Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 9416-9449 [2019-04538]

Download as PDF 9416 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 99510–2252, phone 907–271–2809, or from the Council’s website at https:// www.npfmc.org. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 50 CFR Part 679 Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. [Docket No. 180831813–9170–02] SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: RIN 0648–XG471 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; Final 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; harvest specifications and closures. AGENCY: NMFS announces final 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 remainder of the 2019 and the start of the 2020 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 2019 harvest specifications supersede those previously set in the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, and the 2020 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2020 when the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are published. 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: Harvest specifications and closures are effective at 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2020. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action are available from https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The 2018 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2018, and SAFE reports for previous years are available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone 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, 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 that NMFS, after consultation with the Council, 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) (50 CFR 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS 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. Upon consideration of public comment received under § 679.20(c)(1), NMFS must publish notice of final harvest specifications for up to two fishing years as annual TACs and apportionments, Pacific halibut PSC limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod, per § 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The final harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 30 of this rule reflect the outcome of this process, as required at § 679.20(c). The proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA and Pacific halibut PSC limits were published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). Comments were invited and accepted through January 7, 2019. NMFS received five letters of comment on the proposed harvest specifications; the comments are summarized and responded to in the ‘‘Comments and Responses’’ section of this rule. In December 2018, NMFS consulted with the Council regarding the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. After considering public comment, as well as biological and socioeconomic data that were available at the Council’s December 2018 meeting, NMFS is implementing the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, as recommended by the Council. For 2019, the sum of the TAC PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 amounts is 430,569 mt. For 2020, the sum of the TAC amounts is 408,534 mt. Other Actions 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 February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies 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 to other fisheries. Specifically, the final rule primarily establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. The final rule streamlines and simplifies 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, the final rule revises regulations to prohibit E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations directed fishing in regulation for most AFA Program and CR Program groundfish sideboard limits. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule (contained in Tables 18, 19, 21, and 22 of this action), and those groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723). ABC and TAC Specifications In December 2018, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Advisory Panel (AP), and Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. The GOA Groundfish Plan Team compiled and presented this information in the 2018 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2018 (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 an OFL and ABC for each species or species group. The 2018 SAFE report was made available for public review during the public comment period for the proposed harvest specifications. In previous years, the greatest changes from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been based on recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. At the November 2018 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to stock assessment models, and accompanying stock assessment estimates for groundfish species and species groups that are included in the 2018 SAFE report per the stock assessment schedule found in the 2018 SAFE report introduction. The SSC reviewed this information at the December 2018 Council meeting. Changes from the proposed to the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications are discussed below. The final 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to 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 OFL and ABC amounts for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the final 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. The final TAC recommendations are based on the ABCs as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range of 116,000 to 800,000 mt. The Council recommended 2019 and 2020 TACs that are equal to ABCs for pollock in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District, sablefish, shallow-water flatfish in the Central GOA and the West Yakutat and SEO Districts, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder in the Central GOA, flathead sole in the West Yakutat and SEO Districts, Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky rockfish, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, ‘‘other rockfish,’’ big skate, longnose skate, other skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses in the GOA. The Council recommended TACs for 2019 and 2020 that are less than the ABCs for pollock in the Western and Central GOA and the West Yakutat District, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder in the Western GOA and the West Yakutat and SEO Districts, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, and Atka mackerel. The combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock TACs and the GOA Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State of Alaska’s (State’s) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) so that the ABCs for pollock and Pacific cod are not exceeded. The Western GOA shallow-water flatfish, Western GOA arrowtooth flounder, and Western GOA flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized fisheries. The Atka PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 9417 mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. The final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications approved by the Secretary of Commerce are unchanged from those recommended by the Council, with the exception of the 2019 pollock ABCs and TACs for the Central GOA, and are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy alternative in the EIS (see ADDRESSES). Following the December Council meeting, NMFS identified an error in the calculation of the 2019 seasonal apportionment of pollock among the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) management areas. This error does not affect the determination of the OFL or ABC (annual catch limit) for the combined W/C/WYK management areas. This error affects the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for the A season for Statistical Areas 620 and 630 (i.e., the Central GOA management area), and the total ABC and TAC for the Central GOA management area. NMFS brought these errors to the Council’s attention at the February 2019 Council meeting, along with NMFS’s intent to make these corrections to the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock. The Council did not object to the corrections for 2019. During the next annual harvest specifications process, NMFS will revise the 2020 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock, which will be based on the Council’s recommendations at the December 2019 meeting for the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Annually, NMFS makes an inseason adjustment to the next year’s pollock specifications (i.e., 2020) if necessary to ensure that the GOA pollock TAC for the upcoming year is the appropriate amount based on the best scientific information for pollock in the GOA. NMFS finds that the Council’s recommended OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of the groundfish stocks as described in the final 2018 SAFE report. This finding incorporates the corrections to the Council’s recommendations for the pollock ABCs and TACs for the Central GOA management area. NMFS also finds that the Council’s recommendations for OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the OY range. NMFS reviewed the Council’s recommended TACs and apportionments, and NMFS approves E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9418 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations these harvest specifications under 50 CFR 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types and sectors, processing sectors, and seasons is discussed below. Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The 2019 harvest specifications set in this final action will supersede the 2019 harvest specifications previously set in the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018). The 2020 harvest specifications will be superseded in early 2020 when the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are published. Pursuant to this final action, the 2019 harvest specifications therefore will apply for the remainder of the current year (2019), while the 2020 harvest specifications are projected only for the following year (2020) and will be superseded in early 2020 by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Because this final action (published in early 2019) will be superseded in early 2020 by the publication of the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, it is projected that this final action will implement the harvest specifications for the Gulf of Alaska for approximately one year. Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts NMFS’s apportionment of groundfish species is based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described below. The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas 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 have 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 approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State’s PWS GHL. At the November 2018 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 3,396 mt, a decrease of 641 mt from the 2018 PWS GHL of 4,037 mt. For 2020, the PWS pollock GHL is 2,722 mt, a decrease of 1,315 mt from the 2018 PWS pollock GHL of 4,037 mt. After the GHL VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 reductions, the 2019 and 2020 pollock ABCs for the combined W/C/WYK areas are then apportioned between four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Tables 1 and 2. The total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/ WYK ABC. Apportionments of pollock to the W/ C/WYK management areas are considered to be ‘‘apportionments of annual catch limits (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 610, 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 establishes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610) and Central (Areas 620 and 630) Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (Area 640) and the SEO (Area 650) Districts of the GOA (see Tables 1 and 2). NMFS also establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical Areas 610, 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 in this rule; Tables 3 and 4 list these amounts. The 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State’s GHL 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. Accordingly, the Council set the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. Therefore, the 2019 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,290 mt; (2) Central GOA, 1,917 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 425 mt. The 2020 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,909 mt; (2) Central GOA, 2,435 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 540 mt. These amounts reflect the State’s 2019 and 2020 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 percent of the Western GOA ABC and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA ABCs. NMFS establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual 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 10, 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. The Pacific cod sector apportionments are discussed in detail in a subsequent section and in Tables 5 and 6 of this rule. 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 five 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)). Tables 7 and 8 list the final 2019 and 2020 allocations of sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA. Changes From the Proposed 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications in the GOA In October 2018, the Council’s recommendations for the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018) were based largely on information contained in the final 2017 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2017. The final 2017 SAFE report for the GOA is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The Council proposed that the final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs established for the 2019 groundfish fisheries (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) be used for the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018), pending completion and review of the 2018 SAFE report at the Council’s December 2018 meeting. As described previously, the SSC recommended the final 2019 and 2020 OFLs and ABCs as recommended by the Plan Team. The Council adopted as its recommendations the SSC’s OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP’s TAC recommendations for 2019 and 2020. E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9419 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations The final 2019 ABCs are higher than the proposed 2019 ABCs published in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018) for pollock, shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, northern rockfish, dusky rockfish, rougheye/blackspotted rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, other rockfish, and sharks. The final 2019 ABCs are lower than the proposed 2019 ABCs for sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, and thornyhead rockfish. The final 2020 ABCs are higher than the proposed ABCs for pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, northern rockfish, dusky rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, other rockfish, and sharks. The final 2020 ABCs are lower than the proposed 2020 ABCs for sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye/blackspotted rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. For the remaining target species, the Council recommended the final 2019 and 2020 ABCs that are the same as the proposed 2019 and 2020 ABCs. Additional information explaining the changes between the proposed and final ABCs is included in the final 2018 SAFE report, which was not available when the Council made its proposed ABC and TAC recommendations in October 2018. At that time, the most recent stock assessment information was contained in the final 2017 SAFE report. The final 2018 SAFE report contains the best and most recent scientific information on the condition of the groundfish stocks, as previously discussed in this preamble, and is available for review (see ADDRESSES). The Council considered the 2018 SAFE report in December 2018 when it made recommendations for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. In the GOA, the total final 2019 TAC amount is 430,569 mt, an increase of 15 percent from the total proposed 2019 TAC amount of 375,280 mt. The total final 2020 TAC amount is 408,534 mt, an increase of 9 percent from the total proposed 2020 TAC amount of 375,280 mt. Table 1a summarizes the difference between the proposed and final TACs. Annual stock assessments incorporate a variety of new or revised inputs, such as survey data or catch information, as well as changes to the statistical models used to estimate a species’ biomass and population trend. Changes to biomass and ABC estimates are primarily based on fishery catch updates to species’ assessment models. Some species, such as pollock and sablefish, have additional surveys conducted on an annual basis, which resulted in additional data being available for the 2018 assessments for these stocks. The changes from the proposed 2019 TACs to the final 2019 TACs are within a range of plus 143 percent or minus 29 percent, and the changes from the proposed 2020 TACs to the final 2020 TACs are within a range of plus 143 percent or minus 5 percent. Based on changes in the estimates of overall biomass in the stock assessment for 2019 and 2020, as compared to the estimates previously made for 2018 and 2019, the species or species group with the greatest TAC percentage increases are pollock, Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, northern rockfish, other rockfish, and sharks. Based on changes in the estimates of biomass, the species or species group with the greatest decreases in TACs is sablefish. For all other species and species groups, changes from the proposed 2019 TACs to the final 2019 TACs and changes from the proposed 2020 TACs to the final 2020 TACs are less than a 10 percent change (either increase or decrease). These TAC changes correspond to associated changes in the ABCs and TACs, as recommended by the SSC, AP, and Council. Detailed information providing the basis for the changes described above is contained in the final 2018 SAFE report. The final TACs are based on the best scientific information available. These TACs are specified in compliance with the harvest strategy described in the proposed and final rules for the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. TABLE 1a—COMPARISON OF PROPOSED AND FINAL 2019 AND 2020 GOA TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentage] Species 2019 and 2020 proposed TAC Pollock .......................... Pacific cod .................... Sablefish ...................... Shallow-water flatfish ... Deep-water flatfish ....... Rex sole ....................... Arrowtooth flounder ...... Flathead sole ............... Pacific ocean perch ..... Northern rockfish .......... Shortraker rockfish ....... Dusky rockfish .............. Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish ..................... Demersal shelf rockfish Thornyhead rockfish .... Other rockfish ............... Atka mackerel .............. Big skate ...................... Longnose skate ............ Other skates ................. Sculpins ........................ Sharks .......................... Squids .......................... Octopuses .................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 2019 Final TAC 2019 Final minus 2019 proposed TAC Percentage difference (%) 2020 Final TAC 2020 Final minus 2020 proposed TAC Percentage difference (%) 112,678 12,368 16,194 43,128 9,499 14,529 76,300 26,487 28,605 3,347 863 3,668 141,227 12,368 11,571 43,217 9,501 14,692 99,295 26,489 28,555 4,528 863 3,700 28,549 0 ¥4,623 89 2 163 22,995 2 ¥50 1,181 0 32 25 0 ¥29 0 0 1 30 0 0 35 0 1 114,943 15,709 15,462 43,606 9,624 14,725 96,875 26,587 27,652 4,269 863 3,670 2,265 3,341 ¥732 478 125 196 20,575 100 ¥953 922 0 2 2 27 ¥5 1 1 1 27 0 ¥3 28 0 0 1,427 250 2,038 2,305 3,000 2,848 3,572 1,384 5,301 4,514 0 975 1,428 261 2,016 5,594 3,000 2,848 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 0 975 1 11 ¥22 3,289 0 0 0 0 0 3,670 0 0 0 4 ¥1 143 0 0 0 0 0 81 ........................ 0 1,414 261 2,016 5,594 3,000 2,848 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 0 975 ¥13 11 ¥22 3,289 0 0 0 0 0 3,670 0 0 ¥1 4 ¥1 143 0 0 0 0 0 81 ........................ 0 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9420 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1a—COMPARISON OF PROPOSED AND FINAL 2019 AND 2020 GOA TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentage] 2019 and 2020 proposed TAC Species Total ...................... 2019 Final TAC 375,280 2019 Final minus 2019 proposed TAC 430,569 The final 2019 and 2020 TAC recommendations for the GOA are within the OY range established for the Percentage difference (%) 55,289 15 GOA and do not exceed the ABC for any species or species group. Tables 1 and 2 list the final OFL, ABC, and TAC 2020 Final TAC 2020 Final minus 2020 proposed TAC 408,534 Percentage difference (%) 33,254 9 amounts for GOA groundfish for 2019 and 2020, respectively. TABLE 1—FINAL 2019 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 Pollock 2 .......................................................... Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) 2 ..................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 194,230 11,697 24,875 67,388 34,443 5,748 135,850 8,773 24,875 67,388 34,443 5,748 132,454 8,773 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 205,927 n/a n/a n/a 144,623 7,633 7,667 1,700 141,227 5,343 5,750 1,275 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... 23,669 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 17,000 1,581 5,178 1,828 2,984 4,812 12,368 1,581 5,178 1,828 2,984 4,812 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 25,227 n/a n/a n/a n/a 11,571 25,620 25,731 2,279 1,957 11,571 13,250 25,731 2,279 1,957 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 68,309 n/a n/a n/a n/a 55,587 416 3,443 3,280 2,362 43,217 416 3,443 3,280 2,362 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 11,434 n/a n/a n/a n/a 9,501 2,951 8,357 1,657 1,727 9,501 2,951 8,357 1,657 1,727 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 17,889 n/a n/a n/a ........................ 14,692 35,994 70,995 15,911 22,941 14,692 14,500 70,995 6,900 6,900 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 174,598 n/a n/a n/a n/a 145,841 13,234 20,238 1,932 406 99,295 8,650 15,400 1,932 406 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... 44,865 n/a n/a n/a 21,109 3,227 19,646 3,296 15,400 3,227 19,646 3,296 Pacific cod 3 .................................................... Sablefish 4 ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Flathead sole .................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 OFL Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM ABC 14MRR2 TAC Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 9421 TABLE 1—FINAL 2019 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL ABC TAC W/C/WYK subtotal ......................................... SEO ................................................................ 31,113 2,838 26,169 2,386 26,169 2,386 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 33,951 n/a n/a n/a 28,555 1,190 3,338 1 28,555 1,190 3,338 ........................ Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 5,402 n/a n/a n/a 4,529 44 305 514 4,528 44 305 514 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 1,151 n/a n/a n/a n/a 863 781 2,764 95 60 863 781 2,764 95 60 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,521 n/a n/a n/a 3,700 174 550 704 3,700 174 550 704 Total ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 1,715 411 n/a n/a n/a 1,428 261 326 911 779 1,428 261 326 911 779 Total ............................................................... W and C ......................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 2,688 n/a n/a n/a 2,016 1,737 368 3,489 2,016 1,737 368 3,489 Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 7,356 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 5,594 4,700 504 1,774 570 5,594 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 17 ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Octopus ........................................................... Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. 4,763 1,845 6,958 10,913 1,300 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 Total ......................................................... ......................................................................... 664,889 509,507 430,569 Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ............................................. Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish ....................................... Other rockfish 13 14 ........................................... Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skate 15 ...................................................... Longnose skate 16 ........................................... 1 Regulatory 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 Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 135,850 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (3,396 mt) of that ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 132,454 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 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 3 (final 2019 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances). 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 5 lists the final 2019 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to trawl and fixed gear in 2019 and trawl gear in 2020. Table 7 lists the final 2019 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 deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9422 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes, the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska 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 ‘‘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 (silvergrey), 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. polyspinis. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 15 ‘‘Big skate’’ means Raja binoculata. 16 ‘‘Longnose skate’’ means Raja rhina. 17 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. TABLE 2—FINAL 2020 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species Pollock 2 .......................................................... Pacific cod 3 .................................................... Sablefish 4 ....................................................... Shallow-water flatfish 5 .................................... Deep-water flatfish 6 ........................................ Rex sole .......................................................... Arrowtooth flounder ......................................... Flathead sole .................................................. Pacific ocean perch 7 ...................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 OFL ABC TAC Shumagin (610) .............................................. Chirikof (620) .................................................. Kodiak (630) ................................................... WYK (640) ...................................................... W/C/WYK (subtotal) 2 ..................................... SEO (650) ...................................................... n/a n/a n/a n/a 148,968 11,697 19,939 57,279 24,345 4,607 108,892 8,773 19,939 57,279 24,345 4,607 106,170 8,773 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 160,665 n/a n/a n/a 117,665 9,695 9,738 2,159 114,943 6,787 7,304 1,619 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) ......................... 26,078 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 21,592 2,105 6,931 2,433 3,993 6,426 15,709 2,105 6,931 2,433 3,993 6,426 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 34,872 n/a n/a n/a n/a 15,462 25,952 26,065 2,308 1,983 15,462 13,250 26,065 2,308 1,983 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 69,167 n/a n/a n/a n/a 56,308 420 3,488 3,323 2,393 43,606 420 3,488 3,323 2,393 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 11,581 n/a n/a n/a n/a 9,624 2,956 8,371 1,664 1,734 9,624 2,956 8,371 1,664 1,734 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 17,942 n/a n/a n/a n/a 14,725 34,765 68,575 15,368 22,157 14,725 14,500 68,575 6,900 6,900 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 168,634 n/a n/a n/a n/a 140,865 13,771 21,965 2,097 440 96,875 8,650 15,400 2,097 440 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... 46,666 n/a n/a n/a 38,273 3,125 19,024 3,192 26,587 3,125 19,024 3,192 PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 9423 TABLE 2—FINAL 2020 OFLS, ABCS, AND TACS OF GROUNDFISH FOR THE WESTERN/CENTRAL/WEST YAKUTAT, WESTERN, CENTRAL, EASTERN REGULATORY AREAS, THE WEST YAKUTAT AND SOUTHEAST OUTSIDE DISTRICTS OF THE EASTERN REGULATORY AREA, AND GULFWIDE DISTRICTS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 1 Species OFL ABC TAC W/C/WYK ....................................................... SEO ................................................................ 30,128 2,748 25,341 2,311 25,341 2,311 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 32,876 n/a n/a n/a 27,652 1,122 3,147 1 27,652 1,122 3,147 0 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 5,093 n/a n/a n/a 4,270 44 305 514 4,269 44 305 514 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 1,151 n/a n/a n/a n/a 863 774 2,742 94 60 863 774 2,742 94 60 Total ............................................................... W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 4,484 n/a n/a n/a 3,670 172 545 697 3,670 172 545 697 Total ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 1,699 411 n/a n/a n/a 1,414 261 326 911 779 1,414 261 326 911 779 Total ............................................................... W and C ......................................................... WYK ............................................................... SEO ................................................................ 2,688 n/a n/a n/a 2,016 1,737 368 3,489 2,016 1,737 368 3,489 Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. W .................................................................... C ..................................................................... E ..................................................................... 7,356 6,200 n/a n/a n/a 5,594 4,700 504 1,774 570 5,594 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 17 ................................................ Sculpins ........................................................... Sharks ............................................................. Octopus ........................................................... Total ............................................................... GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. GW ................................................................. 4,763 1,845 6,958 10,913 1,300 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 3,572 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 Total ......................................................... ......................................................................... 627,049 487,218 408,534 Northern rockfish 8 .......................................... Shortraker rockfish 9 ........................................ Dusky rockfish 10 ............................................. Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish 11 .......... Demersal shelf rockfish 12 ............................... Thornyhead rockfish ....................................... Other rockfish 13 14 .......................................... Atka mackerel ................................................. Big skate 15 ...................................................... Longnose skate 16 ........................................... 1 Regulatory 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 Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 108,892 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,722 mt) of that ABC for the State’s pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 106,170 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 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 4 (final 2020 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances). 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 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 6 lists the final 2020 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is only allocated to trawl gear for 2020. Table 8 lists the final 2020 allocation of sablefish TACs to trawl gear. 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 deepsea sole. 7 ‘‘Pacific ocean perch’’ means Sebastes alutus. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9424 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 8 ‘‘Northern rockfish’’ means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes, the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska 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 ‘‘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 (silvergrey), 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. polyspinis. 14 ‘‘Other rockfish’’ in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ‘‘other rockfish’’ species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 15 ‘‘Big skate’’ means Raja binoculata. 16 ‘‘Longnose skate’’ means Raja rhina. 17 ‘‘Other skates’’ means Bathyraja and Raja spp. Apportionment of Reserves Section 679.20(b)(2) requires that NMFS set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposed reapportionment of all the reserves in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). NMFS did not receive any public comments on the proposed reapportionments. For the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, NMFS reapportioned, as proposed, all the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses back into the original TAC limit from which the reserve was derived. This was done because NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary and that the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs listed in Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionments of reserve amounts to the original TAC limit for these species and species groups; i.e., each final TAC for the above mentioned species or species groups contains the full TAC recommended by the Council. 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 § 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 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion to the distribution of the pollock biomass, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments previously were in proportion to the 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 recommended, and NMFS approved, following the apportionment methodology that was used previously 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 2019 and 2020 fishing years. For the A season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 73 percent, and 24 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 3 percent, 86 percent, and 11 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 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 610, 620, and 630, respectively. The pollock chapter of the 2018 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment process and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 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 for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas 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 subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20percent limit could be further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas 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 pollock TACs in the WYK and the SEO Districts of 5,748 mt and 8,773 mt, respectively, in 2019, and 4,607 mt and 8,773 mt, respectively, in 2020, are not allocated by season. Tables 3 and 4 list the final 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 TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of pollock 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, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations unknown and will be determined during the fishing year during the 9425 course of fishing activities by the offshore component. TABLE 3—FINAL 2019 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION; AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01] Season 1 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 2 A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 848 848 11,590 11,590 2.68% 2.68% 36.59% 36.59% 23,236 27,306 8,423 8,423 73.35% 86.20% 26.59% 26.59% 7,593 3,522 11,664 11,664 23.97% 11.12% 36.82% 36.82% 31,677 31,677 31,677 31,677 Annual Total .......... 24,875 ........................ 67,388 ........................ 34,443 ........................ 126,706 1 As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 2 The WYK District and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. TABLE 4—FINAL 2020 DISTRIBUTION OF POLLOCK IN THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL REGULATORY AREAS OF THE GULF OF ALASKA; SEASONAL BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION; AREA APPORTIONMENTS; AND SEASONAL ALLOWANCES OF ANNUAL TAC [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01] Season 1 Shumagin (Area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (Area 630) Total 2 A (Jan 20–Mar 10) ....... B (Mar 10–May 31) ...... C (Aug 25–Oct 1) ......... D (Oct 1–Nov 1) ........... 680 680 9,290 9,290 2.68% 2.68% 36.59% 36.59% 21,888 21,888 6,752 6,752 86.20% 86.20% 26.59% 26.59% 2,823 2,823 9,349 9,349 11.12% 11.12% 36.82% 36.82% 25,391 25,391 25,391 25,391 Annual Total .......... 19,939 ........................ 57,279 ........................ 24,345 ........................ 101,564 1 As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 2 The WYK District and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. 3 Following the December 2018 Council meeting, NMFS identified an error in the calculation of the seasonal apportionment of pollock. This error affects the A season TAC apportionments for Statistical Areas 620 and 630 (i.e., the Central GOA management area), and the annual total ABC and TAC for the Central GOA management area. NMFS corrects the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. During the next annual harvest specifications process, NMFS will revise the 2020 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock, which will be based on the Council’s recommendations at the December 2019 meeting for the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Annually, NMFS makes an inseason adjustment to the next year’s pollock specifications (i.e., 2020) if necessary to ensure that the GOA pollock TAC for the upcoming year is the appropriate amount based on the best scientific information for pollock in the GOA. Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS seasonally allocates the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also allocates the Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore (90 percent) and offshore (10 percent) 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 hookand-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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 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 fishery year. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 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 two years. NMFS has evaluated the 2018 harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector as follows. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS allocates the jig sector 2.5 percent of the E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9426 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This is an increase from the 2018 jig sector allocation of 1.5 percent. The 2019 and 2020 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.5 percent of the Western GOA Pacific cod TAC, and a 1.0 percent performance increase because in 2018 the jig sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its 2018 Pacific cod allocation. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS allocates the jig sector 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This is the same percent as the 2018 jig sector allocation because in 2018 this sector harvested less than 90 percent of its 2018 Pacific cod allocation. The 2019 and 2020 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.0 percent of the Central GOA Pacific cod TAC, and no additional performance increase in the Central GOA. Tables 5 and 6 list the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs. TABLE 5—FINAL 2019 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING 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 (2.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 134 73 1,031 2,000 125 1,980 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 80 36 568 1,443 47 1,031 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 53 36 464 557 78 948 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 ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 58 831 382 291 2,367 239 1,583 N/A 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.14 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 23 301 62 57 1,164 125 568 Total ....................................................................... 5,750 60.00 3,450 40.00 2,300 Eastern GOA ........................................................................ ........................ Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) 1,275 Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 1,148 127 1 Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 219 mt, of the annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 12. Final 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). TABLE 6—FINAL 2020 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING 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 (2.5% of TAC) ......................................................... Hook-and-line CV ......................................................... Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV ....................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 170 93 1,310 2,541 159 2,514 N/A 0.70 10.90 27.70 0.90 19.80 102 46 721 1,833 60 1,310 N/A 0.70 8.90 10.70 1.50 18.20 68 46 589 708 99 1,204 Total ....................................................................... 6,787 60.00 4,072 40.00 2,715 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) ......................................................... 73 N/A 44 N/A 29 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9427 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 6—FINAL 2020 SEASONAL APPORTIONMENTS AND ALLOCATION OF PACIFIC COD TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) AMOUNTS IN THE GOA; ALLOCATIONS IN THE WESTERN GOA AND CENTRAL GOA SECTORS, AND THE EASTERN GOA INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING COMPONENTS—Continued [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) Hook-and-line <50 CV .................................................. Hook-and-line ≥50 CV .................................................. Hook-and-line C/P ........................................................ Trawl CV 1 ..................................................................... Trawl C/P ...................................................................... All Pot CV and Pot C/P ................................................ 1,056 485 369 3,007 304 2,010 9.32 5.61 4.11 21.14 2.00 17.83 674 406 297 1,528 145 1,289 5.29 1.10 1.00 20.45 2.19 9.97 382 79 72 1,479 159 721 Total ....................................................................... 7,304 60.00 4,382 40.00 2,921 Eastern GOA ........................................................................ ........................ Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) 1,619 Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 1,457 162 1 Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 278 mt, of the annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 13. Final 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679). Allocations of the Sablefish TACs to Vessels Using Fixed and Trawl Gear Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require 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 using trawl gear while directed fishing for other target species (§ 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 approves 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 allocated to vessels using fixed gear. NMFS allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This action results in a 2019 allocation of 241 mt to trawl gear and 1,587 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a 2019 allocation of 2,984 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a 2020 allocation of 321 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 7 lists the allocations of the 2019 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 8 lists the allocations of the 2020 sablefish TACs to trawl gear. The Council recommended that a trawl sablefish TAC be established for two 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. Both the 2019 and 2020 trawl allocations are specified in these final harvest specifications, in Tables 7 and 8, respectively. The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that this 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 since the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins on March 15, 2019, the Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for two years, so that the best scientific information available could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 7 lists the 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 (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear in the GOA is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20 (§ 679.23(c)). 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 7—FINAL 2019 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO FIXED AND TRAWL GEAR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central 1 ....................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 2 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Fixed gear allocation TAC Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 1,581 5,178 1,828 2,984 14MRR2 1,265 4,142 1,587 2,984 Trawl gear allocation 316 1,036 241 0 9428 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 7—FINAL 2019 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS IN THE GULF OF ALASKA AND ALLOCATIONS TO FIXED AND TRAWL GEAR—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district Fixed gear allocation TAC Total ...................................................................................................................................... 11,571 9,978 Trawl gear allocation 1,593 1 The trawl allocation of sablefish in the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (533 mt). See Table 12: Final 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 503 mt being available for the nonRockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. TABLE 8—FINAL 2020 SABLEFISH TAC SPECIFICATIONS 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 Trawl gear allocation Western ........................................................................................................................................ Central 2 ....................................................................................................................................... West Yakutat 3 ............................................................................................................................. Southeast Outside ....................................................................................................................... 2,105 6,931 2,433 3,993 n/a n/a n/a n/a 421 1,386 321 0 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 15,462 n/a 2,129 1 The Council recommended that the final 2020 harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries not be specified in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. 2 The trawl allocation of sablefish in the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (713 mt). See Table 13: Final 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 673 mt being available for the nonRockfish Program trawl fisheries. 3 The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District. Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limits for the Rockfish Program These final 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 and blackspotted 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 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. In addition to 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 operating under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions and halibut PSC limits are discussed in a subsequent section in this rule 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 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 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 percent of the TAC for that species. In 2018, the catch of Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish did not attain the 90 percent threshold, and those allocations for 2019 remain the same as the 2018 allocations. 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 9 lists the allocations of the 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 TACs assigned to the Rockfish Program that may be allocated to the rockfish entry level longline fishery. E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 9429 TABLE 9—FINAL 2019 AND INITIAL 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% 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. Tables 10 and 11 list the final 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 is setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 3,000 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 final harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives and Up to maximum percent of TAC: 1 2 5 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 final harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2019 allocations on the Alaska Region website at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/ central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1. TABLE 10—FINAL 2019 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 annual TAC Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the rockfish cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 19,646 3,338 2,764 3,000 300 250 16,646 3,038 2,514 5 5 50 16,641 3,033 2,464 Total .............................................................................. 25,748 3,550 22,198 60 22,138 1 Longline 2 Rockfish gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2). cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (50 CFR 679.81). TABLE 11—FINAL 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 annual TAC Rockfish primary species Incidental catch allowance TAC minus ICA Allocation to the entry level longline 1 fishery Allocation to the rockfish cooperatives 2 Pacific ocean perch ............................................................. Northern rockfish .................................................................. Dusky rockfish ...................................................................... 19,024 3,147 2,742 3,000 300 250 16,024 2,847 2,492 5 5 50 16,019 2,842 2,442 Total .............................................................................. 24,913 3,550 21,363 60 21,303 1 Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2). 2 Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (50 CFR 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 allocation, and thornyhead rockfish. C/P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Tables 12 and 13 list the PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 apportionments of the 2019 and 2020 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives. E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9430 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 12—FINAL 2019 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish .......................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ Catcher/processor cooperatives Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.00 0.00 7.84 219 351 0 0 71 0.00 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 0 182 122 324 241 5,750 5,178 305 550 911 TABLE 13—FINAL 2020 APPORTIONMENTS OF ROCKFISH SECONDARY SPECIES IN THE CENTRAL GOA TO CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR COOPERATIVES [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Catcher vessel cooperatives Central GOA annual TAC Rockfish secondary species Pacific cod ............................................................................ Sablefish .............................................................................. Shortraker rockfish ............................................................... Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish .......................................... Thornyhead rockfish ............................................................ Halibut PSC Limits Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl gear and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In December 2018, the Council recommended halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hookand-line gear, and 9 mt for the DSR fishery in the SEO District for both 2019 and 2020. 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 (§ 679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from being impacted from the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) Percentage of TAC Apportionment (mt) 3.81 6.78 0.00 0.00 7.84 278 470 0 0 71 0.00 3.51 40.00 58.87 26.50 0 243 122 321 241 7,304 6,931 305 545 911 fishery. Of the 250 mt TAC for DSR in 2018, 58 mt were available for directed fishing by the DSR commercial fishery, of which 26 mt were harvested (through December 17, 2018). The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-andline gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2019 and 2020. The Council recommended, and NMFS approves, these exemptions because: (1) The 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 catcher vessel 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 fishermen 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 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Catcher/processor cooperatives Sfmt 4700 bycatch mortality through December 31, 2018, is 1,103 mt for trawl gear and 51 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,154 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. The Council considered information from the 2018 SAFE report, NMFS catch data, State of Alaska catch data, IPHC stock assessment and mortality data, and E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations public testimony when apportioning the halibut PSC limits. For 2019 and 2020, the Council increased the trawl halibut PSC apportionment in the first season to 519 mt, an increase of 50 mt. The trawl halibut PSC apportionment for the third season was reduced by 50 mt to 462 mt. The 50 mt of halibut PSC that was moved from the third season to the first season was apportioned to the deepwater species fishery, which increased to 135 mt. The trawl halibut PSC apportionment in the fourth season was apportioned between the shallow-water (53 mt) and deep-water (75 mt) species fisheries. The overall trawl halibut PSC limit (of 1,706 mt) is unchanged. In addition, the Council changed the end date of the third season halibut PSC apportionment to August 1 from September 1. The Council also changed the beginning date of the fourth season halibut PSC apportionment to August 1 from September 1. The changes to the apportionment amounts and seasons are intended to better align halibut PSC use in the groundfish fisheries relative to expected halibut PSC needs on a seasonal basis and relative to changes in halibut biomass distribution and the expected catches of target groundfish species and corresponding halibut PSC rates. Also, the changes are intended to ensure that there is more consistent trawl fishing effort throughout the year, with fewer fishery closures due to the attainment of seasonal halibut PSC limits. These changes could result in increased efficiency for the trawl fleet and the GOA seafood processors dependent on 9431 groundfish caught by vessels using trawl gear. These changes are reflected in both Tables 14 and 15. NMFS concurs with and implements the Council’s recommendations listed in Table 14, which show the final 2019 and 2020 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. These halibut PSC limits and seasons differ from those contained in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018), for the reasons discussed above. 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 14—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 PACIFIC HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) LIMITS, ALLOWANCES, AND APPORTIONMENTS [Values are in metric tons] Hook-and-line gear 1 Trawl gear Other than DSR Season Percent DSR Amount Season January 20–April 1 ........... April 1–July 1 .................... July 1–August 1 ................ 30.4 20.0 27.0 519 341 462 August 1–October 1 ......... October 1–December 31 .. 7.5 15.0 128 256 Total .......................... ................ 1,706 Percent Amount Season Amount January 1–June 10 ......... June 10–September 1 ..... September 1–December 31. 86 2 12 221 5 31 January 1–December 31 9 .......................................... ................ 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 in the SEO District and to the hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The hook-and-line sablefish IFQ fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding. Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories listed in § 679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments are based on each category’s proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during the fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are: (1) A deepwater 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, 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004). NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments on May 15 during the second season deepwater and shallow-water species 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 shallowwater species 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 15 lists the final 2019 and 2020 apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deepwater and shallow-water species fishery categories. As described above, the Council recommended, and NMFS implements, the changes to the amount PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 of the halibut PSC apportionments between the deep-water and shallowwater species fisheries, along with changes to the season dates for the third and fourth seasons. 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 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. After the combined CV and C/P halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the Rockfish Program, 150 mt remains for 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- E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9432 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries during the current fishing year to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC limit 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 15—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 APPORTIONMENT OF TRAWL PACIFIC HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH LIMITS BETWEEN THE TRAWL GEAR DEEP-WATER SPECIES FISHERY AND THE SHALLOW-WATER SPECIES FISHERY CATEGORIES [Values are in metric tons] Season Deep-water 1 Shallow-water Total January 20–April 1 ....................................................................................................................... April 1–July 1 ............................................................................................................................... July 1–August 1 ........................................................................................................................... August 1–October 1 ..................................................................................................................... 384 85 121 53 135 256 341 75 519 341 462 128 Subtotal January 20–October 1 ........................................................................................... October 1–December 31 2 ........................................................................................................... 643 ........................ 807 ........................ 1,450 256 Total ............................................................................................................................... ........................ ........................ 1,706 1 Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fishery categories during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31). Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be apportioned between 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 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here. Pursuant to § 679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC limit for the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ is apportioned between the CV and C/P sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these two management areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as calculated in the 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated information in the final 2018 SAFE report describes this distributional calculation, which allocates ABC among regulatory areas on the basis of the three most recent stock surveys. For 2019 and 2020, the distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 45 percent to the Western GOA, 45 percent to the Central GOA, and 10 percent to the Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA Pacific cod distribution with respect to establishing the annual halibut PSC limits for the CV and C/P hook-and-line sectors. The annual halibut PSC limits for both the CV and C/P sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery’’ are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS apportions halibut PSC limits of 120 mt and 137 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-andline C/P sectors, respectively. Table 16 lists the final 2019 and 2020 apportionments of halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-line C/P sectors of the ‘‘other hook-and-line fishery.’’ No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or 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 is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder of that fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations. TABLE 16—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 APPORTIONMENTS OF THE ‘‘OTHER HOOK-AND-LINE FISHERY’’ ANNUAL HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH ALLOWANCE BETWEEN THE HOOK-AND-LINE GEAR CATCHER VESSEL AND CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTORS [Values are in metric tons] ‘‘Other than DSR’’ allowance Hook-and-line sector 257 ................ Catcher Vessel .................................. 120 Catcher/Processor ............................. 137 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Sector annual amount Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 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 .............. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 86 2 12 86 2 12 Sector seasonal amount 103 2 14 118 3 16 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition The IPHC annually assesses the abundance and potential yield of the Pacific halibut stock using all available data from the commercial and sport fisheries, other removals, and scientific surveys. Additional information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may be found in the IPHC’s 2018 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 2018), available on the IPHC website at www.iphc.int. The IPHC considered the 2018 Pacific halibut stock assessment at its January 2019 annual meeting when it set the 2019 commercial halibut fishery catch limits. 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 (IPHC, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the GOA Plan Team, 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 9433 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, including the 2020 DMRs, may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector. At the December 2018 meeting, the SSC, AP, and the Council concurred with the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted for 2019 and 2020 the DMRs calculated under the revised methodology, which uses an updated 2-year reference period. The final 2019 and 2020 DMRs in this rule are unchanged from the DMRs in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018). Table 17 lists these final 2019 and 2020 DMRs. TABLE 17—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 HALIBUT DISCARD MORTALITY RATES 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 ..................................... Hook-and-line .......................................... Pot ........................................................... 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 that NMFS close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit in that regulatory area is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 in the Central GOA are set at § 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 trawl nonpollock groundfish fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among three sectors directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock: 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 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Halibut discard mortality rate (percent) 100 100 49 67 79 11 21 4 PSC in the trawl non-pollock 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 limits its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a specified threshold amount in 2018 (3,120 for trawl C/Ps and 2,340 for Non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9434 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2019 Chinook salmon PSC limit (§ 679.21(h)(4)). In 2018, the trawl C/P sector did not exceed 3,120 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore, the 2019 trawl C/P sector Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 4,080 Chinook salmon. In 2018, the Non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector did not exceed 2,340 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore, the 2019 Non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 3,060 Chinook salmon. American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/ Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limitations 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 and C/Ps designated on a listed AFA C/P permit from harvesting any species of groundfish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps and C/Ps designated on a listed AFA C/P permit 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 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 GOA groundfish landings from 1995 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 the CV groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the aggregate retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species or species group from 1995 through 1997 divided by the sum of the TACs for that species or species group available to CVs over the same period. As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that establishes 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 applies to most, but not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Table 18 and 19. Beginning with the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, NMFS will incorporate such changes into the specification and management of nonexempt AFA CV sideboard limits. Tables 18 and 19 list the final 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 Tables 18 and 19. TABLE 18—FINAL 2019 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/gear 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 ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Sablefish ................................ Annual, trawl gear ................ Shallow-water flatfish ............. Annual ................................... Deep-water flatfish ................ Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:01 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Area/component 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 ........................................... E inshore .............................. E offshore ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 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 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 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Final 2019 TACs 848 23,236 7,593 848 27,306 3,522 11,590 8,423 11,664 11,590 8,423 11,664 5,748 8,773 3,206 3,450 2,137 2,300 1,148 128 316 1,036 241 13,250 25,731 4,236 416 3,443 5,642 2,951 8,357 3,384 14,500 70,995 Final 2019 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 3 513 2,712 1,540 513 3,187 714 7,008 983 2,365 7,008 983 2,365 2,009 3,066 427 239 284 159 9 1 0 67 10 207 1,510 53 0 223 72 2 321 10 30 1,988 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 9435 TABLE 18—FINAL 2019 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/gear Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Rougheye and blackspotted 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 ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Area/component E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Ratio of 1995– 1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995– 1997 TAC 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 Final 2019 TACs 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,439 3,227 19,646 5,682 1,190 3,338 44 305 514 781 2,764 155 174 550 704 261 326 911 779 1,737 3,857 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 Final 2019 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 3 3 31 328 2 7 1,470 265 0 92 0 7 6 0 0 1 0 13 9 1 9 26 22 295 0 93 3 11 4 1 18 4 9 33 52 6 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723). 2 The 3 On TABLE 19—FINAL 2020 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Pollock ................................... Apportionments by season/ gear A Season—January 20– March 10. B Season—March 10–May 31. C Season—August 25—October 1. D Season—October 1—November 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Area/component Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Kodiak (630) ......................... Shumagin (610) .................... Chirikof (620) ........................ Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 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 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Final 2020 TACs 680 21,888 2,823 680 21,888 2,823 9,290 6,752 9,349 9,290 6,752 Final 2020 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 3 411 2,554 573 411 2,554 573 5,617 788 1,896 5,617 788 9436 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 19—FINAL 2020 GOA NON-EXEMPT AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CATCHER VESSEL (CV) GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/ gear Annual ................................... Pacific cod ............................. A Season 1—January 1— June 10. B Season 2–September 1— December 31. Annual ................................... Sablefish ................................ Annual, trawl gear ................ Shallow-water flatfish ............. Annual ................................... Deep-water flatfish ................ Annual ................................... Rex sole ................................ Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder ............... Annual ................................... Flathead sole ......................... Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch ............... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ................ Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ....................... Annual ................................... Rougheye and blackspotted 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 ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Area/component Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV catch to 1995–1997 TAC 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Final 2020 non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limit 3 Kodiak (630) ......................... WYK (640) ............................ SEO (650) ............................. W .......................................... C ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... 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 .......................................... 0.2028 0.3495 0.3495 0.1331 0.0692 0.1331 0.0692 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 9,349 4,607 8,773 4,072 4,382 2,715 2,921 1,457 162 421 1,386 321 13,250 26,065 4,291 420 3,488 5,716 2,956 8,371 3,398 14,500 68,575 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,537 3,125 19,024 5,503 1,122 3,147 44 305 514 774 2,742 154 172 1,896 1,610 3,066 542 303 361 202 12 1 0 89 14 207 1,530 54 0 226 73 2 321 10 30 1,920 3 31 328 2 7 1,423 256 0 87 0 7 6 0 0 1 0 C ........................................... E ........................................... SEO ...................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W/C ....................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... W .......................................... C ........................................... E ........................................... Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ Gulfwide ................................ 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 545 697 261 326 911 779 1,737 3,857 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 13 9 1 9 26 22 295 0 93 3 11 4 1 18 4 9 33 52 6 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Final 2020 TACs Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 9437 3 On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723). Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Limits The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 20 lists the final 2019 and 2020 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, respectively. 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 TABLE 20—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV HALIBUT PROHIBITED SPECIES CATCH (PSC) SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR VESSELS USING TRAWL GEAR IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of 1995–1997 non-exempt AFA CV retained catch to total retained catch 2019 and 2020 PSC limit 2019 and 2020 non-exempt AFA CV PSC limit 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.340 0.070 0.205 384 135 85 256 121 341 53 75 256 131 9 29 18 41 24 18 5 52 Total shallow-water ......................... .......................... .......................... 219 Total deep-water ............................. .......................... .......................... 56 1,706 328 Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ................. January 20–April 1 .......................... 2 ................. April 1–July 1 ................................... 3 ................. July 1–August 1 ............................... 4 ................. August 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 Total, all season and categories Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch 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 Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard 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 catch made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 The basis for these sideboard 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 final rule (84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 for non-AFA crab vessel sideboards through the GOA annual harvest specifications. This will apply to most, but not all, of the species and area apportionments listed in Tables 21 and 22. Beginning with the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications, NMFS will incorporate such changes into the specification and the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limits. Tables 21 and 22 list the final 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard limitations 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. E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9438 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 21—FINAL 2019 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Pollock ........................................ Area/component/gear 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 ................................... Pacific cod .................................. A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1– December 31. Annual ................................... Sablefish ..................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Shallow-water flatfish .................. Annual ................................... Deep-water flatfish ...................... Annual ................................... Rex sole ...................................... Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder .................... Annual ................................... Flathead sole .............................. Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch .................... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ..................... Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ............................ Annual ................................... Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish Annual ................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 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) ....................... WG Jig ............................. WG Hook-and-line CV ..... WG Pot CV ...................... WG Pot C/P ..................... WG Trawl CV .................. CG Jig ............................. CG Hook-and-line CV ..... CG Pot CV ...................... CG Pot C/P ..................... CG Trawl CV ................... WG Jig ............................. WG Hook-and-line CV ..... WG Pot CV ...................... WG Pot C/P ..................... WG Trawl CV .................. CG Jig ............................. CG Hook-and-line CV ..... CG Pot CV ...................... CG Pot C/P ..................... CG Trawl CV ................... EG inshore ...................... EG 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 ..................................... Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 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 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Final 2019 TACs 848 23,236 7,593 848 27,306 3,522 11,590 8,423 11,664 11,590 8,423 11,664 5,748 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 1,148 128 316 1,036 241 13,250 25,731 4,236 416 3,443 5,642 2,951 8,357 3,384 14,500 70,995 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,439 3,227 19,646 5,682 1,190 3,338 44 305 514 781 2,764 155 174 Final 2019 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 3 8 72 2 8 85 1 114 26 2 114 26 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 7 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 9439 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 21—FINAL 2019 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Demersal shelf rockfish .............. Thornyhead rockfish ................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Other rockfish ............................. Annual ................................... Atka mackerel ............................. Big skate ..................................... Annual ................................... Annual ................................... Longnose skate .......................... Annual ................................... Other skates ............................... Sculpins ...................................... Sharks ......................................... Octopuses ................................... Annual Annual Annual Annual ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest C ...................................... E ...................................... SEO ................................. W ..................................... C ...................................... E ...................................... W/C .................................. E ...................................... Gulfwide ........................... W ..................................... C ...................................... E ...................................... W ..................................... C ...................................... E ...................................... Gulfwide ........................... Gulfwide ........................... Gulfwide ........................... Gulfwide ........................... 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 0.0176 Final 2019 TACs Final 2019 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 3 550 704 261 326 911 779 1,737 3,857 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 3 1 0 2 6 4 6 0 0 20 28 0 6 45 0 24 93 144 17 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for jig gear opens June 10. The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. 3 On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723). 2 The TABLE 22—FINAL 2020 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Pollock ........................................ Area/component/gear 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 ................................... Pacific cod .................................. A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1– December 31. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 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) ....................... WG Jig ............................. WG Hook-and-line CV ..... WG Pot CV ...................... WG Pot C/P ..................... WG Trawl CV .................. CG Jig ............................. CG Hook-and-line CV ..... CG Pot CV ...................... CG Pot C/P ..................... CG Trawl CV ................... WG Jig ............................. WG Hook-and-line CV ..... WG Pot CV ...................... WG Pot C/P ..................... Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 0.0031 0.0002 0.0098 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 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Final 2020 TACs 680 21,888 2,823 680 21,888 2,823 9,290 6,752 9,349 9,290 6,752 9,349 4,607 8,773 4,072 4,072 4,072 4,072 4,072 4,382 4,382 4,382 4,382 4,382 2,715 2,715 2,715 2,715 Final 2020 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 3 7 68 1 7 68 1 91 21 2 91 21 2 0 0 0 2 406 32 3 0 0 208 60 5 0 1 271 21 9440 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 22—FINAL 2020 GOA NON-AMERICAN FISHERIES ACT CRAB VESSEL GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS—Continued [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Annual ................................... Sablefish ..................................... Annual, trawl gear ................ Shallow-water flatfish .................. Annual ................................... Deep-water flatfish ...................... Annual ................................... Rex sole ...................................... Annual ................................... Arrowtooth flounder .................... Annual ................................... Flathead sole .............................. Annual ................................... Pacific ocean perch .................... Annual ................................... Northern rockfish ........................ Annual ................................... Shortraker rockfish ..................... Annual ................................... Dusky rockfish ............................ Annual ................................... Rougheye/blackspotted 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 ......................................... Octopuses ................................... Annual Annual Annual Annual ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... WG Trawl CV .................. CG Jig ............................. CG Hook-and-line CV ..... CG Pot CV ...................... CG Pot C/P ..................... CG 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 ........................... Gulfwide ........................... Ratio of 1996–2000 non-AFA crab vessel catch to 1996–2000 total harvest 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 0.0176 1 The Final 2020 TACs 2,715 2,921 2,921 2,921 2,921 2,921 1,457 162 421 1,386 321 13,250 26,065 4,291 420 3,488 5,716 2,956 8,371 3,398 14,500 68,575 13,800 8,650 15,400 2,537 3,125 19,024 5,503 1,122 3,147 44 305 514 774 2,742 154 172 545 697 261 326 911 779 1,737 3,857 3,000 504 1,774 570 149 2,804 619 1,384 5,301 8,184 975 Final 2020 non-AFA crab vessel sideboard limit 3 2 0 0 138 40 4 16 0 0 0 0 78 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 7 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 1 0 2 6 4 6 0 0 20 28 0 6 45 0 24 93 144 17 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for jig gear opens June 10. The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. 3 On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723). 2 The VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 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, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the West Yakutat District and Western GOA 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 dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and northern rockfish in the West Yakutat District and Western GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(2)). Holders of C/Pdesignated LLP licenses that opt out of 9441 participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access that portion of each rockfish sideboard limit that is not assigned to rockfish cooperatives (§ 679.82 (e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each fishery in the West Yakutat District and the Western GOA is set forth in § 679.82(e)(4). Tables 23 and 24 list the final 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program C/P sideboard limits in the West Yakutat District and the Western GOA. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed. TABLE 23—FINAL 2019 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 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 Final 2019 TACs 781 3,227 1,190 95 3,296 Final 2019 C/P limit 565. 1,633. 884. Confidential. 1 Confidential. 1 released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska. TABLE 24—FINAL 2020 ROCKFISH PROGRAM SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR THE WESTERN GOA AND WEST YAKUTAT DISTRICT BY FISHERY FOR THE CATCHER/PROCESSOR SECTOR [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area 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 Final 2020 TACs 774 3,125 1,122 94 3,192 Final 2020 C/P limit 560. 1,581. 834. 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 CVs participating in cooperatives receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program are able to access that VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 portion of the deep-water and shallowwater 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 opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 2019, and NMFS will know the ratios and amounts PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboards for 2019 and post these limits on the Alaska Region website at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable fisheries/rockfish/. Table 25 lists the final 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard limits for the C/ P sector. E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9442 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 25—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 ROCKFISH PROGRAM HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD 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) 2019 and 2020 halibut mortality limit (mt) Annual shallow-water species fishery halibut PSC sideboard limit (mt) Annual deepwater species fishery halibut PSC sideboard 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 catch 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 listed 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. 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). Tables 26 and 27 list the final 2019 and 2020 groundfish 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 Tables 26 and 27. TABLE 26—FINAL 2019 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC Species Apportionments and allocations by season Area 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) ..................... W ................................... C .................................... W ................................... C .................................... WYK .............................. W ................................... WYK .............................. W ................................... W ................................... WYK .............................. B Season—March 10–May 31 C Season—August 25–October 1. D Season—October 1–November 1. Pacific ocean perch ................. Annual ..................................... A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1–December 31. Annual ..................................... Annual ..................................... Northern rockfish ..................... Dusky rockfish ......................... Annual ..................................... Annual ..................................... Pacific cod ............................... 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 Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 2019 TAC (mt) 848 23,236 7,593 848 27,306 3,522 11,590 8,423 11,664 11,590 8,423 11,664 5,748 3,206 3,450 2,137 2,300 1,275 3,227 3,296 1,190 781 95 2019 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) 3 46 15 3 55 7 35 17 23 35 17 23 11 64 152 43 101 43 3,208 3,167 1,190 597 85 9443 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 27—FINAL 2020 GOA GROUNDFISH SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Ratio of Amendment 80 sector vessels 1998–2004 catch to TAC Species Apportionments and allocations by season Area 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) ..................... W ................................... C .................................... W ................................... C .................................... WYK .............................. W ................................... WYK .............................. W ................................... W ................................... WYK .............................. B Season—March 10–May 31 C Season—August 25–October 1. D Season—October 1–November 1. Pacific ocean perch ................. Annual ..................................... A Season 1—January 1–June 10. B Season 2—September 1–December 31. Annual ..................................... Annual ..................................... Northern rockfish ..................... Dusky rockfish ......................... Annual ..................................... Annual ..................................... Pacific cod ............................... 1 The 2 The 2020 TAC (mt) 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 0.896 680 21,888 2,823 680 21,888 2,823 9,290 6,752 9,349 9,290 6,752 9,349 4,607 4,072 4,382 2,715 2,921 1,619 3,125 3,192 1,122 774 94 2020 Amendment 80 vessel sideboards (mt) 2 44 6 2 44 6 28 14 19 28 14 19 9 81 193 54 129 55 3,106 3,068 1,122 591 84 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 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 (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 28 lists the final 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 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)). TABLE 28—FINAL 2019 AND 2020 HALIBUT PSC SIDEBOARD LIMITS FOR AMENDMENT 80 PROGRAM VESSELS IN THE GOA [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton] Historic Amendment 80 use of the annual halibut PSC limit catch (ratio) 2019 and 2020 annual PSC limit (mt) 2019 and 2020 Amendment 80 vessel PSC limit Season Season dates Target fishery 1 ................. January 20–April 1 .......................... 2 ................. April 1–July 1 ................................... 3 ................. July 1–August 1 ............................... 4 ................. August 1–October 1 ........................ 5 ................. October 1–December 31 ................. shallow-water ................................... deep-water ....................................... shallow-water ................................... deep-water ....................................... shallow-water ................................... deep-water ....................................... shallow-water ................................... deep-water ....................................... shallow-water ................................... deep-water ....................................... 0.0048 0.0115 0.0189 0.1072 0.0146 0.0521 0.0074 0.0014 0.0227 0.0371 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 1,706 8 20 32 183 25 89 13 2 39 63 Total .... .......................................................... .......................................................... .......................... .......................... 474 Directed Fishing Closures Pursuant to § 679.20(d)(1)(i), if the Regional Administrator determines (1) VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 that any allocation or apportionment of a target species or species group allocated or apportioned to a fishery PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 will be reached; or (2) with respect to pollock and Pacific cod, that an allocation or apportionment to an E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9444 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations inshore or offshore component or sector allocation will be reached, then the Regional Administrator may establish a directed fishing allowance (DFA) for that species or species group. If the Regional Administrator establishes a DFA and that allowance is or will be reached before the end of the fishing year, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing for that species or species group in the specified GOA subarea, regulatory area, or district (§ 679.20(d)(1)(iii)). The Regional Administrator has determined that the TACs for the species listed in Table 29 are necessary to account for the incidental catch of these species in other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2019 and 2020 fishing years. TABLE 29—2019 AND 2020 DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES IN THE GOA [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons] Incidental catch amount and year (if amounts differ by year) Target Area/component/gear Pollock ............................................................... Sablefish 2 .......................................................... Pacific cod ......................................................... all/offshore ........................................................ all/trawl ............................................................. Western, catcher/processor, trawl .................... Central, catcher/processor, trawl ..................... all ...................................................................... all ...................................................................... all ...................................................................... all ...................................................................... all ...................................................................... All ...................................................................... All ...................................................................... All ...................................................................... All ...................................................................... All ...................................................................... Shortraker rockfish 2 .......................................... Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish 2 ..................... Thornyhead rockfish 2 ........................................ Other rockfish .................................................... Atka mackerel .................................................... Big skate ............................................................ Longnose skate ................................................. Other skates ...................................................... Sharks ................................................................ Octopuses .......................................................... not applicable.1 1,583 (2019), 2,129 (2020). 125 (2019), 159 (2020). 239 (2019), 304 (2020). 863. 1,428 (2019), 1,414 (2020). 5,594. 1,384. 3,000. 2,848. 3,572. 1,384. 8,184. 975. 1 Pollock is closed to directed fishing in the GOA by the offshore component under § 679.20(a)(6)(i). not applicable to participants in cooperatives conducted under the Central GOA Rockfish Program, as cooperatives are prohibited from exceeding their allocations (§ 679.7(n)(6)(viii)). 2 Closures Consequently, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species or species groups listed in Table 29 as zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for those species, areas, gear types, and components in the GOA listed in Table 29 effective at 1200 hours, A.l.t., March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2020. Section 679.64(b)(5) provides for management of AFA CV groundfish harvest limits and PSC bycatch limits using directed fishing closures and PSC closures according to procedures set out at §§ 679.20(d)(1)(iv) and 679.21(d)(6) and (e)(3)(v). The Regional Administrator has determined that, in addition to the closures listed above, many of the non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits listed in Tables 18 and 19 are necessary as incidental catch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2019 and 2020 fishing years. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iv), the Regional Administrator sets the DFAs for the species and species groups in Table 30 at zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by nonexempt AFA CVs in the GOA for the species and specified areas listed in Table 30 effective at 1200 hours, A.l.t., March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2020. TABLE 30—2019 AND 2020 NON-EXEMPT AFA CV SIDEBOARD DIRECTED FISHING CLOSURES FOR ALL GEAR TYPES IN THE GOA [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons] Species Regulatory area/district Pacific cod ......................................................... Eastern ............................................................. Shallow-water flatfish ......................................... Deep-water flatfish ............................................. Rex sole ............................................................. Arrowtooth flounder ........................................... Flathead sole ..................................................... Pacific ocean perch ........................................... Northern rockfish ............................................... Dusky rockfish ................................................... Demersal shelf rockfish ..................................... Sculpins ............................................................. Eastern ............................................................. Western ............................................................ Western and Eastern ....................................... Western and Eastern ....................................... Western and Eastern ....................................... Western ............................................................ Western ............................................................ Entire GOA ....................................................... SEO District ...................................................... Entire GOA ....................................................... 10 (inshore) and 9 (offshore) [2019], 1 (inshore) and 1 (offshore) [2020]. 53. 0. 2 and 10. 30 and 3. 31 and 2. 7. 0. 0. 0. 33. Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with § 680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Tables 21 and 22 are insufficient to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard DFA at zero mt, with the exception of Pacific cod pot CV sector apportionments in the Western and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Incidental catch amount E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA for all species and species groups listed in Tables 21 and 22, with the exception of the Pacific cod pot CV sector apportionments in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Closures implemented under the 2018 and 2019 GOA harvest specifications for groundfish (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) remain effective under authority of these final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications and until the date specified in those notices. Closures are posted at the following website: https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/ search. While these closures are in effect, the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a fishing trip. These closures to directed fishing are in addition to closures and prohibitions found at 50 CFR part 679. NMFS may implement other closures during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years as necessary for effective conservation and management. Comments and Responses NMFS received five letters containing six substantive comments during the public comment period for the proposed GOA groundfish harvest specifications. No changes were made to the final rule in response to the comment letters received. NMFS’s response to public comments on the proposed GOA groundfish harvest specifications is provided below. Comment 1: NMFS should prohibit harvesting for a year to make sure that the population does not decrease to an amount that would prohibit harvesting for another 2 to 3 years. Response 1: The SAFE reports (see ADDRESSES) are intended to summarize the best available scientific information concerning the past, present, and possible future condition of the stocks and fisheries under federal management. The SSC reviews the stock assessments and sets ABC levels for each species and species group managed under the FMP. The ABC recommendations, together with social and economic factors, are considered by the Council in determining TACs and other management strategies for the fisheries. Based on the information provided in the SAFE report, the Council recommended and NMFS implements TACs that do not exceed the ABC and OFL for each groundfish species and species group. The OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts recommended by the Council and approved by NMFS in this final rule are set according to the harvest strategy adopted in the EIS, the management objectives outlined in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 FMP, and the statutory requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to ensure the long-term health of each species and species group and the optimization of yield on a continuing basis. Comment 2: Amendment 106 reclassified squid as an ‘‘Ecosystem Component Species’’ that do not require conservation and management. What warrants the regulation for directed fishing? Response 2: Amendment 106 prohibits directed fishing for squid while allowing limited retention of some squid incidentally caught in other fisheries. Reclassifying squid as an ecosystem component species does not require NMFS to set annual catch limits of an OFL, ABC, or TAC for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications. To monitor the incidental catch of squid in the groundfish fisheries, Amendment 106 maintains recordkeeping and reporting requirements for squid. Additionally, squid may be retained up to a maximum retainable amount in other groundfish fisheries. This allows some squid to be retained for bait or sale, but at a level that discourages fishermen from targeting squid species. More information on Amendment 106 can be found in the final rule to implement Amendment 106 to the FMP (83 FR 31460, July 6, 2018). Comment 3: Would reducing rockfish TAC amounts have substantial economic implications for individuals reliant on the selling of rockfish for food industries? Response 3: Pacific ocean perch is the largest rockfish fishery in the GOA, and the TAC amounts are reached each year. Reduced TAC amounts for Pacific ocean perch and other species of rockfish may result in price increases, but the amount of any potential price increase is unknown. Also, a price increase may not offset revenue declines from lower TACs. Most rockfish fisheries in the GOA are closed because the TAC limits are not larger enough to support directed fishing. However, some retention of rockfish as incidental catch in other fisheries is allowed. Decreased rockfish TAC amounts may require managers to prohibit all retention of rockfish, which would result in no revenue from the incidental catch of rockfish. Each year the SAFE report on the Economic Status of the Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska is updated with the most recent information about groundfish prices and value, including rockfish (see ADDRESSES). Comment 4: NMFS administers the federal fisheries off Alaska for the benefit of a few Alaska fishermen, not for the benefit of all U.S. citizens or the Nation as a whole. There should never PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 9445 be a stock increase, and all quotas should be cut by 50 percent immediately to try to save all stocks, which are being unsustainably fished. Response 4: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries on behalf of all U.S. citizens, as well as on behalf of the commercial fishing industry, in accordance with the National Standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)). Participants in this industry reside in other states besides Alaska, and more information about the industry can be found in the SAFE report on the Economic Status of the Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska (see ADDRESSES). NMFS’s primary objective in the harvest specifications process is the conservation and management of fish resources for the Nation as a whole. The annual harvest specifications process is a key element to ensuring that Alaska fisheries are sustainably managed in a controlled and orderly manner. This process incorporates the best available scientific information from the most recent SAFE reports prepared by multi-disciplinary teams of scientists. Such reports contain the most recent scientific information on the condition of various groundfish stocks, as well as the condition of other ecosystem components. Based on the SAFE reports, the Council and NMFS annually respond to new developments in the natural environment as part of the harvest specifications process. The Council and NMFS set for each groundfish species or species group the annual TAC and ABC amounts, and these amounts increase or decrease each year based on the biological condition of the groundfish stock. The Council and NMFS have reduced catch amounts if necessary based on the SAFE reports (such as the recent reductions in Pacific cod). More information on the biological condition of each groundfish species or species groups, including changes in annual TAC and ABC amounts, can be found in the annual SAFE reports. Currently, none of the NMFS-managed groundfish species off Alaska is overfished or subject to overfishing. Comment 5: Pollock is overfished. There is no justification for allowing commercial fishing to catch all the pollock in the ocean, particularly to the detriment of marine mammals that also eat pollock. Response 5: As mentioned in the response to Comment 4, none of the NMFS-managed groundfish species off Alaska, including pollock, is overfished or subject to overfishing, and the Council and NMFS continue to set annual harvest levels for groundfish species, including pollock, based on the best available scientific information on E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9446 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the biological condition of the groundfish species, the status of ecosystem, and other socio-economic factors. In addition, there are a broad suite of conservation and management measures in place to protect Steller sea lions that were subject to consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, including those described at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ species/steller-sea-lion#management. Comment 6: The information contained in the 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment indicates that the GOA Pacific cod spawning biomass will be at or below 20 percent of its unfished biomass at the beginning of 2019. Per applicable federal regulations, directed fishing for the key prey (pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel) of Steller sea lions should be prohibited in the event that the spawning biomass of such a species is projected in the stock assessment to fall below 20 percent of the projected unfished spawning biomass during a given year. Since 2015, counts of Steller sea lion pups in 2017 were down 33 percent in the Eastern GOA and down 17 percent in the Central GOA. This suggests that the lower birth rates and/or pup survival for Steller sea lions correlate with the decline of Pacific cod. Response 6: The Pacific cod stock in the GOA experienced a decline in biomass and abundance since 2015, as first reported following the 2017 bottom trawl survey. As detailed in the 2018 Ecosystem Status Report (see ADDRESSES), the GOA experienced anomalous warm conditions throughout the water column starting in 2014 and extending through 2016 (an event now characterized in the Ecosystem Status Report as ‘‘marine heat waves’’). This unusual warm event apparently affected the entire ecosystem and, in particular, affected prey availability for upper trophic level predators as was evident in a number of ecosystem indicators including the poor condition of Pacific cod in recent years. These factors led to the current suite of Pacific cod assessment models, which include environmental factors in the assessment including a brief period of high natural mortality (M) and the relationship of longline survey catchability to a temperature index. The 2019 ABC recommended in the stock assessment for Pacific cod (17,000 mt) resulted in a 13.6 percent reduction from the maximum permissible ABC. This reduction was determined based on catch projections that resulted in the spawning biomass estimate (‘‘B’’) being above 20 percent of unfished levels through 2020. The stock assessment’s recommendation for a reduction from VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 the maximum permissible ABC for Pacific cod was explicitly made based on the need to maintain a projected spawning stock biomass above 20 percent of B100% in 2019. This is discussed in the 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment, particularly in the Executive Summary (p. 2) and Harvest Recommendations section (pp. 32–35). Based on the preferred assessment model and the ABC recommendation for 2019 of 17,000 mt, spawning biomass is estimated in 2019 at 34,701 (see the Summary Table at p. 3, the discussion under ‘‘Specification of OFL and Maximum Permissible ABC’’ on p. 33, and Table 2.28), and will remain above B20% in 2019 (see the discussion under ‘‘ABC Recommendation’’ on p. 34). The stock assessment discussion provides the scientific and statistical rationale for the recommended specification of OFL, ABC, and selection of a preferred assessment model to calculate such parameters. The 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The SSC concurred with the preferred assessment model and with the reduction in ABC. The SSC noted that the ABC reduction of 13.6 percent is in addition to the buffer incorporated by the sloping harvest control rule that is triggered when a stock, like Pacific cod, falls below B40%, which results in a total buffer of 59 percent from F40%. The SSC supported the 13.6 percent reduction in ABC to provide stability in future levels of spawning biomass, and the SSC noted that the 13.6 percent reduction in ABC to 17,000 mt was determined based on catch projections that resulted in the spawning biomass estimate being above 20% of unfished levels through 2020. The SSC set the Pacific cod ABC at 17,000 mt for 2019, and NMFS adopts the Pacific cod ABC of 17,000 mt for 2019 in these final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Regarding the decline in pup counts from 2015 to 2017 in the Eastern and Central GOA by 33 percent and 18 percent, respectively, the SSC noted this information but reiterated that two years do not make a trend and that more years of data are necessary to distinguish these changes from other potential declines. These preliminary data provides important information in light of the recent marine heat-wave impacts on the GOA ecosystem. More detailed information on current population trends of the western Distinct Population Segment (DPS) Steller sea lion can be found in the 2017 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Report, which reports that there is strong evidence that across Alaska pup and non-pup counts of western DPS Steller PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 sea lions have increased at 2.19 percent and 2.24 percent, respectively, between 2003 and 2016, although there are strong differences across Alaska but generally positive trends in the Gulf of Alaska. In addition, beginning in 2018, NMFS began managing the GOA Pacific cod fisheries with additional scrutiny and caution because of the reductions in the GOA Pacific cod ABCs and corresponding TACs. Beginning in 2018, NMFS closed various sectors to directed fishing for Pacific cod due to small sector allocations, as well as the need to conserve adequate amounts of Pacific cod for incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries. In 2018, approximately 15,132 mt (84 percent) of the 18,000 mt Pacific cod ABC was caught in the GOA. This precautionary management is continuing in 2019. NMFS closed several regulatory areas and sectors to directed fishing for the year, including trawl C/Ps in the Central GOA and Western GOA and trawl CVs in the Western GOA, and some sectors that were open have already closed to directed fishing. More detailed information on these inseason actions can be found in information bulletins posted at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/ search. Classification NMFS has determined that these final harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and with the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. 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 (see ADDRESSES) and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the EIS. In February 2019, NMFS prepared a SIR for this action. Copies of the 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 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. The preferred alternative is a harvest strategy in which TACs are set at a level within E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the range of ABCs recommended by the Council’s SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. The annual SIR evaluates the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) for the 2019 and 2020 groundfish harvest specifications. An SEIS should be prepared if (1) the agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns, or (2) significant new circumstances or information exist relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)). After reviewing the information contained in the SIR and SAFE reports, the Regional Administrator has determined that (1) approval of the 2019 and 2020-harvest specifications, which were set according to the preferred harvest strategy in the EIS, does not constitute a substantial change in the action; and (2) there are no significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the action or its impacts. Additionally, the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications will result in environmental, social, and economic impacts within the scope of those analyzed and disclosed in the EIS. Therefore, supplemental National Environmental Policy Act documentation is not necessary to implement the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications. Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604) requires that, when an agency promulgates a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 553, after being required by that section, or any other law, to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency shall prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA). The following constitutes the FRFA prepared in the final action. Section 604 describes the required contents of a FRFA: (1) A statement of the need for, and objectives of, the rule; (2) a statement of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a statement of the assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made in the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration in response to the proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a description of and an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule will VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 apply or an explanation of why no such estimate is available; (5) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities which will be subject to the requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report or record; and (6) a description of the steps the agency has taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency that affect the impact on small entities was rejected. A description of this action, its purpose, and its legal basis are contained at the beginning of the preamble to this final rule and are not repeated here. NMFS published the proposed rule on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) to accompany the proposed action, and included a summary in the proposed rule. The comment period closed on January 7, 2019. No comments were received on the IRFA or on the economic impacts of the rule more generally. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration did not file any comments on the proposed rule. The entities directly regulated by this action include: (1) Entities operating vessels with groundfish FFPs catching FMP groundfish in Federal waters; (2) all entities operating vessels, regardless of whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the Statewaters parallel fisheries; and (3) all entities operating vessels fishing for halibut inside three miles of the shore (whether or not they have FFPs). 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. Using the most recent data available (2017), the estimated number of directly regulated small entities include approximately 821 individual catcher PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 9447 vessel entities with gross revenues meeting small entity criteria. Of these entities, 745 used hook-and-line gear, 120 used pot gear, and 32 used trawl gear (some of these entities used more than one gear type, thus the counts of entities using the different gear types do not sum to the total number of entities above). Three individual catcher/ processors met the small entity criterion; two used hook-and-line gear, and one used trawl gear. Catcher/ processor gross revenues were not reported for confidentiality reasons; however, in 2017, small hook-and-line entities had average gross revenues of $380,000, small pot entities had average gross revenues of $790,000, and small trawl entities had average gross revenues of $1.97 million. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, of GOA rockfish cooperatives, or of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization cooperatives, and, therefore, under the RFA it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. These relationships are accounted for, along with corporate affiliations among vessels, to the extent that they are known, in the estimated number of small entities. If affiliations exist of which NMFS is unaware, or if entities had non-fishing revenue sources, the estimates above may overstate the number of directly regulated small entities. This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements. NMFS considered alternative harvest strategies when choosing the preferred harvest strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These included the following: • Alternative 1: Set TACs to produce fishing mortality rates, F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TACs is constrained by the OY established in the FMP. This is equivalent to setting TACs to produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible ABCs, as constrained by OY. The term ‘‘maxFABC’’ refers to the maximum permissible value of FABC under Amendment 56 to the GOA groundfish fishery management plan. Historically, the TAC has been set at or below the ABC; therefore, this alternative represents a likely upper limit for setting the TAC within the OY and ABC limits. • Alternative 3: For species in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, set TAC to produce F equal to E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 9448 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the most recent 5-year average actual F. For species in Tiers 4, 5, and 6, set TAC equal to the most recent 5-year average actual catch. For stocks with a high level of scientific information, TACs would be set to produce harvest levels equal to the most recent 5-year average actual fishing mortality rates. For stocks with insufficient scientific information, TACs would be set equal to the most recent 5-year average actual catch. This alternative recognizes that for some stocks, catches may fall well below ABCs, and recent average F may provide a better indicator of actual F than FABC does. • Alternative 4: First, set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 3 at F75%; set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M; and set spatially explicit TACs for shortraker and rougheye/ blackspotted rockfish in the GOA. Second, taking the rockfish TACs as calculated above, reduce all other TACs by a proportion that does not vary across species, so that the sum of all TACs, including rockfish TACs, is equal to the lower bound of the area OY (116,000 mt in the GOA). This alternative sets conservative and spatially explicit TACs for rockfish species that are long-lived and late to mature and sets conservative TACs for the other groundfish species. • Alternative 5: (No Action) Set TACs at zero. Alternatives 1, 3, 4, and 5 do not meet the objectives of this action, and although Alternatives 1 and 3 may have a smaller adverse economic impact on small entities than the preferred alternative, Alternatives 4 and 5 would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities. The Council rejected these alternatives as harvest strategies in 2006, and the Secretary of Commerce did so in 2007. Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative chosen by the Council: Set TACs that fall within the range of ABCs recommended through the Council harvest specifications process and TACs recommended by the Council. Under this scenario, F is set equal to a constant fraction of maxFABC. The recommended fractions of maxFABC may vary among species or stocks, based on other considerations unique to each. This is the method for determining TACs that has been used in the past. Alternative 2 selected harvest rates that will allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests are constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. The sums of ABCs in 2019 and 2020 are 509,507 mt and 487,218 mt, respectively. The sums of the TACs in 2019 and 2020 are 430,569 mt and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 408,534 mt, respectively. Thus, although the sum of ABCs in each year is less than 800,000 mt, the sums of the TACs in each year are less than the sums of the ABCs. In most cases, the Council has set TACs equal to ABCs. The divergence between aggregate TACs and aggregate ABCs reflects a variety of special species- and fishery-specific circumstances: • Pacific cod TACs are set equal to 70 percent in the Western GOA and 75 percent in the Central and Eastern GOA of the Pacific cod ABCs in each year to account for the GHL set by the State for its GHL Pacific cod fisheries (30 percent of the Western GOA ABC and 25 percent of the Central and Eastern GOA ABCs). Thus, the difference between the Federal TACs and ABCs does not actually reflect a Pacific cod harvest below the Pacific cod ABC, as the balance is available for the State’s Pacific cod GHL fisheries. • Shallow-water flatfish and flathead sole TACs are set below ABCs in the Western Regulatory Area. Arrowtooth flounder TACs are set below ABC in all GOA regulatory areas, except the Central GOA. Catches of these flatfish species rarely, if ever, approach the proposed ABCs or TACs. Important trawl fisheries in the GOA take halibut PSC, and are constrained by limits on the allowable halibut PSC mortality. These limits may force the closure of trawl fisheries before they have harvested the available groundfish ABC. Thus, actual harvests of groundfish in the GOA routinely fall short of some ABCs and TACs. Markets can also constrain harvests below the TACs, as has been the case with arrowtooth flounder, in the past. These TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these targets while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized fisheries. • The GOA-wide Atka mackerel TAC is set below the ABC. The estimates of survey biomass continue to be unreliable in the GOA. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS agrees that the Atka mackerel TAC in the GOA be set at an amount to support incidental catch in other directed fisheries. Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of the ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. Although Alternative 1 may be consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meet the objectives of the action, and have small entity impacts equivalent to the preferred alternative, it is not likely that PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Alternative 1 would result in reduced adverse economic impacts to directlyregulated 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, which are addressed in the preamble to this rule and are summarized briefly here. There may be a lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, an underharvest of flatfish TACs could result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. 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 of Alaska’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 well as National Standard 2 of the MagnusonStevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(2)). NMFS annually conducts at-sea 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 or species group for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES). Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species to reduce 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 73 percent. This would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While production declines in the GOA likely would be associated with offsetting price increases in the GOA, the size of these increases is very uncertain. Price increases would still be constrained by the availability of substitutes, and there are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. In addition, price increases are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / Rules and Regulations smaller production. Thus, this action would have a detrimental economic impact on small entities, compared to the preferred alternative. Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be inconsistent with achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the MagnusonStevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(1)). 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). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this rule because delaying this rule is contrary to the public interest. The Plan Team review of the 2018 SAFE report occurred in November 2018, and the Council considered and recommended the final harvest specifications in December 2018. Accordingly, NMFS’s review of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications could not begin until after the December 2018 Council meeting, and after the public had time to comment on the proposed action. For all fisheries not currently closed because the TACs established under the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) were not reached, it is possible that they would be closed prior to the expiration of a 30-day delayed effectiveness period because their TACs could be reached within that period. If implemented immediately, this rule would allow these fisheries to continue fishing because some of the new TACs implemented by this rule are higher than the TACs under which they are currently fishing. In addition, immediate effectiveness of this action is required to provide consistent management and conservation of fishery resources based on the best available scientific information. This is particularly pertinent for those species that have lower 2019 ABCs and TACs than those established in the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018). If implemented immediately, this rule would ensure that NMFS can properly manage those VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Mar 13, 2019 Jkt 247001 fisheries for which this rule sets lower 2019 ABCs and TACs, which are based on the most recent biological information on the condition of stocks, rather than managing species under the higher TACs set in the previous year’s harvest specifications. Certain fisheries, such as those for pollock and Pacific cod, are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. Other fisheries, such as those for sablefish, flatfish, rockfish, Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses, are critical as directed fisheries and as incidental catch in other fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch the TAC allocations in many of these fisheries. If this rule allowed for a 30-day delay in effectiveness and if a TAC were reached during those 30 days, NMFS would close directed fishing or prohibit retention for the applicable species. Any delay in allocating the final TACs in these fisheries would cause confusion to the industry and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards, thus undermining the intent of this rule. Waiving the 30-day delay allows NMFS to prevent economic loss to fishermen that could otherwise occur should the 2019 TACs (set under the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications) be reached. Determining which fisheries may close is nearly impossible because these fisheries are affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by freeing-up fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries to open ones, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries, and causing them to close at an accelerated pace. In fisheries subject to declining sideboard limits, a failure to implement the updated sideboard limits before initial season’s end could deny the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboard limits, economic benefit could be denied to the sideboard-limited sectors. If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 15, 2019, which is the start of the 2019 Pacific halibut season as specified by the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 9449 begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. This would result in confusion for the industry and economic harm from unnecessary discard of sablefish that are caught along with Pacific halibut, as both hookand-line sablefish and Pacific halibut are managed under the same IFQ program. Immediate effectiveness of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications will allow the sablefish IFQ fishery to begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. Finally, immediate effectiveness also would provide the fishing industry the earliest possible opportunity to plan and conduct its fishing operations with respect to new information about TACs. Therefore, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Small Entity Compliance Guide This final rule is a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule’s primary purpose is to announce the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications and prohibited species bycatch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the GOA. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits and associated management measures for groundfish during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the FMP. This action affects all fishermen who participate in the GOA fisheries. The specific OFL, ABC, TAC, and PSC amounts are provided in tables to assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register and information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed of such closures. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f), 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: March 7, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–04538 Filed 3–13–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\14MRR2.SGM 14MRR2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 50 (Thursday, March 14, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 9416-9449]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-04538]



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Vol. 84

Thursday,

No. 50

March 14, 2019

Part II





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Part 679





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

Federal Register / Vol. 84 , No. 50 / Thursday, March 14, 2019 / 
Rules and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 180831813-9170-02]
RIN 0648-XG471


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

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

ACTION: Final rule; harvest specifications and closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces final 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 
remainder of the 2019 and the start of the 2020 fishing years and to 
accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The 2019 harvest specifications 
supersede those previously set in the 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications, and the 2020 harvest specifications will be superseded 
in early 2020 when the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications are 
published. 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: Harvest specifications and closures are effective at 1200 hours, 
Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., 
December 31, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Final Alaska Groundfish Harvest 
Specifications Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Record of Decision 
(ROD), the annual Supplementary Information Reports (SIRs) to the EIS, 
and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for 
this action are available from https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The 
2018 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the 
groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2018, and SAFE reports 
for previous years are available from the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, 
Anchorage, AK 99510-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's 
website at https://www.npfmc.org.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in 
the exclusive economic zone 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, 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 that NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, 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) (50 CFR 
679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires that NMFS 
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. Upon 
consideration of public comment received under Sec.  679.20(c)(1), NMFS 
must publish notice of final harvest specifications for up to two 
fishing years as annual TACs and apportionments, Pacific halibut PSC 
limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod, per Sec.  
679.20(c)(3)(ii). The final harvest specifications set forth in Tables 
1 through 30 of this rule reflect the outcome of this process, as 
required at Sec.  679.20(c).
    The proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for groundfish of 
the GOA and Pacific halibut PSC limits were published in the Federal 
Register on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). Comments were invited and 
accepted through January 7, 2019. NMFS received five letters of comment 
on the proposed harvest specifications; the comments are summarized and 
responded to in the ``Comments and Responses'' section of this rule. In 
December 2018, NMFS consulted with the Council regarding the 2019 and 
2020 harvest specifications. After considering public comment, as well 
as biological and socioeconomic data that were available at the 
Council's December 2018 meeting, NMFS is implementing the final 2019 
and 2020 harvest specifications, as recommended by the Council. For 
2019, the sum of the TAC amounts is 430,569 mt. For 2020, the sum of 
the TAC amounts is 408,534 mt.

Other Actions 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 February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that 
modifies 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 to other fisheries.
    Specifically, the final rule primarily establishes regulations to 
prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish 
species or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for 
AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual 
harvest specifications. The final rule streamlines and simplifies 
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, the final rule revises 
regulations to prohibit

[[Page 9417]]

directed fishing in regulation for most AFA Program and CR Program 
groundfish sideboard limits. Once the final rule is effective 
(effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual 
GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard 
limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule 
(contained in Tables 18, 19, 21, and 22 of this action), and those 
groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to 
directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723).

ABC and TAC Specifications

    In December 2018, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), 
Advisory Panel (AP), and Council reviewed the most recent biological 
and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the 
GOA. The GOA Groundfish Plan Team compiled and presented this 
information in the 2018 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, 
dated November 2018 (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 an OFL and ABC for each species or species 
group. The 2018 SAFE report was made available for public review during 
the public comment period for the proposed harvest specifications.
    In previous years, the greatest changes from the proposed to the 
final harvest specifications have been based on recent NMFS stock 
surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial 
distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock 
assessments. At the November 2018 Plan Team meeting, NMFS scientists 
presented updated and new survey results, changes to stock assessment 
models, and accompanying stock assessment estimates for groundfish 
species and species groups that are included in the 2018 SAFE report 
per the stock assessment schedule found in the 2018 SAFE report 
introduction. The SSC reviewed this information at the December 2018 
Council meeting. Changes from the proposed to the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications are discussed below.
    The final 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 methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies 
the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The 
formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are 
determined by the level of reliable information available to 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 OFL and ABC amounts for each 
groundfish species. The SSC adopted the final 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. The final TAC recommendations are based on the ABCs as 
adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, 
including maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range 
of 116,000 to 800,000 mt.
    The Council recommended 2019 and 2020 TACs that are equal to ABCs 
for pollock in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District, sablefish, 
shallow-water flatfish in the Central GOA and the West Yakutat and SEO 
Districts, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder in the 
Central GOA, flathead sole in the West Yakutat and SEO Districts, 
Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, dusky 
rockfish, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, 
thornyhead rockfish, ``other rockfish,'' big skate, longnose skate, 
other skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses in the GOA. The Council 
recommended TACs for 2019 and 2020 that are less than the ABCs for 
pollock in the Western and Central GOA and the West Yakutat District, 
Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth 
flounder in the Western GOA and the West Yakutat and SEO Districts, 
flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, and Atka mackerel. The 
combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock TACs and the GOA 
Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State of Alaska's (State's) 
guideline harvest levels (GHLs) so that the ABCs for pollock and 
Pacific cod are not exceeded. The Western GOA shallow-water flatfish, 
Western GOA arrowtooth flounder, and Western GOA flathead sole TACs are 
set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target 
species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more 
fully utilized fisheries. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate 
incidental catch amounts in other fisheries.
    The final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications approved by the 
Secretary of Commerce are unchanged from those recommended by the 
Council, with the exception of the 2019 pollock ABCs and TACs for the 
Central GOA, and are consistent with the preferred harvest strategy 
alternative in the EIS (see ADDRESSES).
    Following the December Council meeting, NMFS identified an error in 
the calculation of the 2019 seasonal apportionment of pollock among the 
combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) 
management areas. This error does not affect the determination of the 
OFL or ABC (annual catch limit) for the combined W/C/WYK management 
areas. This error affects the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for the 
A season for Statistical Areas 620 and 630 (i.e., the Central GOA 
management area), and the total ABC and TAC for the Central GOA 
management area. NMFS brought these errors to the Council's attention 
at the February 2019 Council meeting, along with NMFS's intent to make 
these corrections to the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock. 
The Council did not object to the corrections for 2019. During the next 
annual harvest specifications process, NMFS will revise the 2020 
seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock, which will be based on the 
Council's recommendations at the December 2019 meeting for the 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications. Annually, NMFS makes an inseason 
adjustment to the next year's pollock specifications (i.e., 2020) if 
necessary to ensure that the GOA pollock TAC for the upcoming year is 
the appropriate amount based on the best scientific information for 
pollock in the GOA.
    NMFS finds that the Council's recommended OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are 
consistent with the biological condition of the groundfish stocks as 
described in the final 2018 SAFE report. This finding incorporates the 
corrections to the Council's recommendations for the pollock ABCs and 
TACs for the Central GOA management area. NMFS also finds that the 
Council's recommendations for OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are consistent with 
the biological condition of groundfish stocks as adjusted for other 
biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the 
total TAC within the OY range. NMFS reviewed the Council's recommended 
TACs and apportionments, and NMFS approves

[[Page 9418]]

these harvest specifications under 50 CFR 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The 
apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types and sectors, processing 
sectors, and seasons is discussed below.
    Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2019 and 2020 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and 
area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The 2019 harvest 
specifications set in this final action will supersede the 2019 harvest 
specifications previously set in the final 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018). The 2020 harvest 
specifications will be superseded in early 2020 when the final 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications are published. Pursuant to this final 
action, the 2019 harvest specifications therefore will apply for the 
remainder of the current year (2019), while the 2020 harvest 
specifications are projected only for the following year (2020) and 
will be superseded in early 2020 by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest 
specifications. Because this final action (published in early 2019) 
will be superseded in early 2020 by the publication of the final 2020 
and 2021 harvest specifications, it is projected that this final action 
will implement the harvest specifications for the Gulf of Alaska for 
approximately one year.

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    NMFS's apportionment of groundfish species is based on the 
distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas over which NMFS 
manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of 
pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on the 
apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish are described 
below.
    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined W/C/WYK Regulatory 
Areas 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 have 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 approved the W/C/WYK 
pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. 
At the November 2018 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 3,396 mt, a 
decrease of 641 mt from the 2018 PWS GHL of 4,037 mt. For 2020, the PWS 
pollock GHL is 2,722 mt, a decrease of 1,315 mt from the 2018 PWS 
pollock GHL of 4,037 mt. After the GHL reductions, the 2019 and 2020 
pollock ABCs for the combined W/C/WYK areas are then apportioned 
between four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both 
ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Tables 1 and 2. The 
total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, 
do not exceed the combined W/C/WYK ABC.
    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are 
considered to be ``apportionments of annual catch limits (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 610, 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 establishes pollock TACs in the Western (Area 610) and Central 
(Areas 620 and 630) Regulatory Areas and the West Yakutat (Area 640) 
and the SEO (Area 650) Districts of the GOA (see Tables 1 and 2). NMFS 
also establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual pollock TAC in 
the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among Statistical 
Areas 610, 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 in this rule; Tables 3 and 4 list 
these amounts.
    The 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the 
State's GHL 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. 
Accordingly, the Council set the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the 
Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas to account for State 
GHLs. Therefore, the 2019 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by 
the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,290 mt; (2) Central GOA, 
1,917 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 425 mt. The 2020 Pacific cod TACs are 
less than the ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 2,909 mt; 
(2) Central GOA, 2,435 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 540 mt. These amounts 
reflect the State's 2019 and 2020 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 
percent of the Western GOA ABC and 25 percent of the Eastern and 
Central GOA ABCs.
    NMFS establishes seasonal apportionments of the annual 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 10, 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. The 
Pacific cod sector apportionments are discussed in detail in a 
subsequent section and in Tables 5 and 6 of this rule.
    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 five 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)). 
Tables 7 and 8 list the final 2019 and 2020 allocations of sablefish 
TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA.

Changes From the Proposed 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications in the 
GOA

    In October 2018, the Council's recommendations for the proposed 
2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018) 
were based largely on information contained in the final 2017 SAFE 
report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2017. The final 
2017 SAFE report for the GOA is available from the Council (see 
ADDRESSES). The Council proposed that the final OFLs, ABCs, and TACs 
established for the 2019 groundfish fisheries (83 FR 8768, March 1, 
2018) be used for the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 
FR 62794, December 6, 2018), pending completion and review of the 2018 
SAFE report at the Council's December 2018 meeting.
    As described previously, the SSC recommended the final 2019 and 
2020 OFLs and ABCs as recommended by the Plan Team. The Council adopted 
as its recommendations the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the 
AP's TAC recommendations for 2019 and 2020.

[[Page 9419]]

    The final 2019 ABCs are higher than the proposed 2019 ABCs 
published in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 
62794, December 6, 2018) for pollock, shallow-water flatfish, deep-
water flatfish, rex sole, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, northern 
rockfish, dusky rockfish, rougheye/blackspotted rockfish, demersal 
shelf rockfish, other rockfish, and sharks. The final 2019 ABCs are 
lower than the proposed 2019 ABCs for sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, 
and thornyhead rockfish.
    The final 2020 ABCs are higher than the proposed ABCs for pollock, 
Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, 
arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, northern rockfish, dusky rockfish, 
demersal shelf rockfish, other rockfish, and sharks. The final 2020 
ABCs are lower than the proposed 2020 ABCs for sablefish, Pacific ocean 
perch, rougheye/blackspotted rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. For the 
remaining target species, the Council recommended the final 2019 and 
2020 ABCs that are the same as the proposed 2019 and 2020 ABCs.
    Additional information explaining the changes between the proposed 
and final ABCs is included in the final 2018 SAFE report, which was not 
available when the Council made its proposed ABC and TAC 
recommendations in October 2018. At that time, the most recent stock 
assessment information was contained in the final 2017 SAFE report. The 
final 2018 SAFE report contains the best and most recent scientific 
information on the condition of the groundfish stocks, as previously 
discussed in this preamble, and is available for review (see 
ADDRESSES). The Council considered the 2018 SAFE report in December 
2018 when it made recommendations for the final 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications. In the GOA, the total final 2019 TAC amount is 430,569 
mt, an increase of 15 percent from the total proposed 2019 TAC amount 
of 375,280 mt. The total final 2020 TAC amount is 408,534 mt, an 
increase of 9 percent from the total proposed 2020 TAC amount of 
375,280 mt. Table 1a summarizes the difference between the proposed and 
final TACs.
    Annual stock assessments incorporate a variety of new or revised 
inputs, such as survey data or catch information, as well as changes to 
the statistical models used to estimate a species' biomass and 
population trend. Changes to biomass and ABC estimates are primarily 
based on fishery catch updates to species' assessment models. Some 
species, such as pollock and sablefish, have additional surveys 
conducted on an annual basis, which resulted in additional data being 
available for the 2018 assessments for these stocks.
    The changes from the proposed 2019 TACs to the final 2019 TACs are 
within a range of plus 143 percent or minus 29 percent, and the changes 
from the proposed 2020 TACs to the final 2020 TACs are within a range 
of plus 143 percent or minus 5 percent. Based on changes in the 
estimates of overall biomass in the stock assessment for 2019 and 2020, 
as compared to the estimates previously made for 2018 and 2019, the 
species or species group with the greatest TAC percentage increases are 
pollock, Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, northern rockfish, other 
rockfish, and sharks. Based on changes in the estimates of biomass, the 
species or species group with the greatest decreases in TACs is 
sablefish. For all other species and species groups, changes from the 
proposed 2019 TACs to the final 2019 TACs and changes from the proposed 
2020 TACs to the final 2020 TACs are less than a 10 percent change 
(either increase or decrease). These TAC changes correspond to 
associated changes in the ABCs and TACs, as recommended by the SSC, AP, 
and Council.
    Detailed information providing the basis for the changes described 
above is contained in the final 2018 SAFE report. The final TACs are 
based on the best scientific information available. These TACs are 
specified in compliance with the harvest strategy described in the 
proposed and final rules for the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.

                                Table 1a--Comparison of Proposed and Final 2019 and 2020 GOA Total Allowable Catch Limits
                                              [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentage]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            2019 Final                                      2020 Final
                 Species                   2019 and 2020  2019 Final TAC    minus 2019      Percentage    2020 Final TAC    minus 2020      Percentage
                                           proposed TAC                    proposed TAC   difference (%)                   proposed TAC   difference (%)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.................................         112,678         141,227          28,549              25         114,943           2,265               2
Pacific cod.............................          12,368          12,368               0               0          15,709           3,341              27
Sablefish...............................          16,194          11,571          -4,623             -29          15,462            -732              -5
Shallow-water flatfish..................          43,128          43,217              89               0          43,606             478               1
Deep-water flatfish.....................           9,499           9,501               2               0           9,624             125               1
Rex sole................................          14,529          14,692             163               1          14,725             196               1
Arrowtooth flounder.....................          76,300          99,295          22,995              30          96,875          20,575              27
Flathead sole...........................          26,487          26,489               2               0          26,587             100               0
Pacific ocean perch.....................          28,605          28,555             -50               0          27,652            -953              -3
Northern rockfish.......................           3,347           4,528           1,181              35           4,269             922              28
Shortraker rockfish.....................             863             863               0               0             863               0               0
Dusky rockfish..........................           3,668           3,700              32               1           3,670               2               0
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish..........           1,427           1,428               1               0           1,414             -13              -1
Demersal shelf rockfish.................             250             261              11               4             261              11               4
Thornyhead rockfish.....................           2,038           2,016             -22              -1           2,016             -22              -1
Other rockfish..........................           2,305           5,594           3,289             143           5,594           3,289             143
Atka mackerel...........................           3,000           3,000               0               0           3,000               0               0
Big skate...............................           2,848           2,848               0               0           2,848               0               0
Longnose skate..........................           3,572           3,572               0               0           3,572               0               0
Other skates............................           1,384           1,384               0               0           1,384               0               0
Sculpins................................           5,301           5,301               0               0           5,301               0               0
Sharks..................................           4,514           8,184           3,670              81           8,184           3,670              81
Squids..................................               0               0               0  ..............               0               0  ..............
Octopuses...............................             975             975               0               0             975               0               0
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 9420]]

 
    Total...............................         375,280         430,569          55,289              15         408,534          33,254               9
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The final 2019 and 2020 TAC recommendations for the GOA are within 
the OY range established for the GOA and do not exceed the ABC for any 
species or species group. Tables 1 and 2 list the final OFL, ABC, and 
TAC amounts for GOA groundfish for 2019 and 2020, respectively.

 Table 1--Final 2019 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central,
 Eastern Regulatory Areas, the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, and
                                    Gulfwide Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC             TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          24,875          24,875
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a          67,388          67,388
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          34,443          34,443
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           5,748           5,748
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal) \2\..         194,230         135,850         132,454
                                        SEO (650)...............          11,697           8,773           8,773
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         205,927         144,623         141,227
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...................          23,669          17,000          12,368
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           1,581           1,581
                                        C.......................             n/a           5,178           5,178
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,828           1,828
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,984           2,984
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           4,812           4,812
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          25,227          11,571          11,571
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          25,620          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          25,731          25,731
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,279           2,279
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,957           1,957
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          68,309          55,587          43,217
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             416             416
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,443           3,443
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,280           3,280
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,362           2,362
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          11,434           9,501           9,501
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           2,951           2,951
                                        C.......................             n/a           8,357           8,357
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,657           1,657
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,727           1,727
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          17,889          14,692          14,692
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          35,994          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a          70,995          70,995
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          15,911           6,900
                                        SEO.....................  ..............          22,941           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         174,598         145,841          99,295
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          13,234           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          20,238          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,932           1,932
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             406             406
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          44,865          21,109          15,400
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................             n/a           3,227           3,227
                                        C.......................             n/a          19,646          19,646
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,296           3,296

[[Page 9421]]

 
                                        W/C/WYK subtotal........          31,113          26,169          26,169
                                        SEO.....................           2,838           2,386           2,386
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          33,951          28,555          28,555
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a           1,190           1,190
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,338           3,338
                                        E.......................             n/a               1  ..............
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           5,402           4,529           4,528
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             781             781
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,764           2,764
                                        WYK.....................             n/a              95              95
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              60              60
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           4,521           3,700           3,700
Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             174             174
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             550             550
                                        E.......................             n/a             704             704
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           1,715           1,428           1,428
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             411             261             261
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             n/a             326             326
                                        C.......................             n/a             911             911
                                        E.......................             n/a             779             779
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           2,688           2,016           2,016
Other rockfish 13 14..................  W and C.................             n/a           1,737           1,737
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             368             368
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,489           3,489
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           7,356           5,594           5,594
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           3,000
Big skate \15\........................  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 skate \16\...................  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 \17\.....................  GW......................           1,845           1,384           1,384
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           6,958           5,301           5,301
Sharks................................  GW......................          10,913           8,184           8,184
Octopus...............................  GW......................           1,300             975             975
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         664,889         509,507         430,569
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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 Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 135,850 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (3,396 mt)
  of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 132,454 mt (for the W/C/WYK
  Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 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 3 (final 2019 seasonal
  biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal
  allowances). 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 5 lists the final 2019
  Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is allocated to trawl and fixed gear in 2019 and trawl gear in 2020. Table 7 lists the final 2019
  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 deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.

[[Page 9422]]

 
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes, the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska 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\ ``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 (silvergrey), 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. polyspinis.
\14\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes
  other rockfish.
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.


 Table 2--Final 2020 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central,
 Eastern Regulatory Areas, the West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, and
                                    Gulfwide Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                         Area \1\                OFL             ABC             TAC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........             n/a          19,939          19,939
                                        Chirikof (620)..........             n/a          57,279          57,279
                                        Kodiak (630)............             n/a          24,345          24,345
                                        WYK (640)...............             n/a           4,607           4,607
                                        W/C/WYK (subtotal) \2\..         148,968         108,892         106,170
                                        SEO (650)...............          11,697           8,773           8,773
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         160,665         117,665         114,943
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................             n/a           9,695           6,787
                                        C.......................             n/a           9,738           7,304
                                        E.......................             n/a           2,159           1,619
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          26,078          21,592          15,709
Sablefish \4\.........................  W.......................             n/a           2,105           2,105
                                        C.......................             n/a           6,931           6,931
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,433           2,433
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,993           3,993
                                        E (WYK and SEO)                      n/a           6,426           6,426
                                         (subtotal).
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          34,872          15,462          15,462
Shallow-water flatfish \5\............  W.......................             n/a          25,952          13,250
                                        C.......................             n/a          26,065          26,065
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,308           2,308
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,983           1,983
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          69,167          56,308          43,606
Deep-water flatfish \6\...............  W.......................             n/a             420             420
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,488           3,488
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,323           3,323
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           2,393           2,393
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          11,581           9,624           9,624
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             n/a           2,956           2,956
                                        C.......................             n/a           8,371           8,371
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           1,664           1,664
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           1,734           1,734
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          17,942          14,725          14,725
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................             n/a          34,765          14,500
                                        C.......................             n/a          68,575          68,575
                                        WYK.....................             n/a          15,368           6,900
                                        SEO.....................             n/a          22,157           6,900
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................         168,634         140,865          96,875
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................             n/a          13,771           8,650
                                        C.......................             n/a          21,965          15,400
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           2,097           2,097
                                        SEO.....................             n/a             440             440
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          46,666          38,273          26,587
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................             n/a           3,125           3,125
                                        C.......................             n/a          19,024          19,024
                                        WYK.....................             n/a           3,192           3,192

[[Page 9423]]

 
                                        W/C/WYK.................          30,128          25,341          25,341
                                        SEO.....................           2,748           2,311           2,311
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................          32,876          27,652          27,652
Northern rockfish \8\.................  W.......................             n/a           1,122           1,122
                                        C.......................             n/a           3,147           3,147
                                        E.......................             n/a               1               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           5,093           4,270           4,269
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             774             774
                                        C.......................             n/a           2,742           2,742
                                        WYK.....................             n/a              94              94
                                        SEO.....................             n/a              60              60
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           4,484           3,670           3,670
Rougheye and Blackspotted rockfish      W.......................             n/a             172             172
 \11\.
                                        C.......................             n/a             545             545
                                        E.......................             n/a             697             697
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           1,699           1,414           1,414
Demersal shelf rockfish \12\..........  SEO.....................             411             261             261
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             n/a             326             326
                                        C.......................             n/a             911             911
                                        E.......................             n/a             779             779
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           2,688           2,016           2,016
Other rockfish 13 14..................  W and C.................             n/a           1,737           1,737
                                        WYK.....................             n/a             368             368
                                        SEO.....................             n/a           3,489           3,489
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        Total...................           7,356           5,594           5,594
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           6,200           4,700           3,000
Big skate \15\........................  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 skate \16\...................  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 \17\.....................  GW......................           1,845           1,384           1,384
Sculpins..............................  GW......................           6,958           5,301           5,301
Sharks................................  GW......................          10,913           8,184           8,184
Octopus...............................  GW......................           1,300             975             975
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  ........................         627,049         487,218         408,534
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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 Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 108,892 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (2,722 mt)
  of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 106,170 mt (for the W/C/WYK
  Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 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 4 (final 2020 seasonal
  biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal
  allowances). 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 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 6 lists the final 2020
  Pacific cod seasonal apportionments.
\4\ Sablefish is only allocated to trawl gear for 2020. Table 8 lists the final 2020 allocation of sablefish
  TACs to trawl gear.
\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 deepsea sole.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.

[[Page 9424]]

 
\8\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. For management purposes, the 1 mt apportionment of ABC to
  the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska 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\ ``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 (silvergrey), 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. polyspinis.
\14\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means other
  rockfish and demersal shelf rockfish. The ``other rockfish'' species group in the SEO District only includes
  other rockfish.
\15\ ``Big skate'' means Raja binoculata.
\16\ ``Longnose skate'' means Raja rhina.
\17\ ``Other skates'' means Bathyraja and Raja spp.

Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires that NMFS set aside 20 percent of 
each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and 
octopuses in reserve for possible apportionment at a later date during 
the fishing year. For 2019 and 2020, NMFS proposed reapportionment of 
all the reserves in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications 
published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). 
NMFS did not receive any public comments on the proposed 
reapportionments. For the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, 
NMFS reapportioned, as proposed, all the reserves for pollock, Pacific 
cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses back into the original 
TAC limit from which the reserve was derived. This was done because 
NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are 
not necessary and that the entire TAC for each of these species will be 
caught. The TACs listed in Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionments of 
reserve amounts to the original TAC limit for these species and species 
groups; i.e., each final TAC for the above mentioned species or species 
groups contains the full TAC recommended by the Council.

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 to March 10, March 10 to May 
31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 in proportion 
to the distribution of the pollock biomass, pursuant to Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments 
previously were in proportion to the 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 recommended, and NMFS approved, following 
the apportionment methodology that was used previously 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 2019 
and 2020 fishing years. For the A season, the apportionment is based on 
an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of 
approximately 3 percent, 73 percent, and 24 percent in Statistical 
Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the 
apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass 
of approximately 3 percent, 86 percent, and 11 percent in Statistical 
Areas 610, 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 610, 620, and 630, respectively. The pollock chapter of the 2018 
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 for the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas 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 subsequent seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any 
unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further 
distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to the 
estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical areas 
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 pollock TACs in the WYK and the SEO Districts of 5,748 mt and 8,773 
mt, respectively, in 2019, and 4,607 mt and 8,773 mt, respectively, in 
2020, are not allocated by season.
    Tables 3 and 4 list the final 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 TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to 
vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after 
subtraction of pollock 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.  679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts 
of pollock are

[[Page 9425]]

unknown and will be determined during the fishing year during the 
course of fishing activities by the offshore component.

   Table 3--Final 2019 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass Distribution; Area
                                                  Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season \1\                                      Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                 Kodiak (Area 630)             Total \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................             848           2.68%          23,236          73.35%           7,593          23.97%          31,677
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................             848           2.68%          27,306          86.20%           3,522          11.12%          31,677
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................          11,590          36.59%           8,423          26.59%          11,664          36.82%          31,677
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................          11,590          36.59%           8,423          26.59%          11,664          36.82%          31,677
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          24,875  ..............          67,388  ..............          34,443  ..............         126,706
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\2\ The WYK District and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.


   Table 4--Final 2020 Distribution of Pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass Distribution; Area
                                                  Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season \1\                                      Shumagin (Area 610)
                                                Chirikof (Area 620)
                                                 Kodiak (Area 630)             Total \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A (Jan 20-Mar 10).......................             680           2.68%          21,888          86.20%           2,823          11.12%          25,391
B (Mar 10-May 31).......................             680           2.68%          21,888          86.20%           2,823          11.12%          25,391
C (Aug 25-Oct 1)........................           9,290          36.59%           6,752          26.59%           9,349          36.82%          25,391
D (Oct 1-Nov 1).........................           9,290          36.59%           6,752          26.59%           9,349          36.82%          25,391
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total........................          19,939  ..............          57,279  ..............          24,345  ..............         101,564
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\2\ The WYK District and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.
\3\ Following the December 2018 Council meeting, NMFS identified an error in the calculation of the seasonal apportionment of pollock. This error
  affects the A season TAC apportionments for Statistical Areas 620 and 630 (i.e., the Central GOA management area), and the annual total ABC and TAC
  for the Central GOA management area. NMFS corrects the 2019 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.
  During the next annual harvest specifications process, NMFS will revise the 2020 seasonal TAC apportionments for pollock, which will be based on the
  Council's recommendations at the December 2019 meeting for the 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications. Annually, NMFS makes an inseason adjustment to
  the next year's pollock specifications (i.e., 2020) if necessary to ensure that the GOA pollock TAC for the upcoming year is the appropriate amount
  based on the best scientific information for pollock in the GOA.

Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS seasonally allocates the 
2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also 
allocates the Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore (90 
percent) and offshore (10 percent) 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 
fishery 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 two years.
    NMFS has evaluated the 2018 harvest performance of the jig sector 
in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the 2019 and 2020 
Pacific cod apportionments to this sector as follows. For 2019 and 
2020, NMFS allocates the jig sector 2.5 percent of the

[[Page 9426]]

annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This is an increase from the 
2018 jig sector allocation of 1.5 percent. The 2019 and 2020 
allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.5 percent of the Western 
GOA Pacific cod TAC, and a 1.0 percent performance increase because in 
2018 the jig sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its 2018 
Pacific cod allocation.
    For 2019 and 2020, NMFS allocates the jig sector 1.0 percent of the 
annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This is the same percent as 
the 2018 jig sector allocation because in 2018 this sector harvested 
less than 90 percent of its 2018 Pacific cod allocation. The 2019 and 
2020 allocations consist of a base allocation of 1.0 percent of the 
Central GOA Pacific cod TAC, and no additional performance increase in 
the Central GOA.
    Tables 5 and 6 list the seasonal apportionments and allocations of 
the 2019 and 2020 Pacific cod TACs.

Table 5--Final 2019 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Amounts in
    the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore
                                              Processing 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 (2.5% of TAC)...........             134             N/A              80             N/A              53
    Hook-and-line CV............              73            0.70              36            0.70              36
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,031           10.90             568            8.90             464
    Trawl CV....................           2,000           27.70           1,443           10.70             557
    Trawl C/P...................             125            0.90              47            1.50              78
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           1,980           19.80           1,031           18.20             948
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................           5,343           60.00           3,206           40.00           2,137
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........              58             N/A              35             N/A              23
    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           21.14           1,203           20.45           1,164
    Trawl C/P...................             239            2.00             114            2.19             125
    All 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
                                                     127
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 219 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season
  allowance (see Table 12. Final 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table
  28c to 50 CFR part 679).


Table 6--Final 2020 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Amounts in
    the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore
                                              Processing 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 (2.5% of TAC)...........             170             N/A             102             N/A              68
    Hook-and-line CV............              93            0.70              46            0.70              46
    Hook-and-line C/P...........           1,310           10.90             721            8.90             589
    Trawl CV....................           2,541           27.70           1,833           10.70             708
    Trawl C/P...................             159            0.90              60            1.50              99
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           2,514           19.80           1,310           18.20           1,204
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................           6,787           60.00           4,072           40.00           2,715
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)...........              73             N/A              44             N/A              29

[[Page 9427]]

 
    Hook-and-line <50 CV........           1,056            9.32             674            5.29             382
    Hook-and-line >=50 CV.......             485            5.61             406            1.10              79
    Hook-and-line C/P...........             369            4.11             297            1.00              72
    Trawl CV \1\................           3,007           21.14           1,528           20.45           1,479
    Trawl C/P...................             304            2.00             145            2.19             159
    All Pot CV and Pot C/P......           2,010           17.83           1,289            9.97             721
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................           7,304           60.00           4,382           40.00           2,921
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA.....................  ..............    Inshore (90% of Annual TAC)
                                   Offshore (10% of Annual TAC)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           1,619                   1,457
                                                     162
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Trawl catcher vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 278 mt, of the
  annual Central GOA TAC (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), which is deducted from the Trawl CV B season
  allowance (see Table 13. Final 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA and Table
  28c to 50 CFR part 679).

Allocations of the Sablefish TACs to Vessels Using Fixed and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require 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 using trawl gear while 
directed fishing for other target species (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 approves 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 
allocated to vessels using fixed gear. NMFS allocates 100 percent of 
the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This 
action results in a 2019 allocation of 241 mt to trawl gear and 1,587 
mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a 2019 allocation of 2,984 mt to 
fixed gear in the SEO District, and a 2020 allocation of 321 mt to 
trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 7 lists the allocations of the 
2019 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 8 lists the 
allocations of the 2020 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.
    The Council recommended that a trawl sablefish TAC be established 
for two 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. Both the 2019 and 2020 trawl 
allocations are specified in these final harvest specifications, in 
Tables 7 and 8, respectively.
    The Council also recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be 
established annually to ensure that this 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 since the final harvest specifications are expected to be 
published before the IFQ season begins on March 15, 2019, the Council 
recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather 
than for two years, so that the best scientific information available 
could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. 
Accordingly, Table 7 lists the 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 (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed 
fishing for sablefish with trawl gear in the GOA is closed during the 
fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is 
prohibited prior to January 20 (Sec.  679.23(c)). 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 7--Final 2019 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Fixed and Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Fixed gear      Trawl gear
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,581           1,265             316
Central \1\.....................................................           5,178           4,142           1,036
West Yakutat \2\................................................           1,828           1,587             241
Southeast Outside...............................................           2,984           2,984               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 9428]]

 
    Total.......................................................          11,571           9,978           1,593
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The trawl allocation of sablefish in the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish
  Program cooperatives (533 mt). See Table 12: Final 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the
  Central GOA. This results in 503 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\2\ The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.


     Table 8--Final 2020 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear \1\
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Fixed gear      Trawl gear
                          Area/district                                 TAC         allocation      allocation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           2,105             n/a             421
Central \2\.....................................................           6,931             n/a           1,386
West Yakutat \3\................................................           2,433             n/a             321
Southeast Outside...............................................           3,993             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          15,462             n/a           2,129
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that the final 2020 harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual
  Fishing Quota fisheries not be specified in the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.
\2\ The trawl allocation of sablefish in the Central Regulatory Area is further apportioned to the Rockfish
  Program cooperatives (713 mt). See Table 13: Final 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the
  Central GOA. This results in 673 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries.
\3\ The trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat
  and Southeast Outside Districts) sablefish TAC as incidental catch to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.

Allocations, Apportionments, and Sideboard Limits for the Rockfish 
Program

    These final 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 and blackspotted 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. In addition to 
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 operating under the Rockfish Program to increase 
their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These 
restrictions and halibut PSC limits are discussed in a subsequent 
section in this rule 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 percent of the 
TAC for that species. In 2018, the catch of Pacific ocean perch, 
northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish did not attain the 90 percent 
threshold, and those allocations for 2019 remain the same as the 2018 
allocations. 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 9 lists the allocations of the 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 TACs assigned to the Rockfish Program that 
may be allocated to the rockfish entry level longline fishery.

[[Page 9429]]



Table 9--Final 2019 and Initial 2020 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery
                                          in the Central Gulf of Alaska
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Incremental increase in
        Rockfish primary species         2019 and 2020 allocations     2020 if >90% of 2019      Up to maximum
                                                                     allocation is harvested    percent of TAC:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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. Tables 10 and 11 list 
the final 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 is setting aside 
incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the 
Central GOA of 3,000 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 final 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 final 
harvest specifications. NMFS will post the 2019 allocations on the 
Alaska Region website at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1.

  Table 10--Final 2019 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]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Allocation to   Allocation to
                                    Central GOA     Incidental                       the entry     the rockfish
    Rockfish primary species        annual TAC         catch       TAC minus ICA  level longline   cooperatives
                                                     allowance                      \1\ fishery         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          19,646           3,000          16,646               5          16,641
Northern rockfish...............           3,338             300           3,038               5           3,033
Dusky rockfish..................           2,764             250           2,514              50           2,464
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          25,748           3,550          22,198              60          22,138
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2).
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (50 CFR 679.81).


  Table 11--Final 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]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Allocation to   Allocation to
                                    Central GOA     Incidental                       the entry     the rockfish
    Rockfish primary species        annual TAC         catch       TAC minus ICA  level longline   cooperatives
                                                     allowance                      \1\ fishery         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch.............          19,024           3,000          16,024               5          16,019
Northern rockfish...............           3,147             300           2,847               5           2,842
Dusky rockfish..................           2,742             250           2,492              50           2,442
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          24,913           3,550          21,363              60          21,303
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (50 CFR 679.2).
\2\ Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (50 CFR 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 gear 
allocation, rougheye and blackspotted rockfish, shortraker rockfish, 
and thornyhead rockfish. Tables 12 and 13 list the apportionments of 
the 2019 and 2020 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA 
to CV and C/P cooperatives.

[[Page 9430]]



   Table 12--Final 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher Vessel and
                                         Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    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            0.00               0
Sablefish.......................           5,178            6.78             351            3.51             182
Shortraker rockfish.............             305            0.00               0           40.00             122
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish..             550            0.00               0           58.87             324
Thornyhead rockfish.............             911            7.84              71           26.50             241
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


   Table 13--Final 2020 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher Vessel and
                                         Catcher/Processor Cooperatives
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    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.....................           7,304            3.81             278            0.00               0
Sablefish.......................           6,931            6.78             470            3.51             243
Shortraker rockfish.............             305            0.00               0           40.00             122
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish..             545            0.00               0           58.87             321
Thornyhead rockfish.............             911            7.84              71           26.50             241
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl gear and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In December 2018, the 
Council recommended halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 
mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the DSR fishery in the SEO 
District for both 2019 and 2020.
    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 
(Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(i)(A)). The separate halibut PSC limit for the DSR 
fishery is intended to prevent that fishery from being impacted from 
the halibut PSC incurred by other GOA fisheries. 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 fishery. Of the 250 mt TAC for DSR in 2018, 
58 mt were available for directed fishing by the DSR commercial 
fishery, of which 26 mt were harvested (through December 17, 2018).
    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the 
halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, exempts 
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 approves, these exemptions because: (1) 
The 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 catcher vessel 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 fishermen 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 December 31, 2018, is 
1,103 mt for trawl gear and 51 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total 
halibut mortality of 1,154 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. The 
Council considered information from the 2018 SAFE report, NMFS catch 
data, State of Alaska catch data, IPHC stock assessment and mortality 
data, and

[[Page 9431]]

public testimony when apportioning the halibut PSC limits.
    For 2019 and 2020, the Council increased the trawl halibut PSC 
apportionment in the first season to 519 mt, an increase of 50 mt. The 
trawl halibut PSC apportionment for the third season was reduced by 50 
mt to 462 mt. The 50 mt of halibut PSC that was moved from the third 
season to the first season was apportioned to the deep-water species 
fishery, which increased to 135 mt. The trawl halibut PSC apportionment 
in the fourth season was apportioned between the shallow-water (53 mt) 
and deep-water (75 mt) species fisheries. The overall trawl halibut PSC 
limit (of 1,706 mt) is unchanged. In addition, the Council changed the 
end date of the third season halibut PSC apportionment to August 1 from 
September 1. The Council also changed the beginning date of the fourth 
season halibut PSC apportionment to August 1 from September 1.
    The changes to the apportionment amounts and seasons are intended 
to better align halibut PSC use in the groundfish fisheries relative to 
expected halibut PSC needs on a seasonal basis and relative to changes 
in halibut biomass distribution and the expected catches of target 
groundfish species and corresponding halibut PSC rates. Also, the 
changes are intended to ensure that there is more consistent trawl 
fishing effort throughout the year, with fewer fishery closures due to 
the attainment of seasonal halibut PSC limits. These changes could 
result in increased efficiency for the trawl fleet and the GOA seafood 
processors dependent on groundfish caught by vessels using trawl gear. 
These changes are reflected in both Tables 14 and 15.
    NMFS concurs with and implements the Council's recommendations 
listed in Table 14, which show the final 2019 and 2020 Pacific halibut 
PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. These halibut PSC limits 
and seasons differ from those contained in the proposed 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018), for the reasons 
discussed above.
    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 14--Final 2019 and 2020 Pacific Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (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......................       30.4        519  January 1-June 10..........         86        221  January 1-December 31.....          9
April 1-July 1..........................       20.0        341  June 10-September 1........          2          5
July 1-August 1.........................       27.0        462  September 1-December 31....         12         31
August 1-October 1......................        7.5        128
October 1-December 31...................       15.0        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 in the SEO
  District and to the hook-and-line fisheries other than the DSR fishery. The hook-and-line sablefish IFQ fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as
  are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit 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 the fishing year and optimization of the total amount 
of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery 
categories for the trawl halibut 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, 
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 
on May 15 during the second season deep-water and shallow-water species 
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 species 
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 15 lists the final 2019 and 2020 apportionments of trawl 
halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and shallow-water 
species fishery categories. As described above, the Council 
recommended, and NMFS implements, the changes to the amount of the 
halibut PSC apportionments between the deep-water and shallow-water 
species fisheries, along with changes to the season dates for the third 
and fourth seasons.
    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 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. After the combined 
CV and C/P halibut PSC limit allocation of 191 mt to the Rockfish 
Program, 150 mt remains for 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-

[[Page 9432]]

apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries during the current 
fishing year to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut 
PSC limit 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 15--Final 2019 and 2020 Apportionment of Trawl Pacific Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits Between the
             Trawl Gear Deep-Water Species Fishery and the Shallow-Water Species Fishery Categories
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Season                                Shallow-water  Deep-water \1\       Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1..............................................             384             135             519
April 1-July 1..................................................              85             256             341
July 1-August 1.................................................             121             341             462
August 1-October 1..............................................              53              75             128
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal January 20-October 1...............................             643             807           1,450
October 1-December 31 \2\.......................................  ..............  ..............             256
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total...................................................  ..............  ..............           1,706
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Central GOA Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third
  season (July 1 through August 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment.
\2\ There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fishery categories during the
  fifth season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2)(i)(B) requires that the ``other hook-and-line 
fishery'' halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-
line gear must be apportioned between 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.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii), the hook-and-line halibut PSC 
limit for the ``other hook-and-line fishery'' is apportioned between 
the CV and C/P sectors in proportion to the total Western and Central 
GOA Pacific cod allocations, which vary annually based on the 
proportion of the Pacific cod biomass between the Western, Central, and 
Eastern GOA. Pacific cod is apportioned among these two management 
areas based on the percentage of overall biomass per area, as 
calculated in the 2018 Pacific cod stock assessment. Updated 
information in the final 2018 SAFE report describes this distributional 
calculation, which allocates ABC among regulatory areas on the basis of 
the three most recent stock surveys. For 2019 and 2020, the 
distribution of the total GOA Pacific cod ABC is 45 percent to the 
Western GOA, 45 percent to the Central GOA, and 10 percent to the 
Eastern GOA. Therefore, the calculations made in accordance with Sec.  
679.21(d)(2)(iii) incorporate the most recent information on GOA 
Pacific cod distribution with respect to establishing the annual 
halibut PSC limits for the CV and C/P hook-and-line sectors. The annual 
halibut PSC limits for both the CV and C/P sectors of the ``other hook-
and-line fishery'' are divided into three seasonal apportionments, 
using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent.
    For 2019 and 2020, NMFS apportions halibut PSC limits of 120 mt and 
137 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, 
respectively. Table 16 lists the final 2019 and 2020 apportionments of 
halibut PSC limits between the hook-and-line CV and the hook-and-line 
C/P sectors of the ``other hook-and-line fishery.''
    No later than November 1 of each year, NMFS will calculate the 
projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either of the CV or 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 
is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder 
of that fishing year (Sec.  679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)), if NMFS determines 
that an additional amount of halibut PSC is necessary for that sector 
to continue its directed fishing operations.

  Table 16--Final 2019 and 2020 Apportionments of the ``Other Hook-and-Line Fishery'' Annual Halibut Prohibited
       Species Catch 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   Sector annual         Season           Seasonal        seasonal
      allowance                                  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.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 9433]]

Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition

    The IPHC annually assesses the abundance and potential yield of the 
Pacific halibut stock using all available data from the commercial and 
sport fisheries, other removals, and scientific surveys. Additional 
information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may be found in the 
IPHC's 2018 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 2018), available 
on the IPHC website at www.iphc.int. The IPHC considered the 2018 
Pacific halibut stock assessment at its January 2019 annual meeting 
when it set the 2019 commercial halibut fishery catch limits.

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 (IPHC, 
Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that 
have undergone review by the GOA Plan Team, 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, including the 2020 DMRs, 
may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could 
provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the 
accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology 
will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately 
reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of 
their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond 
with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for 
that sector.
    At the December 2018 meeting, the SSC, AP, and the Council 
concurred with the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted 
for 2019 and 2020 the DMRs calculated under the revised methodology, 
which uses an updated 2-year reference period. The final 2019 and 2020 
DMRs in this rule are unchanged from the DMRs in the proposed 2019 and 
2020 harvest specifications (83 FR 62794, December 6, 2018). Table 17 
lists these final 2019 and 2020 DMRs.

     Table 17--Final 2019 and 2020 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates 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 that NMFS 
close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas of the GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit 
in that regulatory area is reached (Sec.  679.21(h)(8)). The 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 
at 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 trawl non-
pollock groundfish fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit 
is apportioned among three sectors directed fishing for groundfish 
species other than pollock: 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 trawl non-pollock 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 limits its use of 
Chinook salmon PSC to a specified threshold amount in 2018 (3,120 for 
trawl C/Ps and 2,340 for Non-Rockfish Program trawl CVs), that

[[Page 9434]]

sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2019 Chinook salmon 
PSC limit (Sec.  679.21(h)(4)). In 2018, the trawl C/P sector did not 
exceed 3,120 Chinook salmon PSC; therefore, the 2019 trawl C/P sector 
Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 4,080 Chinook salmon. In 2018, the 
Non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector did not exceed 2,340 Chinook 
salmon PSC; therefore, the 2019 Non-Rockfish Program trawl CV sector 
Chinook salmon PSC limit will be 3,060 Chinook salmon.

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limitations 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 and C/Ps designated on a listed AFA C/P permit from 
harvesting any species of groundfish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  
679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps and C/Ps designated on a 
listed AFA C/P permit 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 feet (38.1 meters) length overall, 
have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 GOA groundfish landings 
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 the CV groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on 
the aggregate retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard 
species or species group from 1995 through 1997 divided by the sum of 
the TACs for that species or species group available to CVs over the 
same period.
    As discussed earlier in this preamble, NMFS published a final rule 
(84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that establishes 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 applies to most, but not all, of the species and area 
apportionments listed in Table 18 and 19. Beginning with the 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications, NMFS will incorporate such changes into 
the specification and management of non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits.
    Tables 18 and 19 list the final 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 Tables 18 and 19.

   Table 18--Final 2019 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                    Final 2019 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component   exempt AFA CV    Final 2019     exempt AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-       TACs          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                        limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047             848             513
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.1167          23,236           2,712
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           7,593           1,540
                               B Season--March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047             848             513
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          27,306           3,187
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           3,522             714
                               C Season--August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047          11,590           7,008
                                25--October 1.   Chirikof (620).          0.1167           8,423             983
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          11,664           2,365
                               D Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047          11,590           7,008
                                October 1--      Chirikof (620).          0.1167           8,423             983
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028          11,664           2,365
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           5,748           2,009
                                                 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.
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           1,148               9
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             128               1
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             316               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0642           1,036              67
                                                 E..............          0.0433             241              10
Shallow-water flatfish.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          25,731           1,510
                                                 E..............          0.0126           4,236              53
Deep-water flatfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             416               0
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,443             223
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,642              72
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           2,951               2
                                                 C..............          0.0384           8,357             321
                                                 E..............          0.0029           3,384              10
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          70,995           1,988

[[Page 9435]]

 
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           2,439               2
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           3,227               7
                                                 C..............          0.0748          19,646           1,470
                                                 E..............          0.0466           5,682             265
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003           1,190               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,338              92
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              44               0
                                                 C..............          0.0218             305               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             514               6
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             781               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           2,764               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067             155               1
Rougheye and blackspotted      Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             174               0
 rockfish.                                       C..............          0.0237             550              13
                                                 E..............          0.0124             704               9
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             261               1
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             326               9
                                                 C..............          0.0280             911              26
                                                 E..............          0.0280             779              22
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  C..............          0.1699           1,737             295
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,857               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           8,184              52
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\ On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and
  CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to
  prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than
  prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest
  specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in
  the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish
  species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to
  directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723).


   Table 19--Final 2020 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                    Final 2020 non-
           Species              Apportionments    Area/component   exempt AFA CV    Final 2020     exempt AFA CV
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-       TACs          sideboard
                                                                     1997 TAC                        limit \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047             680             411
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.1167          21,888           2,554
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           2,823             573
                               B Season--March   Shumagin (610).          0.6047             680             411
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.1167          21,888           2,554
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           2,823             573
                               C Season--August  Shumagin (610).          0.6047           9,290           5,617
                                25--October 1.   Chirikof (620).          0.1167           6,752             788
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           9,349           1,896
                               D Season--        Shumagin (610).          0.6047           9,290           5,617
                                October 1--      Chirikof (620).          0.1167           6,752             788
                                November 1.

[[Page 9436]]

 
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2028           9,349           1,896
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3495           4,607           1,610
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3495           8,773           3,066
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\--    W..............          0.1331           4,072             542
                                January 1--June  C..............          0.0692           4,382             303
                                10.
                               B Season \2\-     W..............          0.1331           2,715             361
                                September 1--    C..............          0.0692           2,921             202
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           1,457              12
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             162               1
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             421               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0642           1,386              89
                                                 E..............          0.0433             321              14
Shallow-water flatfish.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156          13,250             207
                                                 C..............          0.0587          26,065           1,530
                                                 E..............          0.0126           4,291              54
Deep-water flatfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             420               0
                                                 C..............          0.0647           3,488             226
                                                 E..............          0.0128           5,716              73
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0007           2,956               2
                                                 C..............          0.0384           8,371             321
                                                 E..............          0.0029           3,398              10
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021          14,500              30
                                                 C..............          0.0280          68,575           1,920
                                                 E..............          0.0002          13,800               3
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           8,650              31
                                                 C..............          0.0213          15,400             328
                                                 E..............          0.0009           2,537               2
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0023           3,125               7
                                                 C..............          0.0748          19,024           1,423
                                                 E..............          0.0466           5,503             256
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003           1,122               0
                                                 C..............          0.0277           3,147              87
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000              44               0
                                                 C..............          0.0218             305               7
                                                 E..............          0.0110             514               6
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001             774               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           2,742               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067             154               1
Rougheye and blackspotted      Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             172               0
 rockfish.
                                                 C..............          0.0237             545              13
                                                 E..............          0.0124             697               9
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             261               1
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0280             326               9
                                                 C..............          0.0280             911              26
                                                 E..............          0.0280             779              22
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W/C............          0.1699           1,737             295
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,857               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           8,184              52
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.

[[Page 9437]]

 
\3\ On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and
  CR Program participants subject to sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to
  prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species or species groups, rather than
  prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest
  specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in
  the annual GOA harvest specifications the AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish
  species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final rule will be prohibited to
  directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723).

Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC 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 20 lists the final 2019 and 2020 non-
exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the 
GOA, respectively.

   Table 20--Final 2019 and 2020 Non-Exempt AFA CV Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Sideboard Limits for
                                       Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Ratio of 1995-
                                                               1997 non-exempt
                                                               AFA CV retained   2019 and 2020    2019 and 2020
       Season            Season dates        Target fishery     catch to total     PSC limit      non-exempt AFA
                                                                retained catch                     CV PSC limit
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..................  January 20-April 1.  shallow-water......            0.340              384              131
                                          deep-water.........            0.070              135                9
2..................  April 1-July 1.....  shallow-water......            0.340               85               29
                                          deep-water.........            0.070              256               18
3..................  July 1-August 1....  shallow-water......            0.340              121               41
                                          deep-water.........            0.070              341               24
4..................  August 1-October 1.  shallow-water......            0.340               53               18
                                          deep-water.........            0.070               75                5
5..................  October 1-December   all targets........            0.205              256               52
                      31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Annual                   Total shallow-water  ...............  ...............              219
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Total deep-water...  ...............  ...............               56
                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         Total, all season and categories                1,706              328
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch 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 Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation 
in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard 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 catch 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 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 final rule 
(84 FR 2723, February 8, 2019) that establishes 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 will apply to most, but not all, of the species and area 
apportionments listed in Tables 21 and 22. Beginning with the 2020 and 
2021 harvest specifications, NMFS will incorporate such changes into 
the specification and the management of non-AFA crab vessel sideboard 
limits.
    Tables 21 and 22 list the final 2019 and 2020 groundfish sideboard 
limitations 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.

[[Page 9438]]



                               Table 21--Final 2019 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          Ratio of 1996-
                                                                                                           2000 non-AFA                   Final 2019 non-
                                                                                                            crab vessel     Final 2019       AFA crab
               Species                                Season/gear                   Area/component/gear   catch to 1996-       TACs           vessel
                                                                                                            2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                                                              harvest                        limit \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.............................  A Season--January 20-March 10.............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098             848               8
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031          23,236              72
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           7,593               2
                                      B Season--March 10-May 31.................  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098             848               8
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031          27,306              85
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           3,522               1
                                      C Season--August 25-October 1.............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098          11,590             114
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031           8,423              26
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002          11,664               2
                                      D Season--October 1-November 1............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098          11,590             114
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031           8,423              26
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002          11,664               2
                                      Annual....................................  WYK (640).............          0.0000           5,748               0
                                                                                  SEO (650).............          0.0000           8,773               0
Pacific cod.........................  A Season \1\--January 1-June 10...........  WG Jig................          0.0000           3,206               0
                                                                                  WG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0004           3,206               1
                                                                                  WG Pot CV.............          0.0997           3,206             320
                                                                                  WG Pot C/P............          0.0078           3,206              25
                                                                                  WG Trawl CV...........          0.0007           3,206               2
                                                                                  CG Jig................          0.0000           3,450               0
                                                                                  CG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0001           3,450               0
                                                                                  CG Pot CV.............          0.0474           3,450             164
                                                                                  CG Pot C/P............          0.0136           3,450              47
                                                                                  CG Trawl CV...........          0.0012           3,450               4
                                      B Season \2\--September 1-December 31.....  WG Jig................          0.0000           2,137               0
                                                                                  WG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0004           2,137               1
                                                                                  WG Pot CV.............          0.0997           2,137             213
                                                                                  WG Pot C/P............          0.0078           2,137              17
                                                                                  WG Trawl CV...........          0.0007           2,137               1
                                                                                  CG Jig................          0.0000           2,300               0
                                                                                  CG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0001           2,300               0
                                                                                  CG Pot CV.............          0.0474           2,300             109
                                                                                  CG Pot C/P............          0.0136           2,300              31
                                                                                  CG Trawl CV...........          0.0012           2,300               3
                                      Annual....................................  EG inshore............          0.0110           1,148              13
                                                                                  EG offshore...........          0.0000             128               0
Sablefish...........................  Annual, trawl gear........................  W.....................          0.0000             316               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           1,036               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000             241               0
Shallow-water flatfish..............  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0001          25,731               3
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           4,236               0
Deep-water flatfish.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0035             416               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           3,443               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           5,642               0
Rex sole............................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0000           2,951               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           8,357               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           3,384               0
Arrowtooth flounder.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0004          14,500               6
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0001          70,995               7
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000          13,800               0
Flathead sole.......................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           2,439               0
Pacific ocean perch.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0000           3,227               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000          19,646               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           5,682               0
Northern rockfish...................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0005           1,190               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           3,338               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             781               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           2,764               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000             155               0
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish......  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0067             174               1

[[Page 9439]]

 
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0047             550               3
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0008             704               1
Demersal shelf rockfish.............  Annual....................................  SEO...................          0.0000             261               0
Thornyhead rockfish.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0047             326               2
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0066             911               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0045             779               4
Other rockfish......................  Annual....................................  W/C...................          0.0033           1,737               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           3,857               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           8,184             144
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 jig gear opens June 10. The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to
  sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species
  or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest
  specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the
  AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final
  rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723).


                               Table 22--Final 2020 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          Ratio of 1996-
                                                                                                           2000 non-AFA                   Final 2020 non-
                                                                                                            crab vessel     Final 2020       AFA crab
               Species                                Season/gear                   Area/component/gear   catch to 1996-       TACs           vessel
                                                                                                            2000 total                       sideboard
                                                                                                              harvest                        limit \3\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.............................  A Season--January 20-March 10.............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098             680               7
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031          21,888              68
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           2,823               1
                                      B Season--March 10-May 31.................  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098             680               7
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031          21,888              68
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           2,823               1
                                      C Season--August 25-October 1.............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098           9,290              91
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031           6,752              21
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           9,349               2
                                      D Season--October 1-November 1............  Shumagin (610)........          0.0098           9,290              91
                                                                                  Chirikof (620)........          0.0031           6,752              21
                                                                                  Kodiak (630)..........          0.0002           9,349               2
                                      Annual....................................  WYK (640).............          0.0000           4,607               0
                                                                                  SEO (650).............          0.0000           8,773               0
Pacific cod.........................  A Season \1\--January 1-June 10...........  WG Jig................          0.0000           4,072               0
                                                                                  WG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0004           4,072               2
                                                                                  WG Pot CV.............          0.0997           4,072             406
                                                                                  WG Pot C/P............          0.0078           4,072              32
                                                                                  WG Trawl CV...........          0.0007           4,072               3
                                                                                  CG Jig................          0.0000           4,382               0
                                                                                  CG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0001           4,382               0
                                                                                  CG Pot CV.............          0.0474           4,382             208
                                                                                  CG Pot C/P............          0.0136           4,382              60
                                                                                  CG Trawl CV...........          0.0012           4,382               5
                                      B Season \2\--September 1-December 31.....  WG Jig................          0.0000           2,715               0
                                                                                  WG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0004           2,715               1
                                                                                  WG Pot CV.............          0.0997           2,715             271
                                                                                  WG Pot C/P............          0.0078           2,715              21

[[Page 9440]]

 
                                                                                  WG Trawl CV...........          0.0007           2,715               2
                                                                                  CG Jig................          0.0000           2,921               0
                                                                                  CG Hook-and-line CV...          0.0001           2,921               0
                                                                                  CG Pot CV.............          0.0474           2,921             138
                                                                                  CG Pot C/P............          0.0136           2,921              40
                                                                                  CG Trawl CV...........          0.0012           2,921               4
                                      Annual....................................  E inshore.............          0.0110           1,457              16
                                                                                  E offshore............          0.0000             162               0
Sablefish...........................  Annual, trawl gear........................  W.....................          0.0000             421               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           1,386               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000             321               0
Shallow-water flatfish..............  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0059          13,250              78
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0001          26,065               3
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           4,291               0
Deep-water flatfish.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0035             420               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           3,488               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           5,716               0
Rex sole............................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0000           2,956               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           8,371               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           3,398               0
Arrowtooth flounder.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0004          14,500               6
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0001          68,575               7
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000          13,800               0
Flathead sole.......................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0002           8,650               2
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0004          15,400               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           2,537               0
Pacific ocean perch.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0000           3,125               0
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000          19,024               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           5,503               0
Northern rockfish...................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0005           1,122               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           3,147               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             774               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0000           2,742               0
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000             154               0
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish......  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0067             172               1
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0047             545               3
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0008             697               1
Demersal shelf rockfish.............  Annual....................................  SEO...................          0.0000             261               0
Thornyhead rockfish.................  Annual....................................  W.....................          0.0047             326               2
                                                                                  C.....................          0.0066             911               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0045             779               4
Other rockfish......................  Annual....................................  W/C...................          0.0033           1,737               6
                                                                                  E.....................          0.0000           3,857               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           8,184             144
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 jig gear opens June 10. The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.
\3\ On February 8, 2019, NMFS published a final rule (84 FR 2723) that modifies regulations for AFA Program and CR Program participants subject to
  sideboard limits in the GOA. The final rule establishes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sideboard limits for specific groundfish species
  or species groups, rather than prohibiting directed fishing for AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limits through the GOA annual harvest
  specifications. Once the final rule is effective (effective March 11, 2019), NMFS will no longer publish in the annual GOA harvest specifications the
  AFA Program and CR Program sideboard limit amounts for groundfish species subject to the final rule, and the groundfish species subject to the final
  rule will be prohibited to directed fishing in regulation (84 FR 2723).


[[Page 9441]]

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, Pacific ocean perch, and northern 
rockfish in the West Yakutat District and Western GOA 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 dusky rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and 
northern rockfish in the West Yakutat District and Western GOA 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 that portion of each rockfish 
sideboard limit that is not assigned to rockfish cooperatives (Sec.  
679.82 (e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each fishery in the West 
Yakutat District and the Western GOA is set forth in Sec.  
679.82(e)(4). Tables 23 and 24 list the final 2019 and 2020 Rockfish 
Program C/P sideboard limits in the West Yakutat District and the 
Western GOA. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with 
fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are 
not displayed.

 Table 23--Final 2019 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District by Fishery
                                        for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    C/P sector (% of    Final 2019
             Area                    Fishery              TAC)             TACs          Final 2019 C/P limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA...................  Dusky rockfish...  72.3.............             781  565.
                                Pacific ocean      50.6.............           3,227  1,633.
                                 perch.
                                Northern rockfish  74.3.............           1,190  884.
West Yakutat District.........  Dusky rockfish...  Confidential \1\.              95  Confidential. \1\
                                Pacific ocean      Confidential \1\.           3,296  Confidential. \1\
                                 perch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS
  and the State of Alaska.


 Table 24--Final 2020 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District by Fishery
                                        for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    C/P sector (% of    Final 2020
             Area                    Fishery              TAC)             TACs          Final 2020 C/P limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western GOA...................  Dusky rockfish...  72.3.............             774  560.
                                Pacific ocean      50.6.............           3,125  1,581.
                                 perch.
                                Northern rockfish  74.3.............           1,122  834.
West Yakutat District.........  Dusky rockfish...  Confidential \1\.              94  Confidential. \1\
                                Pacific ocean      Confidential \1\.           3,192  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 CVs participating in cooperatives receive a portion of the annual 
halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program are 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 NMFS will know 
the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS 
will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboards for 2019 and post 
these limits on the Alaska Region website at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/rockfish/. Table 25 lists 
the final 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program halibut PSC sideboard limits 
for the C/P sector.

[[Page 9442]]



                      Table 25--Final 2019 and 2020 Rockfish Program Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector
                                                     [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Shallow-water      Deep-water                     Annual shallow-    Annual deep-
                                                                     species fishery  species fishery   2019 and 2020    water species    water species
                               Sector                                  halibut PSC      halibut PSC        halibut      fishery halibut  fishery halibut
                                                                     sideboard ratio  sideboard ratio  mortality limit   PSC sideboard    PSC sideboard
                                                                        (percent)        (percent)           (mt)          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 catch 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 listed 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). Tables 26 and 27 
list the final 2019 and 2020 groundfish 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 Tables 26 and 27.

              Table 26--Final 2019 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                Apportionments                     Amendment 80                   2019 Amendment
           Species             and allocations        Area        sector vessels   2019 TAC (mt)     80 vessel
                                  by season                      1998-2004 catch                    sideboards
                                                                      to TAC                           (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003             848               3
                                January 20-     Chirikof (620).            0.002          23,236              46
                                March 10.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           7,593              15
                               B Season--March  Shumagin (610).            0.003             848               3
                                10-May 31.      Chirikof (620).            0.002          27,306              55
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           3,522               7
                               C Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003          11,590              35
                                August 25-      Chirikof (620).            0.002           8,423              17
                                October 1.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002          11,664              23
                               D Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003          11,590              35
                                October 1-      Chirikof (620).            0.002           8,423              17
                                November 1.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002          11,664              23
                               Annual.........  WYK (640)......            0.002           5,748              11
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           3,227           3,208
                                                WYK............            0.961           3,296           3,167
Northern rockfish............  Annual.........  W..............            1.000           1,190           1,190
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual.........  W..............            0.764             781             597
                                                WYK............            0.896              95              85
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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.


[[Page 9443]]


              Table 27--Final 2020 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                Apportionments                     Amendment 80                   2020 Amendment
           Species             and allocations        Area        sector vessels   2020 TAC (mt)     80 vessel
                                  by season                      1998-2004 catch                    sideboards
                                                                      to TAC                           (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003             680               2
                                January 20-     Chirikof (620).            0.002          21,888              44
                                March 10.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           2,823               6
                               B Season--March  Shumagin (610).            0.003             680               2
                                10-May 31.      Chirikof (620).            0.002          21,888              44
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           2,823               6
                               C Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003           9,290              28
                                August 25-      Chirikof (620).            0.002           6,752              14
                                October 1.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           9,349              19
                               D Season--       Shumagin (610).            0.003           9,290              28
                                October 1-      Chirikof (620).            0.002           6,752              14
                                November 1.
                                                Kodiak (630)...            0.002           9,349              19
                               Annual.........  WYK (640)......            0.002           4,607               9
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\--   W..............            0.020           4,072              81
                                January 1-June  C..............            0.044           4,382             193
                                10.
                               B Season \2\--   W..............            0.020           2,715              54
                                September 1-    C..............            0.044           2,921             129
                                December 31.
                               Annual.........  WYK............            0.034           1,619              55
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual.........  W..............            0.994           3,125           3,106
                                                WYK............            0.961           3,192           3,068
Northern rockfish............  Annual.........  W..............            1.000           1,122           1,122
Dusky rockfish...............  Annual.........  W..............            0.764             774             591
                                                WYK............            0.896              94              84
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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)). Table 28 lists the final 
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 halibut PSC sideboard limit may carry 
forward to the next season limit (Sec.  679.92(b)(2)).

     Table 28--Final 2019 and 2020 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Historic
                                                                 Amendment 80                     2019 and 2020
                                                                  use of the     2019 and 2020     Amendment 80
       Season            Season dates        Target fishery     annual halibut     annual PSC       vessel PSC
                                                               PSC limit catch     limit (mt)         limit
                                                                   (ratio)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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-August 1....  shallow-water......           0.0146            1,706               25
                                          deep-water.........           0.0521            1,706               89
4..................  August 1-October 1.  shallow-water......           0.0074            1,706               13
                                          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
                                                              --------------------------------------------------
    Total..........  ...................  ...................  ...............  ...............              474
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Directed Fishing Closures

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), if the Regional Administrator 
determines (1) that any allocation or apportionment of a target species 
or species group allocated or apportioned to a fishery will be reached; 
or (2) with respect to pollock and Pacific cod, that an allocation or 
apportionment to an

[[Page 9444]]

inshore or offshore component or sector allocation will be reached, 
then the Regional Administrator may establish a directed fishing 
allowance (DFA) for that species or species group. If the Regional 
Administrator establishes a DFA and that allowance is or will be 
reached before the end of the fishing year, NMFS will prohibit directed 
fishing for that species or species group in the specified GOA subarea, 
regulatory area, or district (Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii)).
    The Regional Administrator has determined that the TACs for the 
species listed in Table 29 are necessary to account for the incidental 
catch of these species in other anticipated groundfish fisheries for 
the 2019 and 2020 fishing years.

      Table 29--2019 and 2020 Directed Fishing Closures in the GOA
 [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric
                                  tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Incidental catch
                                    Area/component/     amount and year
             Target                      gear         (if amounts differ
                                                           by year)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.........................  all/offshore......  not applicable.\1\
Sablefish \2\...................  all/trawl.........  1,583 (2019),
                                                       2,129 (2020).
Pacific cod.....................  Western, catcher/   125 (2019), 159
                                   processor, trawl.   (2020).
                                  Central, catcher/   239 (2019), 304
                                   processor, trawl.   (2020).
Shortraker rockfish \2\.........  all...............  863.
Rougheye/blackspotted rockfish    all...............  1,428 (2019),
 \2\.                                                  1,414 (2020).
Thornyhead rockfish \2\.........  all...............  5,594.
Other rockfish..................  all...............  1,384.
Atka mackerel...................  all...............  3,000.
Big skate.......................  All...............  2,848.
Longnose skate..................  All...............  3,572.
Other skates....................  All...............  1,384.
Sharks..........................  All...............  8,184.
Octopuses.......................  All...............  975.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pollock is closed to directed fishing in the GOA by the offshore
  component under Sec.   679.20(a)(6)(i).
\2\ Closures not applicable to participants in cooperatives conducted
  under the Central GOA Rockfish Program, as cooperatives are prohibited
  from exceeding their allocations (Sec.   679.7(n)(6)(viii)).

    Consequently, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the 
Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species or species 
groups listed in Table 29 as zero mt. Therefore, in accordance with 
Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for those 
species, areas, gear types, and components in the GOA listed in Table 
29 effective at 1200 hours, A.l.t., March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, 
A.l.t., December 31, 2020.
    Section 679.64(b)(5) provides for management of AFA CV groundfish 
harvest limits and PSC bycatch limits using directed fishing closures 
and PSC closures according to procedures set out at Sec. Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv) and 679.21(d)(6) and (e)(3)(v). The Regional 
Administrator has determined that, in addition to the closures listed 
above, many of the non-exempt AFA CV sideboard limits listed in Tables 
18 and 19 are necessary as incidental catch to support other 
anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2019 and 2020 fishing years. 
In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv), the Regional Administrator 
sets the DFAs for the species and species groups in Table 30 at zero 
mt. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is 
prohibiting directed fishing by non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA for the 
species and specified areas listed in Table 30 effective at 1200 hours, 
A.l.t., March 14, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2020.

  Table 30--2019 and 2020 Non-Exempt AFA CV Sideboard Directed Fishing
                 Closures for All Gear Types in the GOA
 [Amounts for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric
                                  tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Regulatory area/    Incidental catch
             Species                   district             amount
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod.....................  Eastern...........  10 (inshore) and 9
                                                       (offshore)
                                                       [2019],
                                                      1 (inshore) and 1
                                                       (offshore)
                                                       [2020].
Shallow-water flatfish..........  Eastern...........  53.
Deep-water flatfish.............  Western...........  0.
Rex sole........................  Western and         2 and 10.
                                   Eastern.
Arrowtooth flounder.............  Western and         30 and 3.
                                   Eastern.
Flathead sole...................  Western and         31 and 2.
                                   Eastern.
Pacific ocean perch.............  Western...........  7.
Northern rockfish...............  Western...........  0.
Dusky rockfish..................  Entire GOA........  0.
Demersal shelf rockfish.........  SEO District......  0.
Sculpins........................  Entire GOA........  33.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel 
sideboards using directed fishing closures in accordance with Sec.  
680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has determined that 
the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Tables 21 and 22 are 
insufficient to support a directed fishery and has set the sideboard 
DFA at zero mt, with the exception of Pacific cod pot CV sector 
apportionments in the Western and

[[Page 9445]]

Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed 
fishing by non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA for all species and species 
groups listed in Tables 21 and 22, with the exception of the Pacific 
cod pot CV sector apportionments in the Western and Central Regulatory 
Areas.
    Closures implemented under the 2018 and 2019 GOA harvest 
specifications for groundfish (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) remain 
effective under authority of these final 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications and until the date specified in those notices. Closures 
are posted at the following website: https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/search. While these closures are in effect, the maximum 
retainable amounts at Sec.  679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during 
a fishing trip. These closures to directed fishing are in addition to 
closures and prohibitions found at 50 CFR part 679. NMFS may implement 
other closures during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years as necessary for 
effective conservation and management.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received five letters containing six substantive comments 
during the public comment period for the proposed GOA groundfish 
harvest specifications. No changes were made to the final rule in 
response to the comment letters received. NMFS's response to public 
comments on the proposed GOA groundfish harvest specifications is 
provided below.
    Comment 1: NMFS should prohibit harvesting for a year to make sure 
that the population does not decrease to an amount that would prohibit 
harvesting for another 2 to 3 years.
    Response 1: The SAFE reports (see ADDRESSES) are intended to 
summarize the best available scientific information concerning the 
past, present, and possible future condition of the stocks and 
fisheries under federal management. The SSC reviews the stock 
assessments and sets ABC levels for each species and species group 
managed under the FMP. The ABC recommendations, together with social 
and economic factors, are considered by the Council in determining TACs 
and other management strategies for the fisheries. Based on the 
information provided in the SAFE report, the Council recommended and 
NMFS implements TACs that do not exceed the ABC and OFL for each 
groundfish species and species group. The OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts 
recommended by the Council and approved by NMFS in this final rule are 
set according to the harvest strategy adopted in the EIS, the 
management objectives outlined in the FMP, and the statutory 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to ensure the long-term health 
of each species and species group and the optimization of yield on a 
continuing basis.
    Comment 2: Amendment 106 reclassified squid as an ``Ecosystem 
Component Species'' that do not require conservation and management. 
What warrants the regulation for directed fishing?
    Response 2: Amendment 106 prohibits directed fishing for squid 
while allowing limited retention of some squid incidentally caught in 
other fisheries. Reclassifying squid as an ecosystem component species 
does not require NMFS to set annual catch limits of an OFL, ABC, or TAC 
for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications. To monitor the 
incidental catch of squid in the groundfish fisheries, Amendment 106 
maintains recordkeeping and reporting requirements for squid. 
Additionally, squid may be retained up to a maximum retainable amount 
in other groundfish fisheries. This allows some squid to be retained 
for bait or sale, but at a level that discourages fishermen from 
targeting squid species. More information on Amendment 106 can be found 
in the final rule to implement Amendment 106 to the FMP (83 FR 31460, 
July 6, 2018).
    Comment 3: Would reducing rockfish TAC amounts have substantial 
economic implications for individuals reliant on the selling of 
rockfish for food industries?
    Response 3: Pacific ocean perch is the largest rockfish fishery in 
the GOA, and the TAC amounts are reached each year. Reduced TAC amounts 
for Pacific ocean perch and other species of rockfish may result in 
price increases, but the amount of any potential price increase is 
unknown. Also, a price increase may not offset revenue declines from 
lower TACs. Most rockfish fisheries in the GOA are closed because the 
TAC limits are not larger enough to support directed fishing. However, 
some retention of rockfish as incidental catch in other fisheries is 
allowed. Decreased rockfish TAC amounts may require managers to 
prohibit all retention of rockfish, which would result in no revenue 
from the incidental catch of rockfish. Each year the SAFE report on the 
Economic Status of the Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska is updated with 
the most recent information about groundfish prices and value, 
including rockfish (see ADDRESSES).
    Comment 4: NMFS administers the federal fisheries off Alaska for 
the benefit of a few Alaska fishermen, not for the benefit of all U.S. 
citizens or the Nation as a whole. There should never be a stock 
increase, and all quotas should be cut by 50 percent immediately to try 
to save all stocks, which are being unsustainably fished.
    Response 4: NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries on behalf of 
all U.S. citizens, as well as on behalf of the commercial fishing 
industry, in accordance with the National Standards of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)). Participants in this industry reside 
in other states besides Alaska, and more information about the industry 
can be found in the SAFE report on the Economic Status of the 
Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska (see ADDRESSES). NMFS's primary 
objective in the harvest specifications process is the conservation and 
management of fish resources for the Nation as a whole. The annual 
harvest specifications process is a key element to ensuring that Alaska 
fisheries are sustainably managed in a controlled and orderly manner. 
This process incorporates the best available scientific information 
from the most recent SAFE reports prepared by multi-disciplinary teams 
of scientists. Such reports contain the most recent scientific 
information on the condition of various groundfish stocks, as well as 
the condition of other ecosystem components. Based on the SAFE reports, 
the Council and NMFS annually respond to new developments in the 
natural environment as part of the harvest specifications process. The 
Council and NMFS set for each groundfish species or species group the 
annual TAC and ABC amounts, and these amounts increase or decrease each 
year based on the biological condition of the groundfish stock. The 
Council and NMFS have reduced catch amounts if necessary based on the 
SAFE reports (such as the recent reductions in Pacific cod). More 
information on the biological condition of each groundfish species or 
species groups, including changes in annual TAC and ABC amounts, can be 
found in the annual SAFE reports. Currently, none of the NMFS-managed 
groundfish species off Alaska is overfished or subject to overfishing.
    Comment 5: Pollock is overfished. There is no justification for 
allowing commercial fishing to catch all the pollock in the ocean, 
particularly to the detriment of marine mammals that also eat pollock.
    Response 5: As mentioned in the response to Comment 4, none of the 
NMFS-managed groundfish species off Alaska, including pollock, is 
overfished or subject to overfishing, and the Council and NMFS continue 
to set annual harvest levels for groundfish species, including pollock, 
based on the best available scientific information on

[[Page 9446]]

the biological condition of the groundfish species, the status of 
ecosystem, and other socio-economic factors. In addition, there are a 
broad suite of conservation and management measures in place to protect 
Steller sea lions that were subject to consultation under Section 7 of 
the Endangered Species Act, including those described at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/steller-sea-lion#management.
    Comment 6: The information contained in the 2018 Pacific cod stock 
assessment indicates that the GOA Pacific cod spawning biomass will be 
at or below 20 percent of its unfished biomass at the beginning of 
2019. Per applicable federal regulations, directed fishing for the key 
prey (pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel) of Steller sea lions 
should be prohibited in the event that the spawning biomass of such a 
species is projected in the stock assessment to fall below 20 percent 
of the projected unfished spawning biomass during a given year. Since 
2015, counts of Steller sea lion pups in 2017 were down 33 percent in 
the Eastern GOA and down 17 percent in the Central GOA. This suggests 
that the lower birth rates and/or pup survival for Steller sea lions 
correlate with the decline of Pacific cod.
    Response 6: The Pacific cod stock in the GOA experienced a decline 
in biomass and abundance since 2015, as first reported following the 
2017 bottom trawl survey. As detailed in the 2018 Ecosystem Status 
Report (see ADDRESSES), the GOA experienced anomalous warm conditions 
throughout the water column starting in 2014 and extending through 2016 
(an event now characterized in the Ecosystem Status Report as ``marine 
heat waves''). This unusual warm event apparently affected the entire 
ecosystem and, in particular, affected prey availability for upper 
trophic level predators as was evident in a number of ecosystem 
indicators including the poor condition of Pacific cod in recent years. 
These factors led to the current suite of Pacific cod assessment 
models, which include environmental factors in the assessment including 
a brief period of high natural mortality (M) and the relationship of 
longline survey catchability to a temperature index.
    The 2019 ABC recommended in the stock assessment for Pacific cod 
(17,000 mt) resulted in a 13.6 percent reduction from the maximum 
permissible ABC. This reduction was determined based on catch 
projections that resulted in the spawning biomass estimate (``B'') 
being above 20 percent of unfished levels through 2020. The stock 
assessment's recommendation for a reduction from the maximum 
permissible ABC for Pacific cod was explicitly made based on the need 
to maintain a projected spawning stock biomass above 20 percent of 
B100% in 2019. This is discussed in the 2018 Pacific cod 
stock assessment, particularly in the Executive Summary (p. 2) and 
Harvest Recommendations section (pp. 32-35). Based on the preferred 
assessment model and the ABC recommendation for 2019 of 17,000 mt, 
spawning biomass is estimated in 2019 at 34,701 (see the Summary Table 
at p. 3, the discussion under ``Specification of OFL and Maximum 
Permissible ABC'' on p. 33, and Table 2.28), and will remain above 
B20% in 2019 (see the discussion under ``ABC 
Recommendation'' on p. 34). The stock assessment discussion provides 
the scientific and statistical rationale for the recommended 
specification of OFL, ABC, and selection of a preferred assessment 
model to calculate such parameters. The 2018 Pacific cod stock 
assessment is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    The SSC concurred with the preferred assessment model and with the 
reduction in ABC. The SSC noted that the ABC reduction of 13.6 percent 
is in addition to the buffer incorporated by the sloping harvest 
control rule that is triggered when a stock, like Pacific cod, falls 
below B40%, which results in a total buffer of 59 percent 
from F40%. The SSC supported the 13.6 percent reduction in 
ABC to provide stability in future levels of spawning biomass, and the 
SSC noted that the 13.6 percent reduction in ABC to 17,000 mt was 
determined based on catch projections that resulted in the spawning 
biomass estimate being above 20% of unfished levels through 2020. The 
SSC set the Pacific cod ABC at 17,000 mt for 2019, and NMFS adopts the 
Pacific cod ABC of 17,000 mt for 2019 in these final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications.
    Regarding the decline in pup counts from 2015 to 2017 in the 
Eastern and Central GOA by 33 percent and 18 percent, respectively, the 
SSC noted this information but reiterated that two years do not make a 
trend and that more years of data are necessary to distinguish these 
changes from other potential declines. These preliminary data provides 
important information in light of the recent marine heat-wave impacts 
on the GOA ecosystem. More detailed information on current population 
trends of the western Distinct Population Segment (DPS) Steller sea 
lion can be found in the 2017 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Report, 
which reports that there is strong evidence that across Alaska pup and 
non-pup counts of western DPS Steller sea lions have increased at 2.19 
percent and 2.24 percent, respectively, between 2003 and 2016, although 
there are strong differences across Alaska but generally positive 
trends in the Gulf of Alaska.
    In addition, beginning in 2018, NMFS began managing the GOA Pacific 
cod fisheries with additional scrutiny and caution because of the 
reductions in the GOA Pacific cod ABCs and corresponding TACs. 
Beginning in 2018, NMFS closed various sectors to directed fishing for 
Pacific cod due to small sector allocations, as well as the need to 
conserve adequate amounts of Pacific cod for incidental catch in other 
groundfish fisheries. In 2018, approximately 15,132 mt (84 percent) of 
the 18,000 mt Pacific cod ABC was caught in the GOA. This precautionary 
management is continuing in 2019. NMFS closed several regulatory areas 
and sectors to directed fishing for the year, including trawl C/Ps in 
the Central GOA and Western GOA and trawl CVs in the Western GOA, and 
some sectors that were open have already closed to directed fishing. 
More detailed information on these inseason actions can be found in 
information bulletins posted at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/infobulletins/search.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that these final harvest specifications are 
consistent with the FMP and with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws.
    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 (see ADDRESSES) and made it 
available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 
13, 2007, NMFS issued the ROD for the EIS. In February 2019, NMFS 
prepared a SIR for this action. Copies of the 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 
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. The 
preferred alternative is a harvest strategy in which TACs are set at a 
level within

[[Page 9447]]

the range of ABCs recommended by the Council's SSC; the sum of the TACs 
must achieve the OY specified in the FMP.
    The annual SIR evaluates the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS 
(SEIS) for the 2019 and 2020 groundfish harvest specifications. An SEIS 
should be prepared if (1) the agency makes substantial changes in the 
proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns, or (2) 
significant new circumstances or information exist relevant to 
environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its 
impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)). After reviewing the information 
contained in the SIR and SAFE reports, the Regional Administrator has 
determined that (1) approval of the 2019 and 2020-harvest 
specifications, which were set according to the preferred harvest 
strategy in the EIS, does not constitute a substantial change in the 
action; and (2) there are no significant new circumstances or 
information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the 
action or its impacts. Additionally, the 2019 and 2020 harvest 
specifications will result in environmental, social, and economic 
impacts within the scope of those analyzed and disclosed in the EIS. 
Therefore, supplemental National Environmental Policy Act documentation 
is not necessary to implement the 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.
    Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604) 
requires that, when an agency promulgates a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 
553, after being required by that section, or any other law, to publish 
a general notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency shall prepare a 
final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA). The following constitutes 
the FRFA prepared in the final action.
    Section 604 describes the required contents of a FRFA: (1) A 
statement of the need for, and objectives of, the rule; (2) a statement 
of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to 
the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a statement of the 
assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes 
made in the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the 
response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration in response to the 
proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the 
proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a 
description of and an estimate of the number of small entities to which 
the rule will apply or an explanation of why no such estimate is 
available; (5) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, 
and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of 
the classes of small entities which will be subject to the requirement 
and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the 
report or record; and (6) a description of the steps the agency has 
taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities 
consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes, including 
a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the 
alternative adopted in the final rule and why each one of the other 
significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency that 
affect the impact on small entities was rejected.
    A description of this action, its purpose, and its legal basis are 
contained at the beginning of the preamble to this final rule and are 
not repeated here.
    NMFS published the proposed rule on December 6, 2018 (83 FR 62794). 
NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) to 
accompany the proposed action, and included a summary in the proposed 
rule. The comment period closed on January 7, 2019. No comments were 
received on the IRFA or on the economic impacts of the rule more 
generally. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration did not file any comments on the proposed rule.
    The entities directly regulated by this action include: (1) 
Entities operating vessels with groundfish FFPs catching FMP groundfish 
in Federal waters; (2) all entities operating vessels, regardless of 
whether they hold groundfish FFPs, catching FMP groundfish in the 
State-waters parallel fisheries; and (3) all entities operating vessels 
fishing for halibut inside three miles of the shore (whether or not 
they have FFPs).
    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.
    Using the most recent data available (2017), the estimated number 
of directly regulated small entities include approximately 821 
individual catcher vessel entities with gross revenues meeting small 
entity criteria. Of these entities, 745 used hook-and-line gear, 120 
used pot gear, and 32 used trawl gear (some of these entities used more 
than one gear type, thus the counts of entities using the different 
gear types do not sum to the total number of entities above). Three 
individual catcher/processors met the small entity criterion; two used 
hook-and-line gear, and one used trawl gear. Catcher/processor gross 
revenues were not reported for confidentiality reasons; however, in 
2017, small hook-and-line entities had average gross revenues of 
$380,000, small pot entities had average gross revenues of $790,000, 
and small trawl entities had average gross revenues of $1.97 million.
    Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock 
cooperatives, of GOA rockfish cooperatives, or of Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands crab rationalization cooperatives, and, therefore, 
under the RFA it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating 
members of the cooperative that must meet the threshold. Vessels that 
participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities 
within the meaning of the RFA. These relationships are accounted for, 
along with corporate affiliations among vessels, to the extent that 
they are known, in the estimated number of small entities. If 
affiliations exist of which NMFS is unaware, or if entities had non-
fishing revenue sources, the estimates above may overstate the number 
of directly regulated small entities.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements.
    NMFS considered alternative harvest strategies when choosing the 
preferred harvest strategy (Alternative 2) in December 2006. These 
included the following:
     Alternative 1: Set TACs to produce fishing mortality 
rates, F, that are equal to maxFABC, unless the sum of the TACs is 
constrained by the OY established in the FMP. This is equivalent to 
setting TACs to produce harvest levels equal to the maximum permissible 
ABCs, as constrained by OY. The term ``maxFABC'' refers to the maximum 
permissible value of FABC under Amendment 56 to the GOA groundfish 
fishery management plan. Historically, the TAC has been set at or below 
the ABC; therefore, this alternative represents a likely upper limit 
for setting the TAC within the OY and ABC limits.
     Alternative 3: For species in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, set TAC 
to produce F equal to

[[Page 9448]]

the most recent 5-year average actual F. For species in Tiers 4, 5, and 
6, set TAC equal to the most recent 5-year average actual catch. For 
stocks with a high level of scientific information, TACs would be set 
to produce harvest levels equal to the most recent 5-year average 
actual fishing mortality rates. For stocks with insufficient scientific 
information, TACs would be set equal to the most recent 5-year average 
actual catch. This alternative recognizes that for some stocks, catches 
may fall well below ABCs, and recent average F may provide a better 
indicator of actual F than FABC does.
     Alternative 4: First, set TACs for rockfish species in 
Tier 3 at F75%; set TACs for rockfish species in Tier 5 at F=0.5M; and 
set spatially explicit TACs for shortraker and rougheye/blackspotted 
rockfish in the GOA. Second, taking the rockfish TACs as calculated 
above, reduce all other TACs by a proportion that does not vary across 
species, so that the sum of all TACs, including rockfish TACs, is equal 
to the lower bound of the area OY (116,000 mt in the GOA). This 
alternative sets conservative and spatially explicit TACs for rockfish 
species that are long-lived and late to mature and sets conservative 
TACs for the other groundfish species.
     Alternative 5: (No Action) Set TACs at zero.
    Alternatives 1, 3, 4, and 5 do not meet the objectives of this 
action, and although Alternatives 1 and 3 may have a smaller adverse 
economic impact on small entities than the preferred alternative, 
Alternatives 4 and 5 would have a significant adverse economic impact 
on small entities. The Council rejected these alternatives as harvest 
strategies in 2006, and the Secretary of Commerce did so in 2007.
    Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative chosen by the Council: 
Set TACs that fall within the range of ABCs recommended through the 
Council harvest specifications process and TACs recommended by the 
Council. Under this scenario, F is set equal to a constant fraction of 
maxFABC. The recommended fractions of maxFABC may vary among species or 
stocks, based on other considerations unique to each. This is the 
method for determining TACs that has been used in the past.
    Alternative 2 selected harvest rates that will allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests are 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. The sums of 
ABCs in 2019 and 2020 are 509,507 mt and 487,218 mt, respectively. The 
sums of the TACs in 2019 and 2020 are 430,569 mt and 408,534 mt, 
respectively. Thus, although the sum of ABCs in each year is less than 
800,000 mt, the sums of the TACs in each year are less than the sums of 
the ABCs.
    In most cases, the Council has set TACs equal to ABCs. The 
divergence between aggregate TACs and aggregate ABCs reflects a variety 
of special species- and fishery-specific circumstances:
     Pacific cod TACs are set equal to 70 percent in the 
Western GOA and 75 percent in the Central and Eastern GOA of the 
Pacific cod ABCs in each year to account for the GHL set by the State 
for its GHL Pacific cod fisheries (30 percent of the Western GOA ABC 
and 25 percent of the Central and Eastern GOA ABCs). Thus, the 
difference between the Federal TACs and ABCs does not actually reflect 
a Pacific cod harvest below the Pacific cod ABC, as the balance is 
available for the State's Pacific cod GHL fisheries.
     Shallow-water flatfish and flathead sole TACs are set 
below ABCs in the Western Regulatory Area. Arrowtooth flounder TACs are 
set below ABC in all GOA regulatory areas, except the Central GOA. 
Catches of these flatfish species rarely, if ever, approach the 
proposed ABCs or TACs. Important trawl fisheries in the GOA take 
halibut PSC, and are constrained by limits on the allowable halibut PSC 
mortality. These limits may force the closure of trawl fisheries before 
they have harvested the available groundfish ABC. Thus, actual harvests 
of groundfish in the GOA routinely fall short of some ABCs and TACs. 
Markets can also constrain harvests below the TACs, as has been the 
case with arrowtooth flounder, in the past. These TACs are set to allow 
for increased harvest opportunities for these targets while conserving 
the halibut PSC limit for use in other, more fully utilized fisheries.
     The GOA-wide Atka mackerel TAC is set below the ABC. The 
estimates of survey biomass continue to be unreliable in the GOA. 
Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS agrees that the Atka 
mackerel TAC in the GOA be set at an amount to support incidental catch 
in other directed fisheries.
    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to 
harvest stocks at the level of the ABCs, unless total harvests were 
constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. Although 
Alternative 1 may be consistent with the preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2), meet the objectives of the action, and have small 
entity impacts equivalent to the preferred alternative, 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, which are addressed in the 
preamble to this rule and are summarized briefly here. There may be a 
lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, an 
underharvest of flatfish TACs could result due to constraints such as 
the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the 
harvest of the GOA groundfish species. 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 of Alaska'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 well as National Standard 2 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(2)). NMFS annually conducts at-
sea 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 or species group for each 
year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).
    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all 
species to reduce 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 73 percent. This would lead to significant 
reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While production 
declines in the GOA likely would be associated with offsetting price 
increases in the GOA, the size of these increases is very uncertain. 
Price increases would still be constrained by the availability of 
substitutes, and there are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species 
available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands management area. In addition, price increases are very unlikely 
to offset revenue declines from

[[Page 9449]]

smaller production. Thus, this action would have a detrimental economic 
impact on small entities, compared to the preferred alternative.
    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, may also 
address conservation issues, but would have a significant adverse 
economic impact on small entities and would be inconsistent with 
achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(1)).
    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).
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness for this rule because delaying this rule is contrary to 
the public interest. The Plan Team review of the 2018 SAFE report 
occurred in November 2018, and the Council considered and recommended 
the final harvest specifications in December 2018. Accordingly, NMFS's 
review of the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications could not 
begin until after the December 2018 Council meeting, and after the 
public had time to comment on the proposed action.
    For all fisheries not currently closed because the TACs established 
under the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications (83 FR 8768, March 
1, 2018) were not reached, it is possible that they would be closed 
prior to the expiration of a 30-day delayed effectiveness period 
because their TACs could be reached within that period. If implemented 
immediately, this rule would allow these fisheries to continue fishing 
because some of the new TACs implemented by this rule are higher than 
the TACs under which they are currently fishing.
    In addition, immediate effectiveness of this action is required to 
provide consistent management and conservation of fishery resources 
based on the best available scientific information. This is 
particularly pertinent for those species that have lower 2019 ABCs and 
TACs than those established in the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications 
(83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018). If implemented immediately, this rule 
would ensure that NMFS can properly manage those fisheries for which 
this rule sets lower 2019 ABCs and TACs, which are based on the most 
recent biological information on the condition of stocks, rather than 
managing species under the higher TACs set in the previous year's 
harvest specifications.
    Certain fisheries, such as those for pollock and Pacific cod, are 
intensive, fast-paced fisheries. Other fisheries, such as those for 
sablefish, flatfish, rockfish, Atka mackerel, skates, sculpins, sharks, 
and octopuses, are critical as directed fisheries and as incidental 
catch in other fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the 
capacity to catch the TAC allocations in many of these fisheries. If 
this rule allowed for a 30-day delay in effectiveness and if a TAC were 
reached during those 30 days, NMFS would close directed fishing or 
prohibit retention for the applicable species. Any delay in allocating 
the final TACs in these fisheries would cause confusion to the industry 
and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards, thus 
undermining the intent of this rule. Waiving the 30-day delay allows 
NMFS to prevent economic loss to fishermen that could otherwise occur 
should the 2019 TACs (set under the 2018 and 2019 harvest 
specifications) be reached. Determining which fisheries may close is 
nearly impossible because these fisheries are affected by several 
factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including fishing effort, 
weather, movement of fishery stocks, and market price. Furthermore, the 
closure of one fishery has a cascading effect on other fisheries by 
freeing-up fishing vessels, allowing them to move from closed fisheries 
to open ones, increasing the fishing capacity in those open fisheries, 
and causing them to close at an accelerated pace.
    In fisheries subject to declining sideboard limits, a failure to 
implement the updated sideboard limits before initial season's end 
could deny the intended economic protection to the non-sideboarded 
sectors. Conversely, in fisheries with increasing sideboard limits, 
economic benefit could be denied to the sideboard-limited sectors.
    If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 15, 
2019, which is the start of the 2019 Pacific halibut season as 
specified by the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not 
begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season. This would 
result in confusion for the industry and economic harm from unnecessary 
discard of sablefish that are caught along with Pacific halibut, as 
both hook-and-line sablefish and Pacific halibut are managed under the 
same IFQ program. Immediate effectiveness of the final 2019 and 2020 
harvest specifications will allow the sablefish IFQ fishery to begin 
concurrently with the Pacific halibut IFQ season.
    Finally, immediate effectiveness also would provide the fishing 
industry the earliest possible opportunity to plan and conduct its 
fishing operations with respect to new information about TACs. 
Therefore, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    This final rule is a plain language guide to assist small entities 
in complying with this final rule as required by the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule's primary 
purpose is to announce the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications 
and prohibited species bycatch allowances for the groundfish fisheries 
of the GOA. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits and 
associated management measures for groundfish during the 2019 and 2020 
fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the FMP. 
This action affects all fishermen who participate in the GOA fisheries. 
The specific OFL, ABC, TAC, and PSC amounts are provided in tables to 
assist the reader. NMFS will announce closures of directed fishing in 
the Federal Register and information bulletins released by the Alaska 
Region. Affected fishermen should keep themselves informed of such 
closures.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f), 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: March 7, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-04538 Filed 3-13-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P