Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019-2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 56142-56150 [2019-22785]

Download as PDF 56142 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Washington, Oregon, and California. The states manage the fisheries in state waters adjacent to the areas of the U.S. exclusive economic zone consistent with these Federal actions. As provided by the inseason notice procedures of 50 CFR 660.411, actual notice of the described regulatory action was given, prior to the time the action was effective, by telephone hotline numbers 206–526–6667 and 800–662–9825, and by U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mariners broadcasts on Channel 16 VHF–FM and 2182 kHz. Classification khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES NOAA’s Assistant Administrator (AA) for NMFS finds that good cause exists for this notification to be issued without affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) because such notification would be impracticable. As previously noted, actual notice of the regulatory action was provided to fishers through telephone hotline and radio notification. This action complies with the requirements of the annual management measures for ocean salmon fisheries (84 FR 19729, May 6, 2019), the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and regulations implementing the FMP under 50 CFR 660.409 and 660.411. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment was impracticable because NMFS and the state agencies had insufficient time to provide for prior notice and the opportunity for public comment between the time Chinook salmon catch and effort projections and abundance forecasts were developed and fisheries impacts were calculated, and the time the fishery modifications had to be implemented in order to ensure that fisheries are managed based on the best available scientific information, ensuring that conservation objectives and limits for impacts to salmon species listed under the ESA are not exceeded. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), as a delay in effectiveness of this action would allow fishing at levels inconsistent with the goals of the FMP and the current management measures. This action is authorized by 50 CFR 660.409 and 660.411 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 15, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–22772 Filed 10–18–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 180625576–8999–02] RIN 0648–BJ36 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019–2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures. AGENCY: This final rule announces routine inseason adjustments to management measures in commercial groundfish fisheries. This action is intended to allow commercial fishing vessels to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. DATES: This final rule is effective October 21, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Palmigiano, phone: 206–526– 4491 or email: karen.palmigiano@ noaa.gov. SUMMARY: Electronic Access This rule is accessible via the internet at the Office of the Federal Register website at https:// www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s website at http:// www.pcouncil.org/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for two-year periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement harvest specifications and management measures for the 2019–2020 biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970). In general, the management measures set at the start of the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to achieve this goal. At its September 12–18, 2019 meeting, the Council recommended increasing the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) and open access (OA) trip limits for sablefish both north of 36° N lat. Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries are managed using harvest specifications or limits (e.g., overfishing limits [OFL], acceptable biological catch [ABC], annual catch limits [ACL] and harvest guidelines [HG]) recommended biennially by the Council and based on the best scientific information available at that time (50 CFR 660.60(b)). During development of the harvest specifications, the Council also recommends mitigation measures (e.g., trip limits, area closures, and bag limits) that are meant to mitigate catch so as not to exceed the harvest specifications. The harvest specifications and mitigation measures developed for the 2019–2020 biennium used data through the 2017 fishing year. Each of the adjustments to mitigation measures discussed below are based on updated fisheries information that was unavailable when the analysis for the current harvest specifications was completed. As new fisheries data becomes available, adjustments to mitigation measures are projected so as to help harvesters achieve but not exceed the harvest limits. Sablefish is an important commercial species on the west coast with vessels targeting sablefish with both trawl and fixed gear (longlines and pots/traps). Sablefish is managed with a coast-wide ACL that is apportioned north and south of 36° N lat. with 73.8 percent going to the north and 26.2 percent going to the south. In 2019, the portion of the ACL for sablefish north of 36° N lat. is 5,606 mt with a fishery HG of 5,007 mt. The fishery HG north of 40°10′ N lat. is further divided between the LEFG and OA sectors with 90.6 percent, or 4,537 mt, going to the LEFG sector and 9.4 percent, or 471 mt, going to the OA sector. The 2019 portion of ACL for sablefish south of 36° N lat. is 1,990 mt with a fishery HG of 1,986 mt. South of 36° N lat., the fishery HG is further divided between the trawl (limited entry) and non-trawl (LEFG and OA) sectors with 42 percent or 834 mt going E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations to the trawl sector, and the remaining 58 percent or 1,152 mt going to the fixed gear sector. At the September 2019 Council meeting, the Council’s Groundfish Management Team (GMT) received requests from industry members and members of the Council’s Groundfish Advisory Subpanel to examine the potential to increase sablefish trips limits for the LEFG and OA fisheries north of 36° N lat. The intent of increasing trip limits is to increase harvest opportunities for vessels targeting sablefish which have been trending low in recent years. To evaluate potential increases to sablefish trip limits, the GMT made model-based landings projections under current regulations and alternative sablefish trip limits, including the limits ultimately recommended by the Council, for the LEFG and OA fisheries through the remainder of the year. Table 1 shows the projected sablefish landings, the sablefish allocations, and the projected 56143 attainment percentage by fishery under both the current trip limits and the Council’s recommended adjusted trip limits. These projections were based on the most recent catch information available through early September 2019. Industry did not request changes to sablefish trip limits for the LEFG or OA fishery south of 36° N lat. Therefore, NMFS and the Council did not consider trip limit changes for these fisheries at this time. TABLE 1—PROJECTED LANDINGS OF SABLEFISH, SABLEFISH ALLOCATION, AND PROJECTED PERCENTAGE OF SABLEFISH ATTAINED THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR BY TRIP LIMIT AND FISHERY Fishery LEFG North of 36° N lat. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES OA North of 36° N lat. Current: 1,300 lb (560 kg)/week, not to exceed 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)/two months. Recommended: 1,700 lb (771 kg)/week, not to exceed 5,100 lb (2,313 kg)/two months. 190–213 Current: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (635 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb (1,179 kg)/two months. Recommended: 300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,500 lb (680 kg), not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,361 kg)/ two months. 340–420 As shown in Table 1, under the current trip limits, the model predicts catches of sablefish will be at or below 78 percent, or 213 mt of the 273 mt allocation, for LEFG and 93 percent, or 420 mt of the 449 mt allocation, for OA fishery north of 36° N lat. Under the Council’s recommended trip limits, sablefish attainment is projected to increase in the LEFG and OA fisheries north of 36° N lat. up to 104 and 102 percent, respectively. However, to date in 2019, the model has overestimated landings by an average of 38 percent. Assuming this trend continues for 2019, the percentage attainment would likely be closer to the lower bound for both LEFG (90 percent or 247 mt) and OA (81 percent or 360 mt) north of 36° N lat. Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase attainment of the non-trawl HG. The proposed trip limit increases do not change projected impacts to co-occurring overfished species compared to the impacts anticipated in the 2019–20 harvest specifications because the projected impacts to those species assume that the entire sablefish ACL is harvested. Therefore, the Council recommended and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Tables 2 North and South to part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the LEFG fishery north of 36° N lat. to increase the limits from ‘‘1,300 lb VerDate Sep<11>2014 Projected landings (round weight) (mt) Trip limits 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations. This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection by contacting Karen Palmigiano in NMFS West Coast Region Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 70–78 90–104 449 360–460 Classification Frm 00047 273 247–283 (560 kg)/week, not to exceed 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)/two months’’ to ‘‘1,700 lb (771 kg)/week, not to exceed 5,100 lb (2,313 kg)/two months’’ beginning in period 5 (September and October) through the end of the year. NMFS is also implementing, by modifying Tables 3 North and South to part 660, subpart F, trip limit changes for the OA sablefish fishery north of 36° N lat. to increase the limits from ‘‘300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 1 landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (635 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb (1,179 kg)/two months’’ to ‘‘300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing per week of up to 1,500 lb (680 kg), not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) per two months’’ starting with period 5 (September and October) through the end of the year. PO 00000 Projected percentage attained Allocation (mt) 75–93 81–102 (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or view at the NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ fisheries/groundfish/index.html. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document ease restrictive trip limits fisheries in Washington, Oregon, and California. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the final rule for the 2019–2020 harvest specifications and management measures which published on December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970). At its September 2019 meeting, the Council recommended increases to the commercial trip limits be implemented as soon as possible so that harvesters may be able to take advantage of these higher limits before the end of the calendar year. Each of the adjustments to commercial management measures in this rule will create more harvest opportunity and allow fishermen to better attain species that are currently under attained without causing any additional impacts to the fishery. Each of these recommended adjustments also rely on new catch data that were not E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 56144 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES available and thus not considered during the 2019–2020 biennial harvest specifications process. New catch information through the end of the 2018 fishing year shows that attainment of sablefish) has been below its management points (i.e., HG, ACL, and non-trawl allocation) in 2018 and would likely remain below state catch targets under status quo limits in 2019 and 2020. These trip limit adjustments could provide up to an additional $508thousand in ex-vessel revenue to harvesters, as well as $1.04-million in income and 16 jobs when including benefits to communities and associated businesses. Delaying implementation to allow for public comment would likely reduce the economic benefits to the commercial fishing industry and the businesses that rely on that industry because it is unlikely the new regulations would publish and could be implemented before the end of the calendar year. Therefore, providing a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 comment period for this action could significantly limit the economic benefits to the fishery, and would hamper the achievement of optimum yield from the affected fisheries. Therefore, the NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that this final rule may become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving participants of the more restrictive trip limits. These adjustments were requested by the Council’s advisory bodies, as well as members of industry during the Council’s September 2019 meetings, and recommended unanimously by the Council. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications and management measures established through a notice and comment PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 rulemaking for 2019–2020 (83 FR 63970). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries. Dated: October 15, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. 2. Table 2 (North) to part 660, subpart E, is revised to read as follows: ■ BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 3. Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, is revised to read as follows: 56145 ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 ER21OC19.008</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 4. Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart F, is revised to read as follows: ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 ER21OC19.009</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 56146 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 56147 ER21OC19.010</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 56148 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 5. Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, is revised to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 ER21OC19.011</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 56149 ER21OC19.012</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 203 / Monday, October 21, 2019 / Rules and Regulations NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by non-American Fisheries Act (AFA) crab vessels that are subject to sideboard limits, and operating as catcher vessels (CVs) using pot gear, in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2019 Pacific cod sideboard limit established for non-AFA crab vessels that are operating as CVs using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. SUMMARY: [FR Doc. 2019–22785 Filed 10–18–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 180831813–9170–02] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES RIN 0648–XY028 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Oct 18, 2019 Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 16, 2019, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council DATES: Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by NonAmerican Fisheries Act Crab Vessels Operating as Catcher Vessels Using Pot Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. Regulations governing sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR part 680. The 2019 Pacific cod sideboard limit established for non-AFA crab vessels, and that are operating as CVs using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA, is 533 metric tons (mt), as established by the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (84 FR 9416, March 14, 2019). In accordance with § 680.22(e)(2)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) has determined that the 2019 Pacific cod sideboard limit established for non-AFA crab vessels that are operating as CVs using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is E:\FR\FM\21OCR1.SGM 21OCR1 ER21OC19.013</GPH> 56150

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 203 (Monday, October 21, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 56142-56150]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22785]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 180625576-8999-02]
RIN 0648-BJ36


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

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

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

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

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

DATES: This final rule is effective October 21, 2019.

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

Electronic Access

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) and 
its implementing regulations at title 50 in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR), part 660, subparts C through G, regulate fishing for 
over 90 species of groundfish off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and 
California. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) develops 
groundfish harvest specifications and management measures for two-year 
periods (i.e., a biennium). NMFS published the final rule to implement 
harvest specifications and management measures for the 2019-2020 
biennium for most species managed under the PCGFMP on December 12, 2018 
(83 FR 63970). In general, the management measures set at the start of 
the biennial harvest specifications cycle help the various sectors of 
the fishery attain, but not exceed, the catch limits for each stock. 
The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes 
and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommends 
adjustments to the management measures during the fishing year to 
achieve this goal.
    At its September 12-18, 2019 meeting, the Council recommended 
increasing the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) and open access (OA) 
trip limits for sablefish both north of 36[deg] N lat. Pacific Coast 
groundfish fisheries are managed using harvest specifications or limits 
(e.g., overfishing limits [OFL], acceptable biological catch [ABC], 
annual catch limits [ACL] and harvest guidelines [HG]) recommended 
biennially by the Council and based on the best scientific information 
available at that time (50 CFR 660.60(b)). During development of the 
harvest specifications, the Council also recommends mitigation measures 
(e.g., trip limits, area closures, and bag limits) that are meant to 
mitigate catch so as not to exceed the harvest specifications. The 
harvest specifications and mitigation measures developed for the 2019-
2020 biennium used data through the 2017 fishing year. Each of the 
adjustments to mitigation measures discussed below are based on updated 
fisheries information that was unavailable when the analysis for the 
current harvest specifications was completed. As new fisheries data 
becomes available, adjustments to mitigation measures are projected so 
as to help harvesters achieve but not exceed the harvest limits.
    Sablefish is an important commercial species on the west coast with 
vessels targeting sablefish with both trawl and fixed gear (longlines 
and pots/traps). Sablefish is managed with a coast-wide ACL that is 
apportioned north and south of 36[deg] N lat. with 73.8 percent going 
to the north and 26.2 percent going to the south. In 2019, the portion 
of the ACL for sablefish north of 36[deg] N lat. is 5,606 mt with a 
fishery HG of 5,007 mt. The fishery HG north of 40[deg]10' N lat. is 
further divided between the LEFG and OA sectors with 90.6 percent, or 
4,537 mt, going to the LEFG sector and 9.4 percent, or 471 mt, going to 
the OA sector. The 2019 portion of ACL for sablefish south of 36[deg] N 
lat. is 1,990 mt with a fishery HG of 1,986 mt. South of 36[deg] N 
lat., the fishery HG is further divided between the trawl (limited 
entry) and non-trawl (LEFG and OA) sectors with 42 percent or 834 mt 
going

[[Page 56143]]

to the trawl sector, and the remaining 58 percent or 1,152 mt going to 
the fixed gear sector.
    At the September 2019 Council meeting, the Council's Groundfish 
Management Team (GMT) received requests from industry members and 
members of the Council's Groundfish Advisory Subpanel to examine the 
potential to increase sablefish trips limits for the LEFG and OA 
fisheries north of 36[deg] N lat. The intent of increasing trip limits 
is to increase harvest opportunities for vessels targeting sablefish 
which have been trending low in recent years. To evaluate potential 
increases to sablefish trip limits, the GMT made model-based landings 
projections under current regulations and alternative sablefish trip 
limits, including the limits ultimately recommended by the Council, for 
the LEFG and OA fisheries through the remainder of the year. Table 1 
shows the projected sablefish landings, the sablefish allocations, and 
the projected attainment percentage by fishery under both the current 
trip limits and the Council's recommended adjusted trip limits. These 
projections were based on the most recent catch information available 
through early September 2019. Industry did not request changes to 
sablefish trip limits for the LEFG or OA fishery south of 36[deg] N 
lat. Therefore, NMFS and the Council did not consider trip limit 
changes for these fisheries at this time.

 Table 1--Projected Landings of Sablefish, Sablefish Allocation, and Projected Percentage of Sablefish Attained
                              Through the End of the Year by Trip Limit and Fishery
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Projected                             Projected
            Fishery                    Trip limits        landings (round    Allocation (mt)       percentage
                                                            weight) (mt)                            attained
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEFG North of 36[deg] N lat....  Current: 1,300 lb (560            190-213                273              70-78
                                  kg)/week, not to
                                  exceed 3,900 lb
                                  (1,769 kg)/two months.
                                 Recommended: 1,700 lb             247-283                                90-104
                                  (771 kg)/week, not to
                                  exceed 5,100 lb
                                  (2,313 kg)/two months.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OA North of 36[deg] N lat......  Current: 300 lb (136              340-420                449              75-93
                                  kg)/day, or 1 landing
                                  per week of up to
                                  1,400 lb (635 kg),
                                  not to exceed 2,800
                                  lb (1,179 kg)/two
                                  months.
                                 Recommended: 300 lb               360-460                                81-102
                                  (136 kg)/day, or 1
                                  landing per week of
                                  up to 1,500 lb (680
                                  kg), not to exceed
                                  3,000 lb (1,361 kg)/
                                  two months.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As shown in Table 1, under the current trip limits, the model 
predicts catches of sablefish will be at or below 78 percent, or 213 mt 
of the 273 mt allocation, for LEFG and 93 percent, or 420 mt of the 449 
mt allocation, for OA fishery north of 36[deg] N lat. Under the 
Council's recommended trip limits, sablefish attainment is projected to 
increase in the LEFG and OA fisheries north of 36[deg] N lat. up to 104 
and 102 percent, respectively. However, to date in 2019, the model has 
overestimated landings by an average of 38 percent. Assuming this trend 
continues for 2019, the percentage attainment would likely be closer to 
the lower bound for both LEFG (90 percent or 247 mt) and OA (81 percent 
or 360 mt) north of 36[deg] N lat.
    Trip limit increases for sablefish are intended to increase 
attainment of the non-trawl HG. The proposed trip limit increases do 
not change projected impacts to co-occurring overfished species 
compared to the impacts anticipated in the 2019-20 harvest 
specifications because the projected impacts to those species assume 
that the entire sablefish ACL is harvested. Therefore, the Council 
recommended and NMFS is implementing, by modifying Tables 2 North and 
South to part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the LEFG fishery 
north of 36[deg] N lat. to increase the limits from ``1,300 lb (560 
kg)/week, not to exceed 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)/two months'' to ``1,700 lb 
(771 kg)/week, not to exceed 5,100 lb (2,313 kg)/two months'' beginning 
in period 5 (September and October) through the end of the year. NMFS 
is also implementing, by modifying Tables 3 North and South to part 
660, subpart F, trip limit changes for the OA sablefish fishery north 
of 36[deg] N lat. to increase the limits from ``300 lb (136 kg)/day, or 
1 landing per week of up to 1,400 lb (635 kg), not to exceed 2,800 lb 
(1,179 kg)/two months'' to ``300 lb (136 kg) per day, or one landing 
per week of up to 1,500 lb (680 kg), not to exceed 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) 
per two months'' starting with period 5 (September and October) through 
the end of the year.

Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish 
fishery management measures, based on the best scientific information 
available, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations.
    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available 
for public inspection by contacting Karen Palmigiano in NMFS West Coast 
Region (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above), or view at the 
NMFS West Coast Groundfish website: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish/index.html.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), NMFS finds good cause to waive prior 
public notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as 
notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest. The adjustments to management measures in this document ease 
restrictive trip limits fisheries in Washington, Oregon, and 
California. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of 
this nature were anticipated in the final rule for the 2019-2020 
harvest specifications and management measures which published on 
December 12, 2018 (83 FR 63970).
    At its September 2019 meeting, the Council recommended increases to 
the commercial trip limits be implemented as soon as possible so that 
harvesters may be able to take advantage of these higher limits before 
the end of the calendar year. Each of the adjustments to commercial 
management measures in this rule will create more harvest opportunity 
and allow fishermen to better attain species that are currently under 
attained without causing any additional impacts to the fishery. Each of 
these recommended adjustments also rely on new catch data that were not

[[Page 56144]]

available and thus not considered during the 2019-2020 biennial harvest 
specifications process. New catch information through the end of the 
2018 fishing year shows that attainment of sablefish) has been below 
its management points (i.e., HG, ACL, and non-trawl allocation) in 2018 
and would likely remain below state catch targets under status quo 
limits in 2019 and 2020.
    These trip limit adjustments could provide up to an additional 
$508-thousand in ex-vessel revenue to harvesters, as well as $1.04-
million in income and 16 jobs when including benefits to communities 
and associated businesses. Delaying implementation to allow for public 
comment would likely reduce the economic benefits to the commercial 
fishing industry and the businesses that rely on that industry because 
it is unlikely the new regulations would publish and could be 
implemented before the end of the calendar year. Therefore, providing a 
comment period for this action could significantly limit the economic 
benefits to the fishery, and would hamper the achievement of optimum 
yield from the affected fisheries.
    Therefore, the NMFS finds reason to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) so that this final rule 
may become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The 
adjustments to management measures in this document affect commercial 
fisheries by increasing opportunity and relieving participants of the 
more restrictive trip limits. These adjustments were requested by the 
Council's advisory bodies, as well as members of industry during the 
Council's September 2019 meetings, and recommended unanimously by the 
Council. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this 
nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications and 
management measures established through a notice and comment rulemaking 
for 2019-2020 (83 FR 63970).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: October 15, 2019.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

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

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

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

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


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2. Table 2 (North) to part 660, subpart E, is revised to read as 
follows:
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3. Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, is revised to read as 
follows:

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4. Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart F, is revised to read as 
follows:

[[Page 56147]]

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[[Page 56148]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR21OC19.011


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5. Table 3 (South) to part 660, subpart F, is revised to read as 
follows:

[[Page 56149]]

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[FR Doc. 2019-22785 Filed 10-18-19; 8:45 am]
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