Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Revisions To Catch Sharing Plan and Domestic Management Measures in Alaska, 52800-52806 [2019-21258]

Download as PDF 52800 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations We have prepared a PDM Plan for the Monito gecko (USFWS 2017). The plan is designed to detect significant declines in the Monito gecko with reasonable certainty and precision, and detect possible new or reoccurring threats (i.e., presence of rats). The plan: (1) Summarizes the species’ status at the time of delisting; (2) Defines thresholds or triggers for potential monitoring outcomes and conclusions; (3) Lays out frequency and duration of monitoring; (4) Articulates monitoring methods including sampling considerations; (5) Outlines data compilation and reporting procedures and responsibilities; and (6) Proposes a PDM implementation schedule including timing and responsible parties. It is our intent to work with our partners towards maintaining the recovered status of the Monito gecko. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; and 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. § 17.11 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the entry ‘‘Gecko, Monito’’ under ‘‘Reptiles’’ from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. ■ Required Determinations § 17.95 National Environmental Policy Act ■ We have determined that we do not need to prepare an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, as defined in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes References Cited A complete list of references cited is available on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket Number FWS–R4–ES– 2017–0082. Author The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office. 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 [Amended] 3. Amend § 17.95(c) by removing the entry for ‘‘Monito Gecko (Sphaerodactylus micropithecus)’’. Dated: August 9, 2019. Margaret E. Everson, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2019–20907 Filed 10–2–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. We have determined that no tribal lands are affected by this proposal. VerDate Sep<11>2014 [Amended] Jkt 250001 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 190925–0038] RIN 0648–BH91 Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Revisions To Catch Sharing Plan and Domestic Management Measures in Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: Currently, sport fishing activities for halibut in International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Southcentral Alaska) are subject to different regulations, depending on whether those activities are guided or unguided. In this final rule, NMFS issues regulations that apply the daily SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided fishing to all Pacific halibut on board a fishing vessel when Pacific halibut caught and retained by both guided anglers and unguided anglers are on the same vessel. This final rule is intended to aid enforcement and to ensure the proper accounting of halibut taken when sport fishing in Areas 2C and 3A. DATES: Effective November 4, 2019. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Categorical Exclusion and the Regulatory Impact Review (collectively, Analysis) prepared for this action are available at https://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region’s website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this rule may be submitted to NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99082– 1668, Attn: James Bruschi, Records Officer, in person at NMFS, Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK; by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov; or by fax to 202–395–5806. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Iverson, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This final rule implements regulatory amendments for Pacific halibut charter fishing in International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) Regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Southcentral Alaska). When Pacific halibut are simultaneously retained on a fishing vessel from both guided and unguided fishing, the daily bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided fishing will apply to all Pacific halibut on board. NMFS published the proposed rule for these regulatory amendments on February 12, 2019 (84 FR 3403). The comment period on the proposed rule ended on March 14, 2019. NMFS received seven comment letters on the proposed rule. From these letters, NMFS identified and considered seven unique, relevant comments. A summary of the comments and NMFS’ responses are provided in the Comments and Responses section of this preamble. A detailed review of this rule and the rationale for these regulations is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule (84 FR 3403, February 12, 2019). Electronic copies of the proposed rule and the Analysis may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region website at https:// E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska. All public comment letters submitted during the comment period may be obtained from www.regulations.gov. Background Authority for Action The IPHC and NMFS manage fishing for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) through regulations established under authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The IPHC adopts regulations governing the Pacific halibut fishery under the Convention between the United States and Canada for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea (Convention), signed in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 2, 1953, as amended by the Protocol Amending the Convention (signed in Washington, DC on March 29, 1979). For the United States, regulations developed by the IPHC are subject to acceptance by the Secretary of State with concurrence from the Secretary of Commerce. After acceptance by the Secretary of State and concurrence by the Secretary of Commerce, NMFS publishes the IPHC regulations in the Federal Register as annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62. The Halibut Act, at 16 U.S.C. 773c(a) and (b), provides the Secretary of Commerce with general responsibility to carry out the Convention and the Halibut Act. In adopting regulations that may be necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the Convention and the Halibut Act, the Secretary of Commerce is directed to consult with the Secretary of the department in which the U.S. Coast Guard is operating, which is currently the Department of Homeland Security. The Halibut Act, at section 16 U.S.C. 773c(c), also provides the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) with authority to develop regulations, including limited access regulations, that are in addition to, and not in conflict with, approved IPHC regulations. Regulations developed by the Council may be implemented by NMFS only after approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Council has exercised this authority in the development of subsistence halibut fishery management measures, the limited access program for charter operators in the charter halibut fishery, and the catch sharing plan and domestic management measures in waters in and off Alaska, codified at 50 CFR 300.61, 300.65, 300.66, and 300.67. The Council also developed the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for the commercial VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 halibut and sablefish fisheries, codified at 50 CFR part 679, under the authority of section 5 of the Halibut Act (16 U.S.C. 773c(c)) and section 303(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1853(b)). Summary Background on Management of the Charter Halibut Fishery In addition to this summary, the preamble to the proposed rule and Section 2.7 of the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for this rule provide detail on charter halibut management programs that have been implemented in Areas 2C and 3A. Throughout the proposed rule and this preamble, regulatory areas established by the IPHC are referred to as ‘‘IPHC Regulatory Areas’’ for the IFQ program regulations at 50 CFR part 679 and as ‘‘Commission regulatory areas’’ for the halibut management regulations at 50 CFR 300.61, 300.65, 300.66, and 300.67. This preamble uses the terms ‘‘Area 2C’’ and ‘‘Area 3A’’ to refer to IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A, respectively. The harvest of halibut in Alaska occurs in three fisheries—the commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries. The commercial halibut fishery is managed under the IFQ Program. The sport fishery includes guided and unguided anglers. Guided anglers are ‘‘charter vessel anglers’’ as defined at 50 CFR 300.61, and means persons, paying or non-paying, receiving sport fishing guide services for halibut. Throughout this preamble, the term ‘‘charter halibut fishery’’ is used to refer to the sport fishery prosecuted by charter operators who hold Charter Halibut Permits (CHPs) and offer sport fishing guide services for halibut. This preamble uses the terms ‘‘guided fishing’’ to refer to sport fishing by an angler who receives sport fishing guide services for halibut, and ‘‘guided angler’’ to an angler receiving those sport fishing guide services. This preamble uses the terms ‘‘unguided fishing’’ to refer to sport fishing by an angler who does not receive sport fishing guide services for halibut sport fishing, and ‘‘unguided angler’’ to an angler who does not receive those sport fishing guide services. Essential background on the charter halibut fishery was presented in the proposed rule for this action, and in the Analysis. Among the topics described in the proposed rule is a summary of management of the charter halibut fishery and the development of the Charter Halibut Limited Access Program (CHLAP) that established a limited number of CHPs in the sport fishing PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52801 sector in Areas 2C and 3A. The proposed rule also provides details on the Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) that annually allocates Pacific halibut harvests between the charter fishery and the commercial fisheries in Areas 2C and 3A. A component of the CSP describes the public process for determining annual management measures to limit charter harvest to the allocations in each management area. As part of this process, the Council develops recommendations that are forwarded to the IPHC. The effect of the CSP and the annual charter fishing management measures result in distinct halibut sport fishing regulations in Areas 2C and 3A, depending upon whether anglers are guided (charter) or unguided. In general, to keep the charter fishery within its annual allocation, guided fishing regulations are more stringent than unguided fishing. Guided angling restrictions have become more pronounced in recent years, as halibut abundance has dropped and charter catch limits have been reduced. Currently, unguided anglers are managed under a two-fish of any size daily bag limit in Alaska; however, since 2008, guided anglers in Area 2C have been managed under more restrictive limits. In Area 3A, guided anglers have been managed under more restrictive limits since 2014. For example, in 2019, guided anglers in Area 2C are limited to a daily bag limit of one fish and size limits that prohibit retention of halibut greater than 38 inches and less than 80 inches. In Area 3A in 2019, guided anglers may retain two halibut per day; however, one fish must be 28 inches or less, and guided anglers are allowed to retain a maximum of four fish in a calendar year. Additionally, guided anglers in Area 3A in 2019 are prohibited from retaining halibut on any Wednesday, and on five Tuesdays from July 16 through August 13. To enforce the halibut size limit restrictions in Areas 2C and 3A, if the fish are filleted on board the charter vessel, guided anglers are required to retain the carcasses of fish until all fillets are offloaded from Convention waters. The maximum number of halibut an angler may possess at any one time in Areas 2C and 3A is two daily bag limits. Those possession limits correspond to the respective daily bag limits for guided or unguided anglers. For example, the 2019 daily bag limit for unguided anglers in Area 2C is two halibut, so the possession limit for unguided anglers is four halibut; however, for guided anglers in Area 2C in 2019, the daily bag limit is one E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 52802 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations halibut (within the size limit), so the possession limit for that sector is two halibut (within the size limit). The CSP also authorizes limited annual leases of commercial IFQ for use in the charter fishery as guided angler fish (GAF). Charter vessel anglers can use GAF to retain halibut up to the limits provided for unguided halibut anglers. Summary of This Action This final rule changes regulations for the management of the charter halibut fishery in IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. It implements a regulatory amendment that applies to situations in Areas 2C and 3A where Pacific halibut are caught and retained by guided and unguided anglers, and those halibut are on board a fishing vessel at the same time. In these situations, where halibut are comingled from both guided and unguided fishing, the bag limits, possession limits, size limits, and carcass retention requirements for guided fishing will apply to all halibut on board the vessel. Purpose and Need The preamble to the proposed rule provided a detailed description of the purpose and need for this final rule. A brief summary is provided here. This final rule is intended to aid the enforcement and to ensure the proper accounting of halibut taken when sport fishing in Areas 2C and 3A. This final rule provides uniform halibut retention regulations, provides clearer regulatory standards for the public, reduces the amount of time needed by enforcement officers when boarding fishing vessels, and improves overall compliance with daily bag limits, possession limits, size limits, and carcass retention requirements. When halibut are caught and retained by both guided and unguided anglers and those halibut are on the same fishing vessel, it presents enforcement challenges due to the different regulations for guided versus unguided anglers. The greatest challenge is for accountability under the bag and possession limits and halibut size restrictions. Under the current regulations, when halibut are caught and retained by guided and unguided anglers and those halibut are on the same fishing vessel, enforcement officers have no effective means to verify which angler harvested a particular fish, or whether that angler harvested the fish while fishing unguided or while being guided. It is important to note these enforcement challenges occur when the halibut from guided and unguided anglers is on VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 board a fishing vessel in Convention waters. Therefore, this rule will not apply to Pacific halibut that is not on a fishing vessel. Section 2.3 of the RIR provides additional information on the history of this action. Provisions of the Final Rule This final rule adds a new paragraph at 50 CFR 300.65(d)(6). This paragraph applies to Areas 2C and 3A under circumstances when Pacific halibut are retained by both guided and unguided anglers, and those halibut are on the same fishing vessel. The new paragraph at § 300.65(d)(6) requires all Pacific halibut on board a fishing vessel to be subject to the daily bag limit, the possession limit, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided anglers for that IPHC Area if any halibut caught and retained by a guided angler is on board that vessel. If sport fishing guide services are performed at any point during a charter fishing trip, then all anglers on board, for the full extent of the fishing trip, will be subject to the daily bag limit, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided charter vessel anglers, as specified for the applicable IPHC regulatory area, and determined by the annual management measures recommended by the IPHC and NMFS and published by NMFS in the Federal Register. Attention to both the IPHC and NMFS regulations is critical because there may be differences between the IPHC management measures and NMFS regulations. For example, in 2018, the IPHC adopted management measures for halibut size restrictions in Area 2C that were initially accepted by the Secretary of State and published by NMFS (83 FR 10390, March 9, 2018), but those regulations were eventually superseded by a subsequent action implemented by NMFS in an interim final rule (83 FR 12133, March 20, 2018). This final rule does not modify regulations related to the management of GAF. Regulations for GAF are principally found in § 300.65(c)(5). These regulations allow transfers of commercial halibut IFQ to a charter operator, where the IFQ is translated to fish that individual anglers can use to increase their harvests up to the limits of unguided anglers, which is currently two fish of any size per day, with no annual limit. Under this rule, guided anglers will be able to continue to use GAF on charter vessel fishing trips. Regulations applicable to GAF permitting, transfer, use, and reporting requirements in § 300.65 will still apply. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Changes From Proposed to Final Rule NMFS did not make changes to the final rule from the proposed rule. Comments and Responses NMFS received seven comment letters on the proposed rule. Among the letters, NMFS identified and considered 7 unique, relevant comments, which are grouped, summarized, and responded to below. Three of the individual commenters identified themselves as either operators in the charter sector or representing charter fishing interests. Comment 1: Several comments expressed support for the proposed regulations by recognizing the difficulty of adequately enforcing bag and possession limits when halibut from guided and unguided angling are comingled on a common fishing vessel. Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments. Comment 2: Some comments expressed support for the proposed rule by citing conservation concerns for halibut, and mentioned the more restrictive bag limits associated with guided halibut fishing. Response: NMFS acknowledges that sport fishing bag limits are an important component in halibut conservation. NMFS also acknowledges the primary consideration of this final rule is the effective enforcement of those bag limits, which in turn supports the proper monitoring of catch necessary for conservation. Comment 3: Halibut conservation and a decline in the resource are rationales to implement regulations that are different from the regulatory amendment suggested in the proposed rule. Halibut size limits that apply to guided fishing result in catch and release mortality by anglers who release many fish that fall outside of the allowable size restrictions. A simple solution is to establish the same regulations for both guided and unguided anglers, where all anglers are allowed one halibut of any size, per day. Response: Establishing a one-fish daily bag limit for both guided and unguided anglers would require coordinated action by both the Council and IPHC and is outside of the scope of this rule. Catch and release mortality for sport caught halibut is estimated on an annual basis and is factored into the IPHC decisions on the combined commercial and charter catch limits in Areas 2C and 3A. Comment 4: Some charter guides rent boats to clients so the clients can retain two halibut per day under the unguided fishing regulations. Regulations should allow only one halibut per day for all E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations guests statewide, whether they fish from a charter vessel or from a lodge. This would be more equitable. Guides seem to always find a way to work around the rules. No person needs more than one halibut per day. Response: Although this rule does not establish a bag limit of one halibut per day for all guests statewide, NMFS acknowledges the comment and points to the enforcement concerns that resulted in this final rule. NMFS also notes this rule applies to circumstances where halibut from both guided and unguided fishing are comingled on a fishing vessel, as defined by the Halibut Act, and operating in Convention waters. Comment 5: The issue of the proposed regulation is an unquantified problem in a very minute segment of the sport fishery. The ratio of bad actors in guided fishing is likely the same as among unguided anglers; therefore, the burden of enforcement efforts should be on the agency to find ways to discover illicit activity while preserving the rights of the majority of people who act in compliance. Response: NMFS agrees that the number of charter fishing vessels that offer mixed guided and unguided fishing is likely to be relatively small, compared to the total number of active charter vessels in any given year. NMFS agrees there is not currently information that can precisely identify the number of charter fishing vessels and the number of charter fishing trips where mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing occurs. However, the Council expressed its intent, and NMFS agrees, that the enforcement concerns are significant for those operations where mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing occurs, and that this issue warrants the regulatory amendment implemented by this final rule. NMFS also notes the enforcement issue, if left unaddressed, could continue to grow as more charter operations decide to offer the option of mixed guided and unguided fishing on their vessels. NMFS also notes this final rule does not prevent charter fishing vessels from continuing to offer mixed guided and unguided fishing. As mentioned in the proposed rule, public testimony to the Council suggests that—in addition to the bag, possession, and size limits addressed by this rule—pricing, convenience, and the personal preferences of the client anglers can also be reasons for sport fishing businesses to offer unguided fishing along with guided fishing. Comment 6: GAF is still allowed under the proposed regulations; therefore, the number and size of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 halibut that are onboard the fishing vessel may already exceed the guided fishing limits, although GAF must be accounted for on GAF permits. A similar requirement could be implemented for unguided fish, rather than alter size and bag limits. Response: NMFS acknowledges that the regulatory amendment implemented under this rule allows the continued and unchanged use of GAF. When halibut regulations place size or harvest restrictions on anglers, qualified charter halibut permit holders may offer GAF to their clients as a means to retain halibut of any size, and up to the limits allowed for unguided anglers, which is currently two fish of any size per day, with four fish in possession. Under this final rule, when fishing vessels employ a mix of guided and unguided fishing, all anglers will be subject to the guided angler harvest restrictions; therefore, all anglers on the vessel will be eligible to use GAF. As stated in the comment, regulations require that GAF harvests must be recorded on a GAF permit log. GAF must also be physically identified by removing the tips of the upper and lower lobes of the halibut tail fin. A marking and logging system similar to GAF that would be used to account for halibut retained by unguided anglers was not an alternative that was analyzed or recommended by the Council for this action. Comment 7: Typical enforcement happens by boarding vessels engaged in fishing or by conducting dockside interviews at the termination of a trip. Nothing prohibits enforcement officers from boarding guided or unguided vessels associated with a mother ship during fishing activity or upon return to the mother vessel to determine compliance with existing regulation. There is no current or proposed requirement that anglers remain on board a mother vessel with their processed catch, so investigation of preserved fish after transfer from other fishing vessels, or fish harvested and processed on the same vessel, becomes an independent issue. Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment, and agrees that enforcement boardings and interviews will continue on all fishing vessels, whether those vessels fish independently or whether they are associated with a mothership. NMFS also notes the primary enforcement issue that is addressed by this final rule, which is the proper determination of regulatory compliance after halibut are brought back to a common fishing vessel (i.e., a mothership), and those halibut come from a mix of guided and unguided PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52803 fishing. Under these circumstances, enforcement officers currently have no effective means to properly account for the retained catch. The Council indicated, and NMFS agrees, that uniform regulations in these situations will enhance compliance and eliminate confusion among both anglers and enforcement officers. Classification Regulations governing the U.S. fisheries for Pacific halibut are developed by the IPHC, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Secretary of Commerce. Section 5 of the Halibut Act (16 U.S.C. 773c) allows the regional fishery management council having authority for a particular geographical area to develop regulations governing fishing for halibut in U.S. Convention waters as long as those regulations do not conflict with IPHC regulations. The Halibut Act at 16 U.S.C. 773c(a) and (b) provides the Secretary of Commerce with the general responsibility to carry out the Convention with the authority to, in consultation with the Secretary of the department in which the U.S. Coast Guard is operating, adopt such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the Convention and the Halibut Act. This final rule is consistent with the Halibut Act and other applicable laws. This final rule is also consistent with the Secretary of Commerce’s authority under the Halibut Act to implement management measures for the halibut fishery. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Regulatory Impact Review A Regulatory Impact Review was prepared to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives. A copy of this final analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Council recommended the regulatory revisions in this final rule based on those measures that maximized net benefits to the Nation. Specific aspects of the economic analysis related to the impact of this final rule on small entities are discussed below in the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis section. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) This FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, if any, and NMFS’ responses to those comments, and a summary of E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 52804 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the analyses completed to support this action. Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604) requires that, when an agency promulgates a final rule under section 553 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code, after being required by that section or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency shall prepare a FRFA. Section 604 describes the required contents of a FRFA: (1) A statement of the need for and objectives of the rule; (2) a statement of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, a statement of the assessment of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made to the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the response of the agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the proposed rule, and a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule in the final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a description of and an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule will apply or an explanation of why no such estimate is available; (5) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities that will be subject to the requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report or record; and (6) a description of the steps the agency has taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes including a statement of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in this final rule and why each one of the other significant alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which affect the impact on small entities was rejected. A description of this final rule, along with the need for and objectives of the rule, are contained in the preamble to this final rule and the preamble to the proposed rule (84 FR 3403, February 12, 2019), and are not repeated here. Public and Chief Counsel for Advocacy Comments on the IRFA NMFS published the proposed rule on February 12, 2019 (84 FR 3403). An IRFA was prepared and included in the Classification section of the preamble to the proposed rule. The comment period on the proposed rule ended on March 14, 2019. One of the comments indirectly referenced the IRFA and has been addressed in the Comments and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 Responses section of the preamble (Comment 5; number of entities affected by this rule). The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA did not file any comments on the proposed rule. Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Final Rule This final rule directly regulates (1) sport fishing businesses that currently offer, or would offer, both guided and unguided halibut fishing opportunities, and the sport fishing guides that work for those businesses (‘‘charter operations’’); and (2) unguided anglers who retain halibut on board vessels at the same time as guided anglers who have also retained halibut. NMFS does not collect information on the number of entities that offer mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing, and there appears to be no systematic means to determine an accurate number of those entities. An informal survey by enforcement officers, combined with testimony and comments from the public, indicates the practice of mixing guided and unguided fishing primarily occurs on larger charter vessels that provide multi-day fishing trips. This analysis indicates that approximately 30 fishing vessel businesses in Area 2C and 14 similar businesses in Area 3A currently offer multi-day fishing trips for their clients. This should be considered an upper-bound estimate of the number of businesses directly regulated by this action at this time because the number of those operations that offer mixed guided and unguided fishing is unknown. Public comment also indicates that on relatively rare occasions, anglers will mix guided and unguided fishing when they are based out of a shoreside lodge or facility that provides rental boats. For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, the SBA has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is scenic and sightseeing transportation on water, or all other amusement and recreation (NAICS codes 487210, and 713990, respectively). On July 18, 2019, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule (84 FR 34261) effective August 19, 2019, that adjusted the monetarybased industry size standards (i.e., receipts- and assets-based) for inflation for many industries. For fisheries forhire businesses and marinas, the rule changes the small business size standard from $7.5 million in annual gross receipts to $8 million. See 84 FR at 34273 (adjusting NAICS 487990 (Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation, Other) and 713930 (Marinas)). PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and prior to SBA’s July 18, 2019 interim final rule, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was developed for this action using SBA’s former size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this action in light of the new size standards. Under the former SBA size standards, all entities subject to this action were considered small entities, and they all would continue to be considered small under the new standards. NMFS has determined that the new size standards do not affect analyses prepared for this action. It is unlikely that the largest of the affected charter vessel operations would be considered large entities under either the former or current SBA standards; however, that cannot be confirmed because NMFS does not have or collect economic data on lodges or charter vessels necessary to definitively determine total annual receipts. Thus, all charter vessel operations are considered small entities, based on SBA criteria, because NMFS cannot confirm if any entities have annual gross revenues greater than either the former $7.5 million or current $8.0 million standards. Community quota entities (CQEs) may apply for and receive community CHPs and some of those charter operations could potentially offer mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing; therefore, this final rule may directly regulate CQEs, and the CQEs are non-profit entities that represent small, remote communities in Areas 2C and 3A. There are 20 communities in Area 2C and 14 in Area 3A eligible to receive community CHPs. Of these 34 communities, 20 hold community CHPs. Again, the number of these CHP holders who offer, or would offer, mixed guided and unguided fishing is unknown. This final rule applies more restrictive halibut bag and possession limits on clients that take multi-day charters with mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing activity. These individuals are not considered directly regulated small entities under the RFA. However, this action will also apply these more restrictive catch and possession limits on vessel crew and guides who choose to fish for halibut in any time off they may have during a guided trip. It is possible that these crew and guides may operate as subcontractors to the primary vessel and, as such, may be defined as small entities. However, the applicability of the more restrictive limits to any of these potential small entities is as an indirect consequence of their being aboard the vessel on a mixed guided and unguided trip. Thus, they are not considered to be directly E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations regulated small entities for RFA purposes. Based on this analysis, NMFS has determined that there are directly regulated small entities affected by this action. The RIR notes that the action could increase costs for multi-day vessels that continue to offer both guided and unguided fishing due to transporting halibut to shore to prevent mixing. However, the analysts were unable to determine if these costs would occur or, if they did, the magnitude of these costs. NMFS indicated in the proposed rule that it may consider certifying that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities prior to publication of the final rule. However, due to the assumptions necessary to establish the factual basis for certification and the lack of information available to conduct this analysis, NMFS decided to prepare a FRFA for this action. Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements This final rule does not change the recordkeeping and reporting requirements for charter halibut fishing or unguided halibut fishing in the affected Areas 2C and 3A. In terms of other compliance requirements, the final rule applies the daily bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided fishing to all Pacific halibut on board a fishing vessel when Pacific halibut caught and retained by both guided anglers and unguided anglers are on the same vessel. Description of Significant Alternatives Considered to the Final Action That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities NMFS and the Council considered three alternatives for this rule. Alternative 1 was the no action alternative. This alternative would have continued to maintain different daily bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for guided anglers and unguided anglers even if halibut caught and retained by both guided and unguided anglers are on the same fishing vessel simultaneously. The benefit of status quo is the flexibility and business advantages for operators seeking to accommodate the desires of a broad range of clients, and their anglers can choose guided fishing, unguided fishing, or alternating between guided and unguided fishing at different times. The concerns about status quo are expressed in the Council’s purpose and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 need statement and in the RIR analysis. In Areas 2C or 3A, guided anglers are frequently subject to greater harvest restrictions than unguided anglers. When halibut from guided and unguided fishing are commingled on a vessel in these management areas, it is difficult for enforcement officers to determine whether the halibut were caught by guided or unguided anglers. When vessels are boarded by enforcement officers, establishing each person’s catch and whether that person was guided or unguided can become a lengthy and complicated process for both officers and charter operators. Alternative 2 was also considered by NMFS and the Council. It would have prevented the commingling of halibut catches from guided and unguided anglers on fishing vessels by prohibiting the possession of halibut retained by guided anglers with halibut retained by unguided anglers on the same fishing vessel simultaneously. The primary advantage of this alternative is that it would have maximized compliance of the regulations and likely reduced the duration of at-sea boardings by enforcement officers. The RIR describes the disadvantages of Alternative 2, which are primarily the reduced flexibility and potential lost revenue for multi-day fishing vessels that currently provide, or would seek to provide, the option of mixed guided and unguided fishing. If charter operations wanted to switch from guided to unguided fishing, the vessels would need to assume the time and cost of returning to port, offloading the fish, and then beginning a new trip to prevent comingling of halibut. Alternative 3 is the adopted alternative and is also described in detail in the RIR. Alternative 3 is intended to balance the enforcement concerns that result from commingling of halibut from guided and unguided fishing with an allowance for charter operations to maintain the flexibility of offering a mix of guided and unguided fishing, as they do now. Moreover, Alternative 3 allows other operations to assume the practice of offering both guided and unguided fishing in the future. The Council’s enforcement concerns are addressed by establishing uniform bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for all halibut retained by anglers on a fishing vessel, irrespective of whether the angler was guided or unguided. Under Alternative 3, some of the requirements for guided anglers would not be imposed on unguided anglers, largely because the proposed alignment of bag and possession limits, size PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52805 restrictions, and carcass retention requirements effectively serve to mitigate the compliance risks associated with the commingling of halibut on a fishing vessel that were caught and retained by both guided and unguided anglers. For example, this final rule will not require unguided anglers to individually record their daily catch and accrue it toward guided angler annual limits, which is currently a maximum of four fish in Area 3A. Additionally, day of the week closures for guided anglers, which is a restriction to catching and retaining Pacific halibut on specific days and is currently used in Area 3A, will not apply to unguided anglers. The RIR examines the potential negative effects of this final rule, which largely relates to reduced harvest limits for unguided anglers who have their halibut on the same fishing vessel as guided anglers. One of the advantages of fishing unguided is that anglers are allowed to keep two fish of any size per day and keep a possession limit of four fish. Relative to the status quo, it is possible that this final rule which would reduce the number and size of halibut that can be retained by unguided anglers in some situations, could also reduce the incentive to purchase charter halibut trips. As noted above, the entities directly regulated under this final rule are assumed to be small, by the SBA definition. Overall, however, this action is likely to have a limited effect on net benefits to the Nation. The majority of Area 2C and 3A halibut charter operations, which includes business owners, guides and crew members, would not be subject to significant negative economic impacts by this final rule. Thus, NMFS is not aware of any alternatives, in addition to the alternatives considered, that would more effectively meet the RFA criteria, the objectives of the Halibut Act and other applicable statutes at a lower economic cost to directly regulated small entities. Collection-of-Information Requirements This final rule contains collection-ofinformation requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA),which have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 0648–0575 (Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter Recordkeeping). Public reporting burden per response is estimated to average 4 minutes for the ADF&G Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Trip Logbook, 5 minutes for the GAF Landing Report, and 2 minutes for the GAF Permit Log. The response time E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1 52806 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations includes time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The ADF&G Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Trip Logbook, GAF Electronic Landing Report, and GAF Permit Log are mentioned in this final rule. Each of these are reporting requirements specified by NMFS regulations. The requirements apply only to the harvest accounting of charter vessel anglers by charter vessel guides. Under this final rule, the harvests of unguided charter vessel anglers will not be subject to these requirements; therefore, this rulemaking imposes no additional burden or cost on the regulated community. Send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395–5806. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: https://www.cio.noaa.gov/ services_programs/prasubs.html. requirements, Russian Federation, Transportation, Treaties, Wildlife. Small Entity Compliance Guide BILLING CODE 3510–22–P Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. The preambles to the proposed rule and this final rule serve as the small entity compliance guide. Copies of the proposed rule and this final rule are available from the NMFS website at https://fisheries.noaa.gov/ region/alaska. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300 Administrative practice and procedure, Antarctica, Canada, Exports, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Imports, Indians, Labeling, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 Oct 02, 2019 Jkt 250001 Dated: September 25, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 300 as follows: PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS Subpart E—Pacific Halibut Fisheries 1. The authority citation for part 300, subpart E, continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773–773k. 2. In § 300.65, add paragraph (d)(6) to read as follows: ■ § 300.65 Catch sharing plan and domestic management measures in waters in and off Alaska. * * * * * (d) * * * (6) If a charter vessel angler catches and retains halibut, and that halibut is on board a fishing vessel with halibut caught and retained by persons who are not charter vessel anglers, then the daily bag limit, possession limit, size limit, and carcass retention regulations applicable to charter vessel anglers shall apply to all halibut on board the fishing vessel. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2019–21258 Filed 10–2–19; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02] RIN 0648–XT023 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS transfers 100 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category October through November 2019 subquota period. The quota transfer is intended to provide additional fishing opportunities based on consideration of the regulatory SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: Effective October 1, 2019, through November 30, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 978–281–9260, or Larry Redd, 301–420–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCATrecommended quota. The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. See § 635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a ‘‘subquota’’ or portion of the annual General category quota. The baseline subquotas for each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January; 277.9 mt for June through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward within the fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year, from one time period to the next, and is available for use in subsequent time periods. To date for 2019, NMFS has taken six actions that resulted in adjustments to the Reserve category, leaving 165.3 mt of quota currently available (84 FR 3724, February 13, 2019; 84 FR 6701, February 28, 2019; 84 FR 35340, July 23, 2019; 84 FR 47440, September 10, 2019; and 84 FR 48566, September 16, 2019). E:\FR\FM\03OCR1.SGM 03OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 192 (Thursday, October 3, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 52800-52806]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21258]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 190925-0038]
RIN 0648-BH91


Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Revisions To Catch Sharing Plan and 
Domestic Management Measures in Alaska

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: Currently, sport fishing activities for halibut in 
International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast 
Alaska) and 3A (Southcentral Alaska) are subject to different 
regulations, depending on whether those activities are guided or 
unguided. In this final rule, NMFS issues regulations that apply the 
daily bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass 
retention requirements for guided fishing to all Pacific halibut on 
board a fishing vessel when Pacific halibut caught and retained by both 
guided anglers and unguided anglers are on the same vessel. This final 
rule is intended to aid enforcement and to ensure the proper accounting 
of halibut taken when sport fishing in Areas 2C and 3A.

DATES: Effective November 4, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Categorical Exclusion and the 
Regulatory Impact Review (collectively, Analysis) prepared for this 
action are available at https://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS 
Alaska Region's website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
rule may be submitted to NMFS, Alaska Region, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99082-1668, Attn: James Bruschi, Records Officer, in person at NMFS, 
Alaska Region, 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK; by email to 
[email protected]; or by fax to 202-395-5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Iverson, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This final rule implements regulatory 
amendments for Pacific halibut charter fishing in International Pacific 
Halibut Commission (IPHC) Regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A 
(Southcentral Alaska). When Pacific halibut are simultaneously retained 
on a fishing vessel from both guided and unguided fishing, the daily 
bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention 
requirements for guided fishing will apply to all Pacific halibut on 
board.
    NMFS published the proposed rule for these regulatory amendments on 
February 12, 2019 (84 FR 3403). The comment period on the proposed rule 
ended on March 14, 2019. NMFS received seven comment letters on the 
proposed rule. From these letters, NMFS identified and considered seven 
unique, relevant comments. A summary of the comments and NMFS' 
responses are provided in the Comments and Responses section of this 
preamble.
    A detailed review of this rule and the rationale for these 
regulations is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule (84 FR 
3403, February 12, 2019). Electronic copies of the proposed rule and 
the Analysis may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS 
Alaska Region website at https://

[[Page 52801]]

www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska. All public comment letters 
submitted during the comment period may be obtained from 
www.regulations.gov.

Background

Authority for Action

    The IPHC and NMFS manage fishing for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus 
stenolepis) through regulations established under authority of the 
Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The IPHC adopts 
regulations governing the Pacific halibut fishery under the Convention 
between the United States and Canada for the Preservation of the 
Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea 
(Convention), signed in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 2, 1953, as amended 
by the Protocol Amending the Convention (signed in Washington, DC on 
March 29, 1979). For the United States, regulations developed by the 
IPHC are subject to acceptance by the Secretary of State with 
concurrence from the Secretary of Commerce. After acceptance by the 
Secretary of State and concurrence by the Secretary of Commerce, NMFS 
publishes the IPHC regulations in the Federal Register as annual 
management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62.
    The Halibut Act, at 16 U.S.C. 773c(a) and (b), provides the 
Secretary of Commerce with general responsibility to carry out the 
Convention and the Halibut Act. In adopting regulations that may be 
necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the Convention 
and the Halibut Act, the Secretary of Commerce is directed to consult 
with the Secretary of the department in which the U.S. Coast Guard is 
operating, which is currently the Department of Homeland Security.
    The Halibut Act, at section 16 U.S.C. 773c(c), also provides the 
North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) with authority to 
develop regulations, including limited access regulations, that are in 
addition to, and not in conflict with, approved IPHC regulations. 
Regulations developed by the Council may be implemented by NMFS only 
after approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Council has exercised 
this authority in the development of subsistence halibut fishery 
management measures, the limited access program for charter operators 
in the charter halibut fishery, and the catch sharing plan and domestic 
management measures in waters in and off Alaska, codified at 50 CFR 
300.61, 300.65, 300.66, and 300.67. The Council also developed the 
Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for the commercial halibut and 
sablefish fisheries, codified at 50 CFR part 679, under the authority 
of section 5 of the Halibut Act (16 U.S.C. 773c(c)) and section 303(b) 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 
U.S.C. 1853(b)).
Summary Background on Management of the Charter Halibut Fishery
    In addition to this summary, the preamble to the proposed rule and 
Section 2.7 of the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for this rule provide 
detail on charter halibut management programs that have been 
implemented in Areas 2C and 3A.
    Throughout the proposed rule and this preamble, regulatory areas 
established by the IPHC are referred to as ``IPHC Regulatory Areas'' 
for the IFQ program regulations at 50 CFR part 679 and as ``Commission 
regulatory areas'' for the halibut management regulations at 50 CFR 
300.61, 300.65, 300.66, and 300.67. This preamble uses the terms ``Area 
2C'' and ``Area 3A'' to refer to IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A, 
respectively.
    The harvest of halibut in Alaska occurs in three fisheries--the 
commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries. The commercial halibut 
fishery is managed under the IFQ Program. The sport fishery includes 
guided and unguided anglers. Guided anglers are ``charter vessel 
anglers'' as defined at 50 CFR 300.61, and means persons, paying or 
non-paying, receiving sport fishing guide services for halibut. 
Throughout this preamble, the term ``charter halibut fishery'' is used 
to refer to the sport fishery prosecuted by charter operators who hold 
Charter Halibut Permits (CHPs) and offer sport fishing guide services 
for halibut. This preamble uses the terms ``guided fishing'' to refer 
to sport fishing by an angler who receives sport fishing guide services 
for halibut, and ``guided angler'' to an angler receiving those sport 
fishing guide services. This preamble uses the terms ``unguided 
fishing'' to refer to sport fishing by an angler who does not receive 
sport fishing guide services for halibut sport fishing, and ``unguided 
angler'' to an angler who does not receive those sport fishing guide 
services.
    Essential background on the charter halibut fishery was presented 
in the proposed rule for this action, and in the Analysis. Among the 
topics described in the proposed rule is a summary of management of the 
charter halibut fishery and the development of the Charter Halibut 
Limited Access Program (CHLAP) that established a limited number of 
CHPs in the sport fishing sector in Areas 2C and 3A. The proposed rule 
also provides details on the Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) that annually 
allocates Pacific halibut harvests between the charter fishery and the 
commercial fisheries in Areas 2C and 3A. A component of the CSP 
describes the public process for determining annual management measures 
to limit charter harvest to the allocations in each management area. As 
part of this process, the Council develops recommendations that are 
forwarded to the IPHC.
    The effect of the CSP and the annual charter fishing management 
measures result in distinct halibut sport fishing regulations in Areas 
2C and 3A, depending upon whether anglers are guided (charter) or 
unguided. In general, to keep the charter fishery within its annual 
allocation, guided fishing regulations are more stringent than unguided 
fishing. Guided angling restrictions have become more pronounced in 
recent years, as halibut abundance has dropped and charter catch limits 
have been reduced.
    Currently, unguided anglers are managed under a two-fish of any 
size daily bag limit in Alaska; however, since 2008, guided anglers in 
Area 2C have been managed under more restrictive limits. In Area 3A, 
guided anglers have been managed under more restrictive limits since 
2014. For example, in 2019, guided anglers in Area 2C are limited to a 
daily bag limit of one fish and size limits that prohibit retention of 
halibut greater than 38 inches and less than 80 inches. In Area 3A in 
2019, guided anglers may retain two halibut per day; however, one fish 
must be 28 inches or less, and guided anglers are allowed to retain a 
maximum of four fish in a calendar year. Additionally, guided anglers 
in Area 3A in 2019 are prohibited from retaining halibut on any 
Wednesday, and on five Tuesdays from July 16 through August 13. To 
enforce the halibut size limit restrictions in Areas 2C and 3A, if the 
fish are filleted on board the charter vessel, guided anglers are 
required to retain the carcasses of fish until all fillets are 
offloaded from Convention waters.
    The maximum number of halibut an angler may possess at any one time 
in Areas 2C and 3A is two daily bag limits. Those possession limits 
correspond to the respective daily bag limits for guided or unguided 
anglers. For example, the 2019 daily bag limit for unguided anglers in 
Area 2C is two halibut, so the possession limit for unguided anglers is 
four halibut; however, for guided anglers in Area 2C in 2019, the daily 
bag limit is one

[[Page 52802]]

halibut (within the size limit), so the possession limit for that 
sector is two halibut (within the size limit).
    The CSP also authorizes limited annual leases of commercial IFQ for 
use in the charter fishery as guided angler fish (GAF). Charter vessel 
anglers can use GAF to retain halibut up to the limits provided for 
unguided halibut anglers.

Summary of This Action

    This final rule changes regulations for the management of the 
charter halibut fishery in IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. It 
implements a regulatory amendment that applies to situations in Areas 
2C and 3A where Pacific halibut are caught and retained by guided and 
unguided anglers, and those halibut are on board a fishing vessel at 
the same time. In these situations, where halibut are comingled from 
both guided and unguided fishing, the bag limits, possession limits, 
size limits, and carcass retention requirements for guided fishing will 
apply to all halibut on board the vessel.

Purpose and Need

    The preamble to the proposed rule provided a detailed description 
of the purpose and need for this final rule. A brief summary is 
provided here.
    This final rule is intended to aid the enforcement and to ensure 
the proper accounting of halibut taken when sport fishing in Areas 2C 
and 3A. This final rule provides uniform halibut retention regulations, 
provides clearer regulatory standards for the public, reduces the 
amount of time needed by enforcement officers when boarding fishing 
vessels, and improves overall compliance with daily bag limits, 
possession limits, size limits, and carcass retention requirements.
    When halibut are caught and retained by both guided and unguided 
anglers and those halibut are on the same fishing vessel, it presents 
enforcement challenges due to the different regulations for guided 
versus unguided anglers. The greatest challenge is for accountability 
under the bag and possession limits and halibut size restrictions. 
Under the current regulations, when halibut are caught and retained by 
guided and unguided anglers and those halibut are on the same fishing 
vessel, enforcement officers have no effective means to verify which 
angler harvested a particular fish, or whether that angler harvested 
the fish while fishing unguided or while being guided. It is important 
to note these enforcement challenges occur when the halibut from guided 
and unguided anglers is on board a fishing vessel in Convention waters. 
Therefore, this rule will not apply to Pacific halibut that is not on a 
fishing vessel. Section 2.3 of the RIR provides additional information 
on the history of this action.

Provisions of the Final Rule

    This final rule adds a new paragraph at 50 CFR 300.65(d)(6). This 
paragraph applies to Areas 2C and 3A under circumstances when Pacific 
halibut are retained by both guided and unguided anglers, and those 
halibut are on the same fishing vessel.
    The new paragraph at Sec.  300.65(d)(6) requires all Pacific 
halibut on board a fishing vessel to be subject to the daily bag limit, 
the possession limit, size restrictions, and carcass retention 
requirements for guided anglers for that IPHC Area if any halibut 
caught and retained by a guided angler is on board that vessel. If 
sport fishing guide services are performed at any point during a 
charter fishing trip, then all anglers on board, for the full extent of 
the fishing trip, will be subject to the daily bag limit, possession 
limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for 
guided charter vessel anglers, as specified for the applicable IPHC 
regulatory area, and determined by the annual management measures 
recommended by the IPHC and NMFS and published by NMFS in the Federal 
Register.
    Attention to both the IPHC and NMFS regulations is critical because 
there may be differences between the IPHC management measures and NMFS 
regulations. For example, in 2018, the IPHC adopted management measures 
for halibut size restrictions in Area 2C that were initially accepted 
by the Secretary of State and published by NMFS (83 FR 10390, March 9, 
2018), but those regulations were eventually superseded by a subsequent 
action implemented by NMFS in an interim final rule (83 FR 12133, March 
20, 2018).
    This final rule does not modify regulations related to the 
management of GAF. Regulations for GAF are principally found in Sec.  
300.65(c)(5). These regulations allow transfers of commercial halibut 
IFQ to a charter operator, where the IFQ is translated to fish that 
individual anglers can use to increase their harvests up to the limits 
of unguided anglers, which is currently two fish of any size per day, 
with no annual limit. Under this rule, guided anglers will be able to 
continue to use GAF on charter vessel fishing trips. Regulations 
applicable to GAF permitting, transfer, use, and reporting requirements 
in Sec.  300.65 will still apply.

Changes From Proposed to Final Rule

    NMFS did not make changes to the final rule from the proposed rule.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received seven comment letters on the proposed rule. Among the 
letters, NMFS identified and considered 7 unique, relevant comments, 
which are grouped, summarized, and responded to below. Three of the 
individual commenters identified themselves as either operators in the 
charter sector or representing charter fishing interests.
    Comment 1: Several comments expressed support for the proposed 
regulations by recognizing the difficulty of adequately enforcing bag 
and possession limits when halibut from guided and unguided angling are 
comingled on a common fishing vessel.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments.
    Comment 2: Some comments expressed support for the proposed rule by 
citing conservation concerns for halibut, and mentioned the more 
restrictive bag limits associated with guided halibut fishing.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges that sport fishing bag limits are an 
important component in halibut conservation. NMFS also acknowledges the 
primary consideration of this final rule is the effective enforcement 
of those bag limits, which in turn supports the proper monitoring of 
catch necessary for conservation.
    Comment 3: Halibut conservation and a decline in the resource are 
rationales to implement regulations that are different from the 
regulatory amendment suggested in the proposed rule. Halibut size 
limits that apply to guided fishing result in catch and release 
mortality by anglers who release many fish that fall outside of the 
allowable size restrictions. A simple solution is to establish the same 
regulations for both guided and unguided anglers, where all anglers are 
allowed one halibut of any size, per day.
    Response: Establishing a one-fish daily bag limit for both guided 
and unguided anglers would require coordinated action by both the 
Council and IPHC and is outside of the scope of this rule. Catch and 
release mortality for sport caught halibut is estimated on an annual 
basis and is factored into the IPHC decisions on the combined 
commercial and charter catch limits in Areas 2C and 3A.
    Comment 4: Some charter guides rent boats to clients so the clients 
can retain two halibut per day under the unguided fishing regulations. 
Regulations should allow only one halibut per day for all

[[Page 52803]]

guests statewide, whether they fish from a charter vessel or from a 
lodge. This would be more equitable. Guides seem to always find a way 
to work around the rules. No person needs more than one halibut per 
day.
    Response: Although this rule does not establish a bag limit of one 
halibut per day for all guests statewide, NMFS acknowledges the comment 
and points to the enforcement concerns that resulted in this final 
rule. NMFS also notes this rule applies to circumstances where halibut 
from both guided and unguided fishing are comingled on a fishing 
vessel, as defined by the Halibut Act, and operating in Convention 
waters.
    Comment 5: The issue of the proposed regulation is an unquantified 
problem in a very minute segment of the sport fishery. The ratio of bad 
actors in guided fishing is likely the same as among unguided anglers; 
therefore, the burden of enforcement efforts should be on the agency to 
find ways to discover illicit activity while preserving the rights of 
the majority of people who act in compliance.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the number of charter fishing vessels 
that offer mixed guided and unguided fishing is likely to be relatively 
small, compared to the total number of active charter vessels in any 
given year. NMFS agrees there is not currently information that can 
precisely identify the number of charter fishing vessels and the number 
of charter fishing trips where mixed guided and unguided halibut 
fishing occurs. However, the Council expressed its intent, and NMFS 
agrees, that the enforcement concerns are significant for those 
operations where mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing occurs, and 
that this issue warrants the regulatory amendment implemented by this 
final rule. NMFS also notes the enforcement issue, if left unaddressed, 
could continue to grow as more charter operations decide to offer the 
option of mixed guided and unguided fishing on their vessels.
    NMFS also notes this final rule does not prevent charter fishing 
vessels from continuing to offer mixed guided and unguided fishing. As 
mentioned in the proposed rule, public testimony to the Council 
suggests that--in addition to the bag, possession, and size limits 
addressed by this rule--pricing, convenience, and the personal 
preferences of the client anglers can also be reasons for sport fishing 
businesses to offer unguided fishing along with guided fishing.
    Comment 6: GAF is still allowed under the proposed regulations; 
therefore, the number and size of halibut that are onboard the fishing 
vessel may already exceed the guided fishing limits, although GAF must 
be accounted for on GAF permits. A similar requirement could be 
implemented for unguided fish, rather than alter size and bag limits.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges that the regulatory amendment 
implemented under this rule allows the continued and unchanged use of 
GAF. When halibut regulations place size or harvest restrictions on 
anglers, qualified charter halibut permit holders may offer GAF to 
their clients as a means to retain halibut of any size, and up to the 
limits allowed for unguided anglers, which is currently two fish of any 
size per day, with four fish in possession. Under this final rule, when 
fishing vessels employ a mix of guided and unguided fishing, all 
anglers will be subject to the guided angler harvest restrictions; 
therefore, all anglers on the vessel will be eligible to use GAF.
    As stated in the comment, regulations require that GAF harvests 
must be recorded on a GAF permit log. GAF must also be physically 
identified by removing the tips of the upper and lower lobes of the 
halibut tail fin. A marking and logging system similar to GAF that 
would be used to account for halibut retained by unguided anglers was 
not an alternative that was analyzed or recommended by the Council for 
this action.
    Comment 7: Typical enforcement happens by boarding vessels engaged 
in fishing or by conducting dockside interviews at the termination of a 
trip. Nothing prohibits enforcement officers from boarding guided or 
unguided vessels associated with a mother ship during fishing activity 
or upon return to the mother vessel to determine compliance with 
existing regulation. There is no current or proposed requirement that 
anglers remain on board a mother vessel with their processed catch, so 
investigation of preserved fish after transfer from other fishing 
vessels, or fish harvested and processed on the same vessel, becomes an 
independent issue.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comment, and agrees that 
enforcement boardings and interviews will continue on all fishing 
vessels, whether those vessels fish independently or whether they are 
associated with a mothership. NMFS also notes the primary enforcement 
issue that is addressed by this final rule, which is the proper 
determination of regulatory compliance after halibut are brought back 
to a common fishing vessel (i.e., a mothership), and those halibut come 
from a mix of guided and unguided fishing. Under these circumstances, 
enforcement officers currently have no effective means to properly 
account for the retained catch. The Council indicated, and NMFS agrees, 
that uniform regulations in these situations will enhance compliance 
and eliminate confusion among both anglers and enforcement officers.

Classification

    Regulations governing the U.S. fisheries for Pacific halibut are 
developed by the IPHC, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the 
North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Secretary of 
Commerce. Section 5 of the Halibut Act (16 U.S.C. 773c) allows the 
regional fishery management council having authority for a particular 
geographical area to develop regulations governing fishing for halibut 
in U.S. Convention waters as long as those regulations do not conflict 
with IPHC regulations. The Halibut Act at 16 U.S.C. 773c(a) and (b) 
provides the Secretary of Commerce with the general responsibility to 
carry out the Convention with the authority to, in consultation with 
the Secretary of the department in which the U.S. Coast Guard is 
operating, adopt such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the 
purposes and objectives of the Convention and the Halibut Act. This 
final rule is consistent with the Halibut Act and other applicable 
laws. This final rule is also consistent with the Secretary of 
Commerce's authority under the Halibut Act to implement management 
measures for the halibut fishery.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Impact Review

    A Regulatory Impact Review was prepared to assess the costs and 
benefits of available regulatory alternatives. A copy of this final 
analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Council 
recommended the regulatory revisions in this final rule based on those 
measures that maximized net benefits to the Nation. Specific aspects of 
the economic analysis related to the impact of this final rule on small 
entities are discussed below in the Final Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis section.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA)

    This FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
(IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public 
comments in response to the IRFA, if any, and NMFS' responses to those 
comments, and a summary of

[[Page 52804]]

the analyses completed to support this action.
    Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 604) 
requires that, when an agency promulgates a final rule under section 
553 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code, after being required by that section 
or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking, 
the agency shall prepare a FRFA. Section 604 describes the required 
contents of a FRFA: (1) A statement of the need for and objectives of 
the rule; (2) a statement of the significant issues raised by the 
public comments in response to the IRFA, a statement of the assessment 
of the agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made to 
the proposed rule as a result of such comments; (3) the response of the 
agency to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the proposed rule, 
and a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule in the 
final rule as a result of the comments; (4) a description of and an 
estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule will apply 
or an explanation of why no such estimate is available; (5) a 
description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other 
compliance requirements of the rule, including an estimate of the 
classes of small entities that will be subject to the requirement and 
the type of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report 
or record; and (6) a description of the steps the agency has taken to 
minimize the significant economic impact on small entities consistent 
with the stated objectives of applicable statutes including a statement 
of the factual, policy, and legal reasons for selecting the alternative 
adopted in this final rule and why each one of the other significant 
alternatives to the rule considered by the agency which affect the 
impact on small entities was rejected.
    A description of this final rule, along with the need for and 
objectives of the rule, are contained in the preamble to this final 
rule and the preamble to the proposed rule (84 FR 3403, February 12, 
2019), and are not repeated here.
Public and Chief Counsel for Advocacy Comments on the IRFA
    NMFS published the proposed rule on February 12, 2019 (84 FR 3403). 
An IRFA was prepared and included in the Classification section of the 
preamble to the proposed rule. The comment period on the proposed rule 
ended on March 14, 2019. One of the comments indirectly referenced the 
IRFA and has been addressed in the Comments and Responses section of 
the preamble (Comment 5; number of entities affected by this rule). The 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA did not file any comments on the 
proposed rule.
Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Final Rule
    This final rule directly regulates (1) sport fishing businesses 
that currently offer, or would offer, both guided and unguided halibut 
fishing opportunities, and the sport fishing guides that work for those 
businesses (``charter operations''); and (2) unguided anglers who 
retain halibut on board vessels at the same time as guided anglers who 
have also retained halibut.
    NMFS does not collect information on the number of entities that 
offer mixed guided and unguided halibut fishing, and there appears to 
be no systematic means to determine an accurate number of those 
entities. An informal survey by enforcement officers, combined with 
testimony and comments from the public, indicates the practice of 
mixing guided and unguided fishing primarily occurs on larger charter 
vessels that provide multi-day fishing trips. This analysis indicates 
that approximately 30 fishing vessel businesses in Area 2C and 14 
similar businesses in Area 3A currently offer multi-day fishing trips 
for their clients. This should be considered an upper-bound estimate of 
the number of businesses directly regulated by this action at this time 
because the number of those operations that offer mixed guided and 
unguided fishing is unknown. Public comment also indicates that on 
relatively rare occasions, anglers will mix guided and unguided fishing 
when they are based out of a shoreside lodge or facility that provides 
rental boats.
    For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, the SBA has 
established a small business size standard for businesses, including 
their affiliates, whose primary industry is scenic and sightseeing 
transportation on water, or all other amusement and recreation (NAICS 
codes 487210, and 713990, respectively).
    On July 18, 2019, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an 
interim final rule (84 FR 34261) effective August 19, 2019, that 
adjusted the monetary-based industry size standards (i.e., receipts- 
and assets-based) for inflation for many industries. For fisheries for-
hire businesses and marinas, the rule changes the small business size 
standard from $7.5 million in annual gross receipts to $8 million. See 
84 FR at 34273 (adjusting NAICS 487990 (Scenic and Sightseeing 
Transportation, Other) and 713930 (Marinas)).
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and prior to SBA's July 
18, 2019 interim final rule, a final regulatory flexibility analysis 
was developed for this action using SBA's former size standards. NMFS 
has reviewed the analyses prepared for this action in light of the new 
size standards. Under the former SBA size standards, all entities 
subject to this action were considered small entities, and they all 
would continue to be considered small under the new standards.
    NMFS has determined that the new size standards do not affect 
analyses prepared for this action. It is unlikely that the largest of 
the affected charter vessel operations would be considered large 
entities under either the former or current SBA standards; however, 
that cannot be confirmed because NMFS does not have or collect economic 
data on lodges or charter vessels necessary to definitively determine 
total annual receipts. Thus, all charter vessel operations are 
considered small entities, based on SBA criteria, because NMFS cannot 
confirm if any entities have annual gross revenues greater than either 
the former $7.5 million or current $8.0 million standards.
    Community quota entities (CQEs) may apply for and receive community 
CHPs and some of those charter operations could potentially offer mixed 
guided and unguided halibut fishing; therefore, this final rule may 
directly regulate CQEs, and the CQEs are non-profit entities that 
represent small, remote communities in Areas 2C and 3A. There are 20 
communities in Area 2C and 14 in Area 3A eligible to receive community 
CHPs. Of these 34 communities, 20 hold community CHPs. Again, the 
number of these CHP holders who offer, or would offer, mixed guided and 
unguided fishing is unknown.
    This final rule applies more restrictive halibut bag and possession 
limits on clients that take multi-day charters with mixed guided and 
unguided halibut fishing activity. These individuals are not considered 
directly regulated small entities under the RFA. However, this action 
will also apply these more restrictive catch and possession limits on 
vessel crew and guides who choose to fish for halibut in any time off 
they may have during a guided trip. It is possible that these crew and 
guides may operate as subcontractors to the primary vessel and, as 
such, may be defined as small entities. However, the applicability of 
the more restrictive limits to any of these potential small entities is 
as an indirect consequence of their being aboard the vessel on a mixed 
guided and unguided trip. Thus, they are not considered to be directly

[[Page 52805]]

regulated small entities for RFA purposes.
    Based on this analysis, NMFS has determined that there are directly 
regulated small entities affected by this action. The RIR notes that 
the action could increase costs for multi-day vessels that continue to 
offer both guided and unguided fishing due to transporting halibut to 
shore to prevent mixing. However, the analysts were unable to determine 
if these costs would occur or, if they did, the magnitude of these 
costs. NMFS indicated in the proposed rule that it may consider 
certifying that this action will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities prior to publication of the 
final rule. However, due to the assumptions necessary to establish the 
factual basis for certification and the lack of information available 
to conduct this analysis, NMFS decided to prepare a FRFA for this 
action.
Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements
    This final rule does not change the recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements for charter halibut fishing or unguided halibut fishing in 
the affected Areas 2C and 3A. In terms of other compliance 
requirements, the final rule applies the daily bag limits, possession 
limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for 
guided fishing to all Pacific halibut on board a fishing vessel when 
Pacific halibut caught and retained by both guided anglers and unguided 
anglers are on the same vessel.
Description of Significant Alternatives Considered to the Final Action 
That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities
    NMFS and the Council considered three alternatives for this rule. 
Alternative 1 was the no action alternative. This alternative would 
have continued to maintain different daily bag limits, possession 
limits, size restrictions, and carcass retention requirements for 
guided anglers and unguided anglers even if halibut caught and retained 
by both guided and unguided anglers are on the same fishing vessel 
simultaneously. The benefit of status quo is the flexibility and 
business advantages for operators seeking to accommodate the desires of 
a broad range of clients, and their anglers can choose guided fishing, 
unguided fishing, or alternating between guided and unguided fishing at 
different times.
    The concerns about status quo are expressed in the Council's 
purpose and need statement and in the RIR analysis. In Areas 2C or 3A, 
guided anglers are frequently subject to greater harvest restrictions 
than unguided anglers. When halibut from guided and unguided fishing 
are commingled on a vessel in these management areas, it is difficult 
for enforcement officers to determine whether the halibut were caught 
by guided or unguided anglers. When vessels are boarded by enforcement 
officers, establishing each person's catch and whether that person was 
guided or unguided can become a lengthy and complicated process for 
both officers and charter operators.
    Alternative 2 was also considered by NMFS and the Council. It would 
have prevented the commingling of halibut catches from guided and 
unguided anglers on fishing vessels by prohibiting the possession of 
halibut retained by guided anglers with halibut retained by unguided 
anglers on the same fishing vessel simultaneously. The primary 
advantage of this alternative is that it would have maximized 
compliance of the regulations and likely reduced the duration of at-sea 
boardings by enforcement officers.
    The RIR describes the disadvantages of Alternative 2, which are 
primarily the reduced flexibility and potential lost revenue for multi-
day fishing vessels that currently provide, or would seek to provide, 
the option of mixed guided and unguided fishing. If charter operations 
wanted to switch from guided to unguided fishing, the vessels would 
need to assume the time and cost of returning to port, offloading the 
fish, and then beginning a new trip to prevent comingling of halibut.
    Alternative 3 is the adopted alternative and is also described in 
detail in the RIR. Alternative 3 is intended to balance the enforcement 
concerns that result from commingling of halibut from guided and 
unguided fishing with an allowance for charter operations to maintain 
the flexibility of offering a mix of guided and unguided fishing, as 
they do now. Moreover, Alternative 3 allows other operations to assume 
the practice of offering both guided and unguided fishing in the 
future. The Council's enforcement concerns are addressed by 
establishing uniform bag limits, possession limits, size restrictions, 
and carcass retention requirements for all halibut retained by anglers 
on a fishing vessel, irrespective of whether the angler was guided or 
unguided.
    Under Alternative 3, some of the requirements for guided anglers 
would not be imposed on unguided anglers, largely because the proposed 
alignment of bag and possession limits, size restrictions, and carcass 
retention requirements effectively serve to mitigate the compliance 
risks associated with the commingling of halibut on a fishing vessel 
that were caught and retained by both guided and unguided anglers. For 
example, this final rule will not require unguided anglers to 
individually record their daily catch and accrue it toward guided 
angler annual limits, which is currently a maximum of four fish in Area 
3A. Additionally, day of the week closures for guided anglers, which is 
a restriction to catching and retaining Pacific halibut on specific 
days and is currently used in Area 3A, will not apply to unguided 
anglers.
    The RIR examines the potential negative effects of this final rule, 
which largely relates to reduced harvest limits for unguided anglers 
who have their halibut on the same fishing vessel as guided anglers. 
One of the advantages of fishing unguided is that anglers are allowed 
to keep two fish of any size per day and keep a possession limit of 
four fish. Relative to the status quo, it is possible that this final 
rule which would reduce the number and size of halibut that can be 
retained by unguided anglers in some situations, could also reduce the 
incentive to purchase charter halibut trips.
    As noted above, the entities directly regulated under this final 
rule are assumed to be small, by the SBA definition. Overall, however, 
this action is likely to have a limited effect on net benefits to the 
Nation. The majority of Area 2C and 3A halibut charter operations, 
which includes business owners, guides and crew members, would not be 
subject to significant negative economic impacts by this final rule. 
Thus, NMFS is not aware of any alternatives, in addition to the 
alternatives considered, that would more effectively meet the RFA 
criteria, the objectives of the Halibut Act and other applicable 
statutes at a lower economic cost to directly regulated small entities.

Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA),which have been approved 
by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 
0648-0575 (Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter Recordkeeping). 
Public reporting burden per response is estimated to average 4 minutes 
for the ADF&G Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Trip Logbook, 5 minutes 
for the GAF Landing Report, and 2 minutes for the GAF Permit Log. The 
response time

[[Page 52806]]

includes time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data 
sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and 
reviewing the collection of information.
    The ADF&G Saltwater Sport Fishing Charter Trip Logbook, GAF 
Electronic Landing Report, and GAF Permit Log are mentioned in this 
final rule. Each of these are reporting requirements specified by NMFS 
regulations. The requirements apply only to the harvest accounting of 
charter vessel anglers by charter vessel guides. Under this final rule, 
the harvests of unguided charter vessel anglers will not be subject to 
these requirements; therefore, this rulemaking imposes no additional 
burden or cost on the regulated community.
    Send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect 
of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, 
to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to [email protected], 
or fax to (202) 395-5806.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA 
collections of information may be viewed at: https://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small 
entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such 
publications as ``small entity compliance guides.'' The agency shall 
explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a 
rule or group of rules. The preambles to the proposed rule and this 
final rule serve as the small entity compliance guide. Copies of the 
proposed rule and this final rule are available from the NMFS website 
at https://fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300

    Administrative practice and procedure, Antarctica, Canada, Exports, 
Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Imports, Indians, Labeling, Marine resources, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Russian Federation, 
Transportation, Treaties, Wildlife.

    Dated: September 25, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 
300 as follows:

PART 300--INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS

Subpart E--Pacific Halibut Fisheries

0
 1. The authority citation for part 300, subpart E, continues to read 
as follows:

     Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773-773k.


0
 2. In Sec.  300.65, add paragraph (d)(6) to read as follows:


Sec.  300.65  Catch sharing plan and domestic management measures in 
waters in and off Alaska.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (6) If a charter vessel angler catches and retains halibut, and 
that halibut is on board a fishing vessel with halibut caught and 
retained by persons who are not charter vessel anglers, then the daily 
bag limit, possession limit, size limit, and carcass retention 
regulations applicable to charter vessel anglers shall apply to all 
halibut on board the fishing vessel.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2019-21258 Filed 10-2-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P