Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Management in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, 43576-43578 [2019-17907]

Download as PDF jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 43576 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 162 / Wednesday, August 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules midwater trawl vessels and other user groups. Amendment 8 would allow the inshore midwater trawl restricted area or new closures to address localized depletion and/or user group conflict to be modified or implemented via framework adjustment. The list of framework provisions at § 648.206 already includes closed areas; this amendment would add the inshore midwater trawl restricted area to that list. The Council’s recommendation to prohibit midwater trawling in inshore areas is an allocation decision intended to balance the needs of user groups and provide conservation benefits. Consistent with objectives in the Herring FMP, the proposed measure is intended to facilitate an efficient, fair, and equitable accommodation of social, economic, and ecological factors associated with achieving OY, in part by providing, to the extent practicable, controlled opportunities for participants in other New England and Mid-Atlantic fisheries. Because midwater trawl vessels historically harvested a larger percentage of herring than other gear types and are able to fish offshore, the Council recommended prohibiting them from inshore waters to help ensure herring was available inshore for other user groups and predators of herring. The proposed inshore midwater trawl restricted area is designed to be reasonably large enough to address the overlap between midwater trawl vessels and other user groups and, ultimately, user group conflict in inshore waters. This proposed measure is likely to negatively impact the midwater trawl fleet, with potentially increased trip costs and lower annual catches, but the Council believes that, on balance, the benefits to other user groups, such as potentially reduced trips costs, higher annual catches, and improved safety, outweigh the costs to midwater trawl vessels. The proposed measure may also have biological benefits if moving midwater trawl vessels offshore minimizes catch of river herring and shad, reduces fishing pressure on the inshore component of the herring stock, and helps ensure herring are available to predators. Herring is currently assessed as one stock, but it likely has stock components. Reducing fishing pressure inshore would benefit an inshore stock component. Analyses in Amendment 8 estimate that in recent years approximately 30 percent of the midwater trawl fleet’s annualized revenue came from within the proposed inshore midwater trawl restricted area. Negative economic impacts on the midwater trawl fleet may be mitigated if VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Aug 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 the fleet is able to offset lost revenue from inshore areas with increased revenue from offshore areas. Herring catch limits are currently low, so the fishery has the capacity to harvest the OY. Recent midwater trawl landings (2007–2015) offshore of the proposed midwater trawl restricted area (36,903 mt) are much higher than the Councilrecommended OY for 2020 and 2021 (11,621 mt). In the longer-term, the fishery will likely adapt to be able harvest an increased OY, provided vessels are able to locate herring. Public Comment Instructions The Magnuson-Stevens Act allows us to approve, partially approve, or disapprove measures recommended by the Council in an amendment based on whether the measures are consistent with the fishery management plan, plan amendment, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. The Council develops policy for its fisheries and we defer to the Council on policy decisions unless those policies are inconsistent with the Magnuson-Steven Act or other applicable law. As such, we are seeking comment on whether measures in Amendment 8 are consistent with the Herring FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Public comments on Amendment 8 and its incorporated documents may be submitted through the end of the comment period stated in this notice of availability. A proposed rule to implement the amendment, including draft regulatory text, will be published in the Federal Register for public comment. Public comments on the proposed rule received by the end of the comment period provided in this notice of availability will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. All comments received by October 21, 2019, whether specifically directed to Amendment 8 or the proposed rule for this amendment, will be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision on the Amendment 8. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the decision to approve or disapprove the amendment. To be considered, comments must be received by close of business on the last day of the comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 16, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–18032 Filed 8–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–BJ02 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Management in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; request for comments. AGENCY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council submitted Amendment 120 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 108 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (GOA FMP; collectively Amendments 120/108) to the Secretary of Commerce for review. If approved, Amendment 120 would limit the number of catcher/processors (C/Ps) acting as motherships receiving and processing Pacific cod from catcher vessels (CVs) directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program trawl fishery. If approved, Amendments 120/108 would prohibit replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested and delivered by CVs directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI and GOA. DATES: Comments must be received no later than October 21, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2019–0060, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190060, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21AUP1.SGM 21AUP1 jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 162 / Wednesday, August 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules 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 www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP, Amendment 108 to the GOA FMP, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR; referred to as the ‘‘Analysis’’) and the draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Categorical Exclusion evaluation document may be obtained from www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bridget Mansfield, (907) 586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each regional fishery management council submit any FMP amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the amendment is available for public review and comment. This notice announces that proposed Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP and Amendment 108 to the GOA FMP are available for public review and comment. NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone under the BSAI and GOA FMPs. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the BSAI and GOA FMPs under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the BSAI and GOA FMPs appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. Amendments 120/108 would (1) establish eligibility criteria, based on historical participation, for an endorsement to groundfish License Limitation Program (LLP) licenses for a C/P to operate as a mothership in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery; (2) issue an endorsement to those groundfish LLP licenses that meet the eligibility criteria; (3) authorize receipt and processing of Pacific cod deliveries from directed fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Aug 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 trawl CV fishery by only those C/Ps designated on a groundfish LLP license with a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement; and (4) prohibit Amendment 80 sector C/Ps not designated on an Amendment 80 Quota Share (QS) permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or not designated on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested from directed fishing in the Pacific cod fisheries in the BSAI and GOA. Amendments 120/108 are necessary to prevent increased participation by C/Ps operating as motherships from reducing the benefits the fishery provides to C/Ps and shoreside processors with long term, sustained participation in the BSAI non-CDQ trawl fishery in which CVs are directed fishing for Pacific cod, help to stabilize the fishing season duration in that fishery, and prevent replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps from operating as motherships. Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP would amend the species and gear endorsements on groundfish LLP licenses. The LLP was implemented under Amendments 39 and 41 to the FMP, and NMFS published the final rule to implement these amendments on October 1, 1998 (63 FR 52642). The LLP limits access to the groundfish, crab, and scallop fisheries in the BSAI and the GOA, by requiring that persons hold and assign a license to each vessel that is used to fish in federally managed fisheries, with some limited exemptions. The LLP is intended to prevent unlimited entry into federally managed fisheries and to limit the ability of a person to assign an LLP license derived from the historic landing activity of a vessel in one area, using a specific fishing gear or operational type, to be used in other areas, with other gears, or for other operational types in a manner that could expand fishing capacity. Licenses issued under the LLP authorize, through individual endorsements, fishing activities in specific fishing areas, gear types, and vessel operations as CVs or C/Ps. Once issued, the components of the LLP license cannot be transferred independently. Amendment 120 would implement a new groundfish LLP license endorsement to authorize a C/P to operate as a mothership, as defined at § 679.2, to receive and process Pacific cod from CVs directed fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV fishery. C/Ps without this endorsement would not be authorized to receive and process Pacific cod from CVs directed fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43577 trawl CV fishery. For purposes of this notice, that fishery will be referred to as the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that this action is an appropriate response to a sharp increase in C/P participation operating as motherships in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery beginning in 2016. This increase shifted historical patterns of harvest processing from shoreside plants to offshore C/Ps, which has caused concern over the reduced benefits to C/Ps and shoreside processors with long term, sustained participation in the fishery. This shift has also resulted in a shorter fishing season from 2016 through 2019, causing vessel crowding on the fishing grounds and raising concerns for vessel safety and increased PSC rates. In April 2019, the Council adopted Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP, which would limit the number of C/Ps operating as motherships receiving and processing Pacific cod in the BSAI nonCDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery. If approved, Amendment 120 would amend the BSAI FMP to require a C/P be designated on a groundfish LLP license with a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement to receive and process Pacific cod delivered by CVs in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery. A groundfish LLP license would receive the endorsement if a vessel designated on it is credited with receiving and processing at least one legal mothership trip target of Pacific cod in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery each year from 2015 through 2017. Under BSAI Amendment 120, ‘‘mothership trip target’’ would mean, in the aggregate, the groundfish species that is delivered by a CV to a given C/P operating as a mothership in an amount greater than the retained amount of any other groundfish species delivered by the same CV to the same C/P for a given week. In April 2019, the Council also adopted GOA Amendment 108. Amendments 120/108 would prohibit Amendment 80 sector C/Ps from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by vessels directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI and GOA, if the C/P was not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or not designated on an Amendment 80 LLP/ QS license. Amendment 120 would amend four sections of the BSAI FMP. First, in Table ES–2 in the Executive Summary, row ‘‘License and Permits’’ would have a sentence added to read, ‘‘Catcher/ E:\FR\FM\21AUP1.SGM 21AUP1 43578 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 162 / Wednesday, August 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS processor vessels receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by catcher vessels directed fishing using trawl gear in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod fishery must qualify for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement.’’ The same row, ‘‘License and Permits,’’ would have a second sentence added to read, ‘‘All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license are prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI.’’ Second, BSAI FMP Section ‘‘3.3.1.3 Species and Gear Endorsements for Vessels Using Trawl Gear’’ would have a sentence added to read that ‘‘A catcher/processor vessel receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by catcher vessels directed fishing using trawl gear in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod fishery must hold an area endorsement and general license with a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement.’’ A second sentence would be added to read, ‘‘BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod. An LLP license must be credited with receiving and processing at least one mothership trip target delivered by a catcher vessel directed fishing using trawl gear in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod fishery in each year from 2015 through 2017.’’ Third, a new BSAI FMP Section ‘‘3.7.5.8.4 Limitations on Replaced Amendment 80 Vessels’’ would have a sentence added to read, ‘‘All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license is prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI.’’ Finally, a section would be added to Appendix A of the BSAI FMP that summarizes the main provisions of Amendment 120, and the Table of Contents would be revised accordingly. Amendment 108 to the GOA FMP would amend two sections of the GOA VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Aug 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 FMP. First, in Table ES–2 in the Executive Summary, row ‘‘Participation Restrictions’’ would have a sentence added to read, ‘‘All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license are prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the GOA.’’ Second, GOA FMP Section 3.3.3, ‘‘Access Limitations’’ would add a new sentence that reads, ‘‘All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license are prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the GOA.’’ Finally, a section would be added to Appendix A of the GOA FMP that summarizes the main provisions of Amendment 108, and the Table of Contents would be revised. The proposed rule to implement proposed Amendments 120/108 provides the details of the eligibility criteria for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement to a groundfish LLP license, the process to establish eligibility of individual groundfish LLP licenses based on historical participation in the fishery, and issuance of the endorsements. The specific groundfish LLP licenses eligible for such an endorsement will be named in the proposed rule and in the regulations implementing the rule. The proposed rule also provides details on the prohibition of replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps operating as a mothership in the BSAI and GOA Pacific cod fisheries. Before adopting its preferred alternatives for Amendment 120, the Council considered a range of historical participation levels to qualify for an endorsement authorizing a C/P to operate as a mothership in the fishery, as well as a range of limits on the amount of Pacific cod that could be received and processed by C/Ps operating as a mothership in the fishery. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that the eligibility requirements for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 endorsement under Amendment 120 would balance the need to limit entry of additional C/Ps operating as motherships in the BSAI directed, nonCDQ Pacific cod trawl CV fishery with the need to continue to provide processing opportunities for C/Ps with long term, sustained participation operating as motherships and shoreside processors in the fishery consistent with historical patterns of Pacific cod deliveries. The Council also determined, and NMFS agrees, a prohibition on allowing replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps to operate as a mothership in the BSAI and GOA Pacific cod fisheries is necessary to implement the Council’s intent to prevent replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps from operating as motherships once they leave the Amendment 80 Program. NMFS is soliciting public comments on proposed Amendments 120/108 through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on the proposed rule that would implement Amendments 120/108 following NMFS’s evaluation of the proposed rule under the MagnusonStevens Act. Respondents do not need to submit the same comments on Amendments 120/108 and the proposed rule. All relevant written comments received by the end of the applicable comment period, whether specifically directed at the FMP amendments or the proposed rule will be considered by NMFS in the approval/disapproval decision for Amendments 120/108 and addressed in the response to comments in the final decision. Comments received after the end of the applicable comment period will not be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision on Amendments 120/108. To be considered, comments must be received, not just postmarked or otherwise transmitted, by the last day of the comment period (see DATES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 15, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–17907 Filed 8–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21AUP1.SGM 21AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 162 (Wednesday, August 21, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 43576-43578]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-17907]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

RIN 0648-BJ02


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
Management in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; 
request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council submitted 
Amendment 120 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of 
the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Management Area (BSAI FMP) 
and Amendment 108 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 
Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (GOA FMP; collectively Amendments 120/108) to the 
Secretary of Commerce for review. If approved, Amendment 120 would 
limit the number of catcher/processors (C/Ps) acting as motherships 
receiving and processing Pacific cod from catcher vessels (CVs) 
directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI non-Community Development 
Quota (CDQ) Program trawl fishery. If approved, Amendments 120/108 
would prohibit replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps from receiving and processing 
Pacific cod harvested and delivered by CVs directed fishing for Pacific 
cod in the BSAI and GOA.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than October 21, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2019-0060, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0060, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or

[[Page 43577]]

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 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP, Amendment 108 
to the GOA FMP, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR; referred to as the 
``Analysis'') and the draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
Categorical Exclusion evaluation document may be obtained from 
www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bridget Mansfield, (907) 586-7228.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that each 
regional fishery management council submit any FMP amendment it 
prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial 
approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also 
requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fishery management plan amendment, 
immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that 
the amendment is available for public review and comment. This notice 
announces that proposed Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP and Amendment 108 
to the GOA FMP are available for public review and comment.
    NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic 
zone under the BSAI and GOA FMPs. The North Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) prepared the BSAI and GOA FMPs under the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing 
U.S. fisheries and implementing the BSAI and GOA FMPs appear at 50 CFR 
parts 600 and 679.
    Amendments 120/108 would (1) establish eligibility criteria, based 
on historical participation, for an endorsement to groundfish License 
Limitation Program (LLP) licenses for a C/P to operate as a mothership 
in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery; (2) issue an 
endorsement to those groundfish LLP licenses that meet the eligibility 
criteria; (3) authorize receipt and processing of Pacific cod 
deliveries from directed fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl 
CV fishery by only those C/Ps designated on a groundfish LLP license 
with a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement; and (4) prohibit 
Amendment 80 sector C/Ps not designated on an Amendment 80 Quota Share 
(QS) permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or not designated on an 
Amendment 80 LLP/QS license from receiving and processing Pacific cod 
harvested from directed fishing in the Pacific cod fisheries in the 
BSAI and GOA.
    Amendments 120/108 are necessary to prevent increased participation 
by C/Ps operating as motherships from reducing the benefits the fishery 
provides to C/Ps and shoreside processors with long term, sustained 
participation in the BSAI non-CDQ trawl fishery in which CVs are 
directed fishing for Pacific cod, help to stabilize the fishing season 
duration in that fishery, and prevent replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps from 
operating as motherships.
    Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP would amend the species and gear 
endorsements on groundfish LLP licenses. The LLP was implemented under 
Amendments 39 and 41 to the FMP, and NMFS published the final rule to 
implement these amendments on October 1, 1998 (63 FR 52642). The LLP 
limits access to the groundfish, crab, and scallop fisheries in the 
BSAI and the GOA, by requiring that persons hold and assign a license 
to each vessel that is used to fish in federally managed fisheries, 
with some limited exemptions. The LLP is intended to prevent unlimited 
entry into federally managed fisheries and to limit the ability of a 
person to assign an LLP license derived from the historic landing 
activity of a vessel in one area, using a specific fishing gear or 
operational type, to be used in other areas, with other gears, or for 
other operational types in a manner that could expand fishing capacity. 
Licenses issued under the LLP authorize, through individual 
endorsements, fishing activities in specific fishing areas, gear types, 
and vessel operations as CVs or C/Ps. Once issued, the components of 
the LLP license cannot be transferred independently.
    Amendment 120 would implement a new groundfish LLP license 
endorsement to authorize a C/P to operate as a mothership, as defined 
at Sec.  679.2, to receive and process Pacific cod from CVs directed 
fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV fishery. C/Ps without 
this endorsement would not be authorized to receive and process Pacific 
cod from CVs directed fishing in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV 
fishery. For purposes of this notice, that fishery will be referred to 
as the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery. The Council 
determined, and NMFS agrees, that this action is an appropriate 
response to a sharp increase in C/P participation operating as 
motherships in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery 
beginning in 2016. This increase shifted historical patterns of harvest 
processing from shoreside plants to offshore C/Ps, which has caused 
concern over the reduced benefits to C/Ps and shoreside processors with 
long term, sustained participation in the fishery. This shift has also 
resulted in a shorter fishing season from 2016 through 2019, causing 
vessel crowding on the fishing grounds and raising concerns for vessel 
safety and increased PSC rates.
    In April 2019, the Council adopted Amendment 120 to the BSAI FMP, 
which would limit the number of C/Ps operating as motherships receiving 
and processing Pacific cod in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV 
directed fishery. If approved, Amendment 120 would amend the BSAI FMP 
to require a C/P be designated on a groundfish LLP license with a BSAI 
Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement to receive and process Pacific 
cod delivered by CVs in the BSAI non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed 
fishery. A groundfish LLP license would receive the endorsement if a 
vessel designated on it is credited with receiving and processing at 
least one legal mothership trip target of Pacific cod in the BSAI non-
CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV directed fishery each year from 2015 through 
2017. Under BSAI Amendment 120, ``mothership trip target'' would mean, 
in the aggregate, the groundfish species that is delivered by a CV to a 
given C/P operating as a mothership in an amount greater than the 
retained amount of any other groundfish species delivered by the same 
CV to the same C/P for a given week.
    In April 2019, the Council also adopted GOA Amendment 108. 
Amendments 120/108 would prohibit Amendment 80 sector C/Ps from 
receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by vessels directed 
fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI and GOA, if the C/P was not 
designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license 
or not designated on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license.
    Amendment 120 would amend four sections of the BSAI FMP. First, in 
Table ES-2 in the Executive Summary, row ``License and Permits'' would 
have a sentence added to read, ``Catcher/

[[Page 43578]]

processor vessels receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by 
catcher vessels directed fishing using trawl gear in the BSAI non-
Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod fishery must qualify 
for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl mothership endorsement.'' The same row, 
``License and Permits,'' would have a second sentence added to read, 
``All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit 
and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license 
are prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a 
vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI.''
    Second, BSAI FMP Section ``3.3.1.3 Species and Gear Endorsements 
for Vessels Using Trawl Gear'' would have a sentence added to read that 
``A catcher/processor vessel receiving and processing Pacific cod 
harvested by catcher vessels directed fishing using trawl gear in the 
BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod fishery must 
hold an area endorsement and general license with a BSAI Pacific cod 
trawl mothership endorsement.'' A second sentence would be added to 
read, ``BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program Pacific cod. An 
LLP license must be credited with receiving and processing at least one 
mothership trip target delivered by a catcher vessel directed fishing 
using trawl gear in the BSAI non-Community Development Quota Program 
Pacific cod fishery in each year from 2015 through 2017.''
    Third, a new BSAI FMP Section ``3.7.5.8.4 Limitations on Replaced 
Amendment 80 Vessels'' would have a sentence added to read, ``All 
Amendment 80 vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an 
Amendment 80 LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license is 
prohibited from receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a 
vessel directed fishing for Pacific cod in the BSAI.''
    Finally, a section would be added to Appendix A of the BSAI FMP 
that summarizes the main provisions of Amendment 120, and the Table of 
Contents would be revised accordingly.
    Amendment 108 to the GOA FMP would amend two sections of the GOA 
FMP. First, in Table ES-2 in the Executive Summary, row ``Participation 
Restrictions'' would have a sentence added to read, ``All Amendment 80 
vessels not designated on an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 
LLP license or on an Amendment 80 LLP/QS license are prohibited from 
receiving and processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed 
fishing for Pacific cod in the GOA.''
    Second, GOA FMP Section 3.3.3, ``Access Limitations'' would add a 
new sentence that reads, ``All Amendment 80 vessels not designated on 
an Amendment 80 QS permit and an Amendment 80 LLP license or on an 
Amendment 80 LLP/QS license are prohibited from receiving and 
processing Pacific cod harvested by a vessel directed fishing for 
Pacific cod in the GOA.''
    Finally, a section would be added to Appendix A of the GOA FMP that 
summarizes the main provisions of Amendment 108, and the Table of 
Contents would be revised.
    The proposed rule to implement proposed Amendments 120/108 provides 
the details of the eligibility criteria for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl 
mothership endorsement to a groundfish LLP license, the process to 
establish eligibility of individual groundfish LLP licenses based on 
historical participation in the fishery, and issuance of the 
endorsements. The specific groundfish LLP licenses eligible for such an 
endorsement will be named in the proposed rule and in the regulations 
implementing the rule. The proposed rule also provides details on the 
prohibition of replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps operating as a mothership in 
the BSAI and GOA Pacific cod fisheries.
    Before adopting its preferred alternatives for Amendment 120, the 
Council considered a range of historical participation levels to 
qualify for an endorsement authorizing a C/P to operate as a mothership 
in the fishery, as well as a range of limits on the amount of Pacific 
cod that could be received and processed by C/Ps operating as a 
mothership in the fishery. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, 
that the eligibility requirements for a BSAI Pacific cod trawl 
mothership endorsement under Amendment 120 would balance the need to 
limit entry of additional C/Ps operating as motherships in the BSAI 
directed, non-CDQ Pacific cod trawl CV fishery with the need to 
continue to provide processing opportunities for C/Ps with long term, 
sustained participation operating as motherships and shoreside 
processors in the fishery consistent with historical patterns of 
Pacific cod deliveries. The Council also determined, and NMFS agrees, a 
prohibition on allowing replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps to operate as a 
mothership in the BSAI and GOA Pacific cod fisheries is necessary to 
implement the Council's intent to prevent replaced Amendment 80 C/Ps 
from operating as motherships once they leave the Amendment 80 Program.
    NMFS is soliciting public comments on proposed Amendments 120/108 
through the end of the comment period (see DATES). NMFS intends to 
publish in the Federal Register and seek public comment on the proposed 
rule that would implement Amendments 120/108 following NMFS's 
evaluation of the proposed rule under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    Respondents do not need to submit the same comments on Amendments 
120/108 and the proposed rule. All relevant written comments received 
by the end of the applicable comment period, whether specifically 
directed at the FMP amendments or the proposed rule will be considered 
by NMFS in the approval/disapproval decision for Amendments 120/108 and 
addressed in the response to comments in the final decision. Comments 
received after the end of the applicable comment period will not be 
considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendments 120/108. 
To be considered, comments must be received, not just postmarked or 
otherwise transmitted, by the last day of the comment period (see 
DATES).

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

    Dated: August 15, 2019.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-17907 Filed 8-20-19; 8:45 am]
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