Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Whiting; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Amendment 21-4; Catch Share Program, 5-Year Review, Follow-on Actions, 54561-54579 [2019-21894]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act and would not impose additional or new COI requirements. The COI for the registration of individuals under the MMPA has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 0648–0293 (0.15 hours per report for new registrants). The requirement for reporting marine mammal mortalities or injuries has been approved by OMB under OMB control number 0648–0292 (0.15 hours per report). These estimates include the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the COI. Send comments regarding these reporting burden estimates or any other aspect of the COI, including suggestions for reducing burden, to NMFS and OMB (see ADDRESSES and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a COI, subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, unless that COI displays a currently valid OMB control number. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. This rule is not expected to be an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866. In accordance with the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS preliminarily determined that publishing this proposed LOF qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review, consistent with categories of activities identified in Categorical Exclusion G7 (‘‘Preparation of policy directives, rules, regulations, and guidelines of an administrative, financial, legal, technical, or procedural nature, or for which the environmental effects are too broad, speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis and will be subject later to the NEPA process, either collectively or on a case-by-case basis’’) of the Companion Manual and we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances listed in Chapter 4 of the Companion Manual for NAO 216–6A that would preclude application of this categorical exclusion. If NMFS takes a management action, for example, through the development of a TRP, NMFS would first prepare an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment, as required under NEPA, specific to that action. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 This proposed rule would not affect species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or their associated critical habitat. The impacts of numerous fisheries have been analyzed in various biological opinions, and this proposed rule will not affect the conclusions of those opinions. The classification of fisheries on the LOF is not considered to be a management action that would adversely affect threatened or endangered species. If NMFS takes a management action, for example, through the development of a TRP, NMFS would consult under ESA section 7 on that action. This proposed rule would have no adverse impacts on marine mammals and may have a positive impact on marine mammals by improving knowledge of marine mammals and the fisheries interacting with marine mammals through information collected from observer programs, stranding and sighting data, or take reduction teams. This proposed rule would not affect the land or water uses or natural resources of the coastal zone, as specified under section 307 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. References Bradford, A.L. 2018. Injury Determinations for Marine Mammals Observed Interacting with Hawaii and American Samoa Longline Fisheries During 2015– 2016. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS–PIFSC–70. 27 p. Bradford, A.L. and K.A. Forney. 2017. Injury Determinations for Marine Mammals Observed Interacting with Hawaii and American Samoa Longline Fisheries 2010–2014. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS–PIFSC–62. 35 p. Carretta, J.V., J.E. Moore, and K.A. Forney. 2019. Estimates of marine mammal, sea turtle, and seabird bycatch from the California large-mesh drift gillnet fishery: 1990–2017. Draft reviewed by the Pacific Scientific Review Group in March, 2019. 76 p. Carretta, J.V., K.A. Forney, E.M. Oleson, D.W. Weller, A.R. Lang, J. Baker, M.M. Muto, B. Hanson, A.J. Orr, H. Huber, M.S. Lowry, J. Barlow, J.E. Moore, D. Lynch, L. Carswell, and R.L. Brownell Jr. 2019a. U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Stock Assessments: 2018. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA–TM–NMFS– SWFSC–617. 382 p. Carretta, J.V., E. Oleson, K.A. Forney, J. Baker, J.E. Moore, D.W. Weller, A.R. Lang, M.M. Muto, B. Hanson, A.J. Orr, H. Huber, M.S. Lowry, J. Barlow, D. Lynch, L. Carswell, and R.L. Brownell Jr. 2018. U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Stock Assessments: 2017. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA–TM–NMFS– SWFSC–602. 161 p. Hayes, S.A., E. Josephson, K. Maze-Foley, and P.E. Rosel, editors. 2019. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stocks Assessments, 2018. PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54561 NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS–NE–258. 306 p. Jannot, J.E., K.A. Somers, V. Tuttle, J. McVeigh, J.V. Carretta, and V. Helker. 2018. Observed and Estimated Marine Mammal Bycatch in U.S. West Coast Groundfish Fisheries, 2002–16. U.S. Department of Commerce, NWFSC Processed Report 2018–03. 45 p. https:// doi.org/10.25923/fkf8–0x49 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2014. West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)—Florida stock assessment report. Jacksonville, FL. 17 p. (Available at https://www.fws.gov/ecologicalservices/es-library/pdfs/West-IndianManatee-FL-Final-SAR.pdf) Waring, G.T., E. Josephson, K. Maze-Foley, and P.E. Rosel, editors. 2016. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stocks Assessments, 2015. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA– NE–238. 512 p. Dated: October 3, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–22007 Filed 10–9–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 191001–0049] RIN 0648–BI35 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Whiting; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Amendment 21–4; Catch Share Program, 5-Year Review, Follow-on Actions National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes this measure to enact a range of Follow-on Actions identified in the course of conducting the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program 5-Year Review. These actions are intended to complete outstanding elements of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program, respond to problems identified after implementing the program, and modify outdated regulations. This action proposes regulations in accordance with Amendment 21–4 to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54562 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, and would revise elements in four areas of the Catch Share Program. DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received no later than October 29, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAANMFS-2019-0106 by any of the following methods: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190106, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Mail: Colin Sayre, Sustainable Fisheries Division, West Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115–0070. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic Access This proposed rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the NMFS West Coast Region website at: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/index.html and at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at http:// www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/fisherymanagement-plan/groundfishamendments-in-development/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colin Sayre, phone: 206–526–4656, or email: colin.sayre@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Background II. Summary of the Proposed Regulations A. At-sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management B. Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Trawl Sector Quota Transfers VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 C. Catcher Processor (C/P) Permit Accumulation Limits D. New Data Collections 1. C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest 2. Quota Share Permit Owner Participation and Economic Data E. Clarifications to Cost Recovery Regulatory Text F. Technical Corrections III. Classification IV. Description of Regulated Entities VI. Collection of Information Requirements I. Background The proposed action would complete outstanding elements of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program (Catch Share Program), respond to problems identified after Catch Share Program implementation, and modify outdated regulations. The proposed measures would: Allow the at-sea whiting sector to more fully and efficiently harvest its allocation through more flexible set-aside management of constraining bycatch species; improve utilization of Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) and overall economic efficiency for the shorebased IFQ trawl sector; ensure fair and equitable access to resources in the event of at-sea Pacific Whiting Catcher-Processor (C/P) coop failure; and provide a more robust evaluation of Catch Share Program performance. This action also includes clarifying non-substantive changes to the regulatory language for the Cost Recovery Program. The Council deemed the proposed regulations necessary and appropriate to implement these actions in an August, 23rd, 2019, letter from Council Executive Director, Chuck Tracy, to Regional Administrator Barry Thom. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), NMFS is required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. We are seeking comment on the proposed regulations in this action and whether they are consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program On January 1, 2011, NMFS implemented the Catch Share Program through Amendment 20 and Amendment 21 (75 FR 60867; October 1, 2010) to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. Amendment 20 established a limited entry IFQ system for shorebased trawl vessels and cooperatives for the atsea Pacific whiting mothership (MS) PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 and C/P sectors. The intent of the Catch Share Program was to increase net economic benefits and create economic stability for individual trawl fishery participants, provide full utilization of the trawl sector allocation, and achieve individual accountability for catch and bycatch in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery. Amendment 21 established fixed allocations for limited entry trawl participants. These allocations are intended to improve management under the Catch Share Program by streamlining its administration, providing stability to the fishery, and addressing bycatch. Catch Share Program 5-Year Review Follow-On Actions Section 303A of the MagnusonStevens Act requires periodic reviews of limited access privilege programs (LAPPs), such as the Catch Share Program, starting five years after implementation. This review provides managers with information to determine whether Catch Share Program outcomes have been consistent with program goals and objectives and expected environmental impacts. Starting with implementation of the Catch Share Program in 2011, NMFS collected both baseline and annual socioeconomic data to judge the effectiveness of the Catch Share Program for the 5-Year Review. The Council approved the final version of the first 5-Year Review at its November 2017 meeting. To aid in reviewing and refining the Catch Share Program, the Council appointed an ad hoc committee called the Community Advisory Board (CAB) at its September 2016 meeting. The CAB provides the perspective of fishing communities on Catch Share Program performance, potential improvements, and other advice the Council requests to inform the program review. In May 2017, the CAB developed a list of issues for the Council to consider for rulemakings after completing the 5-Year Review. At its June 2017 meeting, the CAB provided the Council with a priority list of follow-on actions from which six were selected for further development. The action issues the CAB selected were: Meeting the at-sea whiting fishery bycatch needs; trawl sablefish area-management; revising shoreside IFQ accumulation limits to increase attainment; meeting shoreside IFQ sector harvest complex needs; setting limits on fixed-gear gear switching; and setting C/P sector accumulation limits on permit ownership and harvesting/processing. At its November 2017 meeting, in a single package, called the ‘‘Follow-on Actions,’’ the Council adopted the 5- E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules Year Review document and provided preliminary guidance for developing a range of alternatives from a subset of the action issues selected by the CAB, as follows: • Adjust the management approach and FMP formulas for previouslyoverfished non-whiting stocks caught in the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery; • Revise individual species annual quota pound (QP) vessel limits; • Allow post-season QP trading and provide post-season relief from vessel QP limits; • Eliminate the September 1 expiration for QP that have not been moved to a vessel account; • Establish accumulation limits for C/ P-endorsed permit ownership and processing amount; • Require the submission of C/Pendorsed permit ownership information during the annual permit renewal process; and • Require Quota Share (QS) permit owners to provide information on ownership and participation to the NMFS Northwest Fishery Science Center Economic Data Collection Program. At its November 2017 meeting, the Council decided to analyze alternatives for a range of action issues identified for follow-on action as part of 2019–2020 biennial Pacific Coast groundfish harvest specifications (83 FR 66638; December 27, 2018), and deferred several others issues for consideration in future groundfish actions. In March 2018, the CAB provided input and recommendations as the Council adopted a final range of alternatives to be included in the follow-on actions for analysis. At its September 2018 meeting, the Council adopted preliminary preferred alternatives for each issue included in the Follow-on Action package. The Council selected the final preferred alternatives for the remaining follow-on actions to be included in Amendment 21–4 at its November 2018 meeting. Concurrent with this proposed rule, NMFS also published a Notice of Availability to announce the proposed Amendment 21–4 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. The Notice of Availability requests public review and comment on proposed changes to the Council FMP document (84 FR 45706; August 30, 2019). II. Summary of Proposed Regulations A. At-Sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management The Pacific Coast groundfish FMP accounts for non-whiting groundfish bycatch in the at-sea Pacific whiting C/ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 P and MS sectors in a number of different ways. For most stocks, the Council recommends an expected annual bycatch level for the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, and deducts it before allocating catch to the trawl sector. These deductions, known as setasides, do not require closure of the atsea Pacific whiting sectors, nor do they require any other management action if catch exceeds the expected amount of a set-aside. However, as a part of Amendment 21, the Council set formal allocations for four species, all of which were overfished at the time. The Council established allocations of these stocks for the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery in order to constrain catch. If catch in the at-sea C/P sector or MS sector exceeds the allocation for these stocks, NMFS is required to automatically close the sector. Canary rockfish, widow rockfish, darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch (POP) were managed as allocations for the atsea Pacific whiting fishery under Amendment 21. In the past five years, the at-sea sectors have encountered these species with greater frequency as stocks increased under rebuilding efforts. In October of 2014 the MS sector experienced an unexpectedly large bycatch of darkblotched rockfish in a single haul that caused the sector to exceed its allocation for this species. The automatic closure provision in regulations at 50 CFR 660.60(d)(1) requires NMFS to close the at-sea Pacific whiting MS or C/P sectors when a non-whiting groundfish species with allocations is reached or projected to be reached. This early fishery closure left a significant portion of the MS sector’s Pacific whiting allocation unattained. NMFS took inseason action to reapportion darkblotched rockfish from the C/P sector in order to reopen and allow the MS sector to fully attain its whiting allocation (79 FR 67095; November 12, 2014). In 2018 widow rockfish was reapportioned from the MS cooperative sector to the C/P cooperative sector to avoid a fishery closure similar to the one that occurred in 2014 (83 FR 5952; September 15, 2018). In January 2018 the final rule for Amendment 21–3 (83 FR 757; January 8, 2018) converted darkblotched rockfish and POP from allocations to set-asides. Formulas in the regulations at § 660.55(c)(1)(i)(A) and (B) are used to determine set-aside amounts of darkblotched rockfish and POP. To ensure the action did not increase the risk of exceeding darkblotched rockfish or POP annual catch limits (ACLs), the final rule for Amendment 21–3 also added PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54563 exceedance of the set-aside amount, plus an available buffer reserve for unforeseen catch events, to the list of circumstances requiring automatic closure for the at-sea sectors (MS and C/ P). In the 2019–20 biennial harvest specifications and management measures (December 12, 2018; 83 FR 63970), the Council recommended, and NMFS approved, an action that removed the requirement that NMFS automatically close the at-sea sector if the set-asides for darkblotched rockfish or POP are exceeded. Amendment 21– 3 further increased the flexibility of atsea sectors to target their whiting allocation and provided economic relief from automatic fishery closures. Under regulations at § 660.150(c)(2)(B) and § 660.160(c)(3) NMFS still has the authority to take inseason action should a sector’s catch of species exceed its setaside amount with risk of exceeding harvest specifications, cause unforeseen impact on another fishery, or result in other conservation concerns. In the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, bycatch of canary rockfish and widow rockfish are currently managed as allocations. Under this management approach each at-sea sector receives allocations of canary rockfish and widow rockfish bycatch, and automatic closure of an at-sea sector is required if the allocation is exceeded. The amount of canary rockfish bycatch available to the at-sea sectors is determined and allocated each biennium. The available widow rockfish bycatch allocation is determined using a set formula in the groundfish FMP and regulations at § 660.55(c)(1)(i)(C). This proposed action would remove the allocations of widow rockfish and canary rockfish and instead create setasides in the at-sea sectors, consistent with set-aside management for POP and darkblotched rockfish. This action would also remove from the regulations formulas used to determine set-aside or allocation amounts for darkblotched rockfish, POP, and widow rockfish, and instead use the biennial specification process to determine set-aside amounts available to the at-sea Pacific whiting sectors. The Council recommended using the existing FMP formulas to establish initial amounts in the biennial harvest specifications and management measure process. The status quo methods for determining set-asides or allocations available for harvest of these rockfish species, and changes proposed by Amendment 21–4 are provided in Table 1. E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54564 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—CURRENT AND PROPOSED ALLOCATION AND MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR BYCATCH ROCKFISH STOCKS IN THE AT-SEA PACIFIC WHITING SECTORS Status quo management measures Species Status quo allocation method Canary Rockfish. Determined through biennial harvest specifications. Allocation—Automatic closure when fully harvested. Darkblotched Rockfish. FMP Formula: 9 percent or 25 mt, whichever is greater, of the total limited entry (LE) trawl allocation. FMP Formula; 17 percent or 30 mt, whichever is greater, of the total LE trawl allocation. FMP Formula: 10 percent or 500 mt, whichever is greater, distributed proportional to the sectors’ Pacific whiting allocation. Set-aside—No action required if catch exceeds set-aside. Pacific Ocean Perch (POP). Widow Rockfish. 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Proposed management measures Set-aside amount based on expected Pacific whiting fishery bycatch of this species determined during biennial harvest specifications process. When set-aside is reached no action is taken, the Council may choose to take inseason action if there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns. Set-aside—No action required if catch exceeds set-aside. Allocation—Automatic closure when fully harvested. Changing the method used to determine set-asides from set formulas to management through the biennial specifications process would provide greater flexibility to managers when determining bycatch amounts for these four rockfish species, allowing managers to appropriately anticipate bycatch in the at-sea whiting sector within the process of setting biennial harvest specifications and management measures. As with previous changes to bycatch management for the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, this action would reduce the risk of constraining attainment of the full at-sea sector whiting allocation in the event that bycatch limits of these rockfish species are exceeded. Under the proposed setaside management, the sector would not automatically close, and other management measures would not be required if bycatch of these species exceeds set-aside amounts. If catch of any of these four species exceeds the set-aside and there is risk of exceeding a harvest specification, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, NMFS and the Council may take inseason action (e.g., time or area closures) to slow catch in the trawl fishery. Currently, all other non-whiting species in the Pacific whiting fishery are managed as setasides with amounts set during the VerDate Sep<11>2014 Proposed allocation method Jkt 250001 biennial specifications process. Expected bycatch levels set during the specification process are generally high enough to cover maximum Pacific whiting fishery bycatch each year without risk to other harvest guidelines. Set-aside amounts of darkblotched rockfish and POP determined in the 2019–20 harvest specifications are higher than have historically been caught by the at-sea sector. In addition, the biomass for both canary rockfish and widow rockfish has increased greatly in recent years as a result of rebuilding efforts. Therefore, the Council determined it is unlikely that catch in the at-sea Pacific whiting sectors will exceed set-asides for these four rockfish species at a level that would result in overfishing. B. Shorebased IFQ Trawl Sector Quota Transfers The proposed measures would adjust the quota trading provisions for participants in the shorebased IFQ sector. The changes would allow for post-season quota trading, remove the annual vessel limit for post-season trades, and remove a quota transfer deadline. Currently, shorebased IFQ fishery participants who have caught more than their available QP for any stock or stock complex during a given fishing year PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 enter the following fishing year with their vessel accounts in deficit. Participants must cover deficits with the following year’s QP allocation. In most fishing years, there are remaining unused QP available in other vessel accounts at the end of the fishing year. The proposed action would expand the quota trading provision to allow participants to cover deficits after the end of the fishing year by either (1) using QP from the immediately following fishing year (status quo) or (2) trading with other participants to acquire surplus QP from the fishing year in which the deficit occurred (base year), or a combination of both methods. After the end of the groundfish fishing year on December 31st, QS permit owners would be able to trade surplus QP to QS permit owners with a deficit of QP from the base fishing year during a post-season transfer period. The postseason trading window would last from January 1st until on or about March 14th of the immediately following fishing year; NMFS would provide fishery participants advance notice of the dates of the post-season trading window through public notice. Surplus QP traded during the post-season trading window could only be transferable for the purpose of curing vessel account deficits, and would not be eligible for fishing. For example, a QS permit owner E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules starts the 2020 fishing year with 2,000 quota pounds of POP quota on January 1, and ends the year on December 31 with POP catch totaling 2,250 quota pounds, accruing a deficit of 250 quota pounds. The QS permit owner would be able to choose to use 250 quota pounds of their 2021 POP quota allocation to cover the deficit, or to purchase unused 2020 POP quota left over from other QS permit owners during the post-season trading window; the QS permit owner would also be able to choose a combination of both of these options. The post-season trading provision interacts with existing carryover provisions in regulations at § 660.140(e)(5). Surplus QP and QP deficits at the end of a fishing year can be carried-over to the following fishing year. The surplus carryover limit is the amount of surplus QP from the base year that can be fished in the immediately following fishing year. Surplus QP carryover is limited to a maximum of 10 percent of a QS permit owner’s total allocation for a stock or stock complex, provided that total carryover for the stock or stock complex does not exceed the ABC for the following year, consistent with provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 Guidelines. The deficit carryover limit is the amount of deficit QP that a vessel may carry into the following fishing year without violating the carryover regulations. The deficit carryover limit is a maximum of 10 percent of a QS permit owners total cumulative QP (used and unused) in the vessel account 30 days after the date the deficit is documented. Under the current regulations, a QS permit owner that has 25 percent of their total QP for a given stock unused after December 31 may carryover and fish unused QP equal to 10 percent of the base year’s total, forgoing the remaining 15 percent from the base year. There is no limit on the amount of deficit QP that QS permit owners carryover from the base year into the following fishing year, and all deficits require pound-for-pound payback before the vessel is considered eligible to fish in the shorebased IFQ fishery in the following year. As an example of the interaction between the proposed post-season trading provision and surplus carryover, a QS permit owner with a QP surplus of 25 percent for a given stock, rather than forgoing 15 percent of the surplus QP over the carryover limit, may instead trade the unused QP to another QS permit owner with a deficit for the same given stock. The trade described in this example would occur during the post-season trading window (January 1st to on or VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 about March 14th of each year), and prior to NMFS issuing carryover surplus QP into the following year vessel accounts. The carryover provisions for QP surplus and deficits will remain in place, allowing QS permit owners the option to either conduct post-season trading or use surplus carryover to maximize opportunities to use surplus QP and cover QP deficits. An additional component of this proposed action would also allow vessels to cover end-of-the-year deficits that exceed the annual vessel limit with post-season QP trading, QP allocation for the following fishing year, or a combination, without restriction from the annual QP vessel limit of the base or following year. The Catch Share Program initially included annual vessel limits to ensure no individual or entity acquired excess, or otherwise unfair access, to fishing privileges. Deficits exceeding the annual QP vessel limit have occurred in the fishery when an unexpectedly high bycatch event known as a ‘‘lightning-strike’’ takes place. These events are extremely rare and can result from unpredictable and dense congregations of a single bycatch species in one area where trawling occurs. Though infrequent, lightningstrike hauls over the annual QP vessel limit can greatly impact the ability of the affected QS permit owner to operate in subsequent years. QS permit owners are required to cover the QP deficits that result from lighting strikes, but are also constrained by the annual QP vessel limit from the base fishing year. For this reason, the QS permit owner must forego fishing until they cover the QP deficit with QP from the following fishing year under the base year annual QP vessel limit, in some cases over multiple fishing years. This action would allow QS permit owners with deficits exceeding the annual QP vessel limit to cover the deficit by trading postseason for available unused QP, or to use their QP allocations from the following fishing year to cure the deficit. While QS permit owners would no longer be limited by the annual vessel QP limits in curing deficits, they would violate the carryover regulations if the deficit exceeds the deficit carryover limit. Vessels affected by lightning-strike hauls would have the ability to cover deficits more easily, and return to fishing in a shorter timeframe under the proposed action. Finally, this action would eliminate the September 1st quota transfer deadline for shorebased IFQ fishery participants. Current regulations in § 660.140 (d) require QS permit owners to transfer QP from a QS account to a vessel account by September 1st. Each PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54565 year, QS permit owners receive disbursements of a percentage of the total allocations for each IFQ stock or stock complex directly to QS accounts. This allocated percentage is expressed in QPs and cannot be fished until the QP is transferred to a vessel account. Any unused QP that have not been transferred from a QS account to a vessel account expire September 1 of the year they were issued. The proposed action would make unused QP in QS accounts available for transfer to a vessel account, for trading and fishing, until December 31st of the fishing year for which they were issued. Under the proposed action, unused QP would remain in a QS account after January 1st and would be available for transfer to a vessel account for use in post-season trading in the following year until the end of the post-season trading period. This proposed action would help reduce the overall costs of participation in the shorebased IFQ sector and ensure the maximum amount of annual IFQ allocations are used to harvest fish rather than to cover the base year’s QP deficits. The Council’s analysis of these proposed measures did not indicate that they are likely to encourage participants to engage in fishing practices that regularly exceed annual QP vessel limits. Because QS permit owners are still required to cover deficits poundfor-pound, fishing into deficit would carry the cost of purchasing QP to cover deficits the following fishing year. C. Catcher Processor (C/P) Permit Accumulation Limits The proposed action would establish a limit of five at-sea whiting C/P permits that any individual or entity may own or control in the event the C/P sector cooperative fails. When developing a limited access privilege program, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the Council ‘‘ensure that limited access privilege holders do not acquire an excessive share of the total limited access privileges in the program by—(i) establishing a maximum share, expressed as a percentage of the total limited access privileges, that a limited access privilege holder is permitted to hold, acquire, or use; and (ii) establishing any other limitations or measures necessary to prevent an inequitable concentration of limited access privileges.’’ During implementation of the Catch Share Program, accumulation limits were included for the shorebased IFQ sector and the at-sea MS sector, to meet requirements under Section 303A(c)(5)(D) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, no maximum share of E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54566 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules limited access privileges in the C/P sector was established. At the time of the Catch Share Program’s development, the C/P sector had a single voluntary coop that divided by agreement among coop members the entire catch allocated to this sector. The Council and NMFS decided that the rationalization program adopted through Amendment 20 would incorporate the voluntary coop structure already in place and require the annual issuance of a coop permit for the privilege of harvesting the allocated catch in this particular sector. In the event the coop failed in the future, Amendment 20 provided for the management of the CP sector with an IFQ program. The previously existing self-organized coop did not include accumulation limits, and none were added when the coop was incorporated as a LAPP through Amendment 20. During the Catch Share program 5year review, the Council discussed C/P coop sector accumulation limits and adopted a June 13, 2017, control date to support future consideration of accumulation limits (83 FR 18259; April 26, 2018). In this proposed action, an accumulation limit of owning or controlling a maximum of five C/Pendorsed permits would be applied to the C/P sector only in the event that the current C/P cooperative fails and NMFS subsequently implements an IFQ system for the C/P sector. NMFS will determine that the cooperative has failed after any C/P-endorsed permits owners withdraw from the coop, one or more members voluntarily choose to dissolve the coop, or the coop agreement is no longer valid. The designated coop manager is required to notify NMFS of the failure, or the Regional Administrator may conduct an independent investigation to determine whether coop failure has occurred. Under the proposed action, after receiving notification from the coop manager or if NMFS has made an independent determination of a coop failure, NMFS will begin the process of implementing an IFQ program for the atsea C/P sector. Through public notice, NMFS will announce the date on which an IFQ program will become effective for the C/P sector. Before that date, a publicly announced divestiture period will be provided in which any entities that control C/P-endorsed permits must take action to comply with the C/P accumulation limit. The proposed rule for this action provides regulatory language that sets forth criteria for the purpose of determining ownership or control a person or entity has over a C/P endorsed permit. This language is modeled after the regulatory language currently applicable to the shorebased VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 IFQ sector. After NMFS implements the IFQ-based C/P fishery, no individual or entity may own or control more than five C/P-endorsed permits, and no person or entity may own or control any quota associated with permits in excess of the five permit limit. Any individual or entity found to own or control more than five C/P-endorsed permits will be required to divest ownership of any excess permits following a divestiture period. Upon determination of a coop failure, a divestiture period will occur starting with the date the coop failed and ending on the date an IFQ program is implemented for the C/P whiting sector. Prior to the date an IFQ program is implemented, there will be a divestiture period during which any person owning more than five C/Pendorsed permits will be required to divest of excess permits. After the date in which an IFQ program is implemented, any C/P-endorsed permits in excess of the accumulation limit may be revoked by NMFS and associated QS redistributed to other C/P-endorsed permit owners. The Council also considered whether to limit the amount of at-sea whiting allocation a single entity or individual possessing a C/P permit could process with the intent that no single entity could process an excessive proportion of the sector allocation for Pacific whiting. After taking into account analysis and public comments, the Council selected the status quo (‘‘No Action’’ alternative) as the final preferred alternative for C/P processing limits. Under the status quo, a single entity may process up to 100 percent of the C/P sector whiting allocation. This decision was made to maintain the flexibility that the coop system provides. Currently three fishing companies control the ten C/P endorsed permits in the coop; if one company’s vessels were unable to make it to the fishing grounds, it is possible that a processing limit could impede another company’s harvest of fish on behalf of the absent vessels, thereby restricting full attainment of the at-sea sectors’ whiting allocation. The Council also determined C/P permit accumulation limits and conversion to IFQ system in the event of coop failure would achieve the same goal as processing accumulation limits in the absence of the cooperative management structure. D. New Data Collections 1. C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest The proposed action would establish a data collection for C/P permit owners. The Catch Share Program requires PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 mandatory submission of ownership information from catcher vessels and MS vessels at the time of permit application or renewal. The data collection, known as the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form, helps NMFS enforce accumulation limits and ensures no individual or entity obtains excessive limited access privileges. When the Catch Share Program was established, it did not include an accumulation limit and consequently did not require a collection of ownership information. This action would establish a requirement for the at-sea whiting C/P sector permit owners to complete the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form annually during C/P endorsed permit renewal. The form is used to collect basic trawl vessel or permit owner information, such as vessel name, permit number, owner name and legal address, and the names and addresses of other individuals and entities that have an ownership interest and percentage of ownership for the vessel or permit. This proposed rule would also support future consideration by the Council in the event accumulation limits are required for the at-sea C/P sector as described in Section C of this preamble. 2. Quota Share Permit Owner Participation and Economic Data The proposed action would establish an economic data collection for quota share (QS) permit owners. Currently, any owners, charterers, or lessees of any vessel, shorebased processor, and first receiver sites participating in the Catch Share Program are required to submit annual Economic Data Collection (EDC) forms. The information collected through EDC forms includes but is not limited to annual data related to costs, earnings, value, labor, operations, physical characteristics, ownership and leasing information for vessels, first receiver sites or processors. The EDC forms also include questions related to costs and earnings from quota trading (including sales and leases) and the pattern of owner participation in the fishery. However, these forms do not currently collect information from QS permit owners who are not also owners, charterers or lessees of vessels, shorebased processors, or first receiver sites. Some participants in the Catch Share Program owned a vessel in the past, and received an allocation of IFQ and associated QS permit when the program was first implemented in 2011, but have since sold their vessel while retaining their QS permit. Reducing the number of active vessels was one of the intended E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules outcomes of rationalizing the trawl fishery under the Catch Share Program, and the Council anticipated that some participants would own and trade quota, but not actively fish or process catch. The Catch Share Program was designed to provide historic fishery participants who exited the fishery continued benefits through QS ownership. The existing EDC form was designed to collect detailed economic data on only active fishery participation associated with vessel, processor, or first receiver ownership; the same level of economic and participation data is not currently collected from the category of QS permit owner that does not also own or operate a vessel or shorebased processor/first receiver. Because historic fishery participants are not required to complete an EDC form, the Council and NMFS lack knowledge about how economic benefits from these inactive or non-fishing permit owners impact fishing communities. This action would create a mandatory requirement for all categories of QS permit owners to complete an EDC Quota Share Permit Owner urvey form that collects information related to QS permit owner annual participation in the fishery, and costs and earnings related to QS permit ownership. This survey will be collected electronically via webform during the online QS permit application and renewal process. Information collected on this survey will provide NMFS and the Council with better understanding of Catch Share Program performance, economic costs and benefits conferred to fishery dependent communities. Better evaluation of program performance will support the sustained fishing community participation in the Catch Share Program, and to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on fishing communities. E. Clarifications to Cost Recovery Regulatory Text On March 20, 2014, NMFS published a Public Notice (NMFS–SEA–14–12) discussing two clarifications to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Cost Recovery Program that went into effect in January 2014 (78 FR 75268; December 11, 2013). This proposed rule would implement regulatory language necessary to reflect these two program clarifications. The first proposed adjustment clarifies that the deposit principal may be used to refund cost recovery payments made by credit card through Pay.gov. The second proposed clarification specifies that in the C/P sector only retained fish, and not discards, are used in calculating ex- VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 vessel revenue as it relates to determining cost recovery fees. F. Technical Corrections In addition to proposed regulatory changes to implement the Council’s recommendations, this rule also proposes minor technical corrections. Specifically, these minor technical corrections remove obsolete baseline dates that were included during implementation of the Catch Share Program, such as the years when initial trawl allocations were issued, the first date on which quota transfers were permitted, and the dates when economic data collections were initiated. Correction and Clarification for the Amendment 21–4 Notice of Availability NMFS is making the following correction and clarification to text published in the Notice of Availability (NOA) on August 30, 2019 (84 CFR 45706). On page 45708 of the NOA, language stating ‘‘The proposed FMP amendment is intended to allow the Council increased flexibility to adjust bycatch limits inseason for the at-sea whiting sectors . . .’’ should omit the word ‘‘inseason’’, because the Council does not adjust set-asides through inseason action. The Council can adjust set-asides during each biennial harvest specification cycle, as described earlier in the same paragraph in the NOA and also in this preamble in section II, A, ‘‘At-sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management.’’ We are also clarifying the meaning of the language on page 45708 of the NOA that describes Quota Share permit owners who would be responsible for completing EDC forms under the proposed rule. Following is the NOA language, as clarified, with additional language noted in italics: ‘‘The proposed action would also require all Quota Share permit owners, including those that do not also own charter or lease a vessel, shorebased processor or first receiver site to submit participation and quota cost/earning information through a subset of the Catch Share Economic Data Collection program.’’ III. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has made a preliminary determination that this proposed rule is consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. In making the final determination, NMFS will consider the data, views, and PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54567 comments received during the public comment period. The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this proposed rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action is contained in the SUMMARY section and at the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires government agencies to assess the effects that regulatory alternatives would have on small entities, defined as any business/organization independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates). A small harvesting business has combined annual receipts of $11 million 1 or less for all affiliated operations worldwide. A small fish-processing business is one that employs 750 or fewer persons for all affiliated operations worldwide. NMFS is applying this standard to C/Ps for the purposes of this rulemaking, because these vessels earn the majority of their revenue from selling processed fish. For marinas and charter/party boats, a small business is one that has annual receipts not in excess of $7.5 million. A wholesale business servicing the fishing industry is a small business if it employs 100 or fewer persons on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide. For the purposes of this rulemaking, a nonprofit organization is determined to be ‘‘not dominant in its field of 1 On December 29, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015; codified at 50 CFR 200.2). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and after that date it is to be used in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA. Id. at 81194. This NMFS rule is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry, respectively. E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54568 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules operation’’ if it is considered small under one of the following SBA size standards: Environmental, conservation, or professional organizations are considered small if they have combined annual receipts of $15 million or less, and other organizations are considered small if they have combined annual receipts of $7.5 million or less. The RFA defines small governmental jurisdictions as governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts with populations of less than 50,000. When an agency proposes regulations, the RFA requires the agency to prepare and make available for public comment an IRFA that describes the impact on small businesses, non-profit enterprises, local governments, and other small entities. The IRFA is to aid the agency in considering all reasonable regulatory alternatives that would minimize the economic impact on affected small entities. Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered This action proposes changes to the Catch Share Program intended to complete outstanding elements of the program, respond to problems identified after implementing the program, and modify outdated regulations. A complete description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in Amendment 21–4, and elsewhere in the preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Applies, and Estimate of Economic Impacts by Entity Size and Industry For the purpose of the RFA analysis, this proposed rule will impact entities that own quota share permits and entities that both process and harvest groundfish. For RFA purposes NMFS classifies a business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the holdings of first receiver permits in the West Coast Region permits database, 22 non-whiting quota share permit owners are estimated to be primarily engaged in seafood product preparation and packaging. According to the NMFS size standard, three of the entities that own three first receiver permits are considered small. These small processing entities were issued 1.7 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 percent of the non-whiting QP issued in 2018, the most recent year available. Some of these small processing entities also own groundfish permits, required on both catcher vessels and C/Ps, which would be regulated by the proposed rule; three small entities primarily engaged in seafood processing own two limited entry groundfish permits. Limited entry groundfish permit vessels are required to self-report size across all affiliated entities. Of the businesses that earn the majority of their revenue from commercial fishing, 30 groundfish vessel permits are owned by seven entities that are considered large according to the SBA size standard and as self-reported on groundfish permits and first receiver site license permits. Six of these seven large processing entities were issued 10.2 percent of the non-whiting QP issued in 2018 across sixteen quota share permits. Entities that are not registered as trusts, estates, governments, or nonprofits are assumed to earn the majority of their revenue from commercial fishing.This definition is used for 124 QS permit owners, who collectively received 76.5 percent of the quota pounds issued in 2018. Of 118 trawl endorsed permits, 117 are owned by commercial fishing entities in 2019; 5 of these entities self-reported as large. Of the businesses who earn the majority of their revenue from commercial fishing, one that self-reported as large, owns four groundfish permits and one quota share permit. Many groundfish trawl permit owners also own quota share permits; however, it is not possible with available data to tabulate unique ownership across quota share permits and groundfish permits, so the numbers provided likely represent the maximum number of entities impacted. The RFA recognizes and defines a small governmental jurisdiction as any government or district with a population of less than 50,000 persons. According to the public IFQ Account database as of June 19, 2018, the City of Monterey owns quota shares of ten species. The U.S. Census estimates the population of Monterey to be 28,454 as of July 1, 2017, so the City of Monterey would be considered a small governmental jurisdiction under the RFA definition. The City of Monterey received 0.5 percent of the quota pounds issued for 2018, according to the public IFQ Account database. According to the public IFQ Account database, six not-for-profit organizations own quota share in the Catch Share Program and would be impacted by this proposed rule. The RFA defines a small organization as any not-for-profit enterprise that is independently owned PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 and operated and not dominant in its field. NMFS uses the SBA size standards to determine whether a notfor-profit organization is a ‘‘small organization.’’ By SBA size standards, a small organization has combined annual receipts of $15 million or less for environmental, conservation, or professional organizations, and $7.5 million or less for other organizations. Five of these not-for-profit organizations would be considered small by the RFA definition and the SBA size standard, using 2016 annual receipts of $120–500 thousand dollars, as reported on IRS form 990. One notfor-profit organization self-reported as large, based on fiscal year 2017 receipts of $1.1 billion. Collectively, the five small not-for-profit organizations received 7.2 percent of the non-whiting quota pounds issued in 2018 (issued annually through a separate rulemaking process) and the large not-for-profit organization received 0.5 percent. The large not-for-profit organization also owned two limited entry trawl permits that would be impacted by the management measures of the rule. The small not-for-profits owned 3 permits. Finally, 11 personal or family trusts/ estates owned quota share permits and would potentially be impacted by the trawl sector allocation under this proposed rule. All of these are assumed to be smaller than the RFA size standard. Collectively, these eight small entities received 4.2 percent of the nonwhiting quota pounds issued for 2018. Five of these entities owned five groundfish permits. This action is expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities; however, the effects on the regulated small entities identified in this analysis are expected to range from neutral to positive. Under the proposed action, small entities would not be placed at a competitive disadvantage relative to large entities, and the regulations would not reduce the profits for any small entities. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis was prepared to support this conclusion. Description of Record-Keeping, and Reporting, Requirements of This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would require modifications to current recordkeeping and reporting requirements for two information collections. Under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program Permit and License Information Collection (OMB Control Number 0648–0620) C/Pendorsed permit owners would be required by the proposed rule to submit E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules annual ownership interest information via the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form. Under the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Economic Data Collection (OMB Control Number 0648–0618) a new Quota Share Permit Owner survey form would be implemented by this proposed rule, and all owners of a quota share permit would be required to submit the completed form annually. A description of the revision for the two existing information collection requirements follows. C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest Form The modifications would require C/P endorsed permit owners to complete Trawl Owner Identification of Interest forms during annual permit renewal under OMB Control Number 0648–0620. Currently there are 10 C/P endorsed permits approved by NMFS in the Catch Share program. These permits are held by three companies with no single company owning more than five permits. As each company is a controlling entity, three is the minimum number of affected entities that would be expected to require submission of one Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form for each C/P endorsed permit. The requested change in information collection would require from C/P permit owners the same level of ownership interest identification as required of mothership and catcher vessel permit owners. The current cooperative structure of the C/P sector helps to ensure no single entity acquires excessive privilege in the sector. However, in the event of a coop failure, it would be necessary to set accumulation limits, which would require NMFS to track ownership interest in C/P endorsed permits. Additionally, NMFS does not anticipate any new fishery entrants will apply for C/P endorsed permits, nor will NMFS approve any new C/P endorsed permits. Economic Data Collection From Quota Share Permit Owners The proposed action would require changes to the Catch Share Program Economic Data Collection OMB Control Number 0648–0618. The proposed rule would change reporting requirements for owners of quota share permits to submit information to the Catch Share Program Economic Data Collection (EDC) Program. Participants in the Catch Share Program who own, lease or charter vessels, shorebased processors, or first receiver sites are required to submit annual economic data to the EDC Program through survey forms corresponding to these characteristics of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 participation. The EDC Program currently does not require submission of forms from quota share permit owners who do not also own, lease or charter vessels, shorebased processors, or first receiver sites. The proposed rule would add a requirement for submission of EDC forms from all participants who own a quota share permit, including those who do not otherwise participate in the fishery other than by owning a quota share permit. Quota share permit owners will submit this form electronically via webform during the annual quota share account application and renewal process. The proposed submission deadline for the Quota Share Permit Owner survey will be November 30th in order to align with other quota share account application and renewal materials, rather than September 1st, as is required for other EDC forms. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This Proposed Rule The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities This rule is not expected to result in adverse impacts to small entities. Thus, there are no significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would minimize adverse economic impacts on small entities. The Council did consider alternatives to the proposed rule which would have had a lower level of benefits to small entities; however, the Council did not consider alternatives that would have had greater benefits to small entities, as these would not have been consistent with other applicable laws. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Collection-of-Information Requirements This action contains a revision of two existing information collection requirements, which have previously been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The changes under this proposed rule are subject to review and approval by OMB. NMFS has submitted these requirements to OMB for approval under Control Number 0648–0620 Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program Permit and License Information Collection, and under Control Number 0648–0618 West Coast Groundfish Trawl Economic Data Collection. PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54569 Under this proposed rule, modifications to OMB Control Number 0648–0620 would require completion of the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form by three different fishing companies that own the 10 at-sea Pacific Whiting C/P-endorsed limited entry permits. The public reporting burden is expected to require approximately 3.5 minutes to complete each form once per year during C/P-endorsed permit renewal. In the first year, respondents may require more time to complete the forms, requiring a one-time estimate of 45 minutes per form for a total annual burden increase of 7.5 hours in the first year, and 35 minutes in following years. The total copy costs per form under this collection would be $0.35, for a total increase of $3.5 to annual public burden costs. Based on 2018 data from EDC responses and the public QS permit database, the public reporting burden for the change in requirement under Control Number 0648–0618 is expected to include approximately 178 Quota Share permit owners. The new reporting requirement would add to the EDC collection approximately 73 new respondents who are QS permit owners, who are not also owners, charterers, or lessees of vessels, or processors and other first receiver sites, and as a result have not previously completed EDC forms. Current burden time estimates for the EDC are approximately 8 hours per year and include questions relating to both QS permit ownership and vessel operations. The new form would collect more detailed QS permit ownership information than in prior years, increasing the total public burden hours. The new QS Permit owner survey is expected to take approximately 1 hour, once per year, for all 178 respondents to complete, adding 178 hours to the total (for an increase from 2,224 hours to 2,402 hours) These forms would be collected electronically during the QS permit renewal process, thereby reducing the mailing costs to respondents. Respondents would be asked to retain a copy of the survey for their records (at $0.20 per survey), and would increase total costs by $36 (from $4,120 to $4,156). Public comment is sought regarding: Whether the proposed collection of information requirements are necessary for the proper performance of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden statement; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collected information, including through the use of automated E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54570 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information, 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 penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirement 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. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indians. Dated: October 2, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 660–-FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. Authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows; ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. In § 660.55: a. Revise paragraphs (a), (c)(1), (d), and (j), and ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraph (f)(2). The revisions read as follows: ■ ■ § 660.55 Allocations. (a) General. The opportunity to harvest Pacific Coast groundfish is allocated among participants in the fishery when the ACLs for a given year are established in the biennial harvest specifications. For any stock that has been declared overfished, any formal allocation may be temporarily revised for the duration of the rebuilding period. For certain species, primarily trawl-dominant species, separate allocations for the trawl and nontrawl fishery (which for this purpose includes limited entry fixed gear, directed open access, and recreational fisheries) will be established biennially or annually using the standards and procedures described in Chapter 6 of the PCGFMP. Chapter 6 of the PCGFMP provides the allocation structure and percentages for species allocated between the trawl and nontrawl fisheries. Also, for those species not subject to the trawl and nontrawl allocations specified under Amendment 21 and in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, separate allocations for the limited entry and open access fisheries may be established using the procedures described in Chapters 6 and 11 of the PCGFMP and this subpart. Allocation of sablefish north of 36° N lat is described in paragraph (h) of this section and in the PCGFMP. Allocation of Pacific whiting is described in paragraph (i) of this section and in the PCGFMP. Allocation of black rockfish is described in paragraph (l) of this section. Allocation of Pacific halibut bycatch is described in paragraph (m) of this section. Allocations not specified in the PCGFMP are established in regulation through the biennial harvest specifications and are listed in Tables 1 a through d and Tables 2 a through d of this subpart. * * * * * (c) * * * (1) Species/species groups and areas allocated between the trawl and non-trawl fisheries are allocated based on the amounts and percentages in the table below. IFQ species not listed in the table below are allocated between the trawl and nontrawl fisheries through the biennial harvest specifications process. ALLOCATION AMOUNTS AND PERCENTAGES FOR LIMITED ENTRY TRAWL AND NON-TRAWL SECTORS SPECIFIED FOR FMP GROUNDFISH STOCKS AND STOCK COMPLEXES All non-treaty LE trawl sectors (percent) Stock or complex Lingcod .................................................................................................... Pacific Cod .............................................................................................. Sablefish S. of 36° N lat .......................................................................... PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH ....................................................................... WIDOW ................................................................................................... Chilipepper S. of 40°10′ N lat ................................................................. Splitnose S. of 40°10′ N lat ..................................................................... Yellowtail N. of 40°10′ N lat .................................................................... Shortspine N. of 34°27′ N lat .................................................................. Shortspine S. of 34°27′ N lat .................................................................. Longspine N. of 34°27′ N lat ................................................................... DARKBLOTCHED ................................................................................... Minor Slope RF North of 40°10′ N lat ..................................................... Minor Slope RF South of 40°10′ N lat .................................................... Dover Sole ............................................................................................... English Sole ............................................................................................ Petrale Sole ............................................................................................. Arrowtooth Flounder ................................................................................ Starry Flounder ........................................................................................ Other Flatfish ........................................................................................... (i) Trawl fishery allocation. The allocation for the limited entry trawl fishery is derived by applying the trawl allocation amounts and percentages as specified in paragraph (c) of this section and as specified during the biennial VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 45 95 42 95 91 75 95 88 95 50 95 95 81 63 95 95 95 95 50 90 ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... mt .............................................. ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ................................................... harvest specifications process to the fishery harvest guideline for species/ species groups and areas. For IFQ species the trawl allocation is further subdivided within each of the trawl sectors (MS, C/P, and IFQ) as specified PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 All non-treaty non-trawl sectors (percent) Sfmt 4702 55. 5. 58. 5. 9. 25. 5. 12. 5. Remaining Yield. 5. 5. 18. 37. 5. 5. 5. 5. 50. 10. in § 660.140, 660.150, and 660.160 of subpart D. The whiting allocation is further subdivided among the trawl sectors as specified in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section. E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules (ii) Nontrawl fishery allocation. For each species/species group and area, the nontrawl fishery allocation is derived by subtracting from the corresponding harvest guideline the trawl allocations specified in paragraph (c) of this section and during the biennial harvest specifications The nontrawl allocation will be shared between the limited entry fixed gear, open access, and recreational fisheries as specified through the biennial harvest specifications process and consistent with allocations in the PCGFMP. * * * * * (d) Commercial harvest guidelines. To derive the commercial harvest guideline, the fishery harvest guideline is further reduced by the recreational set-asides. The commercial harvest guideline is then allocated between the limited entry fishery (both trawl and fixed gear) and the directed open access fishery, as appropriate. * * * * * (j) Fishery set-asides. Annual setasides are not formal allocations but they are amounts which are not available to the other fisheries during the fishing year. For Pacific Coast treaty Indian fisheries, set-asides will be deducted from the TAC, OY, ACL, or ACT when specified. For the catcher/ processor and mothership sectors of the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, set-asides will be deducted from the limited entry trawl fishery allocation. Set-aside amounts may be adjusted through the biennial harvest specifications and management measures process. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 660.60: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (d) introductory text, (d)(1) introductory text, and (d)(1)(i); ■ b. Remove paragraph (d)(1)(iii); ■ c. Redesignate paragraphs (d)(1)(iv) through (vii) as (d)(1)(iii) through (vi), respectively. The revisions read as follows: § 660.60 Specifications and management measures. * * * * * (d) Automatic actions. The NMFS Regional Administrator or designee will initiate automatic management actions without prior public notice, opportunity to comment, or a Council meeting. These actions are nondiscretionary, and the impacts must have been taken into account prior to the action. Unless otherwise stated, a single notice will be published in the Federal Register VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 making the action effective if good cause exists under the APA to waive notice and comment. (1) Automatic actions will be initiated in the following circumstances: (i) Close the MS or C/P sector when that sector’s Pacific whiting allocation is reached, or is projected to be reached. The MS sector non-coop fishery will be closed by automatic action when the Pacific whiting or non-whiting allocation to the non-coop fishery has been reached or is projected to be reached. * * * * * Table 1b to Part 660, Subpart C—2019, Allocations by Species or Species Group [Amended] 4. In Table 1b to part 660, subpart C— 2019, Allocations by Species or Species Group, Remove footnotes ’‘c’ through ‘f’, and redesignate footnote ‘g’ as ‘c’. ■ Table 1d to Part 660, Subpart C—AtSea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-Asides, 2019 [Removed] 5. Remove Table 1d to part 660, subpart C—At-Sea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-Asides, 2019, and footnotes. ■ Table 1e to Part 660, Subpart C— Whiting and Non-Whiting Initial Issuance Allocation Percentage for IFQ Decided Through the Harvest Specifications, 2011 [Redesignated] 6. Redesignate Table 1e to part 660, subpart C—Whiting and non-whiting initial issuance allocation percentage for IFQ decided through the harvest specifications, 2011 as Table 1d to part 660, subpart C—Whiting and nonwhiting initial issuance allocation percentage for IFQ decided through the harvest specifications, 2011. ■ Table 2d to Part 660, Subpart C—AtSea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-Asides, 2020 [Removed] 7. Remove Table 2d to Part 660, Subpart C—At-Sea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-Asides, 2020 and Beyond and footnotes ■ 8. In § 660.111, amend the definition of Ex-vessel value by revising paragraph (3) to read as follows: ■ § 660.111 Trawl fishery—definitions. * * * * * Ex-vessel value * * * (3) For the C/P Coop Program, the value as determined by the aggregate pounds of all groundfish species catch (as defined in § 660.11) retained on PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54571 board, by the vessel registered to a C/Pendorsed limited entry trawl permit, multiplied by the MS Coop Program average price per pound as announced pursuant to § 660.115(b)(2). * * * * * ■ 9. In § 660.113, add paragraph (b)(1)(iv), and revise paragraphs (d)(5)(ii)(A)(2), (d)(5)(ii)(A)(4) and (5) to read as follows: § 660.113 Trawl fishery—recordkeeping and reporting. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (iv) All owners of a quota share (QS) permit as defined at § 660.25(c) * * * * * (d) * * * (5) * * * (ii) * * * (A) * * * (2) The weight of each species of groundfish retained on board. * * * * * (4) The ex-vessel value of each species of groundfish retained on board, (5) The net ex-vessel value of each species of groundfish retained on board, * * * * * ■ 10. In § 660.114, revise paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) to read as follows: § 660.114 Trawl fishery—economic data collection program. (a) General. The economic data collection (EDC) program collects mandatory economic data from participants in the trawl rationalization program. NMFS requires submission of EDC forms to gather ongoing, annual economic data, including, but not limited to the following categories of information related to participation in the trawl rationalization program: (1) Annual data related to QS permit owner activity and characteristics of participation in the fishery, costs and earnings from quota trades, and quota leasing. (2) Annual data related to costs, earnings, value, labor, operations, physical characteristics, ownership and leasing information for vessels, first receiver sites, or shorebased processors. (b) Economic data collection program requirements. The following fishery participants in the limited entry groundfish trawl fisheries are required to comply with the following EDC program requirements: E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54572 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules Economic data collection Who is required to submit an EDC? Consequence for failure to submit (In addition to consequences listed below, failure to submit an EDC may be a violation of the MSA.) (1) Limited entry trawl catcher vessels. (i) Annual/ongoing economic data. (A) All owners, lessees, and charterers of a catcher vessel registered to a limited entry trawl endorsed permit. (1) For permit owner, a limited entry trawl permit application (including MS/CV-endorsed limited entry trawl permit) will not be considered complete until the required EDC for that permit owner associated with that permit is submitted, as specified at § 660.25(b)(4)(i). (2) For a vessel owner, participation in the groundfish fishery (including, but not limited to, changes in vessel registration, vessel account actions, or if own QS permit, issuance of annual QP or IBQ pounds) will not be authorized until the required EDC for that owner for that vessel is submitted, as specified, in part, at § 660.25(b)(4)(vi) and § 660.140(e). (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer, participation in the groundfish fishery (including, but not limited to, issuance of annual QP or IBQ pounds if own QS or IBQ) will not be authorized, until the required EDC for their operation of that vessel is submitted. (2) Motherships .... (i) Annual/ongoing economic data. (3) Catcher processors. (i) Annual/ongoing economic data. Fishery participant (4) First receivers/ shorebased processors. (5) Quota Share Permit Owners. (i) Annual/ongoing economic data. (i) Annual/ongoing economic data. (B) [Reserved]. (A) All owners, lessees, and charterers of a mothership vessel registered to an MS permit. (B) [Reserved] .............................. (A) All owners, lessees, and charterers of a catcher processor vessel registered to a C/ P-endorsed limited entry trawl permit. (B) [Reserved] .............................. (A) All owners of a first receiver site license. (B) All owners and lessees of a shorebased processor (as defined under ‘‘processor’’ at § 660.11, for purposes of EDC) that received round or headedand-gutted IFQ species groundfish or whiting from a first receiver. (A) All owners of a Quota Share permit and account (as defined under § 660.25 (c)). (B) [Reserved] (1) For permit owner, an MS permit application will not be considered complete until the required EDC for that permit owner associated with that permit is submitted, as specified at § 660.25(b)(4)(i). (2 )For a vessel owner, participation in the groundfish fishery (including, but not limited to, changes in vessel registration) will not be authorized until the required EDC for that owner for that vessel is submitted, as specified, in part, at § 660.25(b)(4)(vi). (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer, participation in the groundfish fishery will not be authorized, until the required EDC for their operation of that vessel is submitted. (1) For permit owner, a C/P-endorsed limited entry trawl permit application will not be considered complete until the required EDC for that permit owner associated with that permit is submitted, as specified at § 660.25(b)(4)(i). (2) For a vessel owner, participation in the groundfish fishery (including, but not limited to, changes in vessel registration) will not be authorized until the required EDC for that owner for that vessel is submitted, as specified, in part, at § 660.25(b)(4)(vi). (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer, participation in the groundfish fishery will not be authorized, until the required EDC for their operation of that vessel is submitted. (1) A first receiver site license application will not be considered complete until the required EDC for that license owner associated with that license is submitted, as specified at § 660.140(f)(3). See paragraph (b)(4)(i)(A) of this table. (1) A Quota Share permit application or permit renewal package will not be considered complete until the required EDC for that permit is submitted, as specified at § 660.140, subpart D. (2) [Reserved]. (c) Submission of the EDC forms, and deadline—(1) Submission of the EDC form. The complete, certified EDC forms must contain valid responses for all data fields, and must be submitted either by paper or web form submission as follows: (i) Paper form submission. Paper forms must be submitted to ATTN: Economic Data Collection Program (FRAM Division), NMFS, Northwest VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112. (ii) Web form submission. Completed EDC web forms must be submitted electronically via the Economic Data Collection Program Web Form portal through NOAA.gov/fisheries and the signature page faxed, mailed, or handdelivered to NWFSC. (2) Deadline. Complete, certified EDC forms must be mailed and postmarked PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 by or hand-delivered to NMFS NWFSC no later than September 1 each year for the prior year’s data. (3) Quota Share Permit Owner Survey Submissions and Deadline. Quota Share Permit Owner survey forms are submitted by webform only during the quota account application and renewal process specified at § 660.140(d)(2). The complete certified Quota Share Permit E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules (d)(3)(ii)(B)(3), (e)(3)(iii)(A) and (B), paragraphs (e)(4)(i) introductory text, and paragraphs (e)(4)(ii), and (e)(5) to read as follows: Owner survey must be submitted no later than November 30 of each year. * * * * * ■ 11. In § 660.115, revise paragraphs (d)(1)(ii)(B) and (C) to read as follows: § 660.115 program. § 660.140 * * * * * (d) * * * (1) * * * (ii) * * * (B) Fee collection deposits. Each fish buyer, no less frequently than at the end of each month, shall deposit, in the deposit account established under paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(A) of this section, all fees collected, not previously deposited, that the fish buyer collects through a date not more than two calendar days before the date of deposit. The deposit principal may not be pledged, assigned, or used for any purpose other than aggregating collected fee revenue for disbursement to the Fund in accordance with paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(C) of this section. The fish buyer is entitled, at any time, to withdraw deposit interest, if any, but never deposit principal, from the deposit account for the fish buyer’s own use and purposes. If the fish buyer has used a credit card to pay the cost recovery fee, the deposit principal may be used to reimburse the credit card in the same amount as the fee payment. (C) Deposit principal disbursement. Not later than the 14th calendar day after the last calendar day of each month, or more frequently if the amount in the account exceeds the account limit for insurance purposes, the fish buyer shall disburse to NMFS the full deposit principal then in the deposit account. The fish buyer shall disburse deposit principal by electronic payment to the Fund subaccount to which the deposit principal relates. If the fish buyer has used a credit card to pay the cost recovery fee, the deposit principal may be used to reimburse the credit card in the same amount as the fee payment. NMFS will announce information about how to make an electronic payment to the Fund subaccount in the notification on fee percentage specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Each disbursement must be accompanied by a cost recovery form provided by NMFS. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements are specified in paragraph (d)(4) of this section and at § 660.113(b)(5) for the Shorebased IFQ Program and § 660.113(c)(5) for the MS Coop Program. The cost recovery form will be available on the pay.gov website. * * * * * ■ 12. In § 660.140, revise paragraphs (d)(1)(ii) introductory text, (d)(2)(iii) introductory text, paragraphs (d)(3)(i)(D), (d)(3)(ii)(B)(2), VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 Shorebased IFQ Program. * Trawl fishery—cost recovery * * * * (d) * * * (1) * * * (ii) Annual QP and IBQ pound allocations. QP and IBQ pounds will be deposited into QS accounts annually. QS permit owners will be notified of QP deposits via the IFQ website and their QS account. QP and IBQ pounds will be issued to the nearest whole pound using standard rounding rules (i.e., decimal amounts less than 0.5 round down and 0.5 and greater round up). NMFS will distribute such allocations to the maximum extent practicable, not to exceed the total allocation. QS permit owners must transfer their QP and IBQ pounds from their QS account to a vessel account in order for those QP and IBQ pounds to be fished. QP and IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no fraction of a QP or IBQ pound can be transferred). All QP and IBQ pounds in a QS account must be transferred to a vessel account between January 1 and December 31 of the year for which they were issued in order to be fished. * * * * * (2) * * * (iii) QS permit application process. NMFS will accept a QS permit application from January 1 to November 30 of each calendar year. QS permit applications received between December 1 and December 31 will be processed by NMFS in the following calendar year. NMFS will issue only one QS permit to each unique person, as defined at § 660.11 subject to the eligibility requirements at paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section. Each applicant must submit a complete application. A complete application includes a QS permit application form, payment of required fees, complete documentation of QS permit ownership on the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form as required under paragraph (d)(4)(iv) of this section, and a complete economic data collection form as required under § 660.114. NMFS may require additional documentation as it deems necessary to make a determination on the application. The QS permit application will be considered incomplete until the required information is submitted. * * * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * (D) QS permits will not be renewed until SFD has received a complete PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54573 application for a QS permit renewal, which includes payment of required fees, complete documentation of QS permit ownership on the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form as required under paragraph (d)(4)(iv) of this section, a complete economic data collection form as required under § 660.114. The QS permit renewal will be considered incomplete until the required information is submitted. * * * * * (ii) * * * (B) * * * (2) Transfer of QS or IBQ between QS accounts. QS permit owners may transfer QS or IBQ to another owner of a QS permit, subject to accumulation limits and approval by NMFS. QS or IBQ is transferred as a percent, divisible to one-thousandth of a percent (i.e., greater than or equal to 0.001 percent). QS or IBQ cannot be transferred to a vessel account. Owners of non-renewed QS permits may not transfer QS. QP in QS accounts cannot be transferred between QS accounts. NMFS will allocate QP based on the QS percentages as listed on a QS permit that was renewed during the previous October 1 through November 30 renewal period. QS transfers will be recorded in the QS account but will not become effective for purposes of allocating QPs until the following year. QS or IBQ may not be transferred between December 1 through December 31 each year. Any QS transaction that is pending as of December 1 will be administratively retracted. NMFS will allocate QP for the following year based on the QS percentages as of December 1 of each year. (3) Transfer of QP or IBQ pounds from a QS account to a vessel account. QP or IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no fraction of a QP can be transferred). QP or IBQ pounds must be transferred to a vessel account in order to be used. Transfers of QP or IBQ pounds from a QS account to a vessel account are subject to annual vessel accumulation limits and NMFS’ approval. Once QP or IBQ pounds are transferred from a QS account to a vessel account (accepted by the transferee/vessel owner), they cannot be transferred back to a QS account and may only be transferred to another vessel account. QP or IBQ pounds may not be transferred from one QS account to another QS account. All QP or IBQ pounds from a QS account must be transferred to one or more vessel accounts by December 31 each year in order to be fished. All QP or IBQ pounds expire at the end of the post- E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54574 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules season transfer period of the year after which they were issued. If, in any year, the Regional Administrator makes a decision to reapportion Pacific whiting from the tribal to the non-tribal fishery or NMFS releases additional QP consistent with § 660.60(c) and paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section, NMFS will credit QS accounts with additional QP proportionally, based on the QS percent for a particular QS permit owner and the increase in the shorebased trawl allocation specified at paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(D) of this section. * * * * * (e) * * * (3) * * * (iii) * * * (A) General. QP or IBQ pounds may only be transferred from a QS account to a vessel account or between vessel accounts. QP or IBQ pounds cannot be transferred from a vessel account to a QS account. Transfers of QP or IBQ pounds are subject to annual vessel accumulation limits. QP or IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no fraction of a QP or IBQ pound can be transferred). During the year there may be situations where NMFS deems it necessary to prohibit transfers (i.e., account reconciliation, system maintenance, or for emergency fishery management reasons). (B) Transfer procedures. QP or IBQ pound transfers from one vessel account to another vessel account must be accomplished via the online vessel account. To make a transfer, a vessel account owner must initiate a transfer request by logging onto the online vessel account. Following the instructions provided on the website, the vessel account owner must enter pertinent information regarding the transfer request including, but not limited to: IFQ species, amount of QP or IBQ pounds to be transferred for each IFQ species (in whole pound increments); name and any other identifier of the eligible transferee (e.g., USCG documentation number or state registration number, as applicable) of the eligible vessel account receiving the transfer; and the value of the transferred QP or IBQ pounds. The online system will verify whether all information has been entered and whether the transfer complies with vessel limits, as applicable. If the information is not accepted, an electronic message will record as much in the transferor’s vessel account explaining the reason(s). If the information is accepted, the online system will record the pending transfer in both the transferor’s and the transferee’s vessel accounts. The transferee must approve the transfer by VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 electronic signature. If the transferee accepts the transfer, the online system will record the transfer and confirm the transaction in both accounts through a transaction confirmation notice. Once the transferee accepts the transaction, the transaction is final and permanent. QP or IBQ pounds may be transferred between vessel accounts at any time during January 1 through December 31 each year unless otherwise notified by NMFS. Unused QP from the previous fishing year (base year) may be transferred for the purpose of covering end-of-the-year vessel account deficits through the end of the post-season transfer period described at paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this section. (4) * * * (i) Vessel limits. For each IFQ species or species group specified in this paragraph, vessel accounts may not have QP or IBQ pounds in excess of the annual QP vessel limit in any year, except as allowed by paragraph (e)(5)(iii) of this section. The annual QP vessel limit is calculated as all QPs transferred in minus all QPs transferred out of the vessel account. * * * * * (ii) Trawl identification of ownership interest form. Any person that owns a vessel registered to a limited entry trawl permit and that is applying for or renewing a vessel account shall document those persons that have an ownership interest in the vessel greater than or equal to 2 percent. This ownership interest must be documented with the SFD via the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form. SFD will not generate and issue a vessel account unless the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form has been completed. NMFS may request additional information of the applicant as necessary to verify compliance with accumulation limits. (5) Carryover of Surplus and Deficit QP or IBQ. The carryover provision allows a limited amount of surplus QP or IBQ pounds in a vessel account to be carried over from one year (the base year) to the next immediately following year or allows a deficit in a vessel account from fishing during the base year to be covered in the immediately following year with QP or IBQ pounds from the base year or the a immediately following year, up to a carryover limit without violating the provisions of this section. (i) Surplus QP or IBQ pounds. A vessel account with a surplus of QP or IBQ (unused QP or IBQ pounds) for any IFQ species following the post-season transfer period specified at paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this section, may carryover PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 for use in the year immediately following the base year amounts of unused QP or IBQ pounds up to its carryover limit specified at (e)(5)(ii) of this section, and subject to the limitations of this paragraph. After the post-season transfer period is concluded, NMFS will complete determination of surplus QP or IBQ pound amounts that may be carried over into the following year up to the surplus carryover limit specified at paragraph (e)(5)(ii) of this section. The amount of surplus QP or IBQ pounds issued as carryover will be reduced in proportion to any reduction in the ACL-between the base year and the immediately following year. At the end of the postseason transfer period, any base year QP or IBQ pounds remaining in vessel accounts will be suspended from use while NMFS calculates annual surplus carryover amounts. NMFS will consult with the Council in making its final determination of the IFQ species and total QP or IBQ amounts to be issued as annual surplus carryover. After NMFS completes determination of the annual surplus carryover amounts for each vessel account, suspended QP or IBQ pounds in excess of the annual surplus carryover amount will expire. NMFS will subsequently release any remaining suspended QP or IBQ pounds for issuance as surplus carryover to vessel accounts from which they were suspended, and notify vessel account owners of the issuance. Surplus carryover QP or IBQ pounds are valid for the year in which they are issued (i.e., the year immediately following the base year). Surplus carryover amounts that would place a vessel above the annual QP vessel limits for the immediately following year (specified at paragraph (e)(4) of this section) will not be issued. Amounts issued as surplus QP or IBQ pounds do not change the shorebased trawl allocation in the year in which the carryover was issued. Surplus QP or IBQ pounds may not be carried over for more than one year. (ii) Surplus Carryover Limit. The limit for the surplus carryover is calculated by multiplying 10 percent by the cumulative total QP or IBQ pounds (used and unused) transferred into a vessel account for the base year, less any transfers out of the vessel account, QP resulting from reapportionment of whiting specified at § 660.60(d), additional QP issued to the account during the year (as specified at § 660.60(c)(3)(ii)), and previous carryover amounts. The percentage used for the carryover surplus limit may be changed by Council recommendation during the biennial specifications and E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules management measures process or by routine management measures as specified in § 660.60(c). (iii) Deficit QP or IBQ pounds After the end of the base year, a vessel account may cover the full amount of any deficit (negative balance) of QP or IBQ pounds using QP or IBQ from the following year, base year QP or IBQ pounds, through the post-season transfer period, or a combination, without restriction by annual QP vessel limits. A vessel account acquiring QP or IBQ after the base year to cover a deficit resulting from catch in excess of the base year annual QP vessel limits may still be in violation of annual vessel QP limit provisions specified at paragraph (e)(4)(i) of this section, or other provisions of this section, if the deficit exceeds the deficit carryover limit specified at paragraph (e)(5)(iii)(B) of this section. If an IFQ species is reallocated between the base year and the following year due to changes in management areas or subdivision of a species group as specified at paragraph (c)(3)(vii) of this section, a vessel account will not carryover the deficit for that IFQ species into the following year. A vessel account with a deficit for any IFQ species in the base year, may cover that deficit during the post-season transfer period or with QP or IBQ pounds from the following year without violating the provisions of this section if all of the following conditions are met: (A) The vessel account owner declares out of the Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of the year in which the deficit occurred. The vessel account owner must submit a signed, dated, and notarized letter to OLE, declaring out of the Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of the year and invoking the carryover provision to cover the deficit. Signed, dated, and notarized letters may be submitted to NMFS, West Coast Region, Office of Law Enforcement, ATTN VMS, Bldg. 1, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. If the vessel account owner covers the deficit later within the same calendar year, the vessel may re-enter the Shorebased IFQ Program. If the deficit is documented less than 30 days before the end of the calendar year, exiting out of the Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of the year is not required. (B) The amount of QP or IBQ pounds required to cover the deficit from the current fishing year is less than or equal to the vessel’s carryover limit for a deficit. The carryover limit for a deficit is calculated as 10 percent of the total cumulative QP or IBQ pounds (used and unused, less any transfers out of the vessel account, and any previous VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 carryover amounts) in the vessel account 30 days after the date the deficit is documented; (C) Sufficient QP or IBQ pounds are transferred into the vessel account to cure the deficit within 30 days of NMFS’ issuance of QP or IBQ pounds to QS accounts in the following year or the date the deficit is documented (whichever is later) but not later than the end of the post-season transfer period; and (D) The total QP required to cover the vessel’s total catch from the base year is not greater than the annual QP vessel limit for the base year. (iv) Post-Season QP or IBQ transfers. A vessel account with a deficit (negative balance) of QP or IBQ pounds after December 31 for any IFQ species may conduct post-season transfers to cure the deficit by obtaining available unused QP or IBQ pounds remaining in other vessel accounts from the base fishing year. Vessel account owners may conduct post-season transfers of QP and IBQ pounds according to transfer procedures specified in paragraph (e)(3)(iii) of this section, and subject to the following conditions: (A) Post-season transfers may be conducted during a period starting January 1 and ending 14 calendar days after NMFS has completed its determination of the total base year IFQ catch for all vessels for end-of-the-year account reconciliation. NMFS will issue a public notice when end-of-the-year account reconciliation has been completed, on or about March 1 of each year. (B) QP or IBQ pounds from the base fishing year transferred during the postseason transfer period may not be fished in any way, and may only be transferred for the purpose of covering deficits carried into the immediately following fishing year from the base fishing year. (C) After the post-season transfer period, remaining QP and IBQ pounds surplus and deficits from the base fishing year are subject to carryover provisions specified at paragraphs (e)(5)(ii) and (e)(5)(iii) of this section. * * * * * ■ 13. In § 660.150 revise paragraphs (c) and (d)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(v) to read as follows: § 660.150 Mothership (MS) Coop Program. * * * * * (c) MS Coop Program species and allocations—(1) MS Coop Program species. All species other than Pacific whiting are managed with set-asides for the MS and C/P Coop Programs, as described in Table 1d to subpart C of this part. (2) Annual mothership sector suballocations. Annual allocation PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54575 amount(s) will be determined using the following procedure: (i) MS/CV catch history assignments. Catch history assignments will be based on catch history using the following methodology: (A) Pacific whiting catch history assignment. Each MS/CV endorsement’s associated catch history assignment of Pacific whiting will be annually allocated to a single permitted MS coop or to the non-coop fishery. If multiple MS/CV endorsements and their associated CHAs are registered to a limited entry permit, that permit may be simultaneously registered to more than one MS coop or to both a coop(s) and non-coop fishery. Once assigned to a permitted MS coop or to the non-coop fishery, each MS/CV endorsement’s catch history assignment remains with that permitted MS coop or non-coop fishery for that calendar year. When the mothership sector allocation is established, the information for the conversion of catch history assignment to pounds will be made available to the public through a Federal Register announcement and/or public notice and/or the NMFS website. The amount of whiting from the catch history assignment will be issued to the nearest whole pound using standard rounding rules (i.e., less than 0.5 rounds down and 0.5 and greater rounds up). (1) In years where the Pacific whiting harvest specification is known by the start of the mothership sector primary whiting season specified at § 660.131(b)(2)(iii)(B), allocation for Pacific whiting will be made by the start of the season. (2) In years where the Pacific whiting harvest specification is not known by the start of the mothership sector primary whiting season specified at § 660.131(b)(2)(iii)(B), NMFS will issue Pacific whiting allocations in two parts. Before the start of the primary whiting season, NMFS will allocate Pacific whiting based on the MS Coop Program allocation percent multiplied by the lower end of the range of potential harvest specifications for Pacific whiting for that year. After the final Pacific whiting harvest specifications are established, NMFS will allocate any additional amounts of Pacific whiting to the MS Coop Program. (B) Non-whiting groundfish species catch—(1) At-sea set-asides of nonwhiting groundfish species will be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may be taken. Set asides may be adjusted through the biennial E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54576 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules specifications and management measures process as necessary. (2) Groundfish species not addressed in paragraph (c)(2)(i)(B)(1) of this section, will be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may be taken. (3) Halibut set-asides. Annually a specified amount of the Pacific halibut will be held in reserve as a shared setaside for bycatch in the at-sea Pacific whiting fisheries and the shorebased trawl sector south of 40°10′ N lat. (C) Rounding rules may affect distribution of the MS Coop Program allocations among the catch history assignments for individual MS/CVendorsed permits. NMFS will distribute such allocations to the maximum extent practicable, not to exceed the total allocation. (ii) Annual coop allocations—(A) Pacific whiting. Each permitted MS coop is authorized to harvest a quantity of Pacific whiting that is based on the sum of the catch history assignments for each member MS/CV-endorsed permit identified in the NMFS-accepted coop agreement for a given calendar year. Other limited entry permits registered to vessels that will fish for the coop do not bring catch allocation to a permitted MS coop. (B) If all MS/CV-endorsed permits are members of a single coop in a given year and there is not a non-coop fishery, then NMFS will allocate 100 percent of the MS Coop Program allocation to that coop. (iii) Annual non-coop allocation—(A) Pacific whiting. The non-coop whiting fishery is authorized to harvest a quantity of Pacific whiting that is remaining in the mothership sector annual allocation after the deduction of all coop allocations. (B) Announcement of the non-coop fishery allocations. Information on the amount of Pacific whiting and nonwhiting groundfish with allocations that will be made available to the non-coop fishery when the final Pacific whiting specifications for the mothership sector is established and will be announced to the public through a Federal Register announcement and/or public notice and/or the NMFS website. (3) Reaching an allocation or suballocation. When the mothership sector Pacific whiting allocation, or Pacific whiting sub-allocation is reached or is projected to be reached, the following action may be taken: (i) Further harvesting, receiving or atsea processing by a mothership or catcher vessel in the mothership sector VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 is prohibited when the mothership sector Pacific whiting allocation is projected to be reached. No additional unprocessed groundfish may be brought on board after at-sea processing is prohibited, but a mothership may continue to process catch that was on board before at-sea processing was prohibited. Pacific whiting may not be taken and retained, possessed, or landed by a catcher vessel participating in the mothership sector. (ii) When a permitted MS coop suballocation of Pacific whiting-is reached, further harvesting or receiving of groundfish by vessels fishing in the permitted MS coop must cease, unless the permitted MS coop is operating under an NMFS-accepted inter-coop agreement. (iii) When the non-coop fishery suballocation of Pacific whiting is projected to be reached, further harvesting or receiving of groundfish by vessels fishing in the non-coop fishery must cease. (4) [Reserved] (5) Announcements. The Regional Administrator will announce in the Federal Register when the mothership sector allocation of Pacific whiting is reached, or is projected to be reached, and specify the appropriate action. In order to prevent exceeding an allocation and to avoid underutilizing the resource, prohibitions against further taking and retaining, receiving, or at-sea processing of Pacific whiting may be made effective immediately by actual notice to fishers and processors, by email, internet, phone, fax, letter, press release, and/or USCG Notice to Mariners (monitor channel 16 VHF), followed by publication in the Federal Register, in which instance public comment will be sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter. (6) Redistribution of annual allocation—(i) Between permitted MS coops (inter-coop). (A) Through an inter-coop agreement, the designated coop managers of permitted MS coops may distribute Pacific whiting allocations among one or more permitted MS coops, provided the processor obligations at paragraph (c)(7) of this section have been met or a mutual agreement exception at paragraph (c)(7)(iv) of this section has been submitted to NMFS. (B) In the case of a MS coop failure during the Pacific whiting primary season for the mothership sector, unused allocation associated with the catch history will not be available for harvest by the coop that failed, by any former members of the coop that failed, or any other MS coop for the remainder of that calendar year. PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (1) Between the MS coop and noncoop fisheries. Pacific whiting may not be redistributed between the coop and non-coop fisheries. (2) Between Pacific whiting sectors. Pacific whiting may not be redistributed between the mothership sector and catcher/processor sector. Whiting may not be redistributed to the Shorebased IFQ Program. (7) Processor obligation and mutual agreement exceptions—(i) Processor obligation. Through the annual MS/CVendorsed limited entry permit renewal process, the MS/CV-endorsed permit owner must identify to NMFS to which MS permit the MS/CV permit owner intends to obligate the catch history assignment associated with that permit if they are participating in the MS coop fishery. Only one MS permit may be designated for each MS/CV endorsement and associated catch history assignment. (ii) Expiration of a processor obligation. Processor obligations expire at the end of each calendar year when the MS Coop Permit expires. (iii) Processor obligation when MS coop allocation is redistributed. When a permitted MS coop redistributes Pacific whiting allocation within the permitted MS coop or from one permitted MS coop to another permitted MS coop through an inter-coop agreement, such allocations must be delivered to the mothership registered to the MS permit to which the allocation was obligated under the processor obligation submitted to NMFS, unless a mutual agreement exception has been submitted to NMFS. (iv) Mutual agreement exception. An MS/CV-endorsed permit’s catch history assignment can be released from a processor obligation through a mutual agreement exception. The MS/CVendorsed permit owner must submit a copy to NMFS of the written agreement that includes the initial MS permit owner’s acknowledgment of the release of the MS/CV-endorsed permit owner’s processor obligation and the MS/CVendorsed permit owner must identify a processor obligation for a new MS permit. (v) MS permit withdrawal. If an MS permit withdraws from the mothership fishery before the resulting amounts of catch history assignment have been announced by NMFS, any MS/CVendorsed permit obligated to the MS permit may elect to participate in the coop or non-coop fishery. In such an event, the MS permit owner must provide written notification of its withdrawal to NMFS and all MS/CVendorsed permits that are obligated to the MS permit, and the owner of each E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules MS/CV-endorsed permit obligated to the MS permit must provide written notification to NMFS of their intent to either participate in the non-coop fishery or the coop fishery, and if participating in the coop fishery must identify a processor obligation for a new MS permit. (vi) Submission of a mutual agreement exception or MS permit withdrawal. Written notification of a mutual exception agreement or MS permit withdrawal must be submitted to NMFS, Northwest Region, Permits Office, Bldg. 1, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. (d) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (A) * * * (1) * * * (v) A description of the coop’s plan to adequately monitor and account for the catch of Pacific whiting and nonwhiting groundfish, and to monitor and account for the catch of prohibited species. * * * * * ■ 14. In § 660.160: ■ a. Revise paragraph (c)(1) introductory text, paragraphs (c)(1)(i), (c)(3)(i) and (ii); ■ b. Remove paragraph (c)(3)(iii); ■ c. Remove and reserve paragraph (c)(5); ■ d. Revise paragraphs (c)(6), (c)(7), and (d)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(iii), and paragraph (e)(1) introductory text; ■ e. Add paragraph (e)(1)(iv); ■ f. Revise paragraph (h)(1) introductory text, and paragraphs (h)(2) through (4); ■ g. Add paragraph (h)(5). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 660.160 Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program. * * * * * (c) * * * (1) C/P Coop Program species. All species other than Pacific whiting are managed with set-asides for the MS and C/P Coop Programs. (i) Species with formal allocations to the C/P Coop Program: Pacific whiting. * * * * * (3) * * * (i) At-sea sector set-asides of nonwhiting groundfish species will be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may be taken. Set asides may be adjusted through the biennial specifications and management measures process as necessary. (ii) Groundfish species not addressed in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section, will VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may be taken. * * * * * (5) [Reserved] (6) Reaching the catcher/processor sector allocation. When the catcher/ processor sector allocation of Pacific whiting is reached or is projected to be reached, further taking and retaining, receiving, or at-sea processing by a catcher/processor is prohibited. No additional unprocessed groundfish may be brought on board after at-sea processing is prohibited, but a catcher/ processor may continue to process catch that was on board before at-sea processing was prohibited. The catcher/ processor sector will close when the allocation of any one species is reached or projected to be reached. (7) Announcements. The Regional Administrator will announce in the Federal Register when the catcher/ processor sector allocation of Pacific whiting is reached, or is projected to be reached, and specify the appropriate action. In order to prevent exceeding an allocation and to avoid underutilizing the resource, prohibitions against further taking and retaining, receiving, or at-sea processing of Pacific whiting may be made effective immediately by actual notice to fishers and processors, by email, internet, phone, fax, letter, press release, and/or USCG Notice to Mariners (monitor channel 16 VHF), followed by publication in the Federal Register, in which instance public comment will be sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter. (d) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (A) * * * (1) * * * (iii) A description of the coop’s plan to adequately monitor and account for the catch of Pacific whiting and nonwhiting groundfish, and to monitor and account for the catch of prohibited species. * * * * * (e) * * * (1) General. Any vessel participating in the C/P sector of the non-tribal primary Pacific whiting fishery-must be registered to a valid limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement subject to the limited entry permit provisions given at § 660.25(b). * * * * * (iv) Trawl identification of ownership interest form. Any person that is applying for or renewing a PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54577 C/P-endorsed permit shall document those persons that have an ownership interest in the permit greater than or equal to 2 percent. This ownership interest must be documented with the SFD via the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form. SFD will not issue a C/P-endorsed permit unless the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form has been completed. * * * * * (h) * * * (1) Conditions for determination of coop failure. The Regional Administrator will determine that a permitted C/P coop has failed if any one of the following occurs: * * * * * (2) Notification of coop failure. If the permitted C/P coop dissolves, the designated coop manager must notify NMFS SFD in writing of the dissolution of the coop to allow the Regional Administrator to make a determination of coop failure. The Regional Administrator may also make an independent determination of a coop failure based on factual information collected by or provided to NMFS. NMFS will notify the designated coop manager in writing in the event the Regional Administrator determines the coop has failed. (3) Coop permit no longer in effect. Upon determination of a coop failure, the C/P coop permit will no longer be in effect. (4) Conversion to IFQ Fishery. The C/P sector will convert to an IFQ-based fishery beginning the following calendar year after a determination of a coop failure, or as soon as practicable thereafter. NMFS will develop additional regulations, as necessary to implement an IFQ-based fishery for the C/P sector. Each C/P-endorsed permit will receive an equal amount of QS from the total C/P sector allocation. That QS will not be transferable separate from the C/P-endorsed permit until a determination is made to allow such transfers, necessary regulations are implemented, and public notice is provided. Any use of QP or IBQ pounds associated with C/P endorsed permits is prohibited until the regulations for a C/P sector IFQ system are implemented. (5) Accumulation Limits. C/P Sector accumulation limits will take effect in the event that the C/P coop fails and converts to an IFQ-based fishery. If an IFQ fishery is implemented, any individual or entity may own or control a maximum of five C/P endorsed permits and QS allocations associated with those permits, as described in paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this section. C/P endorsed permit accumulation limits will only take effect after determination E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 54578 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules of a coop failure is made and the following administrative process occurs: (i) Divestiture Period. Upon determination of a coop failure, a divestiture period will occur starting with the date that co-op failure has been determined and running through the date on which an IFQ program is implemented for the C/P sector or another date specified in the IFQ program implementing regulations. During the divestiture period, an individual or entity may not acquire ownership or control over a total of more than five C/P-endorsed permits. Any entity that already owns or controls more than five C/P-endorsed permits may not acquire additional permits. During the divestiture period any entity who owns or controls C/P-endorsed permits may sell or trade any permits it owns. C/P-endorsed permits may be voluntarily abandoned to NMFS using the procedures provided under paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section. (ii) Divestiture and redistribution process. After conversion to an IFQ fishery and completion of the divestiture period, any person owning or controlling C/P-endorsed permits must be in compliance with accumulation limits, even if that ownership is not reflected in the ownership records available to NMFS as specified at § 660.140 (e)(1)(iv). Permit owners found to exceed the five permit accumulation limit for C/P-endorsed permits after the divestiture period are in violation of the accumulation limits and required to completely divest of ownership or control of C/P-endorsed permits that exceed the accumulation limit. C/P-endorsed permits may be voluntarily abandoned to NMFS using the procedures provided under paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section. If NMFS finds that any entity owns or controls more than five C/P-endorsed permits, NMFS will make an Initial Administrative Determination (IAD) that the entity must divest of control or ownership of permits that exceed the accumulation limit within 30 days or NMFS will revoke the excess permits in accordance with § 660.25(h)(2)(ii). The permit owner will have the opportunity to appeal the IAD through the National Appeals Office under the provisions established at 15 CFR part 906. All QS associated with revoked permits will be redistributed to all other C/P-endorsed permit owners in proportion to their QS holdings, based on current ownership records, on or about January 1 of the calendar year following the year in which the permits are revoked. This redistribution process will not allow any entity to receive more than 50 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 percent of the total QS allocations for the C/P sector. (iii) Abandonment of C/P-endorsed permits. C/P-endorsed permits owners that own or control more than the five permit accumulation limit may voluntarily abandon C/P-endorsed permits if they notify NMFS in writing during the divestiture period specified at paragraph (h)(5)(i) of this section or within 30 days of conversion to an IFQ fishery. The written abandonment request must include the C/P endorsed permit number and the associated QS allocation percentage that will be abandoned. Either the C/P-endorsed permit owner or an authorized representative of the C/P-endorsed permit owner must sign the request. C/ P-endorsed permit owners choosing to utilize the abandonment option will permanently relinquish to NMFS any right to the abandoned C/P-endorsed permit, and the QS associated with that permit will be redistributed as described under paragraph (h)(5)(ii) of this section. No compensation will be due for any abandoned permit, or associated QS or QP. (iv) Review of C/P-permit ownership interest and accumulation limits. NMFS may request additional information from C/P-permit owners as necessary to verify compliance with accumulation limits in the event of C/P coop failure and conversion to IFQ fishery. If NMFS discovers through review of the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form that a person is not in compliance with accumulation limits, the person will be subject to divestiture provisions specified in paragraph (h)(5)(ii) of this section. (v) Definition of Ownership or Control. For the purpose of determining ownership or control a person or entity has over a C/P endorsed permit, all of the following criteria apply: (A) The person or entity has the right to direct, or does direct, in whole or in part, the business of the entity to which the permits are registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. (B) The person or entity has the right to limit the actions of or replace, or does limit the actions of or replace, the chief executive officer, a majority of the board of directors, any general partner, or any person serving in a management capacity of the entity to which the C/P permits are registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. (C) With the exception of banks and other financial institutions that rely on permits as collateral for loans as PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 described under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(G) of this section, the person or entity has the right to direct, or does direct, and/ or the right to prevent or delay, or does prevent or delay, the transfer of the C/ P permit associated QS, or the resulting QP. (D) The person or entity, through loan covenants or any other means, has the right to restrict, or does restrict, and/or has a controlling influence over the day to day business activities or management policies of the entity to which the permits are registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. (E) The person or entity has the right to restrict, or does restrict, any activity related to the C/P permit, associated QS or the resulting QP, including, but not limited to, use of permits, or associated QS, or disposition of fish harvested and processed under the resulting QP, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. (F) The person or entity has the right to control, or does control, the management of, or to be a controlling factor in, the entity to which the C/P permit, associated QS, or the resulting QP, are registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. (G) With the exception of banks and other financial institutions that rely on permits as collateral for loans, the person or entity has the right to cause or prevent, or does cause or prevent, the sale, lease or other disposition of C/P permits, associated QS, or the resulting QP. (1) To qualify for this exception for banks and other financial institutions that rely on permits as collateral for loans, a bank or other financial institution must be regularly or primarily engaged in the business of lending, and must not be engaged in business with, or be controlled by, entities whose primary business is the harvesting, processing, or distribution of fish or fish products. (2) Any state or federally chartered bank or financial institution that meets the requirement of paragraph (h)(5)(v)(G)(1) of this section does not need to submit additional information to NMFS. (3) Any entity that is not a state or federally chartered bank or financial institution must submit a letter requesting the exception and disclose the identity and interest share of any shareholder with a 2 percent or more ownership interest in the lender through submission of the Trawl Identification E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 197 / Thursday, October 10, 2019 / Proposed Rules of Ownership Interest Form (see paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section). The lender must make subsequent annual submissions of the letter and Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form to maintain the exception. Letters requesting the exception and complete Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Forms may be submitted to NMFS, West Coast Region, Permits Office, ATTN: Fisheries Permit Office, Bldg. 1, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. NMFS will only accept complete applications. (H) The person or entity has the ability through any means whatsoever to control or have a controlling influence over the entity to which a permit associated QS is registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section. [FR Doc. 2019–21894 Filed 10–9–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 191002–0053] RIN 0648–BI45 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Vessel Movement, Monitoring, and Declaration Management for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule, request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes revisions to reporting and monitoring provisions for vessels participating in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery. This proposed action would: Increase the position transmission rate for certain vessels using NMFS type-approved vessel monitoring system units, including limited entry groundfish vessels, open access vessels using non-groundfish trawl gear (ridgeback prawn, California halibut, and sea cucumber trawl), and any vessels that use open access gear targeting groundfish or that have groundfish bycatch (salmon troll, prawn trap, Dungeness crab, halibut longline, California halibut line gear, and sheephead trap); allow midwater trawl vessels participating in the Pacific whiting fishery to change their landing SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Oct 09, 2019 Jkt 250001 declarations while at sea; exempt groundfish trawl vessels from observer coverage while testing authorized fishing gear; and allow shorebased Individual Fishing Quota fixed gear vessels to deploy pot gear in one management area while retrieving gear from another management area on a single trip. The proposed action will increase monitoring efficiency and effectiveness, improve enforcement of restricted areas, and increase operational flexibility for groundfish fishery participants. Comments on this proposed rule must be received on or before November 12, 2019. DATES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2019–0093, by any of the following methods: • Online Submission: Go to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190093, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Shannon Penna, Fishery Management Specialist, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802–4213. NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Copies of the analytic document supporting this action, are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2019–0093, or by contacting the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220–1384. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Penna, Fishery Management Specialist, 562–980–4238, or shannon.penna@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54579 Background Between September 2014 and April 2016, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) developed and considered management measures to address a range of vessel and gear movement issues and aggregated these issues under a single vessel movement monitoring agenda item. Additional details about the Council’s considerations are included in the Council’s analytic document (see ADDRESSES), and included in the discussion of individual measures below. The Council deemed the proposed regulations consistent with and necessary to implement this action in a July 17, 2019, letter from Council Executive Director, Chuck Tracy, to Regional Administrator Barry Thom. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), NMFS is required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. We are seeking comment on the Council’s proposed measures in this action and whether they are consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Summary of the Proposed Regulations This section discusses proposed regulatory revisions that are expected to increase NMFS’s ability to enforce fishing activity in and around restricted areas, and result in cost savings, increased profitability, and flexibility for the groundfish fishery. The proposed measures would: • Increase the position transmission rate requirements for certain vessels using NOAA NMFS type-approved vessel monitoring system (VMS) units; • Amend the definition for continuous transit; • Allow midwater trawl vessels participating in the Pacific whiting fishery to change their landing declarations while at sea; • Exempt groundfish trawl vessels from observer coverage while testing authorized fishing gear; and, • Allow shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fixed gear vessels to retrieve pot gear in one management area and deploy that gear in another management area on a single trip. A. Increased Position Transmission Rate for Groundfish VMS Vessels participating in the limited entry groundfish fishery (limited entry E:\FR\FM\10OCP1.SGM 10OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 197 (Thursday, October 10, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54561-54579]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21894]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 191001-0049]
RIN 0648-BI35


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries off West Coast States; 
Pacific Whiting; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; 
Amendment 21-4; Catch Share Program, 5-Year Review, Follow-on Actions

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes this measure to enact a range of Follow-on 
Actions identified in the course of conducting the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program 5-Year Review. These actions are 
intended to complete outstanding elements of the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program, respond to problems identified 
after implementing the program, and modify outdated regulations. This 
action proposes regulations in accordance with Amendment 21-4 to

[[Page 54562]]

the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, and would revise 
elements in four areas of the Catch Share Program.

DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received no later than 
October 29, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2019-0106 by any of the following methods:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0106, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    Mail: Colin Sayre, Sustainable Fisheries Division, West Coast 
Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115-0070.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

Electronic Access

    This proposed rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of 
the Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov. 
Background information and documents are available at the NMFS West 
Coast Region website at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/index.html and at the Pacific Fishery Management 
Council's website at http://www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/fishery-management-plan/groundfish-amendments-in-development/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colin Sayre, phone: 206-526-4656, or 
email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Background
II. Summary of the Proposed Regulations
    A. At-sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management
    B. Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Trawl Sector Quota 
Transfers
    C. Catcher Processor (C/P) Permit Accumulation Limits
    D. New Data Collections
    1. C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest
    2. Quota Share Permit Owner Participation and Economic Data
    E. Clarifications to Cost Recovery Regulatory Text
    F. Technical Corrections
III. Classification
IV. Description of Regulated Entities
VI. Collection of Information Requirements

I. Background

    The proposed action would complete outstanding elements of the 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program (Catch Share 
Program), respond to problems identified after Catch Share Program 
implementation, and modify outdated regulations. The proposed measures 
would: Allow the at-sea whiting sector to more fully and efficiently 
harvest its allocation through more flexible set-aside management of 
constraining bycatch species; improve utilization of Individual Fishing 
Quota (IFQ) and overall economic efficiency for the shorebased IFQ 
trawl sector; ensure fair and equitable access to resources in the 
event of at-sea Pacific Whiting Catcher-Processor (C/P) coop failure; 
and provide a more robust evaluation of Catch Share Program 
performance. This action also includes clarifying non-substantive 
changes to the regulatory language for the Cost Recovery Program.
    The Council deemed the proposed regulations necessary and 
appropriate to implement these actions in an August, 23rd, 2019, letter 
from Council Executive Director, Chuck Tracy, to Regional Administrator 
Barry Thom. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), NMFS is required to publish 
proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they 
are consistent with applicable law. We are seeking comment on the 
proposed regulations in this action and whether they are consistent 
with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable 
law.

Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program

    On January 1, 2011, NMFS implemented the Catch Share Program 
through Amendment 20 and Amendment 21 (75 FR 60867; October 1, 2010) to 
the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP. Amendment 20 established a limited 
entry IFQ system for shorebased trawl vessels and cooperatives for the 
at-sea Pacific whiting mothership (MS) and C/P sectors. The intent of 
the Catch Share Program was to increase net economic benefits and 
create economic stability for individual trawl fishery participants, 
provide full utilization of the trawl sector allocation, and achieve 
individual accountability for catch and bycatch in the Pacific Coast 
groundfish fishery. Amendment 21 established fixed allocations for 
limited entry trawl participants. These allocations are intended to 
improve management under the Catch Share Program by streamlining its 
administration, providing stability to the fishery, and addressing 
bycatch.

Catch Share Program 5-Year Review Follow-On Actions

    Section 303A of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires periodic reviews 
of limited access privilege programs (LAPPs), such as the Catch Share 
Program, starting five years after implementation. This review provides 
managers with information to determine whether Catch Share Program 
outcomes have been consistent with program goals and objectives and 
expected environmental impacts. Starting with implementation of the 
Catch Share Program in 2011, NMFS collected both baseline and annual 
socioeconomic data to judge the effectiveness of the Catch Share 
Program for the 5-Year Review. The Council approved the final version 
of the first 5-Year Review at its November 2017 meeting.
    To aid in reviewing and refining the Catch Share Program, the 
Council appointed an ad hoc committee called the Community Advisory 
Board (CAB) at its September 2016 meeting. The CAB provides the 
perspective of fishing communities on Catch Share Program performance, 
potential improvements, and other advice the Council requests to inform 
the program review. In May 2017, the CAB developed a list of issues for 
the Council to consider for rulemakings after completing the 5-Year 
Review. At its June 2017 meeting, the CAB provided the Council with a 
priority list of follow-on actions from which six were selected for 
further development. The action issues the CAB selected were: Meeting 
the at-sea whiting fishery bycatch needs; trawl sablefish area-
management; revising shoreside IFQ accumulation limits to increase 
attainment; meeting shoreside IFQ sector harvest complex needs; setting 
limits on fixed-gear gear switching; and setting C/P sector 
accumulation limits on permit ownership and harvesting/processing.
    At its November 2017 meeting, in a single package, called the 
``Follow-on Actions,'' the Council adopted the 5-

[[Page 54563]]

Year Review document and provided preliminary guidance for developing a 
range of alternatives from a subset of the action issues selected by 
the CAB, as follows:
     Adjust the management approach and FMP formulas for 
previously-overfished non-whiting stocks caught in the at-sea Pacific 
whiting fishery;
     Revise individual species annual quota pound (QP) vessel 
limits;
     Allow post-season QP trading and provide post-season 
relief from vessel QP limits;
     Eliminate the September 1 expiration for QP that have not 
been moved to a vessel account;
     Establish accumulation limits for C/P-endorsed permit 
ownership and processing amount;
     Require the submission of C/P-endorsed permit ownership 
information during the annual permit renewal process; and
     Require Quota Share (QS) permit owners to provide 
information on ownership and participation to the NMFS Northwest 
Fishery Science Center Economic Data Collection Program.
    At its November 2017 meeting, the Council decided to analyze 
alternatives for a range of action issues identified for follow-on 
action as part of 2019-2020 biennial Pacific Coast groundfish harvest 
specifications (83 FR 66638; December 27, 2018), and deferred several 
others issues for consideration in future groundfish actions. In March 
2018, the CAB provided input and recommendations as the Council adopted 
a final range of alternatives to be included in the follow-on actions 
for analysis. At its September 2018 meeting, the Council adopted 
preliminary preferred alternatives for each issue included in the 
Follow-on Action package. The Council selected the final preferred 
alternatives for the remaining follow-on actions to be included in 
Amendment 21-4 at its November 2018 meeting.
    Concurrent with this proposed rule, NMFS also published a Notice of 
Availability to announce the proposed Amendment 21-4 to the Pacific 
Coast Groundfish FMP. The Notice of Availability requests public review 
and comment on proposed changes to the Council FMP document (84 FR 
45706; August 30, 2019).

II. Summary of Proposed Regulations

A. At-Sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management

    The Pacific Coast groundfish FMP accounts for non-whiting 
groundfish bycatch in the at-sea Pacific whiting C/P and MS sectors in 
a number of different ways. For most stocks, the Council recommends an 
expected annual bycatch level for the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, 
and deducts it before allocating catch to the trawl sector. These 
deductions, known as set-asides, do not require closure of the at-sea 
Pacific whiting sectors, nor do they require any other management 
action if catch exceeds the expected amount of a set-aside. However, as 
a part of Amendment 21, the Council set formal allocations for four 
species, all of which were overfished at the time. The Council 
established allocations of these stocks for the at-sea Pacific whiting 
fishery in order to constrain catch. If catch in the at-sea C/P sector 
or MS sector exceeds the allocation for these stocks, NMFS is required 
to automatically close the sector. Canary rockfish, widow rockfish, 
darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch (POP) were managed as 
allocations for the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery under Amendment 21.
    In the past five years, the at-sea sectors have encountered these 
species with greater frequency as stocks increased under rebuilding 
efforts. In October of 2014 the MS sector experienced an unexpectedly 
large bycatch of darkblotched rockfish in a single haul that caused the 
sector to exceed its allocation for this species. The automatic closure 
provision in regulations at 50 CFR 660.60(d)(1) requires NMFS to close 
the at-sea Pacific whiting MS or C/P sectors when a non-whiting 
groundfish species with allocations is reached or projected to be 
reached. This early fishery closure left a significant portion of the 
MS sector's Pacific whiting allocation unattained. NMFS took inseason 
action to reapportion darkblotched rockfish from the C/P sector in 
order to reopen and allow the MS sector to fully attain its whiting 
allocation (79 FR 67095; November 12, 2014).
    In 2018 widow rockfish was reapportioned from the MS cooperative 
sector to the C/P cooperative sector to avoid a fishery closure similar 
to the one that occurred in 2014 (83 FR 5952; September 15, 2018). In 
January 2018 the final rule for Amendment 21-3 (83 FR 757; January 8, 
2018) converted darkblotched rockfish and POP from allocations to set-
asides. Formulas in the regulations at Sec.  660.55(c)(1)(i)(A) and (B) 
are used to determine set-aside amounts of darkblotched rockfish and 
POP. To ensure the action did not increase the risk of exceeding 
darkblotched rockfish or POP annual catch limits (ACLs), the final rule 
for Amendment 21-3 also added exceedance of the set-aside amount, plus 
an available buffer reserve for unforeseen catch events, to the list of 
circumstances requiring automatic closure for the at-sea sectors (MS 
and C/P). In the 2019-20 biennial harvest specifications and management 
measures (December 12, 2018; 83 FR 63970), the Council recommended, and 
NMFS approved, an action that removed the requirement that NMFS 
automatically close the at-sea sector if the set-asides for 
darkblotched rockfish or POP are exceeded. Amendment 21-3 further 
increased the flexibility of at-sea sectors to target their whiting 
allocation and provided economic relief from automatic fishery 
closures. Under regulations at Sec.  660.150(c)(2)(B) and Sec.  
660.160(c)(3) NMFS still has the authority to take inseason action 
should a sector's catch of species exceed its set-aside amount with 
risk of exceeding harvest specifications, cause unforeseen impact on 
another fishery, or result in other conservation concerns.
    In the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, bycatch of canary rockfish 
and widow rockfish are currently managed as allocations. Under this 
management approach each at-sea sector receives allocations of canary 
rockfish and widow rockfish bycatch, and automatic closure of an at-sea 
sector is required if the allocation is exceeded. The amount of canary 
rockfish bycatch available to the at-sea sectors is determined and 
allocated each biennium. The available widow rockfish bycatch 
allocation is determined using a set formula in the groundfish FMP and 
regulations at Sec.  660.55(c)(1)(i)(C).
    This proposed action would remove the allocations of widow rockfish 
and canary rockfish and instead create set-asides in the at-sea 
sectors, consistent with set-aside management for POP and darkblotched 
rockfish. This action would also remove from the regulations formulas 
used to determine set-aside or allocation amounts for darkblotched 
rockfish, POP, and widow rockfish, and instead use the biennial 
specification process to determine set-aside amounts available to the 
at-sea Pacific whiting sectors. The Council recommended using the 
existing FMP formulas to establish initial amounts in the biennial 
harvest specifications and management measure process. The status quo 
methods for determining set-asides or allocations available for harvest 
of these rockfish species, and changes proposed by Amendment 21-4 are 
provided in Table 1.

[[Page 54564]]



   Table 1--Current and Proposed Allocation and Management Measures for Bycatch Rockfish Stocks in the At-Sea
                                             Pacific Whiting Sectors
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Status quo        Status quo
            Species                allocation        management      Proposed allocation    Proposed management
                                     method           measures              method                measures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Canary Rockfish...............  Determined        Allocation--Auto  Set-aside amount       When set-aside is
                                 through           matic closure     based on expected      reached no action is
                                 biennial          when fully        Pacific whiting        taken, the Council
                                 harvest           harvested.        fishery bycatch of     may choose to take
                                 specifications.                     this species           inseason action if
                                                                     determined during      there is a risk of a
                                                                     biennial harvest       harvest
                                                                     specifications         specification being
                                                                     process.               exceeded, unforeseen
                                                                                            impact on other
                                                                                            fisheries, or
                                                                                            conservation
                                                                                            concerns.
Darkblotched Rockfish.........  FMP Formula: 9    Set-aside--No
                                 percent or 25     action required
                                 mt, whichever     if catch
                                 is greater, of    exceeds set-
                                 the total         aside.
                                 limited entry
                                 (LE) trawl
                                 allocation.
Pacific Ocean Perch (POP).....  FMP Formula; 17   Set-aside--No
                                 percent or 30     action required
                                 mt, whichever     if catch
                                 is greater, of    exceeds set-
                                 the total LE      aside.
                                 trawl
                                 allocation.
Widow Rockfish................  FMP Formula: 10   Allocation--Auto
                                 percent or 500    matic closure
                                 mt, whichever     when fully
                                 is greater,       harvested.
                                 distributed
                                 proportional to
                                 the sectors'
                                 Pacific whiting
                                 allocation.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changing the method used to determine set-asides from set formulas 
to management through the biennial specifications process would provide 
greater flexibility to managers when determining bycatch amounts for 
these four rockfish species, allowing managers to appropriately 
anticipate bycatch in the at-sea whiting sector within the process of 
setting biennial harvest specifications and management measures. As 
with previous changes to bycatch management for the at-sea Pacific 
whiting fishery, this action would reduce the risk of constraining 
attainment of the full at-sea sector whiting allocation in the event 
that bycatch limits of these rockfish species are exceeded. Under the 
proposed set-aside management, the sector would not automatically 
close, and other management measures would not be required if bycatch 
of these species exceeds set-aside amounts. If catch of any of these 
four species exceeds the set-aside and there is risk of exceeding a 
harvest specification, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or 
conservation concerns, NMFS and the Council may take inseason action 
(e.g., time or area closures) to slow catch in the trawl fishery. 
Currently, all other non-whiting species in the Pacific whiting fishery 
are managed as set-asides with amounts set during the biennial 
specifications process. Expected bycatch levels set during the 
specification process are generally high enough to cover maximum 
Pacific whiting fishery bycatch each year without risk to other harvest 
guidelines. Set-aside amounts of darkblotched rockfish and POP 
determined in the 2019-20 harvest specifications are higher than have 
historically been caught by the at-sea sector. In addition, the biomass 
for both canary rockfish and widow rockfish has increased greatly in 
recent years as a result of rebuilding efforts. Therefore, the Council 
determined it is unlikely that catch in the at-sea Pacific whiting 
sectors will exceed set-asides for these four rockfish species at a 
level that would result in overfishing.

B. Shorebased IFQ Trawl Sector Quota Transfers

    The proposed measures would adjust the quota trading provisions for 
participants in the shorebased IFQ sector. The changes would allow for 
post-season quota trading, remove the annual vessel limit for post-
season trades, and remove a quota transfer deadline.
    Currently, shorebased IFQ fishery participants who have caught more 
than their available QP for any stock or stock complex during a given 
fishing year enter the following fishing year with their vessel 
accounts in deficit. Participants must cover deficits with the 
following year's QP allocation. In most fishing years, there are 
remaining unused QP available in other vessel accounts at the end of 
the fishing year. The proposed action would expand the quota trading 
provision to allow participants to cover deficits after the end of the 
fishing year by either (1) using QP from the immediately following 
fishing year (status quo) or (2) trading with other participants to 
acquire surplus QP from the fishing year in which the deficit occurred 
(base year), or a combination of both methods. After the end of the 
groundfish fishing year on December 31st, QS permit owners would be 
able to trade surplus QP to QS permit owners with a deficit of QP from 
the base fishing year during a post-season transfer period. The post-
season trading window would last from January 1st until on or about 
March 14th of the immediately following fishing year; NMFS would 
provide fishery participants advance notice of the dates of the post-
season trading window through public notice. Surplus QP traded during 
the post-season trading window could only be transferable for the 
purpose of curing vessel account deficits, and would not be eligible 
for fishing. For example, a QS permit owner

[[Page 54565]]

starts the 2020 fishing year with 2,000 quota pounds of POP quota on 
January 1, and ends the year on December 31 with POP catch totaling 
2,250 quota pounds, accruing a deficit of 250 quota pounds. The QS 
permit owner would be able to choose to use 250 quota pounds of their 
2021 POP quota allocation to cover the deficit, or to purchase unused 
2020 POP quota left over from other QS permit owners during the post-
season trading window; the QS permit owner would also be able to choose 
a combination of both of these options.
    The post-season trading provision interacts with existing carryover 
provisions in regulations at Sec.  660.140(e)(5). Surplus QP and QP 
deficits at the end of a fishing year can be carried-over to the 
following fishing year. The surplus carryover limit is the amount of 
surplus QP from the base year that can be fished in the immediately 
following fishing year. Surplus QP carryover is limited to a maximum of 
10 percent of a QS permit owner's total allocation for a stock or stock 
complex, provided that total carryover for the stock or stock complex 
does not exceed the ABC for the following year, consistent with 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 Guidelines. 
The deficit carryover limit is the amount of deficit QP that a vessel 
may carry into the following fishing year without violating the 
carryover regulations. The deficit carryover limit is a maximum of 10 
percent of a QS permit owners total cumulative QP (used and unused) in 
the vessel account 30 days after the date the deficit is documented. 
Under the current regulations, a QS permit owner that has 25 percent of 
their total QP for a given stock unused after December 31 may carryover 
and fish unused QP equal to 10 percent of the base year's total, 
forgoing the remaining 15 percent from the base year. There is no limit 
on the amount of deficit QP that QS permit owners carryover from the 
base year into the following fishing year, and all deficits require 
pound-for-pound payback before the vessel is considered eligible to 
fish in the shorebased IFQ fishery in the following year. As an example 
of the interaction between the proposed post-season trading provision 
and surplus carryover, a QS permit owner with a QP surplus of 25 
percent for a given stock, rather than forgoing 15 percent of the 
surplus QP over the carryover limit, may instead trade the unused QP to 
another QS permit owner with a deficit for the same given stock. The 
trade described in this example would occur during the post-season 
trading window (January 1st to on or about March 14th of each year), 
and prior to NMFS issuing carryover surplus QP into the following year 
vessel accounts. The carryover provisions for QP surplus and deficits 
will remain in place, allowing QS permit owners the option to either 
conduct post-season trading or use surplus carryover to maximize 
opportunities to use surplus QP and cover QP deficits.
    An additional component of this proposed action would also allow 
vessels to cover end-of-the-year deficits that exceed the annual vessel 
limit with post-season QP trading, QP allocation for the following 
fishing year, or a combination, without restriction from the annual QP 
vessel limit of the base or following year. The Catch Share Program 
initially included annual vessel limits to ensure no individual or 
entity acquired excess, or otherwise unfair access, to fishing 
privileges. Deficits exceeding the annual QP vessel limit have occurred 
in the fishery when an unexpectedly high bycatch event known as a 
``lightning-strike'' takes place. These events are extremely rare and 
can result from unpredictable and dense congregations of a single 
bycatch species in one area where trawling occurs. Though infrequent, 
lightning-strike hauls over the annual QP vessel limit can greatly 
impact the ability of the affected QS permit owner to operate in 
subsequent years. QS permit owners are required to cover the QP 
deficits that result from lighting strikes, but are also constrained by 
the annual QP vessel limit from the base fishing year. For this reason, 
the QS permit owner must forego fishing until they cover the QP deficit 
with QP from the following fishing year under the base year annual QP 
vessel limit, in some cases over multiple fishing years. This action 
would allow QS permit owners with deficits exceeding the annual QP 
vessel limit to cover the deficit by trading post-season for available 
unused QP, or to use their QP allocations from the following fishing 
year to cure the deficit. While QS permit owners would no longer be 
limited by the annual vessel QP limits in curing deficits, they would 
violate the carryover regulations if the deficit exceeds the deficit 
carryover limit. Vessels affected by lightning-strike hauls would have 
the ability to cover deficits more easily, and return to fishing in a 
shorter timeframe under the proposed action.
    Finally, this action would eliminate the September 1st quota 
transfer deadline for shorebased IFQ fishery participants. Current 
regulations in Sec.  660.140 (d) require QS permit owners to transfer 
QP from a QS account to a vessel account by September 1st. Each year, 
QS permit owners receive disbursements of a percentage of the total 
allocations for each IFQ stock or stock complex directly to QS 
accounts. This allocated percentage is expressed in QPs and cannot be 
fished until the QP is transferred to a vessel account. Any unused QP 
that have not been transferred from a QS account to a vessel account 
expire September 1 of the year they were issued. The proposed action 
would make unused QP in QS accounts available for transfer to a vessel 
account, for trading and fishing, until December 31st of the fishing 
year for which they were issued. Under the proposed action, unused QP 
would remain in a QS account after January 1st and would be available 
for transfer to a vessel account for use in post-season trading in the 
following year until the end of the post-season trading period.
    This proposed action would help reduce the overall costs of 
participation in the shorebased IFQ sector and ensure the maximum 
amount of annual IFQ allocations are used to harvest fish rather than 
to cover the base year's QP deficits. The Council's analysis of these 
proposed measures did not indicate that they are likely to encourage 
participants to engage in fishing practices that regularly exceed 
annual QP vessel limits. Because QS permit owners are still required to 
cover deficits pound-for-pound, fishing into deficit would carry the 
cost of purchasing QP to cover deficits the following fishing year.

C. Catcher Processor (C/P) Permit Accumulation Limits

    The proposed action would establish a limit of five at-sea whiting 
C/P permits that any individual or entity may own or control in the 
event the C/P sector cooperative fails. When developing a limited 
access privilege program, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the 
Council ``ensure that limited access privilege holders do not acquire 
an excessive share of the total limited access privileges in the 
program by--(i) establishing a maximum share, expressed as a percentage 
of the total limited access privileges, that a limited access privilege 
holder is permitted to hold, acquire, or use; and (ii) establishing any 
other limitations or measures necessary to prevent an inequitable 
concentration of limited access privileges.'' During implementation of 
the Catch Share Program, accumulation limits were included for the 
shorebased IFQ sector and the at-sea MS sector, to meet requirements 
under Section 303A(c)(5)(D) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, no 
maximum share of

[[Page 54566]]

limited access privileges in the C/P sector was established.
    At the time of the Catch Share Program's development, the C/P 
sector had a single voluntary coop that divided by agreement among coop 
members the entire catch allocated to this sector. The Council and NMFS 
decided that the rationalization program adopted through Amendment 20 
would incorporate the voluntary coop structure already in place and 
require the annual issuance of a coop permit for the privilege of 
harvesting the allocated catch in this particular sector. In the event 
the coop failed in the future, Amendment 20 provided for the management 
of the CP sector with an IFQ program. The previously existing self-
organized coop did not include accumulation limits, and none were added 
when the coop was incorporated as a LAPP through Amendment 20.
    During the Catch Share program 5-year review, the Council discussed 
C/P coop sector accumulation limits and adopted a June 13, 2017, 
control date to support future consideration of accumulation limits (83 
FR 18259; April 26, 2018). In this proposed action, an accumulation 
limit of owning or controlling a maximum of five C/P-endorsed permits 
would be applied to the C/P sector only in the event that the current 
C/P cooperative fails and NMFS subsequently implements an IFQ system 
for the C/P sector. NMFS will determine that the cooperative has failed 
after any C/P-endorsed permits owners withdraw from the coop, one or 
more members voluntarily choose to dissolve the coop, or the coop 
agreement is no longer valid. The designated coop manager is required 
to notify NMFS of the failure, or the Regional Administrator may 
conduct an independent investigation to determine whether coop failure 
has occurred. Under the proposed action, after receiving notification 
from the coop manager or if NMFS has made an independent determination 
of a coop failure, NMFS will begin the process of implementing an IFQ 
program for the at-sea C/P sector. Through public notice, NMFS will 
announce the date on which an IFQ program will become effective for the 
C/P sector. Before that date, a publicly announced divestiture period 
will be provided in which any entities that control C/P-endorsed 
permits must take action to comply with the C/P accumulation limit. The 
proposed rule for this action provides regulatory language that sets 
forth criteria for the purpose of determining ownership or control a 
person or entity has over a C/P endorsed permit. This language is 
modeled after the regulatory language currently applicable to the 
shorebased IFQ sector. After NMFS implements the IFQ-based C/P fishery, 
no individual or entity may own or control more than five C/P-endorsed 
permits, and no person or entity may own or control any quota 
associated with permits in excess of the five permit limit. Any 
individual or entity found to own or control more than five C/P-
endorsed permits will be required to divest ownership of any excess 
permits following a divestiture period. Upon determination of a coop 
failure, a divestiture period will occur starting with the date the 
coop failed and ending on the date an IFQ program is implemented for 
the C/P whiting sector. Prior to the date an IFQ program is 
implemented, there will be a divestiture period during which any person 
owning more than five C/P-endorsed permits will be required to divest 
of excess permits. After the date in which an IFQ program is 
implemented, any C/P-endorsed permits in excess of the accumulation 
limit may be revoked by NMFS and associated QS redistributed to other 
C/P-endorsed permit owners.
    The Council also considered whether to limit the amount of at-sea 
whiting allocation a single entity or individual possessing a C/P 
permit could process with the intent that no single entity could 
process an excessive proportion of the sector allocation for Pacific 
whiting. After taking into account analysis and public comments, the 
Council selected the status quo (``No Action'' alternative) as the 
final preferred alternative for C/P processing limits. Under the status 
quo, a single entity may process up to 100 percent of the C/P sector 
whiting allocation. This decision was made to maintain the flexibility 
that the coop system provides. Currently three fishing companies 
control the ten C/P endorsed permits in the coop; if one company's 
vessels were unable to make it to the fishing grounds, it is possible 
that a processing limit could impede another company's harvest of fish 
on behalf of the absent vessels, thereby restricting full attainment of 
the at-sea sectors' whiting allocation. The Council also determined C/P 
permit accumulation limits and conversion to IFQ system in the event of 
coop failure would achieve the same goal as processing accumulation 
limits in the absence of the cooperative management structure.

D. New Data Collections

1. C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest
    The proposed action would establish a data collection for C/P 
permit owners. The Catch Share Program requires mandatory submission of 
ownership information from catcher vessels and MS vessels at the time 
of permit application or renewal. The data collection, known as the 
Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form, helps NMFS enforce 
accumulation limits and ensures no individual or entity obtains 
excessive limited access privileges. When the Catch Share Program was 
established, it did not include an accumulation limit and consequently 
did not require a collection of ownership information. This action 
would establish a requirement for the at-sea whiting C/P sector permit 
owners to complete the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest form 
annually during C/P endorsed permit renewal.
    The form is used to collect basic trawl vessel or permit owner 
information, such as vessel name, permit number, owner name and legal 
address, and the names and addresses of other individuals and entities 
that have an ownership interest and percentage of ownership for the 
vessel or permit. This proposed rule would also support future 
consideration by the Council in the event accumulation limits are 
required for the at-sea C/P sector as described in Section C of this 
preamble.
2. Quota Share Permit Owner Participation and Economic Data
    The proposed action would establish an economic data collection for 
quota share (QS) permit owners. Currently, any owners, charterers, or 
lessees of any vessel, shorebased processor, and first receiver sites 
participating in the Catch Share Program are required to submit annual 
Economic Data Collection (EDC) forms. The information collected through 
EDC forms includes but is not limited to annual data related to costs, 
earnings, value, labor, operations, physical characteristics, ownership 
and leasing information for vessels, first receiver sites or 
processors. The EDC forms also include questions related to costs and 
earnings from quota trading (including sales and leases) and the 
pattern of owner participation in the fishery. However, these forms do 
not currently collect information from QS permit owners who are not 
also owners, charterers or lessees of vessels, shorebased processors, 
or first receiver sites.
    Some participants in the Catch Share Program owned a vessel in the 
past, and received an allocation of IFQ and associated QS permit when 
the program was first implemented in 2011, but have since sold their 
vessel while retaining their QS permit. Reducing the number of active 
vessels was one of the intended

[[Page 54567]]

outcomes of rationalizing the trawl fishery under the Catch Share 
Program, and the Council anticipated that some participants would own 
and trade quota, but not actively fish or process catch. The Catch 
Share Program was designed to provide historic fishery participants who 
exited the fishery continued benefits through QS ownership. The 
existing EDC form was designed to collect detailed economic data on 
only active fishery participation associated with vessel, processor, or 
first receiver ownership; the same level of economic and participation 
data is not currently collected from the category of QS permit owner 
that does not also own or operate a vessel or shorebased processor/
first receiver. Because historic fishery participants are not required 
to complete an EDC form, the Council and NMFS lack knowledge about how 
economic benefits from these inactive or non-fishing permit owners 
impact fishing communities.
    This action would create a mandatory requirement for all categories 
of QS permit owners to complete an EDC Quota Share Permit Owner urvey 
form that collects information related to QS permit owner annual 
participation in the fishery, and costs and earnings related to QS 
permit ownership. This survey will be collected electronically via 
webform during the online QS permit application and renewal process. 
Information collected on this survey will provide NMFS and the Council 
with better understanding of Catch Share Program performance, economic 
costs and benefits conferred to fishery dependent communities. Better 
evaluation of program performance will support the sustained fishing 
community participation in the Catch Share Program, and to the extent 
practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on fishing communities.

E. Clarifications to Cost Recovery Regulatory Text

    On March 20, 2014, NMFS published a Public Notice (NMFS-SEA-14-12) 
discussing two clarifications to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl 
Rationalization Cost Recovery Program that went into effect in January 
2014 (78 FR 75268; December 11, 2013). This proposed rule would 
implement regulatory language necessary to reflect these two program 
clarifications. The first proposed adjustment clarifies that the 
deposit principal may be used to refund cost recovery payments made by 
credit card through Pay.gov. The second proposed clarification 
specifies that in the C/P sector only retained fish, and not discards, 
are used in calculating ex-vessel revenue as it relates to determining 
cost recovery fees.

F. Technical Corrections

    In addition to proposed regulatory changes to implement the 
Council's recommendations, this rule also proposes minor technical 
corrections. Specifically, these minor technical corrections remove 
obsolete baseline dates that were included during implementation of the 
Catch Share Program, such as the years when initial trawl allocations 
were issued, the first date on which quota transfers were permitted, 
and the dates when economic data collections were initiated.
Correction and Clarification for the Amendment 21-4 Notice of 
Availability
    NMFS is making the following correction and clarification to text 
published in the Notice of Availability (NOA) on August 30, 2019 (84 
CFR 45706). On page 45708 of the NOA, language stating ``The proposed 
FMP amendment is intended to allow the Council increased flexibility to 
adjust bycatch limits inseason for the at-sea whiting sectors . . .'' 
should omit the word ``inseason'', because the Council does not adjust 
set-asides through inseason action. The Council can adjust set-asides 
during each biennial harvest specification cycle, as described earlier 
in the same paragraph in the NOA and also in this preamble in section 
II, A, ``At-sea Whiting Fishery Set-Aside Bycatch Management.''
    We are also clarifying the meaning of the language on page 45708 of 
the NOA that describes Quota Share permit owners who would be 
responsible for completing EDC forms under the proposed rule. Following 
is the NOA language, as clarified, with additional language noted in 
italics: ``The proposed action would also require all Quota Share 
permit owners, including those that do not also own charter or lease a 
vessel, shorebased processor or first receiver site to submit 
participation and quota cost/earning information through a subset of 
the Catch Share Economic Data Collection program.''

III. Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has made a preliminary determination that 
this proposed rule is consistent with the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. 
In making the final determination, NMFS will consider the data, views, 
and comments received during the public comment period.
    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this 
proposed rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 
U.S.C. 603). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, 
if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, 
why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action is 
contained in the SUMMARY section and at the beginning of the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble. A summary of the 
analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    The RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires government agencies to 
assess the effects that regulatory alternatives would have on small 
entities, defined as any business/organization independently owned and 
operated, not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates). A small harvesting business has combined annual receipts 
of $11 million \1\ or less for all affiliated operations worldwide.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ On December 29, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS) issued a final rule establishing a small business size 
standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses 
primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) 
for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 
81194, December 29, 2015; codified at 50 CFR 200.2). The $11 million 
standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and after that date it is 
to be used in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA. Id. at 81194. This 
NMFS rule is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business 
Administration's (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 
million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish 
(NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of 
the U.S. commercial fishing industry, respectively.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A small fish-processing business is one that employs 750 or fewer 
persons for all affiliated operations worldwide. NMFS is applying this 
standard to C/Ps for the purposes of this rulemaking, because these 
vessels earn the majority of their revenue from selling processed fish.
    For marinas and charter/party boats, a small business is one that 
has annual receipts not in excess of $7.5 million. A wholesale business 
servicing the fishing industry is a small business if it employs 100 or 
fewer persons on a full[dash]time, part[dash]time, temporary, or other 
basis, at all its affiliated operations worldwide.
    For the purposes of this rulemaking, a nonprofit organization is 
determined to be ``not dominant in its field of

[[Page 54568]]

operation'' if it is considered small under one of the following SBA 
size standards: Environmental, conservation, or professional 
organizations are considered small if they have combined annual 
receipts of $15 million or less, and other organizations are considered 
small if they have combined annual receipts of $7.5 million or less. 
The RFA defines small governmental jurisdictions as governments of 
cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or 
special districts with populations of less than 50,000.
    When an agency proposes regulations, the RFA requires the agency to 
prepare and make available for public comment an IRFA that describes 
the impact on small businesses, non-profit enterprises, local 
governments, and other small entities. The IRFA is to aid the agency in 
considering all reasonable regulatory alternatives that would minimize 
the economic impact on affected small entities.
Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered
    This action proposes changes to the Catch Share Program intended to 
complete outstanding elements of the program, respond to problems 
identified after implementing the program, and modify outdated 
regulations. A complete description of the action, why it is being 
considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in 
Amendment 21-4, and elsewhere in the preamble to this proposed rule, 
and are not repeated here.
Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the 
Rule Applies, and Estimate of Economic Impacts by Entity Size and 
Industry
    For the purpose of the RFA analysis, this proposed rule will impact 
entities that own quota share permits and entities that both process 
and harvest groundfish. For RFA purposes NMFS classifies a business 
primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated 
operations worldwide. Based on the holdings of first receiver permits 
in the West Coast Region permits database, 22 non-whiting quota share 
permit owners are estimated to be primarily engaged in seafood product 
preparation and packaging. According to the NMFS size standard, three 
of the entities that own three first receiver permits are considered 
small. These small processing entities were issued 1.7 percent of the 
non-whiting QP issued in 2018, the most recent year available. Some of 
these small processing entities also own groundfish permits, required 
on both catcher vessels and C/Ps, which would be regulated by the 
proposed rule; three small entities primarily engaged in seafood 
processing own two limited entry groundfish permits.
    Limited entry groundfish permit vessels are required to self-report 
size across all affiliated entities. Of the businesses that earn the 
majority of their revenue from commercial fishing, 30 groundfish vessel 
permits are owned by seven entities that are considered large according 
to the SBA size standard and as self-reported on groundfish permits and 
first receiver site license permits. Six of these seven large 
processing entities were issued 10.2 percent of the non-whiting QP 
issued in 2018 across sixteen quota share permits.
    Entities that are not registered as trusts, estates, governments, 
or non-profits are assumed to earn the majority of their revenue from 
commercial fishing.This definition is used for 124 QS permit owners, 
who collectively received 76.5 percent of the quota pounds issued in 
2018. Of 118 trawl endorsed permits, 117 are owned by commercial 
fishing entities in 2019; 5 of these entities self-reported as large. 
Of the businesses who earn the majority of their revenue from 
commercial fishing, one that self-reported as large, owns four 
groundfish permits and one quota share permit. Many groundfish trawl 
permit owners also own quota share permits; however, it is not possible 
with available data to tabulate unique ownership across quota share 
permits and groundfish permits, so the numbers provided likely 
represent the maximum number of entities impacted.
    The RFA recognizes and defines a small governmental jurisdiction as 
any government or district with a population of less than 50,000 
persons. According to the public IFQ Account database as of June 19, 
2018, the City of Monterey owns quota shares of ten species. The U.S. 
Census estimates the population of Monterey to be 28,454 as of July 1, 
2017, so the City of Monterey would be considered a small governmental 
jurisdiction under the RFA definition. The City of Monterey received 
0.5 percent of the quota pounds issued for 2018, according to the 
public IFQ Account database.
    According to the public IFQ Account database, six not-for-profit 
organizations own quota share in the Catch Share Program and would be 
impacted by this proposed rule. The RFA defines a small organization as 
any not-for-profit enterprise that is independently owned and operated 
and not dominant in its field. NMFS uses the SBA size standards to 
determine whether a not-for-profit organization is a ``small 
organization.'' By SBA size standards, a small organization has 
combined annual receipts of $15 million or less for environmental, 
conservation, or professional organizations, and $7.5 million or less 
for other organizations.
    Five of these not-for-profit organizations would be considered 
small by the RFA definition and the SBA size standard, using 2016 
annual receipts of $120-500 thousand dollars, as reported on IRS form 
990. One not-for-profit organization self-reported as large, based on 
fiscal year 2017 receipts of $1.1 billion. Collectively, the five small 
not-for-profit organizations received 7.2 percent of the non-whiting 
quota pounds issued in 2018 (issued annually through a separate 
rulemaking process) and the large not-for-profit organization received 
0.5 percent. The large not-for-profit organization also owned two 
limited entry trawl permits that would be impacted by the management 
measures of the rule. The small not-for-profits owned 3 permits.
    Finally, 11 personal or family trusts/estates owned quota share 
permits and would potentially be impacted by the trawl sector 
allocation under this proposed rule. All of these are assumed to be 
smaller than the RFA size standard. Collectively, these eight small 
entities received 4.2 percent of the non-whiting quota pounds issued 
for 2018. Five of these entities owned five groundfish permits.
    This action is expected to have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities; however, the effects on the 
regulated small entities identified in this analysis are expected to 
range from neutral to positive. Under the proposed action, small 
entities would not be placed at a competitive disadvantage relative to 
large entities, and the regulations would not reduce the profits for 
any small entities. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis was 
prepared to support this conclusion.
Description of Record-Keeping, and Reporting, Requirements of This 
Proposed Rule
    This proposed rule would require modifications to current 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements for two information 
collections. Under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization 
Program Permit and License Information Collection (OMB Control Number 
0648-0620) C/P-endorsed permit owners would be required by the proposed 
rule to submit

[[Page 54569]]

annual ownership interest information via the Trawl Identification of 
Ownership Interest form. Under the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Economic 
Data Collection (OMB Control Number 0648-0618) a new Quota Share Permit 
Owner survey form would be implemented by this proposed rule, and all 
owners of a quota share permit would be required to submit the 
completed form annually. A description of the revision for the two 
existing information collection requirements follows.
C/P Endorsed Permit Ownership Interest Form
    The modifications would require C/P endorsed permit owners to 
complete Trawl Owner Identification of Interest forms during annual 
permit renewal under OMB Control Number 0648-0620. Currently there are 
10 C/P endorsed permits approved by NMFS in the Catch Share program. 
These permits are held by three companies with no single company owning 
more than five permits. As each company is a controlling entity, three 
is the minimum number of affected entities that would be expected to 
require submission of one Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest 
form for each C/P endorsed permit. The requested change in information 
collection would require from C/P permit owners the same level of 
ownership interest identification as required of mothership and catcher 
vessel permit owners. The current cooperative structure of the C/P 
sector helps to ensure no single entity acquires excessive privilege in 
the sector. However, in the event of a coop failure, it would be 
necessary to set accumulation limits, which would require NMFS to track 
ownership interest in C/P endorsed permits. Additionally, NMFS does not 
anticipate any new fishery entrants will apply for C/P endorsed 
permits, nor will NMFS approve any new C/P endorsed permits.
Economic Data Collection From Quota Share Permit Owners
    The proposed action would require changes to the Catch Share 
Program Economic Data Collection OMB Control Number 0648-0618. The 
proposed rule would change reporting requirements for owners of quota 
share permits to submit information to the Catch Share Program Economic 
Data Collection (EDC) Program. Participants in the Catch Share Program 
who own, lease or charter vessels, shorebased processors, or first 
receiver sites are required to submit annual economic data to the EDC 
Program through survey forms corresponding to these characteristics of 
participation. The EDC Program currently does not require submission of 
forms from quota share permit owners who do not also own, lease or 
charter vessels, shorebased processors, or first receiver sites. The 
proposed rule would add a requirement for submission of EDC forms from 
all participants who own a quota share permit, including those who do 
not otherwise participate in the fishery other than by owning a quota 
share permit. Quota share permit owners will submit this form 
electronically via webform during the annual quota share account 
application and renewal process. The proposed submission deadline for 
the Quota Share Permit Owner survey will be November 30th in order to 
align with other quota share account application and renewal materials, 
rather than September 1st, as is required for other EDC forms.
Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This 
Proposed Rule
    The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
any other Federal rules.
Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which 
Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which 
Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities
    This rule is not expected to result in adverse impacts to small 
entities. Thus, there are no significant alternatives to the proposed 
rule that would minimize adverse economic impacts on small entities. 
The Council did consider alternatives to the proposed rule which would 
have had a lower level of benefits to small entities; however, the 
Council did not consider alternatives that would have had greater 
benefits to small entities, as these would not have been consistent 
with other applicable laws.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This action contains a revision of two existing information 
collection requirements, which have previously been approved by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The changes under this proposed 
rule are subject to review and approval by OMB. NMFS has submitted 
these requirements to OMB for approval under Control Number 0648-0620 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program Permit and 
License Information Collection, and under Control Number 0648-0618 West 
Coast Groundfish Trawl Economic Data Collection.
    Under this proposed rule, modifications to OMB Control Number 0648-
0620 would require completion of the Trawl Identification of Ownership 
Interest form by three different fishing companies that own the 10 at-
sea Pacific Whiting C/P-endorsed limited entry permits. The public 
reporting burden is expected to require approximately 3.5 minutes to 
complete each form once per year during C/P-endorsed permit renewal. In 
the first year, respondents may require more time to complete the 
forms, requiring a one-time estimate of 45 minutes per form for a total 
annual burden increase of 7.5 hours in the first year, and 35 minutes 
in following years. The total copy costs per form under this collection 
would be $0.35, for a total increase of $3.5 to annual public burden 
costs.
    Based on 2018 data from EDC responses and the public QS permit 
database, the public reporting burden for the change in requirement 
under Control Number 0648-0618 is expected to include approximately 178 
Quota Share permit owners. The new reporting requirement would add to 
the EDC collection approximately 73 new respondents who are QS permit 
owners, who are not also owners, charterers, or lessees of vessels, or 
processors and other first receiver sites, and as a result have not 
previously completed EDC forms. Current burden time estimates for the 
EDC are approximately 8 hours per year and include questions relating 
to both QS permit ownership and vessel operations. The new form would 
collect more detailed QS permit ownership information than in prior 
years, increasing the total public burden hours. The new QS Permit 
owner survey is expected to take approximately 1 hour, once per year, 
for all 178 respondents to complete, adding 178 hours to the total (for 
an increase from 2,224 hours to 2,402 hours) These forms would be 
collected electronically during the QS permit renewal process, thereby 
reducing the mailing costs to respondents. Respondents would be asked 
to retain a copy of the survey for their records (at $0.20 per survey), 
and would increase total costs by $36 (from $4,120 to $4,156).
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether the proposed collection 
of information requirements are necessary for the proper performance of 
the agency, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; the accuracy of the burden statement; ways to enhance the 
quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and 
ways to minimize the burden of the collected information, including 
through the use of automated

[[Page 54570]]

collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send 
comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of 
information, 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 penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirement 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.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indians.

    Dated: October 2, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. Authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows;

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

0
2. In Sec.  660.55:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a), (c)(1), (d), and (j), and
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraph (f)(2).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  660.55   Allocations.

    (a) General. The opportunity to harvest Pacific Coast groundfish is 
allocated among participants in the fishery when the ACLs for a given 
year are established in the biennial harvest specifications. For any 
stock that has been declared overfished, any formal allocation may be 
temporarily revised for the duration of the rebuilding period. For 
certain species, primarily trawl-dominant species, separate allocations 
for the trawl and nontrawl fishery (which for this purpose includes 
limited entry fixed gear, directed open access, and recreational 
fisheries) will be established biennially or annually using the 
standards and procedures described in Chapter 6 of the PCGFMP. Chapter 
6 of the PCGFMP provides the allocation structure and percentages for 
species allocated between the trawl and nontrawl fisheries. Also, for 
those species not subject to the trawl and nontrawl allocations 
specified under Amendment 21 and in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, 
separate allocations for the limited entry and open access fisheries 
may be established using the procedures described in Chapters 6 and 11 
of the PCGFMP and this subpart. Allocation of sablefish north of 
36[deg] N lat is described in paragraph (h) of this section and in the 
PCGFMP. Allocation of Pacific whiting is described in paragraph (i) of 
this section and in the PCGFMP. Allocation of black rockfish is 
described in paragraph (l) of this section. Allocation of Pacific 
halibut bycatch is described in paragraph (m) of this section. 
Allocations not specified in the PCGFMP are established in regulation 
through the biennial harvest specifications and are listed in Tables 1 
a through d and Tables 2 a through d of this subpart.
* * * * *
    (c) * * * (1) Species/species groups and areas allocated between 
the trawl and non-trawl fisheries are allocated based on the amounts 
and percentages in the table below. IFQ species not listed in the table 
below are allocated between the trawl and nontrawl fisheries through 
the biennial harvest specifications process.

Allocation Amounts and Percentages for Limited Entry Trawl and Non-Trawl
     Sectors Specified for FMP Groundfish Stocks and Stock Complexes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   All non-treaty LE  All non-treaty non-
        Stock or complex             trawl sectors       trawl sectors
                                       (percent)           (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lingcod.........................  45................  55.
Pacific Cod.....................  95................  5.
Sablefish S. of 36[deg] N lat...  42................  58.
PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH.............  95................  5.
WIDOW...........................  91................  9.
Chilipepper S. of 40[deg]10' N    75................  25.
 lat.
Splitnose S. of 40[deg]10' N lat  95................  5.
Yellowtail N. of 40[deg]10' N     88................  12.
 lat.
Shortspine N. of 34[deg]27' N     95................  5.
 lat.
Shortspine S. of 34[deg]27' N     50 mt.............  Remaining Yield.
 lat.
Longspine N. of 34[deg]27' N lat  95................  5.
DARKBLOTCHED....................  95................  5.
Minor Slope RF North of           81................  18.
 40[deg]10' N lat.
Minor Slope RF South of           63................  37.
 40[deg]10' N lat.
Dover Sole......................  95................  5.
English Sole....................  95................  5.
Petrale Sole....................  95................  5.
Arrowtooth Flounder.............  95................  5.
Starry Flounder.................  50................  50.
Other Flatfish..................  90................  10.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (i) Trawl fishery allocation. The allocation for the limited entry 
trawl fishery is derived by applying the trawl allocation amounts and 
percentages as specified in paragraph (c) of this section and as 
specified during the biennial harvest specifications process to the 
fishery harvest guideline for species/species groups and areas. For IFQ 
species the trawl allocation is further subdivided within each of the 
trawl sectors (MS, C/P, and IFQ) as specified in Sec.  660.140, 
660.150, and 660.160 of subpart D. The whiting allocation is further 
subdivided among the trawl sectors as specified in paragraph (c)(1)(i) 
of this section.

[[Page 54571]]

    (ii) Nontrawl fishery allocation. For each species/species group 
and area, the nontrawl fishery allocation is derived by subtracting 
from the corresponding harvest guideline the trawl allocations 
specified in paragraph (c) of this section and during the biennial 
harvest specifications The nontrawl allocation will be shared between 
the limited entry fixed gear, open access, and recreational fisheries 
as specified through the biennial harvest specifications process and 
consistent with allocations in the PCGFMP.
* * * * *
    (d) Commercial harvest guidelines. To derive the commercial harvest 
guideline, the fishery harvest guideline is further reduced by the 
recreational set-asides. The commercial harvest guideline is then 
allocated between the limited entry fishery (both trawl and fixed gear) 
and the directed open access fishery, as appropriate.
* * * * *
    (j) Fishery set-asides. Annual set-asides are not formal 
allocations but they are amounts which are not available to the other 
fisheries during the fishing year. For Pacific Coast treaty Indian 
fisheries, set-asides will be deducted from the TAC, OY, ACL, or ACT 
when specified. For the catcher/processor and mothership sectors of the 
at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, set-asides will be deducted from the 
limited entry trawl fishery allocation. Set-aside amounts may be 
adjusted through the biennial harvest specifications and management 
measures process.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  660.60:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (d) introductory text, (d)(1) introductory text, 
and (d)(1)(i);
0
b. Remove paragraph (d)(1)(iii);
0
c. Redesignate paragraphs (d)(1)(iv) through (vii) as (d)(1)(iii) 
through (vi), respectively.
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  660.60   Specifications and management measures.

* * * * *
    (d) Automatic actions. The NMFS Regional Administrator or designee 
will initiate automatic management actions without prior public notice, 
opportunity to comment, or a Council meeting. These actions are 
nondiscretionary, and the impacts must have been taken into account 
prior to the action. Unless otherwise stated, a single notice will be 
published in the Federal Register making the action effective if good 
cause exists under the APA to waive notice and comment.
    (1) Automatic actions will be initiated in the following 
circumstances:
    (i) Close the MS or C/P sector when that sector's Pacific whiting 
allocation is reached, or is projected to be reached. The MS sector 
non-coop fishery will be closed by automatic action when the Pacific 
whiting or non-whiting allocation to the non-coop fishery has been 
reached or is projected to be reached.
* * * * *

Table 1b to Part 660, Subpart C--2019, Allocations by Species or 
Species Group [Amended]

0
4. In Table 1b to part 660, subpart C--2019, Allocations by Species or 
Species Group, Remove footnotes '`c' through `f', and redesignate 
footnote `g' as `c'.

Table 1d to Part 660, Subpart C--At-Sea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-
Asides, 2019 [Removed]

0
5. Remove Table 1d to part 660, subpart C--At-Sea Whiting Fishery 
Annual Set-Asides, 2019, and footnotes.

Table 1e to Part 660, Subpart C--Whiting and Non-Whiting Initial 
Issuance Allocation Percentage for IFQ Decided Through the Harvest 
Specifications, 2011 [Redesignated]

0
6. Redesignate Table 1e to part 660, subpart C--Whiting and non-whiting 
initial issuance allocation percentage for IFQ decided through the 
harvest specifications, 2011 as Table 1d to part 660, subpart C--
Whiting and non-whiting initial issuance allocation percentage for IFQ 
decided through the harvest specifications, 2011.

Table 2d to Part 660, Subpart C--At-Sea Whiting Fishery Annual Set-
Asides, 2020 [Removed]

0
7. Remove Table 2d to Part 660, Subpart C--At-Sea Whiting Fishery 
Annual Set-Asides, 2020 and Beyond and footnotes
0
8. In Sec.  660.111, amend the definition of Ex-vessel value by 
revising paragraph (3) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.111   Trawl fishery--definitions.

* * * * *
    Ex-vessel value * * *
    (3) For the C/P Coop Program, the value as determined by the 
aggregate pounds of all groundfish species catch (as defined in Sec.  
660.11) retained on board, by the vessel registered to a C/P-endorsed 
limited entry trawl permit, multiplied by the MS Coop Program average 
price per pound as announced pursuant to Sec.  660.115(b)(2).
* * * * *
0
9. In Sec.  660.113, add paragraph (b)(1)(iv), and revise paragraphs 
(d)(5)(ii)(A)(2), (d)(5)(ii)(A)(4) and (5) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.113   Trawl fishery--recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) All owners of a quota share (QS) permit as defined at Sec.  
660.25(c)
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (2) The weight of each species of groundfish retained on board.
* * * * *
    (4) The ex-vessel value of each species of groundfish retained on 
board,
    (5) The net ex-vessel value of each species of groundfish retained 
on board,
* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  660.114, revise paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.114   Trawl fishery--economic data collection program.

    (a) General. The economic data collection (EDC) program collects 
mandatory economic data from participants in the trawl rationalization 
program. NMFS requires submission of EDC forms to gather ongoing, 
annual economic data, including, but not limited to the following 
categories of information related to participation in the trawl 
rationalization program:
    (1) Annual data related to QS permit owner activity and 
characteristics of participation in the fishery, costs and earnings 
from quota trades, and quota leasing.
    (2) Annual data related to costs, earnings, value, labor, 
operations, physical characteristics, ownership and leasing information 
for vessels, first receiver sites, or shorebased processors.
    (b) Economic data collection program requirements. The following 
fishery participants in the limited entry groundfish trawl fisheries 
are required to comply with the following EDC program requirements:

[[Page 54572]]



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          Consequence for failure to submit (In
                                 Economic data     Who is required to    addition to consequences listed below,
     Fishery participant          collection         submit an EDC?         failure to submit an EDC may be a
                                                                                 violation of the MSA.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Limited entry trawl        (i) Annual/       (A) All owners,        (1) For permit owner, a limited entry
 catcher vessels.               ongoing           lessees, and           trawl permit application (including MS/
                                economic data.    charterers of a        CV-endorsed limited entry trawl permit)
                                                  catcher vessel         will not be considered complete until
                                                  registered to a        the required EDC for that permit owner
                                                  limited entry trawl    associated with that permit is
                                                  endorsed permit.       submitted, as specified at Sec.
                                                                         660.25(b)(4)(i).
                                                                        (2) For a vessel owner, participation in
                                                                         the groundfish fishery (including, but
                                                                         not limited to, changes in vessel
                                                                         registration, vessel account actions,
                                                                         or if own QS permit, issuance of annual
                                                                         QP or IBQ pounds) will not be
                                                                         authorized until the required EDC for
                                                                         that owner for that vessel is
                                                                         submitted, as specified, in part, at
                                                                         Sec.   660.25(b)(4)(vi) and Sec.
                                                                         660.140(e).
                                                                        (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer,
                                                                         participation in the groundfish fishery
                                                                         (including, but not limited to,
                                                                         issuance of annual QP or IBQ pounds if
                                                                         own QS or IBQ) will not be authorized,
                                                                         until the required EDC for their
                                                                         operation of that vessel is submitted.
                                                 (B) [Reserved].......
(2) Motherships..............  (i) Annual/       (A) All owners,        (1) For permit owner, an MS permit
                                ongoing           lessees, and           application will not be considered
                                economic data.    charterers of a        complete until the required EDC for
                                                  mothership vessel      that permit owner associated with that
                                                  registered to an MS    permit is submitted, as specified at
                                                  permit.                Sec.   660.25(b)(4)(i).
                                                 (B) [Reserved].......
                                                                        (2 )For a vessel owner, participation in
                                                                         the groundfish fishery (including, but
                                                                         not limited to, changes in vessel
                                                                         registration) will not be authorized
                                                                         until the required EDC for that owner
                                                                         for that vessel is submitted, as
                                                                         specified, in part, at Sec.
                                                                         660.25(b)(4)(vi).
                                                                        (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer,
                                                                         participation in the groundfish fishery
                                                                         will not be authorized, until the
                                                                         required EDC for their operation of
                                                                         that vessel is submitted.
(3) Catcher processors.......  (i) Annual/       (A) All owners,        (1) For permit owner, a C/P-endorsed
                                ongoing           lessees, and           limited entry trawl permit application
                                economic data.    charterers of a        will not be considered complete until
                                                  catcher processor      the required EDC for that permit owner
                                                  vessel registered to   associated with that permit is
                                                  a C/P-endorsed         submitted, as specified at Sec.
                                                  limited entry trawl    660.25(b)(4)(i).
                                                  permit.
                                                 (B) [Reserved].......
                                                                        (2) For a vessel owner, participation in
                                                                         the groundfish fishery (including, but
                                                                         not limited to, changes in vessel
                                                                         registration) will not be authorized
                                                                         until the required EDC for that owner
                                                                         for that vessel is submitted, as
                                                                         specified, in part, at Sec.
                                                                         660.25(b)(4)(vi).
                                                                        (3) For a vessel lessee or charterer,
                                                                         participation in the groundfish fishery
                                                                         will not be authorized, until the
                                                                         required EDC for their operation of
                                                                         that vessel is submitted.
(4) First receivers/           (i) Annual/       (A) All owners of a    (1) A first receiver site license
 shorebased processors.         ongoing           first receiver site    application will not be considered
                                economic data.    license.               complete until the required EDC for
                                                                         that license owner associated with that
                                                                         license is submitted, as specified at
                                                                         Sec.   660.140(f)(3). See paragraph
                                                                         (b)(4)(i)(A) of this table.
                                                 (B) All owners and     ........................................
                                                  lessees of a
                                                  shorebased processor
                                                  (as defined under
                                                  ``processor'' at
                                                  Sec.   660.11, for
                                                  purposes of EDC)
                                                  that received round
                                                  or headed-and-gutted
                                                  IFQ species
                                                  groundfish or
                                                  whiting from a first
                                                  receiver.
(5) Quota Share Permit Owners  (i) Annual/       (A) All owners of a    (1) A Quota Share permit application or
                                ongoing           Quota Share permit     permit renewal package will not be
                                economic data.    and account (as        considered complete until the required
                                                  defined under Sec.     EDC for that permit is submitted, as
                                                  660.25 (c)).           specified at Sec.   660.140, subpart D.
                                                 (B) [Reserved].......
                                                                        (2) [Reserved].
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (c) Submission of the EDC forms, and deadline--(1) Submission of 
the EDC form. The complete, certified EDC forms must contain valid 
responses for all data fields, and must be submitted either by paper or 
web form submission as follows:
    (i) Paper form submission. Paper forms must be submitted to ATTN: 
Economic Data Collection Program (FRAM Division), NMFS, Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 
98112.
    (ii) Web form submission. Completed EDC web forms must be submitted 
electronically via the Economic Data Collection Program Web Form portal 
through NOAA.gov/fisheries and the signature page faxed, mailed, or 
hand-delivered to NWFSC.
    (2) Deadline. Complete, certified EDC forms must be mailed and 
postmarked by or hand-delivered to NMFS NWFSC no later than September 1 
each year for the prior year's data.
    (3) Quota Share Permit Owner Survey Submissions and Deadline. Quota 
Share Permit Owner survey forms are submitted by webform only during 
the quota account application and renewal process specified at Sec.  
660.140(d)(2). The complete certified Quota Share Permit

[[Page 54573]]

Owner survey must be submitted no later than November 30 of each year.
* * * * *
0
11. In Sec.  660.115, revise paragraphs (d)(1)(ii)(B) and (C) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  660.115   Trawl fishery--cost recovery program.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) Fee collection deposits. Each fish buyer, no less frequently 
than at the end of each month, shall deposit, in the deposit account 
established under paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(A) of this section, all fees 
collected, not previously deposited, that the fish buyer collects 
through a date not more than two calendar days before the date of 
deposit. The deposit principal may not be pledged, assigned, or used 
for any purpose other than aggregating collected fee revenue for 
disbursement to the Fund in accordance with paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(C) of 
this section. The fish buyer is entitled, at any time, to withdraw 
deposit interest, if any, but never deposit principal, from the deposit 
account for the fish buyer's own use and purposes. If the fish buyer 
has used a credit card to pay the cost recovery fee, the deposit 
principal may be used to reimburse the credit card in the same amount 
as the fee payment.
    (C) Deposit principal disbursement. Not later than the 14th 
calendar day after the last calendar day of each month, or more 
frequently if the amount in the account exceeds the account limit for 
insurance purposes, the fish buyer shall disburse to NMFS the full 
deposit principal then in the deposit account. The fish buyer shall 
disburse deposit principal by electronic payment to the Fund subaccount 
to which the deposit principal relates. If the fish buyer has used a 
credit card to pay the cost recovery fee, the deposit principal may be 
used to reimburse the credit card in the same amount as the fee 
payment. NMFS will announce information about how to make an electronic 
payment to the Fund subaccount in the notification on fee percentage 
specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Each disbursement must 
be accompanied by a cost recovery form provided by NMFS. Recordkeeping 
and reporting requirements are specified in paragraph (d)(4) of this 
section and at Sec.  660.113(b)(5) for the Shorebased IFQ Program and 
Sec.  660.113(c)(5) for the MS Coop Program. The cost recovery form 
will be available on the pay.gov website.
* * * * *
0
12. In Sec.  660.140, revise paragraphs (d)(1)(ii) introductory text, 
(d)(2)(iii) introductory text, paragraphs (d)(3)(i)(D), 
(d)(3)(ii)(B)(2), (d)(3)(ii)(B)(3), (e)(3)(iii)(A) and (B), paragraphs 
(e)(4)(i) introductory text, and paragraphs (e)(4)(ii), and (e)(5) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.140   Shorebased IFQ Program.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Annual QP and IBQ pound allocations. QP and IBQ pounds will be 
deposited into QS accounts annually. QS permit owners will be notified 
of QP deposits via the IFQ website and their QS account. QP and IBQ 
pounds will be issued to the nearest whole pound using standard 
rounding rules (i.e., decimal amounts less than 0.5 round down and 0.5 
and greater round up). NMFS will distribute such allocations to the 
maximum extent practicable, not to exceed the total allocation. QS 
permit owners must transfer their QP and IBQ pounds from their QS 
account to a vessel account in order for those QP and IBQ pounds to be 
fished. QP and IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no 
fraction of a QP or IBQ pound can be transferred). All QP and IBQ 
pounds in a QS account must be transferred to a vessel account between 
January 1 and December 31 of the year for which they were issued in 
order to be fished.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) QS permit application process. NMFS will accept a QS permit 
application from January 1 to November 30 of each calendar year. QS 
permit applications received between December 1 and December 31 will be 
processed by NMFS in the following calendar year. NMFS will issue only 
one QS permit to each unique person, as defined at Sec.  660.11 subject 
to the eligibility requirements at paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section. 
Each applicant must submit a complete application. A complete 
application includes a QS permit application form, payment of required 
fees, complete documentation of QS permit ownership on the Trawl 
Identification of Ownership Interest Form as required under paragraph 
(d)(4)(iv) of this section, and a complete economic data collection 
form as required under Sec.  660.114. NMFS may require additional 
documentation as it deems necessary to make a determination on the 
application. The QS permit application will be considered incomplete 
until the required information is submitted.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (D) QS permits will not be renewed until SFD has received a 
complete application for a QS permit renewal, which includes payment of 
required fees, complete documentation of QS permit ownership on the 
Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form as required under 
paragraph (d)(4)(iv) of this section, a complete economic data 
collection form as required under Sec.  660.114. The QS permit renewal 
will be considered incomplete until the required information is 
submitted.
* * * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (2) Transfer of QS or IBQ between QS accounts. QS permit owners may 
transfer QS or IBQ to another owner of a QS permit, subject to 
accumulation limits and approval by NMFS. QS or IBQ is transferred as a 
percent, divisible to one-thousandth of a percent (i.e., greater than 
or equal to 0.001 percent). QS or IBQ cannot be transferred to a vessel 
account. Owners of non-renewed QS permits may not transfer QS. QP in QS 
accounts cannot be transferred between QS accounts. NMFS will allocate 
QP based on the QS percentages as listed on a QS permit that was 
renewed during the previous October 1 through November 30 renewal 
period. QS transfers will be recorded in the QS account but will not 
become effective for purposes of allocating QPs until the following 
year. QS or IBQ may not be transferred between December 1 through 
December 31 each year. Any QS transaction that is pending as of 
December 1 will be administratively retracted. NMFS will allocate QP 
for the following year based on the QS percentages as of December 1 of 
each year.
    (3) Transfer of QP or IBQ pounds from a QS account to a vessel 
account. QP or IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no 
fraction of a QP can be transferred). QP or IBQ pounds must be 
transferred to a vessel account in order to be used. Transfers of QP or 
IBQ pounds from a QS account to a vessel account are subject to annual 
vessel accumulation limits and NMFS' approval. Once QP or IBQ pounds 
are transferred from a QS account to a vessel account (accepted by the 
transferee/vessel owner), they cannot be transferred back to a QS 
account and may only be transferred to another vessel account. QP or 
IBQ pounds may not be transferred from one QS account to another QS 
account. All QP or IBQ pounds from a QS account must be transferred to 
one or more vessel accounts by December 31 each year in order to be 
fished. All QP or IBQ pounds expire at the end of the post-

[[Page 54574]]

season transfer period of the year after which they were issued. If, in 
any year, the Regional Administrator makes a decision to reapportion 
Pacific whiting from the tribal to the non-tribal fishery or NMFS 
releases additional QP consistent with Sec.  660.60(c) and paragraph 
(d)(1)(ii) of this section, NMFS will credit QS accounts with 
additional QP proportionally, based on the QS percent for a particular 
QS permit owner and the increase in the shorebased trawl allocation 
specified at paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(D) of this section.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (A) General. QP or IBQ pounds may only be transferred from a QS 
account to a vessel account or between vessel accounts. QP or IBQ 
pounds cannot be transferred from a vessel account to a QS account. 
Transfers of QP or IBQ pounds are subject to annual vessel accumulation 
limits. QP or IBQ pounds must be transferred in whole pounds (i.e., no 
fraction of a QP or IBQ pound can be transferred). During the year 
there may be situations where NMFS deems it necessary to prohibit 
transfers (i.e., account reconciliation, system maintenance, or for 
emergency fishery management reasons).
    (B) Transfer procedures. QP or IBQ pound transfers from one vessel 
account to another vessel account must be accomplished via the online 
vessel account. To make a transfer, a vessel account owner must 
initiate a transfer request by logging onto the online vessel account. 
Following the instructions provided on the website, the vessel account 
owner must enter pertinent information regarding the transfer request 
including, but not limited to: IFQ species, amount of QP or IBQ pounds 
to be transferred for each IFQ species (in whole pound increments); 
name and any other identifier of the eligible transferee (e.g., USCG 
documentation number or state registration number, as applicable) of 
the eligible vessel account receiving the transfer; and the value of 
the transferred QP or IBQ pounds. The online system will verify whether 
all information has been entered and whether the transfer complies with 
vessel limits, as applicable. If the information is not accepted, an 
electronic message will record as much in the transferor's vessel 
account explaining the reason(s). If the information is accepted, the 
online system will record the pending transfer in both the transferor's 
and the transferee's vessel accounts. The transferee must approve the 
transfer by electronic signature. If the transferee accepts the 
transfer, the online system will record the transfer and confirm the 
transaction in both accounts through a transaction confirmation notice. 
Once the transferee accepts the transaction, the transaction is final 
and permanent. QP or IBQ pounds may be transferred between vessel 
accounts at any time during January 1 through December 31 each year 
unless otherwise notified by NMFS. Unused QP from the previous fishing 
year (base year) may be transferred for the purpose of covering end-of-
the-year vessel account deficits through the end of the post-season 
transfer period described at paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this section.
    (4) * * *
    (i) Vessel limits. For each IFQ species or species group specified 
in this paragraph, vessel accounts may not have QP or IBQ pounds in 
excess of the annual QP vessel limit in any year, except as allowed by 
paragraph (e)(5)(iii) of this section. The annual QP vessel limit is 
calculated as all QPs transferred in minus all QPs transferred out of 
the vessel account.
* * * * *
    (ii) Trawl identification of ownership interest form. Any person 
that owns a vessel registered to a limited entry trawl permit and that 
is applying for or renewing a vessel account shall document those 
persons that have an ownership interest in the vessel greater than or 
equal to 2 percent. This ownership interest must be documented with the 
SFD via the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form. SFD will 
not generate and issue a vessel account unless the Trawl Identification 
of Ownership Interest Form has been completed. NMFS may request 
additional information of the applicant as necessary to verify 
compliance with accumulation limits.
    (5) Carryover of Surplus and Deficit QP or IBQ. The carryover 
provision allows a limited amount of surplus QP or IBQ pounds in a 
vessel account to be carried over from one year (the base year) to the 
next immediately following year or allows a deficit in a vessel account 
from fishing during the base year to be covered in the immediately 
following year with QP or IBQ pounds from the base year or the a 
immediately following year, up to a carryover limit without violating 
the provisions of this section.
    (i) Surplus QP or IBQ pounds. A vessel account with a surplus of QP 
or IBQ (unused QP or IBQ pounds) for any IFQ species following the 
post-season transfer period specified at paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this 
section, may carryover for use in the year immediately following the 
base year amounts of unused QP or IBQ pounds up to its carryover limit 
specified at (e)(5)(ii) of this section, and subject to the limitations 
of this paragraph. After the post-season transfer period is concluded, 
NMFS will complete determination of surplus QP or IBQ pound amounts 
that may be carried over into the following year up to the surplus 
carryover limit specified at paragraph (e)(5)(ii) of this section. The 
amount of surplus QP or IBQ pounds issued as carryover will be reduced 
in proportion to any reduction in the ACL-between the base year and the 
immediately following year. At the end of the post-season transfer 
period, any base year QP or IBQ pounds remaining in vessel accounts 
will be suspended from use while NMFS calculates annual surplus 
carryover amounts. NMFS will consult with the Council in making its 
final determination of the IFQ species and total QP or IBQ amounts to 
be issued as annual surplus carryover. After NMFS completes 
determination of the annual surplus carryover amounts for each vessel 
account, suspended QP or IBQ pounds in excess of the annual surplus 
carryover amount will expire. NMFS will subsequently release any 
remaining suspended QP or IBQ pounds for issuance as surplus carryover 
to vessel accounts from which they were suspended, and notify vessel 
account owners of the issuance. Surplus carryover QP or IBQ pounds are 
valid for the year in which they are issued (i.e., the year immediately 
following the base year). Surplus carryover amounts that would place a 
vessel above the annual QP vessel limits for the immediately following 
year (specified at paragraph (e)(4) of this section) will not be 
issued. Amounts issued as surplus QP or IBQ pounds do not change the 
shorebased trawl allocation in the year in which the carryover was 
issued. Surplus QP or IBQ pounds may not be carried over for more than 
one year.
    (ii) Surplus Carryover Limit. The limit for the surplus carryover 
is calculated by multiplying 10 percent by the cumulative total QP or 
IBQ pounds (used and unused) transferred into a vessel account for the 
base year, less any transfers out of the vessel account, QP resulting 
from reapportionment of whiting specified at Sec.  660.60(d), 
additional QP issued to the account during the year (as specified at 
Sec.  660.60(c)(3)(ii)), and previous carryover amounts. The percentage 
used for the carryover surplus limit may be changed by Council 
recommendation during the biennial specifications and

[[Page 54575]]

management measures process or by routine management measures as 
specified in Sec.  660.60(c).
    (iii) Deficit QP or IBQ pounds After the end of the base year, a 
vessel account may cover the full amount of any deficit (negative 
balance) of QP or IBQ pounds using QP or IBQ from the following year, 
base year QP or IBQ pounds, through the post-season transfer period, or 
a combination, without restriction by annual QP vessel limits. A vessel 
account acquiring QP or IBQ after the base year to cover a deficit 
resulting from catch in excess of the base year annual QP vessel limits 
may still be in violation of annual vessel QP limit provisions 
specified at paragraph (e)(4)(i) of this section, or other provisions 
of this section, if the deficit exceeds the deficit carryover limit 
specified at paragraph (e)(5)(iii)(B) of this section. If an IFQ 
species is reallocated between the base year and the following year due 
to changes in management areas or subdivision of a species group as 
specified at paragraph (c)(3)(vii) of this section, a vessel account 
will not carryover the deficit for that IFQ species into the following 
year. A vessel account with a deficit for any IFQ species in the base 
year, may cover that deficit during the post-season transfer period or 
with QP or IBQ pounds from the following year without violating the 
provisions of this section if all of the following conditions are met:
    (A) The vessel account owner declares out of the Shorebased IFQ 
Program for the remainder of the year in which the deficit occurred. 
The vessel account owner must submit a signed, dated, and notarized 
letter to OLE, declaring out of the Shorebased IFQ Program for the 
remainder of the year and invoking the carryover provision to cover the 
deficit. Signed, dated, and notarized letters may be submitted to NMFS, 
West Coast Region, Office of Law Enforcement, ATTN VMS, Bldg. 1, 7600 
Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. If the vessel account owner 
covers the deficit later within the same calendar year, the vessel may 
re-enter the Shorebased IFQ Program. If the deficit is documented less 
than 30 days before the end of the calendar year, exiting out of the 
Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of the year is not required.
    (B) The amount of QP or IBQ pounds required to cover the deficit 
from the current fishing year is less than or equal to the vessel's 
carryover limit for a deficit. The carryover limit for a deficit is 
calculated as 10 percent of the total cumulative QP or IBQ pounds (used 
and unused, less any transfers out of the vessel account, and any 
previous carryover amounts) in the vessel account 30 days after the 
date the deficit is documented;
    (C) Sufficient QP or IBQ pounds are transferred into the vessel 
account to cure the deficit within 30 days of NMFS' issuance of QP or 
IBQ pounds to QS accounts in the following year or the date the deficit 
is documented (whichever is later) but not later than the end of the 
post-season transfer period; and
    (D) The total QP required to cover the vessel's total catch from 
the base year is not greater than the annual QP vessel limit for the 
base year.
    (iv) Post-Season QP or IBQ transfers. A vessel account with a 
deficit (negative balance) of QP or IBQ pounds after December 31 for 
any IFQ species may conduct post-season transfers to cure the deficit 
by obtaining available unused QP or IBQ pounds remaining in other 
vessel accounts from the base fishing year. Vessel account owners may 
conduct post-season transfers of QP and IBQ pounds according to 
transfer procedures specified in paragraph (e)(3)(iii) of this section, 
and subject to the following conditions:
    (A) Post-season transfers may be conducted during a period starting 
January 1 and ending 14 calendar days after NMFS has completed its 
determination of the total base year IFQ catch for all vessels for end-
of-the-year account reconciliation. NMFS will issue a public notice 
when end-of-the-year account reconciliation has been completed, on or 
about March 1 of each year.
    (B) QP or IBQ pounds from the base fishing year transferred during 
the post-season transfer period may not be fished in any way, and may 
only be transferred for the purpose of covering deficits carried into 
the immediately following fishing year from the base fishing year.
    (C) After the post-season transfer period, remaining QP and IBQ 
pounds surplus and deficits from the base fishing year are subject to 
carryover provisions specified at paragraphs (e)(5)(ii) and (e)(5)(iii) 
of this section.
* * * * *
0
13. In Sec.  660.150 revise paragraphs (c) and (d)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(v) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  660.150  Mothership (MS) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (c) MS Coop Program species and allocations--(1) MS Coop Program 
species. All species other than Pacific whiting are managed with set-
asides for the MS and C/P Coop Programs, as described in Table 1d to 
subpart C of this part.
    (2) Annual mothership sector sub-allocations. Annual allocation 
amount(s) will be determined using the following procedure:
    (i) MS/CV catch history assignments. Catch history assignments will 
be based on catch history using the following methodology:
    (A) Pacific whiting catch history assignment. Each MS/CV 
endorsement's associated catch history assignment of Pacific whiting 
will be annually allocated to a single permitted MS coop or to the non-
coop fishery. If multiple MS/CV endorsements and their associated CHAs 
are registered to a limited entry permit, that permit may be 
simultaneously registered to more than one MS coop or to both a coop(s) 
and non-coop fishery. Once assigned to a permitted MS coop or to the 
non-coop fishery, each MS/CV endorsement's catch history assignment 
remains with that permitted MS coop or non-coop fishery for that 
calendar year. When the mothership sector allocation is established, 
the information for the conversion of catch history assignment to 
pounds will be made available to the public through a Federal Register 
announcement and/or public notice and/or the NMFS website. The amount 
of whiting from the catch history assignment will be issued to the 
nearest whole pound using standard rounding rules (i.e., less than 0.5 
rounds down and 0.5 and greater rounds up).
    (1) In years where the Pacific whiting harvest specification is 
known by the start of the mothership sector primary whiting season 
specified at Sec.  660.131(b)(2)(iii)(B), allocation for Pacific 
whiting will be made by the start of the season.
    (2) In years where the Pacific whiting harvest specification is not 
known by the start of the mothership sector primary whiting season 
specified at Sec.  660.131(b)(2)(iii)(B), NMFS will issue Pacific 
whiting allocations in two parts. Before the start of the primary 
whiting season, NMFS will allocate Pacific whiting based on the MS Coop 
Program allocation percent multiplied by the lower end of the range of 
potential harvest specifications for Pacific whiting for that year. 
After the final Pacific whiting harvest specifications are established, 
NMFS will allocate any additional amounts of Pacific whiting to the MS 
Coop Program.
    (B) Non-whiting groundfish species catch--(1) At-sea set-asides of 
non-whiting groundfish species will be managed on an annual basis 
unless there is a risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, 
unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in 
which case inseason action may be taken. Set asides may be adjusted 
through the biennial

[[Page 54576]]

specifications and management measures process as necessary.
    (2) Groundfish species not addressed in paragraph (c)(2)(i)(B)(1) 
of this section, will be managed on an annual basis unless there is a 
risk of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on 
other fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason 
action may be taken.
    (3) Halibut set-asides. Annually a specified amount of the Pacific 
halibut will be held in reserve as a shared set-aside for bycatch in 
the at-sea Pacific whiting fisheries and the shorebased trawl sector 
south of 40[deg]10' N lat.
    (C) Rounding rules may affect distribution of the MS Coop Program 
allocations among the catch history assignments for individual MS/CV-
endorsed permits. NMFS will distribute such allocations to the maximum 
extent practicable, not to exceed the total allocation.
    (ii) Annual coop allocations--(A) Pacific whiting. Each permitted 
MS coop is authorized to harvest a quantity of Pacific whiting that is 
based on the sum of the catch history assignments for each member MS/
CV-endorsed permit identified in the NMFS-accepted coop agreement for a 
given calendar year. Other limited entry permits registered to vessels 
that will fish for the coop do not bring catch allocation to a 
permitted MS coop.
    (B) If all MS/CV-endorsed permits are members of a single coop in a 
given year and there is not a non-coop fishery, then NMFS will allocate 
100 percent of the MS Coop Program allocation to that coop.
    (iii) Annual non-coop allocation--(A) Pacific whiting. The non-coop 
whiting fishery is authorized to harvest a quantity of Pacific whiting 
that is remaining in the mothership sector annual allocation after the 
deduction of all coop allocations.
    (B) Announcement of the non-coop fishery allocations. Information 
on the amount of Pacific whiting and non-whiting groundfish with 
allocations that will be made available to the non-coop fishery when 
the final Pacific whiting specifications for the mothership sector is 
established and will be announced to the public through a Federal 
Register announcement and/or public notice and/or the NMFS website.
    (3) Reaching an allocation or sub-allocation. When the mothership 
sector Pacific whiting allocation, or Pacific whiting sub-allocation is 
reached or is projected to be reached, the following action may be 
taken:
    (i) Further harvesting, receiving or at-sea processing by a 
mothership or catcher vessel in the mothership sector is prohibited 
when the mothership sector Pacific whiting allocation is projected to 
be reached. No additional unprocessed groundfish may be brought on 
board after at-sea processing is prohibited, but a mothership may 
continue to process catch that was on board before at-sea processing 
was prohibited. Pacific whiting may not be taken and retained, 
possessed, or landed by a catcher vessel participating in the 
mothership sector.
    (ii) When a permitted MS coop sub-allocation of Pacific whiting-is 
reached, further harvesting or receiving of groundfish by vessels 
fishing in the permitted MS coop must cease, unless the permitted MS 
coop is operating under an NMFS-accepted inter-coop agreement.
    (iii) When the non-coop fishery sub-allocation of Pacific whiting 
is projected to be reached, further harvesting or receiving of 
groundfish by vessels fishing in the non-coop fishery must cease.
    (4) [Reserved]
    (5) Announcements. The Regional Administrator will announce in the 
Federal Register when the mothership sector allocation of Pacific 
whiting is reached, or is projected to be reached, and specify the 
appropriate action. In order to prevent exceeding an allocation and to 
avoid underutilizing the resource, prohibitions against further taking 
and retaining, receiving, or at-sea processing of Pacific whiting may 
be made effective immediately by actual notice to fishers and 
processors, by email, internet, phone, fax, letter, press release, and/
or USCG Notice to Mariners (monitor channel 16 VHF), followed by 
publication in the Federal Register, in which instance public comment 
will be sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter.
    (6) Redistribution of annual allocation--(i) Between permitted MS 
coops (inter-coop). (A) Through an inter-coop agreement, the designated 
coop managers of permitted MS coops may distribute Pacific whiting 
allocations among one or more permitted MS coops, provided the 
processor obligations at paragraph (c)(7) of this section have been met 
or a mutual agreement exception at paragraph (c)(7)(iv) of this section 
has been submitted to NMFS.
    (B) In the case of a MS coop failure during the Pacific whiting 
primary season for the mothership sector, unused allocation associated 
with the catch history will not be available for harvest by the coop 
that failed, by any former members of the coop that failed, or any 
other MS coop for the remainder of that calendar year.
    (1) Between the MS coop and non-coop fisheries. Pacific whiting may 
not be redistributed between the coop and non-coop fisheries.
    (2) Between Pacific whiting sectors. Pacific whiting may not be 
redistributed between the mothership sector and catcher/processor 
sector. Whiting may not be redistributed to the Shorebased IFQ Program.
    (7) Processor obligation and mutual agreement exceptions--(i) 
Processor obligation. Through the annual MS/CV-endorsed limited entry 
permit renewal process, the MS/CV-endorsed permit owner must identify 
to NMFS to which MS permit the MS/CV permit owner intends to obligate 
the catch history assignment associated with that permit if they are 
participating in the MS coop fishery. Only one MS permit may be 
designated for each MS/CV endorsement and associated catch history 
assignment.
    (ii) Expiration of a processor obligation. Processor obligations 
expire at the end of each calendar year when the MS Coop Permit 
expires.
    (iii) Processor obligation when MS coop allocation is 
redistributed. When a permitted MS coop redistributes Pacific whiting 
allocation within the permitted MS coop or from one permitted MS coop 
to another permitted MS coop through an inter-coop agreement, such 
allocations must be delivered to the mothership registered to the MS 
permit to which the allocation was obligated under the processor 
obligation submitted to NMFS, unless a mutual agreement exception has 
been submitted to NMFS.
    (iv) Mutual agreement exception. An MS/CV-endorsed permit's catch 
history assignment can be released from a processor obligation through 
a mutual agreement exception. The MS/CV-endorsed permit owner must 
submit a copy to NMFS of the written agreement that includes the 
initial MS permit owner's acknowledgment of the release of the MS/CV-
endorsed permit owner's processor obligation and the MS/CV-endorsed 
permit owner must identify a processor obligation for a new MS permit.
    (v) MS permit withdrawal. If an MS permit withdraws from the 
mothership fishery before the resulting amounts of catch history 
assignment have been announced by NMFS, any MS/CV-endorsed permit 
obligated to the MS permit may elect to participate in the coop or non-
coop fishery. In such an event, the MS permit owner must provide 
written notification of its withdrawal to NMFS and all MS/CV-endorsed 
permits that are obligated to the MS permit, and the owner of each

[[Page 54577]]

MS/CV-endorsed permit obligated to the MS permit must provide written 
notification to NMFS of their intent to either participate in the non-
coop fishery or the coop fishery, and if participating in the coop 
fishery must identify a processor obligation for a new MS permit.
    (vi) Submission of a mutual agreement exception or MS permit 
withdrawal. Written notification of a mutual exception agreement or MS 
permit withdrawal must be submitted to NMFS, Northwest Region, Permits 
Office, Bldg. 1, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) A description of the coop's plan to adequately monitor and 
account for the catch of Pacific whiting and non-whiting groundfish, 
and to monitor and account for the catch of prohibited species.
* * * * *
0
14. In Sec.  660.160:
0
a. Revise paragraph (c)(1) introductory text, paragraphs (c)(1)(i), 
(c)(3)(i) and (ii);
0
b. Remove paragraph (c)(3)(iii);
0
c. Remove and reserve paragraph (c)(5);
0
d. Revise paragraphs (c)(6), (c)(7), and (d)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(iii), and 
paragraph (e)(1) introductory text;
0
e. Add paragraph (e)(1)(iv);
0
f. Revise paragraph (h)(1) introductory text, and paragraphs (h)(2) 
through (4);
0
g. Add paragraph (h)(5).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  660.160   Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) C/P Coop Program species. All species other than Pacific 
whiting are managed with set-asides for the MS and C/P Coop Programs.
    (i) Species with formal allocations to the C/P Coop Program: 
Pacific whiting.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) At-sea sector set-asides of non-whiting groundfish species will 
be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk of a harvest 
specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other fisheries, or 
conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may be taken. Set 
asides may be adjusted through the biennial specifications and 
management measures process as necessary.
    (ii) Groundfish species not addressed in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of 
this section, will be managed on an annual basis unless there is a risk 
of a harvest specification being exceeded, unforeseen impact on other 
fisheries, or conservation concerns, in which case inseason action may 
be taken.
* * * * *
    (5) [Reserved]
    (6) Reaching the catcher/processor sector allocation. When the 
catcher/processor sector allocation of Pacific whiting is reached or is 
projected to be reached, further taking and retaining, receiving, or 
at-sea processing by a catcher/processor is prohibited. No additional 
unprocessed groundfish may be brought on board after at-sea processing 
is prohibited, but a catcher/processor may continue to process catch 
that was on board before at-sea processing was prohibited. The catcher/
processor sector will close when the allocation of any one species is 
reached or projected to be reached.
    (7) Announcements. The Regional Administrator will announce in the 
Federal Register when the catcher/processor sector allocation of 
Pacific whiting is reached, or is projected to be reached, and specify 
the appropriate action. In order to prevent exceeding an allocation and 
to avoid underutilizing the resource, prohibitions against further 
taking and retaining, receiving, or at-sea processing of Pacific 
whiting may be made effective immediately by actual notice to fishers 
and processors, by email, internet, phone, fax, letter, press release, 
and/or USCG Notice to Mariners (monitor channel 16 VHF), followed by 
publication in the Federal Register, in which instance public comment 
will be sought for a reasonable period of time thereafter.
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) A description of the coop's plan to adequately monitor and 
account for the catch of Pacific whiting and non-whiting groundfish, 
and to monitor and account for the catch of prohibited species.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) General. Any vessel participating in the C/P sector of the non-
tribal primary Pacific whiting fishery-must be registered to a valid 
limited entry permit with a C/P endorsement subject to the limited 
entry permit provisions given at Sec.  660.25(b).
* * * * *
    (iv) Trawl identification of ownership interest form. Any person 
that is applying for or renewing a C/P-endorsed permit shall document 
those persons that have an ownership interest in the permit greater 
than or equal to 2 percent. This ownership interest must be documented 
with the SFD via the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form. 
SFD will not issue a C/P-endorsed permit unless the Trawl 
Identification of Ownership Interest Form has been completed.
* * * * *
    (h) * * * (1) Conditions for determination of coop failure. The 
Regional Administrator will determine that a permitted C/P coop has 
failed if any one of the following occurs:
* * * * *
    (2) Notification of coop failure. If the permitted C/P coop 
dissolves, the designated coop manager must notify NMFS SFD in writing 
of the dissolution of the coop to allow the Regional Administrator to 
make a determination of coop failure. The Regional Administrator may 
also make an independent determination of a coop failure based on 
factual information collected by or provided to NMFS. NMFS will notify 
the designated coop manager in writing in the event the Regional 
Administrator determines the coop has failed.
    (3) Coop permit no longer in effect. Upon determination of a coop 
failure, the C/P coop permit will no longer be in effect.
    (4) Conversion to IFQ Fishery. The C/P sector will convert to an 
IFQ-based fishery beginning the following calendar year after a 
determination of a coop failure, or as soon as practicable thereafter. 
NMFS will develop additional regulations, as necessary to implement an 
IFQ-based fishery for the C/P sector. Each C/P-endorsed permit will 
receive an equal amount of QS from the total C/P sector allocation. 
That QS will not be transferable separate from the C/P-endorsed permit 
until a determination is made to allow such transfers, necessary 
regulations are implemented, and public notice is provided. Any use of 
QP or IBQ pounds associated with C/P endorsed permits is prohibited 
until the regulations for a C/P sector IFQ system are implemented.
    (5) Accumulation Limits. C/P Sector accumulation limits will take 
effect in the event that the C/P coop fails and converts to an IFQ-
based fishery. If an IFQ fishery is implemented, any individual or 
entity may own or control a maximum of five C/P endorsed permits and QS 
allocations associated with those permits, as described in paragraph 
(e)(5)(iv) of this section. C/P endorsed permit accumulation limits 
will only take effect after determination

[[Page 54578]]

of a coop failure is made and the following administrative process 
occurs:
    (i) Divestiture Period. Upon determination of a coop failure, a 
divestiture period will occur starting with the date that co-op failure 
has been determined and running through the date on which an IFQ 
program is implemented for the C/P sector or another date specified in 
the IFQ program implementing regulations. During the divestiture 
period, an individual or entity may not acquire ownership or control 
over a total of more than five C/P-endorsed permits. Any entity that 
already owns or controls more than five C/P-endorsed permits may not 
acquire additional permits. During the divestiture period any entity 
who owns or controls C/P-endorsed permits may sell or trade any permits 
it owns. C/P-endorsed permits may be voluntarily abandoned to NMFS 
using the procedures provided under paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this 
section.
    (ii) Divestiture and redistribution process. After conversion to an 
IFQ fishery and completion of the divestiture period, any person owning 
or controlling C/P-endorsed permits must be in compliance with 
accumulation limits, even if that ownership is not reflected in the 
ownership records available to NMFS as specified at Sec.  660.140 
(e)(1)(iv). Permit owners found to exceed the five permit accumulation 
limit for C/P-endorsed permits after the divestiture period are in 
violation of the accumulation limits and required to completely divest 
of ownership or control of C/P-endorsed permits that exceed the 
accumulation limit. C/P-endorsed permits may be voluntarily abandoned 
to NMFS using the procedures provided under paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of 
this section. If NMFS finds that any entity owns or controls more than 
five C/P-endorsed permits, NMFS will make an Initial Administrative 
Determination (IAD) that the entity must divest of control or ownership 
of permits that exceed the accumulation limit within 30 days or NMFS 
will revoke the excess permits in accordance with Sec.  
660.25(h)(2)(ii). The permit owner will have the opportunity to appeal 
the IAD through the National Appeals Office under the provisions 
established at 15 CFR part 906. All QS associated with revoked permits 
will be redistributed to all other C/P-endorsed permit owners in 
proportion to their QS holdings, based on current ownership records, on 
or about January 1 of the calendar year following the year in which the 
permits are revoked. This redistribution process will not allow any 
entity to receive more than 50 percent of the total QS allocations for 
the C/P sector.
    (iii) Abandonment of C/P-endorsed permits. C/P-endorsed permits 
owners that own or control more than the five permit accumulation limit 
may voluntarily abandon C/P-endorsed permits if they notify NMFS in 
writing during the divestiture period specified at paragraph (h)(5)(i) 
of this section or within 30 days of conversion to an IFQ fishery. The 
written abandonment request must include the C/P endorsed permit number 
and the associated QS allocation percentage that will be abandoned. 
Either the C/P-endorsed permit owner or an authorized representative of 
the C/P-endorsed permit owner must sign the request. C/P-endorsed 
permit owners choosing to utilize the abandonment option will 
permanently relinquish to NMFS any right to the abandoned C/P-endorsed 
permit, and the QS associated with that permit will be redistributed as 
described under paragraph (h)(5)(ii) of this section. No compensation 
will be due for any abandoned permit, or associated QS or QP.
    (iv) Review of C/P-permit ownership interest and accumulation 
limits. NMFS may request additional information from C/P-permit owners 
as necessary to verify compliance with accumulation limits in the event 
of C/P coop failure and conversion to IFQ fishery. If NMFS discovers 
through review of the Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form 
that a person is not in compliance with accumulation limits, the person 
will be subject to divestiture provisions specified in paragraph 
(h)(5)(ii) of this section.
    (v) Definition of Ownership or Control. For the purpose of 
determining ownership or control a person or entity has over a C/P 
endorsed permit, all of the following criteria apply:
    (A) The person or entity has the right to direct, or does direct, 
in whole or in part, the business of the entity to which the permits 
are registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under 
paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section.
    (B) The person or entity has the right to limit the actions of or 
replace, or does limit the actions of or replace, the chief executive 
officer, a majority of the board of directors, any general partner, or 
any person serving in a management capacity of the entity to which the 
C/P permits are registered, with the exception of those activities 
allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section.
    (C) With the exception of banks and other financial institutions 
that rely on permits as collateral for loans as described under 
paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(G) of this section, the person or entity has the 
right to direct, or does direct, and/or the right to prevent or delay, 
or does prevent or delay, the transfer of the C/P permit associated QS, 
or the resulting QP.
    (D) The person or entity, through loan covenants or any other 
means, has the right to restrict, or does restrict, and/or has a 
controlling influence over the day to day business activities or 
management policies of the entity to which the permits are registered, 
with the exception of those activities allowed under paragraphs 
(h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section.
    (E) The person or entity has the right to restrict, or does 
restrict, any activity related to the C/P permit, associated QS or the 
resulting QP, including, but not limited to, use of permits, or 
associated QS, or disposition of fish harvested and processed under the 
resulting QP, with the exception of those activities allowed under 
paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section.
    (F) The person or entity has the right to control, or does control, 
the management of, or to be a controlling factor in, the entity to 
which the C/P permit, associated QS, or the resulting QP, are 
registered, with the exception of those activities allowed under 
paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this section.
    (G) With the exception of banks and other financial institutions 
that rely on permits as collateral for loans, the person or entity has 
the right to cause or prevent, or does cause or prevent, the sale, 
lease or other disposition of C/P permits, associated QS, or the 
resulting QP.
    (1) To qualify for this exception for banks and other financial 
institutions that rely on permits as collateral for loans, a bank or 
other financial institution must be regularly or primarily engaged in 
the business of lending, and must not be engaged in business with, or 
be controlled by, entities whose primary business is the harvesting, 
processing, or distribution of fish or fish products.
    (2) Any state or federally chartered bank or financial institution 
that meets the requirement of paragraph (h)(5)(v)(G)(1) of this section 
does not need to submit additional information to NMFS.
    (3) Any entity that is not a state or federally chartered bank or 
financial institution must submit a letter requesting the exception and 
disclose the identity and interest share of any shareholder with a 2 
percent or more ownership interest in the lender through submission of 
the Trawl Identification

[[Page 54579]]

of Ownership Interest Form (see paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section). 
The lender must make subsequent annual submissions of the letter and 
Trawl Identification of Ownership Interest Form to maintain the 
exception. Letters requesting the exception and complete Trawl 
Identification of Ownership Interest Forms may be submitted to NMFS, 
West Coast Region, Permits Office, ATTN: Fisheries Permit Office, Bldg. 
1, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. NMFS will only accept 
complete applications.
    (H) The person or entity has the ability through any means 
whatsoever to control or have a controlling influence over the entity 
to which a permit associated QS is registered, with the exception of 
those activities allowed under paragraphs (h)(5)(v)(C) and (G) of this 
section.

[FR Doc. 2019-21894 Filed 10-9-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P