Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits, 26394-26396 [2019-11853]

Download as PDF 26394 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 109 / Thursday, June 6, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS of our proposal and information on the peer review process. DATES: Public information open house and public hearing: We will hold a public open house followed by a public hearing on our proposed rule on June 25, 2019. The public open house will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the public hearing from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Availability of documents: The peer review report is available beginning June 3, 2019. ADDRESSES: Public open house and hearing: A public open house followed by a public hearing will be held at Franklin Arts Center Auditorium, 1001 Kingwood Street, Brainerd, Minnesota 56401. See Public Information Open House and Public Hearing, below, for more information. Availability of documents: You may obtain copies of our proposed rule to remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and supporting documents, including the final peer review report and the peer review plan, on the internet at http:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–HQ–ES–2018–0097. The final peer review report is also available on our website at https://www.fws.gov/ endangered/improving_esa/peer_ review_process.html. Additional information on the nature of the peer review can be found in the peer review plan, which is also available at: https:// www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/ pdf/Gray-Wolf-Peer-Review-Plan.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Morgan, Chief, Branch of Delisting and Foreign Species, Ecological Services; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Headquarters Office, MS: ES, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List) in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 17.11(h)) currently includes the gray wolf (Canis lupus). On March 15, 2019, the Service proposed to remove gray wolves in the lower 48 United States and Mexico from the List and opened a 60-day public comment period on the proposed action (84 FR 9648). On May 14, 2019, we extended the public comment period 60 days, to July 15, 2019 (84 FR 21312). The Service now announces a public VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:54 Jun 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 open house and hearing as specified above in DATES. Public Information Open House and Public Hearing We are holding a public information open house followed by a public hearing on the date listed in DATES at the location listed in ADDRESSES. We are holding the public hearing to provide interested parties an opportunity to present verbal testimony (formal, oral comments) or hand-deliver their written comments regarding the March 15, 2019 (84 FR 9648), proposal to remove the gray wolf from the List. The public information open house will provide an opportunity for dialogue with the Service. The public hearing portion is a forum for accepting formal verbal testimony and does not provide an opportunity for such dialogue with the Service. In the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may be limited. Therefore, anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing for the record is encouraged to provide a prepared written copy of their statement to us at the hearing. Speakers can sign up at the hearing if they desire to make an oral statement. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted to us. Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodations to participate in the public hearing should contact the Headquarters Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Reasonable accommodation requests should be requested as soon as possible to help ensure availability. Peer Review In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), the Service submitted the March 15, 2019, proposal for independent expert peer review. The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the proposal is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by qualified experts are incorporated into the rulemaking process. For information on accessing the final peer review report and the peer review plan, see ADDRESSES. Authors The primary authors of this notice are the Ecological Services staff of the Headquarters Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: May 31, 2019 Margaret E. Everson, Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2019–11908 Filed 6–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 190325272–9470–01] RIN 0648–XG925 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes a 2019 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longlinecaught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)). NMFS would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. The proposed catch limits and accountability measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. DATES: NMFS must receive comments by June 21, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2019–0028, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docket Detail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0028, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06JNP1.SGM 06JNP1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 109 / Thursday, June 6, 2019 / Proposed Rules Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5184. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS proposes to specify a 2019 catch limit of 2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory. NMFS would also authorize each U.S. Pacific territory to allocate up to 1,000 t of its 2,000 t bigeye tuna limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels that are permitted to fish under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (FEP). Those vessels must be identified in a specified fishing agreement with the applicable territory. The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended these specifications. The proposed catch and allocation limits and accountability measures are identical to those NMFS specified for U.S. territories in each year since 2014 (for the most recent example, see 83 FR 53399, October 23, 2018). NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by the longline fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, including catches made by U.S. longline vessels operating under specified fishing agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, and the process for attributing longline-caught bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819. When NMFS projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, NMFS would, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable territory (if the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), and/or vessels in a specified fishing agreement (if the allocation limit is projected to be reached). NMFS will consider public comments on the proposed action and draft environmental assessment, and will VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:54 Jun 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 announce the final specifications in the Federal Register. On March 20, 2017, in Territory of American Samoa v. NMFS, et al. (16–cv–95, D. Haw), a federal judge set aside a NMFS rule that amended the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA) for eligible longliners on the grounds that NMFS did not consider under the Deeds of Cession the protection of cultural fishing in American Samoa. NMFS has appealed this decision, which is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. NMFS also invites public comments that address the impact of this proposed rule on cultural fishing in American Samoa. NMFS must receive any comments on this rule by the date provided in the DATES heading. NMFS may not consider any comments not postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. Regardless of the final specifications, all other existing management measures will continue to apply in the longline fishery. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this proposed specification is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. Certification of Finding of No Significant Impact on Substantial Number of Small Entities The Chief Counsel for Regulation for the Department of Commerce has certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that these proposed specifications, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed action would specify a 2019 limit of 2,000 (t) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI). NMFS would also allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t of its 2,000 t limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria set forth in 50 CFR 665.819. As an accountability measure, NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable U.S. territory (if the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), or by vessels operating under the applicable specified fishing agreement (if the PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 26395 allocation limit is projected to be reached). Payments under the specified fishing agreements support fisheries development in the U.S. Pacific territories and the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. This proposed action would directly apply to longline vessels federally permitted under the FEP, specifically Hawaii, American Samoa, and Western Pacific longline permit holders. As of March 2019, 144 vessels had Hawaii permits and 46 had American Samoa permits. There are no active Western Pacific general longline permitted vessels. Based on dealer data collected by the State of Hawaii, Hawaii longline vessels landed approximately 32.75 million pounds of pelagic fish valued at $101.6 million in 2017. With 145 vessels making either a deep- or shallow-set trip in 2017, the ex-vessel value of pelagic fish caught by Hawaii-based longline fisheries averaged almost $701,000 per vessel. In 2017, American Samoa-based longline vessels landed approximately 4.8 million pounds of pelagic fish valued at $4.7 million, where albacore made up the largest proportion of pelagic longline commercial landings at 3.04 million pounds. With 15 active longline vessels in 2017, the ex-vessel value of pelagic fish caught by American Samoa fishery averaged about $313,333 per vessel. 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 receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all vessels permitted federally under the FEP are small entities, i.e., they are engaged in the business of fish harvesting (NAICS 114111), are independently owned or operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million. Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of vessels, the implementation of this action would not result in significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. The proposed action would potentially benefit the Hawaii longline fishermen by allowing them to fish under specified fishing agreements with a territory, which could extend fishing effort for E:\FR\FM\06JNP1.SGM 06JNP1 26396 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 109 / Thursday, June 6, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS bigeye tuna in the western Pacific and provide more bigeye tuna for markets in Hawaii and elsewhere. In accordance with Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, vessels that possess both an American Samoa and Hawaii longline permit are not subject to the U.S bigeye tuna limit. Therefore, these vessels may retain bigeye tuna and land fish in Hawaii after the date NMFS projects the fishery would reach that limit. Further, catches of bigeye tuna made by such vessels are attributed to American Samoa, provided the fish was not caught in the U.S. exclusive economic zone around Hawaii. In 2018, all dual American Samoa/Hawaii longline permitted vessels were included in the fishing agreement with the CNMI and American Samoa. Therefore, NMFS attributed bigeye catches by those vessels to the two territories. The 2019 U.S. bigeye tuna catch limit is 3,554 t, which is the same limit in place for 2018. NMFS established this limit through a separate action (83 FR 33851, July 18, 2018). Based on preliminary logbook data, NMFS expects the fishery to reach this limit by October 20, 2019. Through this action, Hawaii-based longline vessels could potentially enter into one or more fishing agreements with participating territories. This would enhance the ability of these vessels to extend fishing effort in the western and central Pacific Ocean after reaching the 2019 U.S. limit and provide more bigeye tuna for markets in VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:54 Jun 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 Hawaii. Providing opportunity to land bigeye tuna in Hawaii in the last quarter of the year when market demand is high will result in positive economic benefits for fishery participants and net benefits to the nation. Allowing participating territories to enter into specified fishing agreements under this action is consistent with Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission’s (WCPFC) conservation and management objectives for bigeye tuna in Conservation and Management Measure 2018–01, and benefits the territories by providing funds for territorial fisheries development projects. Establishing a 2,000 t longline limit for bigeye tuna where territories are not subject to Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission longline limits is not expected to adversely affect vessels based in the territories. Historical catch of bigeye tuna by the American Samoa longline fleet has been less than 2,000 t, even including the catch of vessels based in American Samoa, catch by dual permitted vessels that land their catch in Hawaii, and catch attributed to American Samoa from U.S. vessels under specified fishing agreements. With regard to Guam and the CNMI, no longline fishing has occurred since 2011. Under the proposed action, longline fisheries managed under the FEP are not expected to expand substantially nor change the manner in which they are currently conducted, (i.e., area fished, number of vessels longline fishing, PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 number of trips taken per year, number of hooks set per vessel during a trip, depth of hooks, or deployment techniques in setting longline gear), due to existing operational constraints in the fleet, the limited entry permit programs, and protected species mitigation requirements. The proposed rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on small organizations or government jurisdictions. Furthermore, there would be little, if any, disproportionate adverse economic impacts from the proposed rule based on gear type, or relative vessel size. The proposed rule also will not place a substantial number of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. For the reasons above, NMFS does not expect the proposed action to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As such, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: June 3, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–11853 Filed 6–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06JNP1.SGM 06JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 109 (Thursday, June 6, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26394-26396]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-11853]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 190325272-9470-01]
RIN 0648-XG925


Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline 
Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes a 2019 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American 
Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 
(CNMI)). NMFS would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each 
year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement 
that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS 
would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified 
fishing agreement. The proposed catch limits and accountability 
measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery 
resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

DATES: NMFS must receive comments by June 21, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2019-0028, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0028, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 
Regional

[[Page 26395]]

Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., 
Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5184.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS proposes to specify a 2019 catch limit 
of 2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific 
territory. NMFS would also authorize each U.S. Pacific territory to 
allocate up to 1,000 t of its 2,000 t bigeye tuna limit to U.S. 
longline fishing vessels that are permitted to fish under the Fishery 
Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (FEP). 
Those vessels must be identified in a specified fishing agreement with 
the applicable territory. The Western Pacific Fishery Management 
Council recommended these specifications. The proposed catch and 
allocation limits and accountability measures are identical to those 
NMFS specified for U.S. territories in each year since 2014 (for the 
most recent example, see 83 FR 53399, October 23, 2018).
    NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by the 
longline fisheries of each U.S Pacific territory, including catches 
made by U.S. longline vessels operating under specified fishing 
agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, 
and the process for attributing longline-caught bigeye tuna, will 
follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819. When NMFS projects that a 
territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, NMFS would, as 
an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and retention of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable territory (if 
the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), and/or vessels 
in a specified fishing agreement (if the allocation limit is projected 
to be reached).
    NMFS will consider public comments on the proposed action and draft 
environmental assessment, and will announce the final specifications in 
the Federal Register. On March 20, 2017, in Territory of American Samoa 
v. NMFS, et al. (16-cv-95, D. Haw), a federal judge set aside a NMFS 
rule that amended the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area 
(LVPA) for eligible longliners on the grounds that NMFS did not 
consider under the Deeds of Cession the protection of cultural fishing 
in American Samoa. NMFS has appealed this decision, which is pending 
before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. NMFS also invites public 
comments that address the impact of this proposed rule on cultural 
fishing in American Samoa.
    NMFS must receive any comments on this rule by the date provided in 
the DATES heading. NMFS may not consider any comments not postmarked or 
otherwise transmitted by that date. Regardless of the final 
specifications, all other existing management measures will continue to 
apply in the longline fishery.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this proposed 
specification is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.

Certification of Finding of No Significant Impact on Substantial Number 
of Small Entities

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation for the Department of Commerce has 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that these proposed specifications, if adopted, would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    The proposed action would specify a 2019 limit of 2,000 (t) of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American 
Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI). NMFS would also allow each territory to 
allocate up to 1,000 t of its 2,000 t limit to U.S. longline fishing 
vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established 
criteria set forth in 50 CFR 665.819. As an accountability measure, 
NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of 
longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable U.S. territory 
(if the territorial catch limit is projected to be reached), or by 
vessels operating under the applicable specified fishing agreement (if 
the allocation limit is projected to be reached). Payments under the 
specified fishing agreements support fisheries development in the U.S. 
Pacific territories and the long-term sustainability of fishery 
resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.
    This proposed action would directly apply to longline vessels 
federally permitted under the FEP, specifically Hawaii, American Samoa, 
and Western Pacific longline permit holders. As of March 2019, 144 
vessels had Hawaii permits and 46 had American Samoa permits. There are 
no active Western Pacific general longline permitted vessels.
    Based on dealer data collected by the State of Hawaii, Hawaii 
longline vessels landed approximately 32.75 million pounds of pelagic 
fish valued at $101.6 million in 2017. With 145 vessels making either a 
deep- or shallow-set trip in 2017, the ex-vessel value of pelagic fish 
caught by Hawaii-based longline fisheries averaged almost $701,000 per 
vessel. In 2017, American Samoa-based longline vessels landed 
approximately 4.8 million pounds of pelagic fish valued at $4.7 
million, where albacore made up the largest proportion of pelagic 
longline commercial landings at 3.04 million pounds. With 15 active 
longline vessels in 2017, the ex-vessel value of pelagic fish caught by 
American Samoa fishery averaged about $313,333 per vessel.
    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 receipts 
not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations 
worldwide. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all 
vessels permitted federally under the FEP are small entities, i.e., 
they are engaged in the business of fish harvesting (NAICS 114111), are 
independently owned or operated, are not dominant in their field of 
operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million. 
Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of 
vessels, the implementation of this action would not result in 
significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. The proposed 
action would potentially benefit the Hawaii longline fishermen by 
allowing them to fish under specified fishing agreements with a 
territory, which could extend fishing effort for

[[Page 26396]]

bigeye tuna in the western Pacific and provide more bigeye tuna for 
markets in Hawaii and elsewhere.
    In accordance with Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 300, subpart 
O, vessels that possess both an American Samoa and Hawaii longline 
permit are not subject to the U.S bigeye tuna limit. Therefore, these 
vessels may retain bigeye tuna and land fish in Hawaii after the date 
NMFS projects the fishery would reach that limit. Further, catches of 
bigeye tuna made by such vessels are attributed to American Samoa, 
provided the fish was not caught in the U.S. exclusive economic zone 
around Hawaii. In 2018, all dual American Samoa/Hawaii longline 
permitted vessels were included in the fishing agreement with the CNMI 
and American Samoa. Therefore, NMFS attributed bigeye catches by those 
vessels to the two territories.
    The 2019 U.S. bigeye tuna catch limit is 3,554 t, which is the same 
limit in place for 2018. NMFS established this limit through a separate 
action (83 FR 33851, July 18, 2018). Based on preliminary logbook data, 
NMFS expects the fishery to reach this limit by October 20, 2019.
    Through this action, Hawaii-based longline vessels could 
potentially enter into one or more fishing agreements with 
participating territories. This would enhance the ability of these 
vessels to extend fishing effort in the western and central Pacific 
Ocean after reaching the 2019 U.S. limit and provide more bigeye tuna 
for markets in Hawaii. Providing opportunity to land bigeye tuna in 
Hawaii in the last quarter of the year when market demand is high will 
result in positive economic benefits for fishery participants and net 
benefits to the nation. Allowing participating territories to enter 
into specified fishing agreements under this action is consistent with 
Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission's (WCPFC) conservation 
and management objectives for bigeye tuna in Conservation and 
Management Measure 2018-01, and benefits the territories by providing 
funds for territorial fisheries development projects. Establishing a 
2,000 t longline limit for bigeye tuna where territories are not 
subject to Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission longline 
limits is not expected to adversely affect vessels based in the 
territories.
    Historical catch of bigeye tuna by the American Samoa longline 
fleet has been less than 2,000 t, even including the catch of vessels 
based in American Samoa, catch by dual permitted vessels that land 
their catch in Hawaii, and catch attributed to American Samoa from U.S. 
vessels under specified fishing agreements. With regard to Guam and the 
CNMI, no longline fishing has occurred since 2011.
    Under the proposed action, longline fisheries managed under the FEP 
are not expected to expand substantially nor change the manner in which 
they are currently conducted, (i.e., area fished, number of vessels 
longline fishing, number of trips taken per year, number of hooks set 
per vessel during a trip, depth of hooks, or deployment techniques in 
setting longline gear), due to existing operational constraints in the 
fleet, the limited entry permit programs, and protected species 
mitigation requirements. The proposed rule does not duplicate, overlap, 
or conflict with other Federal rules and is not expected to have 
significant impact on small organizations or government jurisdictions. 
Furthermore, there would be little, if any, disproportionate adverse 
economic impacts from the proposed rule based on gear type, or relative 
vessel size. The proposed rule also will not place a substantial number 
of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a significant 
competitive disadvantage to large entities.
    For the reasons above, NMFS does not expect the proposed action to 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. As such, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.
    This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866.

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

    Dated: June 3, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-11853 Filed 6-5-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P