Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019-2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 37780-37793 [2019-16554]

Download as PDF 37780 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations squid are available to the fishery. As noted above, the SSC concluded that previous landings of up to 26,000 mt has not resulted in harm to the stock and would not likely result in overfishing. An unnecessary delay in implementing this increase would forgo such benefits to affected entities without any conservation benefits to the stock. Therefore, it is in the public interest to implement this final action and associated increase in the 2019 Illex squid ABC as soon as possible to avoid an unnecessary closure of the Illex squid fishery, achieve optimum yield in the fishery, and maximize benefits to fishery participants. This final rule is exempt from review under E.O. 12866. This final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this final rule is exempt from E.O. 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification and no other information has been obtained that suggests any other conclusion. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: July 29, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–16484 Filed 8–1–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 180625576–8999–02] jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES RIN 0648–BJ11 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019–2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures. This final rule announces routine inseason adjustments to management measures in commercial groundfish fisheries. This action is intended to allow commercial fishing vessels to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. DATES: This final rule is effective August 2, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Palmigiano, phone: 206–526– 4491 or email: karen.palmigiano@ noaa.gov. SUMMARY: Electronic Access This rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at http:// www.pcouncil.org/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for two-year periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement harvest specifications and management measures for the 2019–2020 biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970). In general, the management measures set at the start of the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to achieve this goal. At its June 19–25, 2019 meeting, the Council recommended four adjustments to the 2019 commercial groundfish fishery management measures, including: (1) Increasing the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) trip limits for PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 bocaccio between 40°10′ North latitude (N lat.) and 34°27′ N lat.; (2) increasing the shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery trip limits for big skate; (3) increasing the open access (OA) trip limits for sablefish both north and south of 36° N lat., and (4) increasing the amount of Pacific halibut that vessels in the sablefish primary fishery north of Point Chehalis may take incidentally. Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries are managed using harvest specifications or limits (e.g., overfishing limits [OFL], acceptable biological catch [ABC], annual catch limits [ACL] and harvest guidelines [HG]) recommended biennially by the Council and based on the best scientific information available at that time (50 CFR 660.60(b)). During development of the harvest specifications, the Council also recommends mitigation measures (e.g., trip limits, area closures, and bag limits) that are meant to mitigate catch so as not to exceed the harvest specifications. The harvest specifications and mitigation measures developed for the 2019–2020 biennium used data through the 2017 fishing year. Each of the adjustments to mitigation measures discussed below are based on updated fisheries information that was unavailable when the analysis for the current harvest specifications was completed. As new fisheries data becomes available, adjustments to mitigation measures are projected so as to help harvesters achieve but not exceed the harvest limits. LEFG Trip Limits for Bocaccio Between 40°10′ N Lat. and 34°27′ N Lat. Bocaccio is managed with stockspecific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40°10′ N lat. NMFS declared bocaccio overfished in 1999, and implemented a rebuilding plan for the stock in 2000. NMFS declared bocaccio officially rebuilt in 2017. New, higher catch limits resulting from their rebuilt status were implemented for bocaccio for the first time in 2019. For example, the nontrawl allocation of bocaccio increased from 442.3 mt in 2018 to 1,250 mt in 2019. For 2019, the bocaccio ACL south of 40°10′ N lat. is 2,097 mt with a fishery HG of 2,051 mt. The non-trawl allocation is 1,250 mt. The supporting analysis for the 2019–2020 harvest specifications used landings data through the 2017 fishing year to determine appropriate mitigation measures (e.g., commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits) to ensure catch reaches but does not exceed the bocaccio ACL for south of 40°10′ N lat. E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations At the June 2019 Council meeting, members of the Groundfish Advisory SubPanel (GAP) notified the Council and the Groundfish Management Team (GMT) of increased interactions with bocaccio for vessels targeting chilipepper rockfish. The current trip limits for bocaccio between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat., coupled with these increased interactions, can result in higher bocaccio discard rates in the LEFG fishery. Because the most recent bocaccio attainment estimates for 2019 suggest that around 11 percent or 134.6 mt of bocaccio will be attained out of the 1,250 mt non-trawl allocation for south of 40°10′ N lat., the GAP requested the GMT examine potential increases to the bocaccio trip limits for the LEFG fishery only between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat. The GMT did not receive a request to examine trip limit increases for bocaccio south of 34°27′ N lat. To assist the Council in evaluating potential trip limit increases for bocaccio between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat., the GMT analyzed projected attainment under the current status quo trip limit of 1,000 pounds (lb) (454 kilograms [kg]) per two months and under the proposed trip limit increase, 1,500 lb (680 kg) per two months, and compared it to the projected catch in the analysis for the 2019–20 harvest specifications. In 2018, when the bocaccio trip limits were established for the 2019–20 harvest specifications, bocaccio had only just been rebuilt and few data points existed to provide projected annual catch data under the current trip limits. Based on that limited data, at the time, boccacio catch in the non-trawl commercial fishery between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat. was projected to be around 4.5 mt of the 1,250-mt non-trawl allocation. The GMT updated the projected attainments under the current status quo trip limits and examined potential impacts under alternative trip limits with additional catch data from the 2017 and 2018 fishing years. Based on updated model projections under the current status quo trip limit of 1,000 lb (454 kg) per two months, total coastwide bocaccio catch in the LEFG and OA fisheries is projected to be 134.6 mt, or 11 percent of the non-trawl HG and six percent of the bocaccio ACL for south of 40°10′ N lat. Increasing the trip limits to 1,500 lb (680 kg) per two months for the remainder of the fishing year for vessels fishing in the LEFG fishery in the area between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat., which would align them with the trip limits already in place south of 34°27′ N lat., is projected to increase total mortality by less than 0.1 mt, and the overall total mortality of bocaccio is projected to remain at around 11 percent of the non-trawl HG and four percent of the ACL south of 40°10′ N lat. Trip limit increases for bocaccio are intended to allow for increased attainment of the non-trawl allocation (1,250 mt), while also providing the incentive for vessels targeting co- 37781 occurring species, such as chilipepper rockfish, to land their bocaccio catch instead of discarding. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Table 2 (South) to part 660, Subpart E, an increase to the bocaccio trip limits for the LEFG fishery between 40°10′ N lat. and 34°27′ N lat. The trip limits for bocaccio in this area will increase from ‘‘1,000 lb (454 kg) per per two months’’ to ‘‘1,500 lb (680 kg) per two months’’ beginning in period 4 (July–August) through the end of the year. Shorebased IFQ Fishery Trip Limits for Big Skate Previously managed as an ecosystem component species, big skate was moved ‘‘into the fishery’’ through the 2017–18 harvest specifications because large landings off Oregon suggested vessels in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery are targeting big skate. Big skate is the only non-IFQ species managed coast-wide with bimonthly trip limits in the IFQ fishery. For 2019, the ACL for big skate is 494 mt with a fishery harvest guideline of 452 mt. The trawl allocation is 95 percent or 429.5 mt. An additional 41 mt was deducted from the trawl allocation to account for bycatch in the at-sea sector and shorebased IFQ discard mortality resulting in a landing target of 388.5 mt for the trawl sector. Current trip limits for big skate for vessels in the IFQ fishery can be found in Table 1. TABLE 1—BIG SKATE TRIP LIMITS FOR THE 2019 FISHING YEAR Jan–Feb jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 5,000 lb (2,258 kg)/2 months. Mar–Apr May–Jun 25,000 lb (11,340 kg))/2 months. 30,000 lb (13,608 kg)/2 months. At the June 2019 Council meeting, the GAP requested the Council consider increasing the big skate trip limits due to lower than projected catch in 2019, which industry suggested is likely due to several fishermen who targeted big skate retiring in recent years. During development of the 2019–20 harvest specifications, the GMT analysis used relatively high 2016–2017 landings and projected attainment would be around 98 percent of the landings targets in 2019. However, landings decreased dramatically in 2018 (218 mt out of 494 mt ACL with the shorebased IFQ sector harvesting 128 mt) and the same trend has continued into 2019. Under the current trip limits (Table 1), landings as of late June 2019 were at 73.3 mt or 20 percent of the landing target (388.5 mt). If the current trend continues, landings VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 Jul–Aug 35,000 lb (15,876 kg)/2 months. are projected to be 160.4 mt of the 388.5 mt landing target by the end of the year due to continued low landings in the shorebased IFQ sector. Therefore, the GMT analyzed two alternatives that would allow the Council to increase trip limits for vessels targeting big skate in the IFQ fishery. Under Alternative 1, the trip limits for periods 4 (July and August), 5 (September and October), and 6 (November and December) would each increase by 10,000 lb (4,565 kg) which is projected to increase landings of big skate by 21.3 mt from 160.4 mt under the current limits to 181.7 mt. Under Alternative 2, big skate trip limits in periods 4 and 5 would increase by 100 percent of the current limit for each period and would increase by 300 percent for period 6 resulting in a PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Sep–Oct Nov–Dec 10,000 lb (4,536 kg)/ 2 months. 5,000 lb (2,258 kg)/2 months. projected total attainment of 55 percent or 215.1 mt of the 388.5 mt target amount. Therefore, in order to maximize opportunities for vessels targeting big skate in the shorebased IFQ fishery, the Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Tables 1 (North and South) to part 660, subpart D, the following trip limits for big skate in the IFQ program, for period 4: 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) per two months, period 5: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) per two months, and period 6: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) per two months. OA Trip Limits for Sablefish North and South of 36° N Lat. Sablefish is an important commercial species on the west coast with vessels targeting sablefish with both trawl and E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 37782 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations fixed gear (longlines and pots/traps). Sablefish is managed with a coast-wide ACL that is apportioned north and south of 36° N lat. with 73.8 percent going to the north and 26.2 percent going to the south. In 2019, the portion of the ACL for sablefish north of 36° N lat. is 5,606 mt with a fishery HG of 5,007 mt. The fishery HG north of 40°10′ N lat. is further divided between the limited entry and OA sectors with 90.6 percent, or 4,537 mt, going to the limited entry sector and 9.4 percent, or 471 mt, going to the OA sector. The 2019 portion of ACL for sablefish south of 36° N lat. is 1,990 mt with a fishery HG of 1,986 mt. South of 36° N lat., the fishery HG is further divided between the trawl (limited entry) and non-trawl (LEFG and OA) sectors with 42 percent or 834 mt going to the trawl sector, and the remaining 58 percent or 1,152 mt going to the fixed gear sector. At the June 2019 Council meeting, the GMT received requests from industry members and members of the GAP to examine the potential to increase sablefish trips limits for the OA fisheries north and south of 36° N lat. The intent of increasing trip limits is to increase harvest opportunities for vessels targeting sablefish in the OA fishery which have been trending low in recent years, particularly for OA south of 36° N lat. To evaluate potential increases to sablefish trip limits, the GMT made model-based landings projections under current regulations and alternative sablefish trip limits, including the limits ultimately recommended by the Council, for the OA fisheries through the remainder of the year. Table 2 shows the projected sablefish landings, the sablefish allocations, and the projected attainment percentage by fishery under both the current trip limits and the Council’s recommended adjusted trip limits. These projections were based on the most recent catch information available through late June 2019. Industry did not request changes to sablefish trip limits for the LEFG fishery south of 36° N lat. Therefore, NMFS and the Council did not consider trip limit changes for this fishery at this time. TABLE 2—PROJECTED LANDINGS OF SABLEFISH, SABLEFISH ALLOCATION, AND PROJECTED PERCENTAGE OF SABLEFISH ATTAINED THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR BY TRIP LIMIT AND FISHERY Trip limits OA North of 36° N lat ............ Current: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), not to exceed 2,400 lb (1,089 kg)/2 months. Recommended: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (635 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb (1,179 kg)/2 months. OA South of 36° N lat ........... jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Projected landings (round weight) (mt) Fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 species compared to the impacts anticipated in the 2019–20 harvest specifications because the projected impacts to those species assume that the entire sablefish ACL is harvested. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the OA sablefish fishery north of 36° N lat. to increase the limits from ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), not to exceed 2,400 lb (1,089 kg) per two months’’ to ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (590 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb (1,179 kg) per two months’’ starting with period 4 (July through August) through the end of the year. The trip limits for sablefish in the OA sablefish fishery south of 36° N lat. will increase from ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), not to exceed 3,200 lb (907 kg) per two months’’ to ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), not to PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Projected percentage attained 303.9–418.4 449 67.7–93.1 352.8–497.3 ........................ 78.6–110.7 23.7 338 7.0 23.7 ........................ 7.0 Current: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), not to exceed 3,200 lb (1,451 kg)/2 months. Recommended: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), not to exceed 4,800 lb (2,177 kg)/2 months. As shown in Table 2, under the current trip limits, the model predicts catches of sablefish will be at or below 94 percent for OA fishery north of 36° N lat. and around seven percent for OA south of 36° N lat. Under the Council’s recommended trip limits, sablefish attainment is projected to increase in the OA fisheries north of 36° N lat. up to 110.7 percent. However, to date in 2019, the model has overestimated landings by an average of 38 percent. Assuming this trend continues for 2019, the percentage attainment would likely be closer to the lower bound (78.6 percent or 352.8 mt) for OA north of 36° N lat. Due to a lack of participation and variance in trip limits in the OA fishery south of 36° N lat., the model was unable to detect any estimated change in attainment for this fishery even with the proposed increase in trip limits. Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase attainment of the non-trawl HG. The proposed trip limit increases do not change projected impacts to co-occurring overfished Allocation (mt) exceed 4,800 lb (1,179 kg) per two months’’ beginning in period 4 (July through August) through the end of the year. Increase Incidental Halibut Retention in the Limited Entry Fixed Gear Sablefish Primary Fishery The Council developed a Catch Sharing Plan for the International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 2A, as provided for in the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. The Catch Sharing Plan allocates the Area 2A annual total allowable catch (TAC) among fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California. Pacific halibut is generally a prohibited species for vessels fishing in Pacific coast groundfish fisheries, unless explicitly allowed in groundfish regulations. In years where the Pacific halibut TAC is above 900,000 lb (408 mt), the Catch Sharing Plan recommends the sablefish primary fishery an incidental retention limit for Pacific halibut north of Point Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N lat.). On E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations April 29, 2019, NMFS implemented a 2019 Area 2A TAC of 1,500,000 lb (680.4 mt) the and a 2019 incidental catch limit of 70,000 lb (31.8 mt) for the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (84 FR 17960; April 29, 2019). Current regulations at § 660.231(b)(3)(iv) provide for halibut retention by vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery from April 1 through October 31 with a landing ratio of 200 lb (91 kg) dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed, and up to an additional two halibut in excess of this ratio. These limits, recommended by the Council at its September 2018 meeting, and subsequently implemented by NMFS on October 9, 2018 (83 FR 50510), were intended to allow the total catch of Pacific halibut to approach, but not exceed, the 2018 allocation for the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, Washington (WA) and provide greater opportunity for industry to attain a higher percentage of the sablefish primary fishery allocation. Even after NMFS increased the halibut to sablefish ratio, the sablefish primary fishery only took 43,716 net weight (nt. wt.) lb (19,829 kg), or 87 percent of their Pacific halibut incidental catch limit in 2018. As of the June 2019 Council meeting, the GMT was informed that the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA had taken 5,881 nt. wt. lb of the 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) allowance for Pacific halibut. Under the current ratio, projected halibut landings in the sablefish primary fishery for 2019 are 47,878 nt. wt. lb, or 68.4 percent of the 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) allowance. Therefore, industry requested the GMT analyze the potential to increase the landing ratio for Pacific halibut in the sablefish primary fishery. The GMT analyzed two alternatives for the Council to consider. Alternative 1 would increase the ratio from 200 lb (91 kg) dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed to 220 lb (100 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and would maintain the same two halibut allowance beyond the ratio. Under alternative 1, projected attainment of Pacific halibut in the sablefish primary fishery would be 72.4 percent or 50,694 lb (22,994 kg); an increase of 4 percent or 2,816 lb (1,277 kg) of Pacific halibut. Under Alternative 2, the ratio would increase further to 250 lb (113 kg) dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and would maintain the same two halibut VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 allowance beyond the ratio, resulting in projected attainment of 54,214 lb (24,591 kg) or 77.4 percent of the 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) allocation. Therefore, in order to allow increased incidental halibut catch in the sablefish primary fishery, the Council recommended and NMFS is revising incidental halibut retention regulations at § 660.231(b)(3)(iv) to increase the catch ratio to ‘‘250 lb (113 kg) dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to two additional halibut in excess of the 250 lb (113 kg) per 1,000 lb (454 kg) ratio per landing.’’ This increase would allow total catch of Pacific halibut to approach, but not exceed, the 2019 allocation for the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chelais, WA (70,000 lb [31,751 kg] or 68.4 mt) and provide greater opportunity for industry to attain a higher percentage of the sablefish primary fishery allocation. Classification This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations. This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection by contacting Karen Palmigiano in NMFS West Coast Region (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or view at the NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/index.html. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document ease restrictive trip limits and retention limits on commercial fisheries in Washington, Oregon, and California. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the final rule for the 2019–2020 harvest specifications and management measures which published on December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970). At its June 2019 meetings, the Council recommended increases to the commercial trip limits be implemented as soon as possible so that harvesters may be able to take advantage of these higher limits before the end of their PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 37783 fishing year, which for vessels in the primary sablefish fishery is October 31 and for other fisheries is the end of the calendar year. Each of the adjustments to commercial management measures in this rule will create more harvest opportunity and allow fishermen to better attain species that are currently under attained without causing any additional impacts to the fishery. Each of these recommended adjustments also rely on new catch data that were not available and thus not considered during the 2019–2020 biennial harvest specifications process. New catch information through the end of the 2018 fishing year shows that attainment of these target species (sablefish, Pacific halibut, bocaccio, and big skate) has been below their respective management points (i.e., HG, ACL, and non-trawl allocation) in 2018 and would likely remain below their state catch targets under status quo limits in 2019 and 2020. These adjustments to management measures could provide up to an additional $1 million in ex-vessel revenue to harvesters; the majority of which would come from increasing trip limits in the sablefish primary fishery (about $800,000). Increasing the big skate trip limits could provide an additional $48,000 in revenue to harvesters. Increasing Pacific halibut retention in the primary sablefish fishery is likely to provide an additional $34,000 in ex-vessel revenue, while an additional up to $11,000 in revenue is expected, dependent upon the price, for the increase in bocaccio trip limits. Additional economic benefits would also be seen for processors and the fishing support businesses; however, these are more difficult to quantify. Delaying implementation to allow for public comment would likely reduce the economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry and the businesses that rely on that industry because much of the fishing season would be over before the new regulations could be implemented. For example, the primary sablefish fishery takes place from April 15 to October 31. If the notice and comment rulemaking process took 90 days to complete, the increase in the Pacific halibut ratio would only be in place for 1–2 months not allowing for the full economic benefit of the proposed action. Therefore, providing a comment period for this action could significantly limit the economic benefits to the fishery, and would hamper the achievement of optimum yield from the affected fisheries. Therefore, the NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 37784 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES this final rule may become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving participants of the more restrictive trip limits. These adjustments were requested by the Council’s advisory bodies, as well as members of industry during the Council’s June 2019 meetings, and recommended unanimously by the Council. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 and management measures established through a notice and comment rulemaking for 2019–2020 (82 FR 63970). PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. Dated: July 30, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. ■ ■ 2. Revise Tables 1 (North) and 1 (South) to part 660, subpart D to read as follows: BILLING CODE 3510–22–P For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 37785 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 1 (North) to Part 660, Subpart D -- Limited Entry Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Landing Allowances for non-IFQ Species and Pacific Whiting North of 40°10' N. Lat. This table describes Rockfish Conservation Areas for vessels using groundfish trawl gear. This table describes incidental landing allowances for vessels registered to a Federal limited entry trawl permit and using groundfish trawl or groundfish non-trawl gears to harvest individual fishing quota (IFQ) species. Other Limits and Requirements Apply-- Read§ 660.10- § 660.399 before using this table I JAN-FEB I MAR-APR MAY-JUN 07/25/2019 I JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : 1 North of 45°46' N. lat. 100fm line 11 -150fm line 11 2 45"46' N. lat. - 40°10' N. lat. 100 fm line" - modified 21 200 fm line" See provisions at § 660.130 for gear restrictions and requirements by area. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish non-trawl gears , under gear switching provisions at § 660.140, are subject to the limited entry groundfish trawl fishery landing allowances in this table, regardless of the type of fishing gear used. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish non-trawl gears , under gear switching provisions at§ 660.140, are subject to the limited entry fixed gear non-trawl RCA, as described in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E. -1 )> See§ 660.60, § 660.130, and§ 660.140 for Additional Gear, Trip Limit, and Conservation Area Requirements and Restrictions. See§§ 660.70 660.74 and§§ 660.76-660.79 for Conservation Area Descriptions and Coordinates (including RCAs, YRCA, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictive than federal trip limits , particularly in waters off Oregon and California. Minor Nearshore Rockfish, Washington 3 Black rockfish & Oregon Black/blue/deacon rockfish ....Jo, 300 lb/ month 4 1Whiting 31 5 midwater trawl Before the primary whiting season: CLOSED . -- During the primary season: mid-water trawl permitted in the RC A See §660.131 for season and trip limit details . -- Mer the primary whiting season : CLOSED . ··------·-----------·-·------------·----- ------·-·-----------·-·------------·-·-·----------·-----------·-·-·-·-·-------------·-------·-·-·-·-·-·- 6 large & small footrope gear Before the primary whiting season : 20,000 lb/trip. -- During the primary season : 10,000 lb/trip. -Mer the primary whiting season: 10,000 lb/trip. 7 Oregon Cabezon/Kelp Greenling complex 50 lb/ month 8 Cabezon in California 50 lb/ month 9 Shortbelly rockfish -z 0 ""' ..... ::::T Unlimited 10 Spiny dogfish 60,000 lb/ month 5,000 lb/ 2 months 11 Big skate I 25,000 lb/ 2 months I 30.000 lb/ 2 months 12 Longnose skate 13 Other Fish m rm I 70.000 lb/ 2 months I 20,000 lb/ 2 months I 20,000 lb/ 2 months Unlimited 41 Unlimited 1/ The Rockfish Conservation Area is an area closed to fishing by particular gear types , bounded by lines specifically defined by latitude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71 -660.74. This RC A is not defined by depth contours , and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to the RC A restrictions may not fish in the RC A, or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting. 2/ The "modified" fathom lines are modified to exclude certain petrale sole areas from the RC A 3/ As specified at §660.131(d), when fishing in the Eureka Area, no more than 10,000 lb of whiting may be taken and retained, possessed , or landed by a vessel that, at any time during the fishing trip, fished in the fishery management area shoreward of 100 fm contour. 41 "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling off California and leopard shark. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.000</GPH> jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. 37786 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 1 (South) to Part 660, Subpart D -- Limited Entry Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Landing Allowances for non-IFQ Species and Pacific Whiting South of 40.10' N. Lat. Th is table describes Rockfish Conservation Areas for vessels using groundfish trawl gear. This table describes incidental landing allowances for vessels registered to a Federal limited entry trawl permit and using groundfish trawl or groundfish non-trawl gears to harvest individual fishing quota (IFQ) species. Other Limits and Requirements Apply-- Read§ 660.10- § 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB MAR-APR MAY-JUN 07/25/2019 JUL-AUG SEP-OCT NOV-DEC Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : South of 40"10' N. lat. 100 fm line"- 150 fm line 1121 See provisions at § 660.130 for gear restrictions and requirements by area. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish non-trawl gears, under gear switching provisions at § 660.140, are subject to the limited entry groundfish trawl fishery landing allowances in this table, regardless of the type of fishing gear used. Vessels fishing groundfish trawl quota pounds with groundfish nontrawl gears, under gear switching provisions at§ 660.140, are subject to the limited entry fixed gear non-trawl RCA, as described in Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E. See§ 660.60, § 660.130, and§ 660.140 for Additional Gear, Trip Limit, and Conservation Area Requirements and Restrictions. See§§ 660.70 660.74 and§§ 660.76-660.79 for Conservation Area Descriptions and Coordinates (including RCAs, YRCA, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). -1 State trip limits and seasons may be more restrictive than federal trip limits, particularly in waters off Oregon and California. )> m 1321Longspine . ..................... .thornyhead . . . . . . . . ..... .......... .......... ...... . ................... 31 South of 34. 27' N. lat. r- 24 ,000 lb/ 2 months m Minor Nearshore Rockfish, California 4 Black rockfish, & Oregon 300 lb/ month -en Black/Blue/Deacon rockfish 5 Whiting 6 midwater trawl 7 large & small footrope gear During the Primary whiting season : allowed seaward of the trawl RCA Prohibited within and shoreward of the trawl RCA 0 s:::: Before the primary whiting season : 20,000 lb/trip. --During the primary season : 10,000 lb/trip.After the primary whiting season : 10,000 lb/trip. 8 Cabezon 50 lb/ month 9 Shortbelly rockfish ..... - ::::r Unlimited 10 Spiny dogfish 60,000 lb/ month 5,000 lb/ 2 months 11 Big skate 25,000 lb/ 2 months 30,000 lb/ 2 months 70,000 lb/ 2 months 12 Longnose skate Unlimited 13 California scorpionfish Unlimited 14 Other Fish Unlimited 31 20,000 lb/ 2 months 20,000 lb/ 2 months 1/ The Rockfish Conservation Area is an area closed to fishing by particular gear types , bounded by lines specifically defined by latitude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71 -660.74. This RC A is not defined by depth contours , and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to the RCA restrictions may not fish in the RC A, or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting. 2/ South of 34. 27' N. lat. , the RCA is 100 fm line- 150 fm line along the mainland coast; shoreline- 150 fm line around islands. 3/ "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling off California and leopard shark. BILLING CODE 3510–22–C * * * * * 3. In § 660.231, revise paragraph (b)(3)(iv) to read as follows: jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES ■ § 660.231 Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery. * * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 (3) * * * (iv) Incidental Pacific halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N lat.). From April 1 through October 31, vessels authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in Area 2A (waters PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46°53.30′ N lat.) may possess and land up to the following cumulative limits: 250 pounds (113 kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.001</GPH> To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES the 250-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing. ‘‘Dressed’’ Pacific halibut in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on. Pacific halibut taken and retained in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 37787 4. Revise Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E to read as follows: ■ BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 37788 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 2 (North) to Part 660, Subpart E ··Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear North of 40°10' N. lat. Other limits and requirements apply·· Read §§660.10 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB I MAR-APR I MAY-JUN I 07/25/2019 JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA)": 1 North of46.16' N.lat. 2 46.16' N. lat. - 42"00' N. lat. 30 fm line" - 100 fm line" 3 42"00' N. lat.- 40"10' N. lat. 30 fm line" - 100 fm line 11 shoreline - 100 fm line 11 See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more 4 5 Pacific ocean perch 6 Sable fish than Federal trip limits or seasons , particularl y in waters off Oregon and California. 4,000 lb/2 month 1,800 lb/ 2 months 1,300 lb/week, not to exceed 3,900 lb/ 2 months 7 Longspine thornyhead 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Shortspine thornyhead 16 restricti~.e Minor Slope Rockfish" & Darkblotched rockfish 10,000 lb/2 months I 2,000 lb/ 2 months Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry flounder, Other Flatfish" 2,500 lb/ 2 months 5,000 lb/ month -f South of 42° N. lat., when fishing for "other flatfish," vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks , which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line, are not subject to the RCAs . )> Whiting 10,000 lb/ trip Minor Shelf Rockfish", Shortbelly, & Widow rockfish 200 lb/ month 17 Yellowtail rockfish r m 1,000 lb/ month 18 Canary rockfish 1\) 300 lb/ 2 months 19 Yelloweye rockfish -z CLOSED Minor Nearshore Rockfish, Washington 20 Black rockfish & Oregon Black/blue/deacon rockfish North of 42°00' N. lat. 21 I]] 5,000 lb/ 2 months , no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish or blue/deacon rockfish" 0 ,... ""' ::::r 42"00' N. lat.- 40.10' N. lat. 22 8,500 lb/ 2 months , no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish 7,000 lb/ 2 months , no more than 1,500 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish - 23 ILingcod" 24 North of 42°00' N. lat. 25 42"00' N. lat.- 40.10' N. lat. 2,000 lb/ 2 months 1,400 lb/2 months 26 Pacific cod 1,000 lb/2 months 27 Spiny dogfish 200,000 lb/ 2 months 150.000 lb/2 months I 28 Longnose skate Unlimited 29 Other Fish"& Cabezon in California Unlimited 30 Oregon Cabezon/Kelp Greenling Unlimited 31 Big skate Unlimited 100,000 lb/2 months 1/ The Rockfish Conservat1on Area IS an area closed to f1sh1ng by part1cular gear types , bounded by l1nes specifically defined by lat1tude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71-660.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours (with the exception of the 20-fm depth contour boundary south of 42" N. lat.), and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA, or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting. 21 Bocaccio, chili pepper and cowcod are included in the trip limits for Mnor Shelf Rockfish and splitnose rockfish is included in the trip limits for Mnor Slope Rockfish. 3/ "Other flatfish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. 4/ For black rockfish north of Cape Alava (48°09.50' N. lat.) , and between Destruction Is. (4r 40' N. lat.) and Leadbetter Pnt. (46°38.17' N. lat. ), there is an additional limit of 100 lb or 30 percent by weight of all fish on board, whichever is greater, per vessel , per fishing trip. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.002</GPH> jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 51 The minimum size limrt for lingcod is 22 inches (56 em) total length North of 42" N. lat. and 24 inches (61 em) total length South of 42" N. lat. 6/ "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling off California and leopard shark. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. 37789 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 2 (South) to Part 660, Subpart E --Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Limited Entry Fixed Gear South of 40°10' N. lat. Other limits and requirements apply-- Read §§660 10 through 660 399 before using this table JAN-FEB I MAR-APR I MAY-JUN I Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : 1 40.10' N. lat. - 34.27' N. lat. I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC 40 fm line" - 125 fm line" South of 34.27' N. lat. 2 07/25/2019 JUL-AUG 75 fm line 11 - 150 fm line 11 (also applies around islands) See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restricti-.e than Federal trip limits or seasons , particularly in waters off Oregon and Califomia. Min or Slope rockfish" & Darkblotched rockfish 3 4 Splitnose rockfish 5 Sablefish 40,000 lb/2 months , of which no more than 1,375 lb may be blackaill rockfish 40,000 lb/2 months, of w hich no more than 4 ,000 lb may be blackgill rockfish 40,000 lb/ 2 months I 1,300 lb/week, not to exceed 3,900 lb/2 months 40' 10' N. lat.- 36' 00' N. lat. 6 I 2,000 lb/ week 7 South of 36' 00' N. lat. 8 Longspine thornyhead 10,000 lb/ 2 months 9 Shortspine thornyhead 2,000 lb/ 2 months 10 2,500 lb/ 2 months _____ j~1Q:_I'L!?_!,_:_ ~~~~ t'J - lat. 11 3,000 lb/ 2 months South of 34' 27' N. lat. 12 5,000 lb/ month 13 Dover sole , arrowtooth flounder, South of 42' N. lat. , w hen fishing for "other flatfish ," vessels using hook-a nd-line gear with no more 14 petrale sole, English sole, starry 15 than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks , w hich measure 0.44 in (1 1 16 flounder, Other Flatfish 3 1 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line, are not subject to the RCAs. 17 18 Whiting 10,000 lb/ trip I 19 Minor Shelf Rockfish 2 1, Shortbelly rockfish, Widow rockfish (including Chilipepper between 40' 10'- 34' 27' N . lat.) ••··~·~··~·~··•••"·~··~·~··~·~'"''W~o•"w••••••••"''~" "'" '"''"''"''"'' ~' " "'" ''"''"''"''~""'"'"''"''""""""~ 40' 10' N. lat.- 34' 27' N. lat. 20 21 South of 34' 27' N. lat. Minor shelf rockfish, shortbelly, widow rockfish, & chilipepper: 2,500 lb/2 months , of w hich no more than 500 lb may be any species other than chilipepper. 4 ,000 lb/2 months CLOSED 4,000 lb/ 2 months 22 Chilipepper 23 I 40.10' N. lat.- 34.27' N. lat. 24 Chilipepper included under minor shelf rockfish , shortbelly and widow rockfish limits-- See above 2,000 lb/ 2 months , this opportunity only available seaward of the non-trawl RCA South of 34' 27' N. lat. 25 Canary rockfish I 26 1 27 South of 34' 27' N. lat. 300 lb/2 CLOSED months 300 lb/ 2 months 28 Yelloweye rockfish 29 CLOSED Cowcod I 32 33 34 CLOSED South of 34.27' N. lat. 1,500 lb/2 months Shallow nearshore4 1 36 Deeper nearshore51 1,200 lb/2 months 1,000 lb/2 months 1,500 lb/2 months 200 lb/2 months 37 California Scorpionfish 38 Lingcod 61 IV - en -c: 1,500 lb/2 months 1,500 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,200 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,200 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,500 lb/ 2 months 1,200 lb/ 2 months CLOSED Pacific cod I 1,000 lb/ 2 months 40 Spiny dogfish 41 CLOSED m Minor Nearshore Rockfish, California Black rockfish, & Oregon Black/Blue/Deacon rockfish 35 1 39 I 1, 000 lb/ 2 months 40.10' N. lat.- 34.27' N. lat. r ::::T CLOSED 30 Bronzespotted rockfish 31 Bocaccio m 0 300 lb/ 2 months 40.10' N. lat.- 34.27' N. lat. -I )> 200,000 lb/2 months 150.000 lb/2 months Longnose skate 100,000 lb/2 months Unlimited Unlimited 42 Other Fish 7 1 & Cabezon in California 43 Big Skate Unlimited 1/ The Rockfish Conservation Area IS an area closed to f1sh1ng by part1cular gear types , bounded by lines spec1f1cally def1ned by lat1tude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71-660.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours (with the exception of the 20-fm depth contour boundary south of 42° N. lat.), and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting . 2/ POP is included in the trip limits for Minor Slope Rockfish . Blackgill rockfish have a species specific trip sub-limit within the Minor Slope Rockfish cumulative limit. Yellowtail rockfish are included in the trip limits for Minor Shelf Rockfish. Bronzes potted rockfish have a species specific trip limit. 3/ "Other Flatfish" are defined at§ 660 .11 and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. 4/ "Shallow Nearshore" are defined at§ 660.11 under "Groundfish" (7)(i)(B)(1 ). 5/ "Deeper Nearshore" are defined at§ 660.11 under "Groundfish" (7)(i)(B)(2). 71 "Other Fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling off California and leopard shark. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram 5. Revise Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F to read as ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 follows: PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.003</GPH> jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 61 The commercial mimimum size limit for lingcod is 24 inches (61 em) total length South of 42° N. lat. 37790 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 3 (North) to Part 660, Subpart F --Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears North of 40°10' N. lat. Other limits and requirements apply·· Read §§660.10 through 660.399 before using this table JAN-FEB I I MAR-APR MAY-JUN 07/10/2019 I JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : shoreline- 100 fm line11 1 North of 46°16' N. lat. 2 46°16' N. lat. • 4i 00' N. lat. 30 fm line 11 • 100 fm line 11 4i 00' N. lat. - 40°10' N. lat. 30 fm line 11 - 100 fm line11 3 See §§660.60, 660.330 and 660.333 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Bank, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restricti\e than Federal trip limits or seasons. particularty in waters off Oregon and Califomia. Minor Slope Rockfish 21 & 4 Darkblotched rockfish 500 pounds/month 5 Pacific ocean perch 100 lb/ month 300 lb/ day; or one landing per week up to 1,200 lb. not 1300 lb/ day; or one landing per week up to 1,400 to exceed 2,400 lb/ 2 months lb, not to exceed 2,800 lb/ 2 months 6 Sable fish 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Shortpine thornyheads Longspine thornyheads 50 lb/ month 50 lb/ month 3,000 lb/ month, no more than 300 lb of which may be species other than Pacific sanddabs . Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry South of 42° N. lat. , when fishing for "Other Flatfish," vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks , which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to the RCAs. flounder, Other Flatfish 31 15 Whiting 300 lb/ month 21 16 Minor Shelf Rockfish , Shortbelly rockfish, & Widow rockfish 200 lb/ month 17 Yellowtail rockfish 500 lb/ month 18 Canary rockfish (,.) -z CLOSED 20 Minor Nearshore Rockfish, Washington Black rockfish, & Oregon Black/Blue/Deacon rockfish 21 5,000 lb/ 2 months , no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish or blue/deacon rockfish North of 4i 00' N. lat. m r m 300 lb/ 2 months 19 Yelloweye rockfish -I )> ......0 :r 8,500 lb/ 2 months, no more than 1,200 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish 4i 00' N. lat. - 40°10' N. lat. ~l.illg~gst.~~··-··---- ···-··-··-··24 North of 4i 00' N. lat. 25 4i 00' N. lat. - 40°10' N. lat. 900 lb/ month 1,000 lb/ 2 months 200,000 lb/ 2 months 27 Spiny dogfish 150.000 lb/ 2 months I 28 Longnose skate 29 Big skate Unlimited 30 Other Fish61 & Cabezon in California Unlimited 31 Oregon Cabezon/Kelp Greenling Unlimited VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 - 600 lb/ month 26 Pacific cod jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 7,000 lb/ 2 months , no more than 1,500 lb of which may be species other than black rockfish 100,000 lb/ 2 months Unlimited Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.004</GPH> 22 37791 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 3 (Norlh) . Continued 0712512019 32 SALMON TROLL (subject to RCAs l'ilen retaining all species of groundfish, except for yellov.tail rockfish and lingcod, as described belov.j -t )> Salmon trollers may retain and land up to 1 lb of yellowtail rockfi sh for every 2 lbs of salmon landed, with a cumulative limit of 200 lb/month, both within and outside of the RCA. Thi s limit is within the 200 lb per month combined limit for minor shelf rockfi sh, widow rockfish and yellowtail rockfi sh, and not in addition to that limit. Salmon trollers may retain and land up to 1 lingcod per 5 Chinook per trip, plus 1 lingcod per trip, up to a trip limit of 10 lingcod, on a trip where any fishing occurs within the RCA. This limit onl y applies during times when lingcod retention is allowed, and is not "CLOSED." Thi s limit is within the per month limit for lingcod described in the table above, and not in addition to that limit. A ll groundfish species are subject to the open access limits, seasons, size limits and RCA restrictions listed in the table above, unles s otherwise stated here. 33 North 34 PINK SHRIMP NON-GROUNDFISH TRAWL (not subject to RCAs) m w -z -0 Ellective April 1 -October 31 : Groundfish: 500 lb/day , multiplied by the number of day s of the trip, not to exceed 1,500 lb/trip. The following sublimits also apply and are counted toward the overall 500 lb/day and 1,500 lb/trip groundfish limits: lingcod 300 lb/month (minimum 24 inch size limit); sablefish 2,000 lb/month; canary , thomyheads and yelloweye rockfish are PROHIBITED. A ll other groundfish species taken are managed under the o\erall 500 lb/day and 1,500 lb/trip groundfish limits . Landings of these species count toward the per day and per trip groundfi sh limits and do not ha\e species-specific limits . The amount of groundfish landed may not exceed the amount of pink shrimp landed. 35 North IJJ r- ""'' :::r ( ") 0 ::I "'t c. 11 The Rockfish Conservation Area 1s an area closed to fish1ng by particular gear types , bounded by lines specifically defined by latitude and longitude coordinates set out at§§ 660.71-660.74. This RCA is not defined by depth contours (with the exception of the 20-fm depth contour boundary south of 42' N. lat.) , and the boundary lines that define the RCA may close areas that are deeper or shallower than the depth contour. Vessels that are subject to RCA restrictions may not fish in the RCA, or operate in the RCA for any purpose other than transiting. 21 Bocaccio, chili pepper and cowcod rockfishes are included in the trip limits for Minor Shelf Rockfish. Split nose rockfish is included in the trip limits for Minor Slope Rockfish. 31"Other flatfish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab, rex sole, rock sole, and sand sole. 41 For black rockfish north of Cape Alava (48°09.50' N. lat.), and between Destruction Is . (4J040' N. lat.) and Leadbetter Pnt. (46°38.17' N. lat.), there is an additional limit of 100 lbs or 30 percent by weight of all fish on board, whichever is greater, per vessel , per fishing trip. 51The minimum size limit for lingcod is 22 inches (56 em) total length North of 42° N. lat. and 24 inches (61 em) total length South of 42° N. lat. 61"Other fish" are defined at§ 660.11 and include kelp greenling off California and leopard shark. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.005</GPH> jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.20462, the number of pounds in one kilogram. 37792 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Table 3 (South) to Part 660, Subpart F --Non-Trawl Rockfish Conservation Areas and Trip Limits for Open Access Gears South of 40°10' N. lat. 07/25/2019 Other limits and requirements apply·· Read §§660.10 through 660.399 before using this table MAR-APR MAY-JUN JAN-FEB I JUL-AUG I SEP-OCT I NOV-DEC Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) 11 : 1 40"10' N. lat. · 34"27' N. lat. 40 fm line" - 125 fm line" 2 South of 34.27' N. lat. 75 fm line 11 - 150 fm line 11(also applies around islands) See §§660.60 and 660.230 for additional gear, trip limit and conservation area requirements and restrictions. See §§660.70-660.74 and §§660.76-660.79 for conservation area descriptions and coordinates (including RCAs, YRCAs, CCAs, Farallon Islands, Cordell Banks, and EFHCAs). State trip limits and seasons may be more restri cti\e than Federal trip limits or seasons , parti cularl y in waters off Oregon and California. Minor Slope Rockfish 21 & 3 Darkblotched rockfish 10,000 lb/ 2 months , of which no more than 475 lb may be blackgill rockfish 4 Splitnose rockfish 10,000 lb/ 2 months , of which no more than BOO lb may be blackgill rockfish 200 lb/ month 5 Sablefish 6 40.10' N. lat.- 36.00' N. lat. 300 lb/ day; or one landing per week up to 1,200 lb, not to exceed 2,400 lb/ 2 months 300 lb/ day; or one landing per week up to 1,400 lb, not to exceed 2,800 lb/ 2 months 7 South of 36.00' N. lat. 300 lb/ day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb, not to exceed 3,200 lb/ 2 months 300 lb/ day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb, not to exceed 4,800 lb/ 2 months 8 Shortpine thornyheads and longspine thornyheads 9 40.10' N. lat.- 34' 27' N. lat. 10 South of 34.27' N. lat. c1!~ ~ 14 50 lb/ day, no more than 1,000 lb/ 2 months 3,000 lb/ month, no more than 300 lb of which may be species other than Pacific sanddabs . Dover sole, arrowtooth flounder, petrale sole, English sole, starry '15 flounder, Other Flatfish31 '16 South of 42° N. lat. , when fishing for "other flatfish," vessels using hook-and-line gear with no more than 12 hooks per line, using hooks no larger than "Number 2" hooks , which measure 0.44 in (11 mm) point to shank, and up to two 1 lb (0.45 kg) weights per line are not subject to the RCAs . 17 Whiting 18 -i )> CLOSED Minor Shelf Shortbelly, Widow rockfish and Chilipepper 40.10' N. lat.- 34.27' N. lat. 20 South of 34.27' N. lat. 21 Canary rockfish 400 lb/ 2 months 1,500 lb/ 2 months 300 lb/ 2 months 400 lb/ 2 months 1,500 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 300 lb/ 2 months - C/) CLOSED s::::: ,.... ::::r - CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED 500 lb/ 2 months m 0 CLOSED 22 Yelloweye rockfish 23 Cowcod 24 Bronzespotted rockfish 25 Bocaccio r w 300 lb/ month Rockfish 21 , 19 llJ 500 lb/ 2 months 26 Minor Nearshore Rockfish, California Black rockfish, & Oregon Black/Blue/Deacon rockfish 27 Shallow nearshore41 1,200 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,200 lb/ 2 months 28 Deeper nearshore 51 1,000 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,200 lb/ 2 months 1,500 lb/ 2 months CLOSED 1,500 lb/ 2 months 300 lb/ month CLOSED 30 31 Pacific cod Lingcod 61 32 Spiny dogfish 200,000 lb/ 2 months 500 lb/ month 1,000 lb/ 2 months 150,000 lb/ 2 months jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 33 Longnose skate 34 Big skate 35 Other Fish 71 & Cabezon in California VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 100,000 lb/ 2 months Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.006</GPH> 29 California scorpionfish Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 37793 [FR Doc. 2019–16554 Filed 7–30–19; 4:15 pm] VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:58 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\02AUR1.SGM 02AUR1 ER02AU19.007</GPH> jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–C

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 149 (Friday, August 2, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 37780-37793]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-16554]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 180625576-8999-02]
RIN 0648-BJ11


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019-2020 Biennial Specifications and 
Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments

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

ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish 
management measures.

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SUMMARY: This final rule announces routine inseason adjustments to 
management measures in commercial groundfish fisheries. This action is 
intended to allow commercial fishing vessels to access more abundant 
groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks.

DATES: This final rule is effective August 2, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Palmigiano, phone: 206-526-4491 
or email: [email protected].

Electronic Access

    This rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the 
Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background 
information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery 
Management Council's website at http://www.pcouncil.org/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and 
its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for 
over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and 
California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops 
groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for two-year 
periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement 
harvest specifications and management measures for the 2019-2020 
biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on December 12, 2018 
(83 FR 63970). In general, the management measures set at the start of 
the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of 
the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. 
The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes 
and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends 
adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to 
achieve this goal.
    At its June 19-25, 2019 meeting, the Council recommended four 
adjustments to the 2019 commercial groundfish fishery management 
measures, including: (1) Increasing the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) 
trip limits for bocaccio between 40[deg]10' North latitude (N lat.) and 
34[deg]27' N lat.; (2) increasing the shorebased individual fishing 
quota (IFQ) fishery trip limits for big skate; (3) increasing the open 
access (OA) trip limits for sablefish both north and south of 36[deg] N 
lat., and (4) increasing the amount of Pacific halibut that vessels in 
the sablefish primary fishery north of Point Chehalis may take 
incidentally.
    Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries are managed using harvest 
specifications or limits (e.g., overfishing limits [OFL], acceptable 
biological catch [ABC], annual catch limits [ACL] and harvest 
guidelines [HG]) recommended biennially by the Council and based on the 
best scientific information available at that time (50 CFR 660.60(b)). 
During development of the harvest specifications, the Council also 
recommends mitigation measures (e.g., trip limits, area closures, and 
bag limits) that are meant to mitigate catch so as not to exceed the 
harvest specifications. The harvest specifications and mitigation 
measures developed for the 2019-2020 biennium used data through the 
2017 fishing year. Each of the adjustments to mitigation measures 
discussed below are based on updated fisheries information that was 
unavailable when the analysis for the current harvest specifications 
was completed. As new fisheries data becomes available, adjustments to 
mitigation measures are projected so as to help harvesters achieve but 
not exceed the harvest limits.

LEFG Trip Limits for Bocaccio Between 40[deg]10' N Lat. and 34[deg]27' 
N Lat.

    Bocaccio is managed with stock-specific harvest specifications 
south of 40[deg]10' N lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex 
north of 40[deg]10' N lat. NMFS declared bocaccio overfished in 1999, 
and implemented a rebuilding plan for the stock in 2000. NMFS declared 
bocaccio officially rebuilt in 2017. New, higher catch limits resulting 
from their rebuilt status were implemented for bocaccio for the first 
time in 2019. For example, the non-trawl allocation of bocaccio 
increased from 442.3 mt in 2018 to 1,250 mt in 2019.
    For 2019, the bocaccio ACL south of 40[deg]10' N lat. is 2,097 mt 
with a fishery HG of 2,051 mt. The non-trawl allocation is 1,250 mt. 
The supporting analysis for the 2019-2020 harvest specifications used 
landings data through the 2017 fishing year to determine appropriate 
mitigation measures (e.g., commercial trip limits and recreational bag 
limits) to ensure catch reaches but does not exceed the bocaccio ACL 
for south of 40[deg]10' N lat.

[[Page 37781]]

At the June 2019 Council meeting, members of the Groundfish Advisory 
SubPanel (GAP) notified the Council and the Groundfish Management Team 
(GMT) of increased interactions with bocaccio for vessels targeting 
chilipepper rockfish. The current trip limits for bocaccio between 
40[deg]10' N lat. and 34[deg]27' N lat., coupled with these increased 
interactions, can result in higher bocaccio discard rates in the LEFG 
fishery. Because the most recent bocaccio attainment estimates for 2019 
suggest that around 11 percent or 134.6 mt of bocaccio will be attained 
out of the 1,250 mt non-trawl allocation for south of 40[deg]10' N 
lat., the GAP requested the GMT examine potential increases to the 
bocaccio trip limits for the LEFG fishery only between 40[deg]10' N 
lat. and 34[deg]27' N lat. The GMT did not receive a request to examine 
trip limit increases for bocaccio south of 34[deg]27' N lat.
    To assist the Council in evaluating potential trip limit increases 
for bocaccio between 40[deg]10' N lat. and 34[deg]27' N lat., the GMT 
analyzed projected attainment under the current status quo trip limit 
of 1,000 pounds (lb) (454 kilograms [kg]) per two months and under the 
proposed trip limit increase, 1,500 lb (680 kg) per two months, and 
compared it to the projected catch in the analysis for the 2019-20 
harvest specifications. In 2018, when the bocaccio trip limits were 
established for the 2019-20 harvest specifications, bocaccio had only 
just been rebuilt and few data points existed to provide projected 
annual catch data under the current trip limits. Based on that limited 
data, at the time, boccacio catch in the non-trawl commercial fishery 
between 40[deg]10' N lat. and 34[deg]27' N lat. was projected to be 
around 4.5 mt of the 1,250-mt non-trawl allocation.
    The GMT updated the projected attainments under the current status 
quo trip limits and examined potential impacts under alternative trip 
limits with additional catch data from the 2017 and 2018 fishing years. 
Based on updated model projections under the current status quo trip 
limit of 1,000 lb (454 kg) per two months, total coastwide bocaccio 
catch in the LEFG and OA fisheries is projected to be 134.6 mt, or 11 
percent of the non-trawl HG and six percent of the bocaccio ACL for 
south of 40[deg]10' N lat. Increasing the trip limits to 1,500 lb (680 
kg) per two months for the remainder of the fishing year for vessels 
fishing in the LEFG fishery in the area between 40[deg]10' N lat. and 
34[deg]27' N lat., which would align them with the trip limits already 
in place south of 34[deg]27' N lat., is projected to increase total 
mortality by less than 0.1 mt, and the overall total mortality of 
bocaccio is projected to remain at around 11 percent of the non-trawl 
HG and four percent of the ACL south of 40[deg]10' N lat.
    Trip limit increases for bocaccio are intended to allow for 
increased attainment of the non-trawl allocation (1,250 mt), while also 
providing the incentive for vessels targeting co-occurring species, 
such as chilipepper rockfish, to land their bocaccio catch instead of 
discarding. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS is 
implementing, by modifying Table 2 (South) to part 660, Subpart E, an 
increase to the bocaccio trip limits for the LEFG fishery between 
40[deg]10' N lat. and 34[deg]27' N lat. The trip limits for bocaccio in 
this area will increase from ``1,000 lb (454 kg) per per two months'' 
to ``1,500 lb (680 kg) per two months'' beginning in period 4 (July-
August) through the end of the year.

Shorebased IFQ Fishery Trip Limits for Big Skate

    Previously managed as an ecosystem component species, big skate was 
moved ``into the fishery'' through the 2017-18 harvest specifications 
because large landings off Oregon suggested vessels in the Pacific 
Coast groundfish fishery are targeting big skate. Big skate is the only 
non-IFQ species managed coast-wide with bimonthly trip limits in the 
IFQ fishery. For 2019, the ACL for big skate is 494 mt with a fishery 
harvest guideline of 452 mt. The trawl allocation is 95 percent or 
429.5 mt. An additional 41 mt was deducted from the trawl allocation to 
account for bycatch in the at-sea sector and shorebased IFQ discard 
mortality resulting in a landing target of 388.5 mt for the trawl 
sector. Current trip limits for big skate for vessels in the IFQ 
fishery can be found in Table 1.

                                                Table 1--Big Skate Trip Limits for the 2019 Fishing Year
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Jan-Feb                        Mar-Apr                 May-Jun                Jul-Aug                Sep-Oct                Nov-Dec
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5,000 lb (2,258 kg)/2 months.......  25,000 lb (11,340 kg))/ 30,000 lb (13,608 kg)/  35,000 lb (15,876 kg)/ 10,000 lb (4,536 kg)/  5,000 lb (2,258 kg)/2
                                      2 months.               2 months.               2 months.              2 months.              months.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the June 2019 Council meeting, the GAP requested the Council 
consider increasing the big skate trip limits due to lower than 
projected catch in 2019, which industry suggested is likely due to 
several fishermen who targeted big skate retiring in recent years. 
During development of the 2019-20 harvest specifications, the GMT 
analysis used relatively high 2016-2017 landings and projected 
attainment would be around 98 percent of the landings targets in 2019. 
However, landings decreased dramatically in 2018 (218 mt out of 494 mt 
ACL with the shorebased IFQ sector harvesting 128 mt) and the same 
trend has continued into 2019. Under the current trip limits (Table 1), 
landings as of late June 2019 were at 73.3 mt or 20 percent of the 
landing target (388.5 mt). If the current trend continues, landings are 
projected to be 160.4 mt of the 388.5 mt landing target by the end of 
the year due to continued low landings in the shorebased IFQ sector.
    Therefore, the GMT analyzed two alternatives that would allow the 
Council to increase trip limits for vessels targeting big skate in the 
IFQ fishery. Under Alternative 1, the trip limits for periods 4 (July 
and August), 5 (September and October), and 6 (November and December) 
would each increase by 10,000 lb (4,565 kg) which is projected to 
increase landings of big skate by 21.3 mt from 160.4 mt under the 
current limits to 181.7 mt. Under Alternative 2, big skate trip limits 
in periods 4 and 5 would increase by 100 percent of the current limit 
for each period and would increase by 300 percent for period 6 
resulting in a projected total attainment of 55 percent or 215.1 mt of 
the 388.5 mt target amount.
    Therefore, in order to maximize opportunities for vessels targeting 
big skate in the shorebased IFQ fishery, the Council recommended, and 
NMFS is implementing, by modifying Tables 1 (North and South) to part 
660, subpart D, the following trip limits for big skate in the IFQ 
program, for period 4: 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) per two months, period 5: 
20,000 lb (9,072 kg) per two months, and period 6: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) 
per two months.

OA Trip Limits for Sablefish North and South of 36[deg] N Lat.

    Sablefish is an important commercial species on the west coast with 
vessels targeting sablefish with both trawl and

[[Page 37782]]

fixed gear (longlines and pots/traps). Sablefish is managed with a 
coast-wide ACL that is apportioned north and south of 36[deg] N lat. 
with 73.8 percent going to the north and 26.2 percent going to the 
south. In 2019, the portion of the ACL for sablefish north of 36[deg] N 
lat. is 5,606 mt with a fishery HG of 5,007 mt. The fishery HG north of 
40[deg]10' N lat. is further divided between the limited entry and OA 
sectors with 90.6 percent, or 4,537 mt, going to the limited entry 
sector and 9.4 percent, or 471 mt, going to the OA sector. The 2019 
portion of ACL for sablefish south of 36[deg] N lat. is 1,990 mt with a 
fishery HG of 1,986 mt. South of 36[deg] N lat., the fishery HG is 
further divided between the trawl (limited entry) and non-trawl (LEFG 
and OA) sectors with 42 percent or 834 mt going to the trawl sector, 
and the remaining 58 percent or 1,152 mt going to the fixed gear 
sector.
    At the June 2019 Council meeting, the GMT received requests from 
industry members and members of the GAP to examine the potential to 
increase sablefish trips limits for the OA fisheries north and south of 
36[deg] N lat. The intent of increasing trip limits is to increase 
harvest opportunities for vessels targeting sablefish in the OA fishery 
which have been trending low in recent years, particularly for OA south 
of 36[deg] N lat. To evaluate potential increases to sablefish trip 
limits, the GMT made model-based landings projections under current 
regulations and alternative sablefish trip limits, including the limits 
ultimately recommended by the Council, for the OA fisheries through the 
remainder of the year. Table 2 shows the projected sablefish landings, 
the sablefish allocations, and the projected attainment percentage by 
fishery under both the current trip limits and the Council's 
recommended adjusted trip limits. These projections were based on the 
most recent catch information available through late June 2019. 
Industry did not request changes to sablefish trip limits for the LEFG 
fishery south of 36[deg] N lat. Therefore, NMFS and the Council did not 
consider trip limit changes for this fishery at this time.

 Table 2--Projected Landings of Sablefish, Sablefish Allocation, and Projected Percentage of Sablefish Attained
                              Through the End of the Year by Trip Limit and Fishery
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Projected                        Projected
              Fishery                       Trip limits          landings (round    Allocation      percentage
                                                                  weight) (mt)         (mt)          attained
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OA North of 36[deg] N lat.........  Current: 300 lb (136 kg)/        303.9-418.4             449       67.7-93.1
                                     day, or 1 landing per
                                     week of up to 1,200 lb
                                     (544 kg), not to exceed
                                     2,400 lb (1,089 kg)/2
                                     months.
                                    Recommended: 300 lb (136         352.8-497.3  ..............      78.6-110.7
                                     kg)/day, or 1 landing per
                                     week of up to 1,400 lb
                                     (635 kg), not to exceed
                                     2,800 lb (1,179 kg)/2
                                     months.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OA South of 36[deg] N lat.........  Current: 300 lb (136 kg)/               23.7             338             7.0
                                     day, or 1 landing per
                                     week of up to 1,600 lb
                                     (726 kg), not to exceed
                                     3,200 lb (1,451 kg)/2
                                     months.
                                    Recommended: 300 lb (136                23.7  ..............             7.0
                                     kg)/day, or 1 landing per
                                     week of up to 1,600 lb
                                     (726 kg), not to exceed
                                     4,800 lb (2,177 kg)/2
                                     months.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As shown in Table 2, under the current trip limits, the model 
predicts catches of sablefish will be at or below 94 percent for OA 
fishery north of 36[deg] N lat. and around seven percent for OA south 
of 36[deg] N lat. Under the Council's recommended trip limits, 
sablefish attainment is projected to increase in the OA fisheries north 
of 36[deg] N lat. up to 110.7 percent. However, to date in 2019, the 
model has overestimated landings by an average of 38 percent. Assuming 
this trend continues for 2019, the percentage attainment would likely 
be closer to the lower bound (78.6 percent or 352.8 mt) for OA north of 
36[deg] N lat. Due to a lack of participation and variance in trip 
limits in the OA fishery south of 36[deg] N lat., the model was unable 
to detect any estimated change in attainment for this fishery even with 
the proposed increase in trip limits.
    Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase 
attainment of the non-trawl HG. The proposed trip limit increases do 
not change projected impacts to co-occurring overfished species 
compared to the impacts anticipated in the 2019-20 harvest 
specifications because the projected impacts to those species assume 
that the entire sablefish ACL is harvested. Therefore, the Council 
recommended and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Table 3 (North) to 
part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the OA sablefish fishery 
north of 36[deg] N lat. to increase the limits from ``300 lb (136 kg) 
per day, or one landing per week up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), not to exceed 
2,400 lb (1,089 kg) per two months'' to ``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or 
one landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (590 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb 
(1,179 kg) per two months'' starting with period 4 (July through 
August) through the end of the year. The trip limits for sablefish in 
the OA sablefish fishery south of 36[deg] N lat. will increase from 
``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb 
(726 kg), not to exceed 3,200 lb (907 kg) per two months'' to ``300 lb 
(136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb (726 kg), 
not to exceed 4,800 lb (1,179 kg) per two months'' beginning in period 
4 (July through August) through the end of the year.

Increase Incidental Halibut Retention in the Limited Entry Fixed Gear 
Sablefish Primary Fishery

    The Council developed a Catch Sharing Plan for the International 
Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 2A, as provided for in the 
Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. The Catch Sharing Plan allocates 
the Area 2A annual total allowable catch (TAC) among fisheries off 
Washington, Oregon, and California. Pacific halibut is generally a 
prohibited species for vessels fishing in Pacific coast groundfish 
fisheries, unless explicitly allowed in groundfish regulations. In 
years where the Pacific halibut TAC is above 900,000 lb (408 mt), the 
Catch Sharing Plan recommends the sablefish primary fishery an 
incidental retention limit for Pacific halibut north of Point Chehalis, 
WA (46[deg]53.30' N lat.). On

[[Page 37783]]

April 29, 2019, NMFS implemented a 2019 Area 2A TAC of 1,500,000 lb 
(680.4 mt) the and a 2019 incidental catch limit of 70,000 lb (31.8 mt) 
for the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. 
Chehalis, WA (84 FR 17960; April 29, 2019).
    Current regulations at Sec.  660.231(b)(3)(iv) provide for halibut 
retention by vessels fishing in the sablefish primary fishery from 
April 1 through October 31 with a landing ratio of 200 lb (91 kg) 
dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight 
of sablefish landed, and up to an additional two halibut in excess of 
this ratio. These limits, recommended by the Council at its September 
2018 meeting, and subsequently implemented by NMFS on October 9, 2018 
(83 FR 50510), were intended to allow the total catch of Pacific 
halibut to approach, but not exceed, the 2018 allocation for the 
sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, Washington (WA) and 
provide greater opportunity for industry to attain a higher percentage 
of the sablefish primary fishery allocation. Even after NMFS increased 
the halibut to sablefish ratio, the sablefish primary fishery only took 
43,716 net weight (nt. wt.) lb (19,829 kg), or 87 percent of their 
Pacific halibut incidental catch limit in 2018.
    As of the June 2019 Council meeting, the GMT was informed that the 
sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis, WA had taken 5,881 nt. 
wt. lb of the 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) allowance for Pacific halibut. 
Under the current ratio, projected halibut landings in the sablefish 
primary fishery for 2019 are 47,878 nt. wt. lb, or 68.4 percent of the 
70,000 lb (31,751 kg) allowance. Therefore, industry requested the GMT 
analyze the potential to increase the landing ratio for Pacific halibut 
in the sablefish primary fishery. The GMT analyzed two alternatives for 
the Council to consider. Alternative 1 would increase the ratio from 
200 lb (91 kg) dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed to 220 lb (100 kg) dressed weight of 
halibut for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed 
and would maintain the same two halibut allowance beyond the ratio. 
Under alternative 1, projected attainment of Pacific halibut in the 
sablefish primary fishery would be 72.4 percent or 50,694 lb (22,994 
kg); an increase of 4 percent or 2,816 lb (1,277 kg) of Pacific 
halibut. Under Alternative 2, the ratio would increase further to 250 
lb (113 kg) dressed weight of halibut, for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and would maintain the same two 
halibut allowance beyond the ratio, resulting in projected attainment 
of 54,214 lb (24,591 kg) or 77.4 percent of the 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) 
allocation.
    Therefore, in order to allow increased incidental halibut catch in 
the sablefish primary fishery, the Council recommended and NMFS is 
revising incidental halibut retention regulations at Sec.  
660.231(b)(3)(iv) to increase the catch ratio to ``250 lb (113 kg) 
dressed weight of halibut for every 1,000 lb (454 kg) dressed weight of 
sablefish landed and up to two additional halibut in excess of the 250 
lb (113 kg) per 1,000 lb (454 kg) ratio per landing.'' This increase 
would allow total catch of Pacific halibut to approach, but not exceed, 
the 2019 allocation for the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. 
Chelais, WA (70,000 lb [31,751 kg] or 68.4 mt) and provide greater 
opportunity for industry to attain a higher percentage of the sablefish 
primary fishery allocation.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information 
available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and 
the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 and is exempt from review 
under Executive Order 12866.
    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available 
for public inspection by contacting Karen Palmigiano in NMFS West Coast 
Region (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or view at the 
NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/index.html.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior 
public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as 
notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document ease 
restrictive trip limits and retention limits on commercial fisheries in 
Washington, Oregon, and California. No aspect of this action is 
controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the final 
rule for the 2019-2020 harvest specifications and management measures 
which published on December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970).
    At its June 2019 meetings, the Council recommended increases to the 
commercial trip limits be implemented as soon as possible so that 
harvesters may be able to take advantage of these higher limits before 
the end of their fishing year, which for vessels in the primary 
sablefish fishery is October 31 and for other fisheries is the end of 
the calendar year. Each of the adjustments to commercial management 
measures in this rule will create more harvest opportunity and allow 
fishermen to better attain species that are currently under attained 
without causing any additional impacts to the fishery. Each of these 
recommended adjustments also rely on new catch data that were not 
available and thus not considered during the 2019-2020 biennial harvest 
specifications process. New catch information through the end of the 
2018 fishing year shows that attainment of these target species 
(sablefish, Pacific halibut, bocaccio, and big skate) has been below 
their respective management points (i.e., HG, ACL, and non-trawl 
allocation) in 2018 and would likely remain below their state catch 
targets under status quo limits in 2019 and 2020.
    These adjustments to management measures could provide up to an 
additional $1 million in ex-vessel revenue to harvesters; the majority 
of which would come from increasing trip limits in the sablefish 
primary fishery (about $800,000). Increasing the big skate trip limits 
could provide an additional $48,000 in revenue to harvesters. 
Increasing Pacific halibut retention in the primary sablefish fishery 
is likely to provide an additional $34,000 in ex-vessel revenue, while 
an additional up to $11,000 in revenue is expected, dependent upon the 
price, for the increase in bocaccio trip limits. Additional economic 
benefits would also be seen for processors and the fishing support 
businesses; however, these are more difficult to quantify. Delaying 
implementation to allow for public comment would likely reduce the 
economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry and the businesses 
that rely on that industry because much of the fishing season would be 
over before the new regulations could be implemented. For example, the 
primary sablefish fishery takes place from April 15 to October 31. If 
the notice and comment rulemaking process took 90 days to complete, the 
increase in the Pacific halibut ratio would only be in place for 1-2 
months not allowing for the full economic benefit of the proposed 
action. Therefore, providing a comment period for this action could 
significantly limit the economic benefits to the fishery, and would 
hamper the achievement of optimum yield from the affected fisheries.
    Therefore, the NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that

[[Page 37784]]

this final rule may become effective upon publication in the Federal 
Register. The adjustments to management measures in this document 
affect commercial fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving 
participants of the more restrictive trip limits. These adjustments 
were requested by the Council's advisory bodies, as well as members of 
industry during the Council's June 2019 meetings, and recommended 
unanimously by the Council. No aspect of this action is controversial, 
and changes of this nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest 
specifications and management measures established through a notice and 
comment rulemaking for 2019-2020 (82 FR 63970).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: July 30, 2019.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended 
as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


0
2. Revise Tables 1 (North) and 1 (South) to part 660, subpart D to read 
as follows:
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* * * * *

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


Sec.  660.231  Limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Incidental Pacific halibut retention north of Pt. Chehalis, WA 
(46[deg]53.30' N lat.). From April 1 through October 31, vessels 
authorized to participate in the sablefish primary fishery, licensed by 
the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial fishing in 
Area 2A (waters off Washington, Oregon, California), and fishing with 
longline gear north of Pt. Chehalis, WA (46[deg]53.30' N lat.) may 
possess and land up to the following cumulative limits: 250 pounds (113 
kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) 
dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific 
halibut in excess of

[[Page 37787]]

the 250-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing. ``Dressed'' Pacific 
halibut in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads 
on. Pacific halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery 
north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may 
not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis.
* * * * *

0
4. Revise Tables 2 (North) and 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E to read 
as follows:
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

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0
5. Revise Tables 3 (North) and 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F to read 
as follows:

[[Page 37790]]

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[FR Doc. 2019-16554 Filed 7-30-19; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-C