              27
                               October 1-        Chirikof (620).           0.002           6,608              13
                                November 1.
                               ................  Kodiak (630)...           0.002           9,150              18
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           4,509               9
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\....  W..............           0.020           3,206              64
                               January 1-June    C..............           0.044           3,450             152
                                10.
                               B Season \2\....  W..............           0.020           2,137              43
                               September 1-      C..............           0.044           2,300             101
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           1,275              43
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           3,240           3,221
                               ................  WYK............           0.961           3,298           3,169
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000             382             382
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             135             103
                               ................  WYK............           0.896             215             193
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels 
in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 
Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. 
These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to 
accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota 
under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece 
from this restriction (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)).

[[Page 62813]]

Table 19 lists the proposed 2019 and 2020 halibut PSC sideboard limits 
for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum 
percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by 
Amendment 80 Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 
679. Any residual amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 sideboard halibut 
PSC limit may carry forward to the next season limit (Sec.  
679.92(b)(2)).

    Table 19--Proposed 2019 and 2020 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                  [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Historic                      Proposed 2019
                                                                   Amendment 80    Proposed 2019     and 2020
                                                                    use of the       and 2020      Amendment 80
       Season             Season dates        Fishery category    annual halibut    annual PSC      vessel PSC
                                                                     PSC limit      limit (mt)       sideboard
                                                                      (ratio)                       limit (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1...................  January 20-April 1..  shallow-water.......          0.0048           1,706               8
                      ....................  deep-water..........          0.0115           1,706              20
2...................  April 1-July 1......  shallow-water.......          0.0189           1,706              32
                      ....................  deep-water..........          0.1072           1,706             183
3...................  July 1-September 1..  shallow-water.......          0.0146           1,706              25
                      ....................  deep-water..........          0.0521           1,706              89
4...................  September 1-October   shallow-water.......          0.0074           1,706              13
                       1.
                      ....................  deep-water..........          0.0014           1,706               2
5...................  October 1-December    shallow-water.......          0.0227           1,706              39
                       31.
                                            deep-water..........          0.0371           1,706              63
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual..........                        Total shallow-water.                                             117
                     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total deep-water                                                                                         357
                     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Grand Total, all                                                 474
                                             seasons and
                                             categories.
                     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed 
harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the 
public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS 
issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A SIR that 
assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for 
the final harvest specifications. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and 
annual SIRs for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). 
The Final EIS analyzes the environmental, social, and economic 
consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and 
alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. Based 
on the analysis in the Final EIS, NMFS concluded that the preferred 
Alternative (Alternative 2) provides the best balance among relevant 
environmental, social, and economic considerations and allows for 
continued management of the groundfish fisheries based on the most 
recent, best scientific information.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the 
relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the economic impacts on small 
entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries 
in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to 
a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the 
sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the 
specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to 
year, the methodology itself remains constant.
    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, 
and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the 
preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the 
existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP 
prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that 
harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries 
within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and 
C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations 
of groundfish.
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide.
    The IRFA shows that, in 2017, there were 821 individual CVs with 
gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate 
accounts for

[[Page 62814]]

corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations 
among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in 
the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish 
cooperatives, or BSAI CR Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the 
RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of 
the cooperative that must meet the ``under $11 million'' threshold. 
Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be 
large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for 
membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 821 small CV 
entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. This latter group of 
vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average 
gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear CVs, and trawl gear CVs 
are estimated to be $380,000, $790,000, and $1.97 million, 
respectively. Revenue data for the three C/Ps considered to be small 
entities are confidential.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate 
fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC 
were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which 
case TACs would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs 
to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average 
fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower 
limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the ``no action 
alternative,'' would have set TACs equal to zero.
    The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest 
strategy, are those recommended by the Council in October 2018. OFLs 
and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the 
Council's Plan Team in September 2018, and reviewed by the Council's 
SSC in October 2018. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those 
of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC's OFL and ABC 
recommendations.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in 
Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2019 and 2020 would be 
479,050 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum 
of TACs is 375,280 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this 
instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small 
entity impacts that may be equivalent to the preferred alternative. 
However, it is not likely that Alternative 1 would result in reduced 
adverse economic impacts to directly-regulated small entities relative 
to Alternative 2. The selection of Alternative 1, which could increase 
all TACs up to the sum of ABCs, would not reflect the practical 
implications that increased TACs for some species probably would not be 
fully harvested. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including 
the lack of commercial or market interest in some species. 
Additionally, an underharvest of flatfish TACs could result due to 
other factors, such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC 
limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. 
Furthermore, TACs may be set lower than ABC for conservation purposes, 
as is the case with other rockfish in the Eastern GOA. Finally, the 
TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to 
ABC, as the TAC must be reduced to account for the State's GHLs in 
these fisheries.
    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 
years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on 
the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). 
This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action 
because it does not take account of the most recent biological 
information for this fishery, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as 
well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible 
harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component 
of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray 
stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species 
category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
groundfish species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY 
range in the GOA to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this 
alternative would reduce 2019 TACs by about 80 percent and would lead 
to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small 
entities. While production declines in the GOA would be associated with 
offsetting price increases in the GOA, the size of these increases is 
uncertain and would still be constrained by production of substitutes. 
There are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in 
significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
management area. Thus, price increases associated with reduction 
production are not likely to fully offset revenue declines from reduced 
production, and this alternative would have a detrimental impact on 
small entities.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a 
significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be 
contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as 
mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 821 
individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. 
Additionally, the three small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would 
have gross revenues of $0.
    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the 
current 2019 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2019 and 2020, with the exceptions 
of the removal of the squid OFL, ABC, and TAC. As noted in the IRFA, 
the Council may modify its recommendations for final OFLs, ABCs, and 
TACs in December 2018, when it reviews the November 2018 SAFE report 
from its Groundfish Plan Team, and the December 2018 Council meeting 
reports of its SSC and AP. Because the 2019 TACs (with the exception of 
squid) in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications are 
unchanged from the 2019 TACs, and because the sum of all TACs remains 
within OY for the GOA, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small 
entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in 
December 2018 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting 
from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the 
Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

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

    Dated: November 29, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-26390 Filed 12-4-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P